Remember the nineties? Now that was a fun decade. Pre-internet, we experienced some of the most bizarre fads of all time.
Granted, we were able to enjoy some truly excellent bands, cartoons, and television shows; but, make no mistake about it, there was a lot of crap.
To sum everything up in one compact list has been difficult, but we’ve tried our best. Here’s ten of the best 90s trends which we totally loved — even if many of them were actually totally rubbish.
The story behind the original Tamagotchi is actually quite sweet. Akihiro Yokoi, who was working at toy maker Bandai at the time, apparently wanted to bring the enjoyment which many people were getting from aquarium simulation software to the masses.
The problem was that the simulations were confined to home computers, which most homes in Japan didn’t have back then.
The result was the world’s first handheld digital pet. Functioning as a kind of portable nuisance which went wherever you took your set of keys (as the Tamagotchi doubled as a keyring), your “cyberpet” would demand that you play with them, feed them, and even clean up their faeces when they decided to take a dump.
If the Tamagotchi was before your time, you may be surprised at the cultural impact the toy had — achieving massive commercial success across the globe, surpassing 76 million sold units and making it one of the most popular 90s trends of all.
It spawned well over a dozen video games, as well as a film, an anime series, and several songs which have been penned in tribute to the now-kitsch digipet.
Ah, the Furby. One of the strangest 90s trends, this cute toy was the product of Tiger Electronics, and somehow managed to sell over 40 million units in total.
For those of you too young to recall, the Furby did absolutely nothing impressive. It was basically a robotic version of the Tamagotchi, except you didn’t really feed it or play with it; you just interacted with it.
Over time, it learned to speak English, and would occasionally dance or sing or something.
At the time, the toy was fairly revolutionary, and it managed to be the must-have toy for the holiday season in 1998.
These days, they’re usually used by the internet’s circuit-bending and hacking communities, who tend to rip the fur off of them and make them sing in unison, which is about as terrifying as it sounds.
Likewise, they’re also quite popular because they had good sound chips and sensors, which means that they would make one incredibly creepy alarm for detecting anyone trying to break into your home.
3 The Cartoons
Saturday morning cartoons were a staple of any 90s kid’s television diet. It was a time when channels like Cartoon Network ran programmes about the vanity-riddled life of a muscleman who still lived with his mother, and the secret laboratory of a boy-genius which was hidden beyond his bedroom.
Likewise, programmes like Cow and Chicken made it acceptable to have parents who did not possess the upper-half of their body.
It was a time when logic was not necessary, and when hallucinogenic drugs were apparently in wide abundance at the offices where these bizarre plots were conceived.
There was once a game which involved putting a bunch of pieces of cardboard face-down, hitting them as hard as humanly possible, and then getting to keep the ones which landed face up.
If this sounds like a game that you think you would enjoy, perhaps POGs is for you!
In all seriousness, POGs actually makes us quite nostalgic to look back at them.
While it’s hard to find figures, this more modern adaption of the old game of “milk caps” caused a worldwide craze during the decade of pointlesness, becoming one of the biggest trends of the 1990s.
Thousands of different designs were produced, with everyone from McDonald’s to Nintendo getting in on the scoop (In fact, there are exclusive Earthbound POGs which Nintendo Power gave away with several of its issues).
Even though the POG has died, you should still check out the collectible AGC series for its particularly gnarly designs.
5 The television
In the nineties, values were at an all-time low. Which meant that the entertainment value of television was at an all-time high.
Shows like Jerry Springer allowed dysfunctional families to air out toxic relationships in front of strangers in the futile hope that it would resolve their issues.
Pro wrestling championed scantily clad women who grappled with each other in jacuzzis, and The Simpsons — while it was a cartoon — managed to parody it all and make us realise how significant our lack of intelligence really was.
Reality television was actually experiencing its own peak, thanks to the fact that people actually believed what was happening on their screens.
Likewise, Judge Judy made getting sued on TV something to brag about, and Friends made us think that we’d all live in apartments in Manhattan with our closest buddies. Ah, TV. Stop lying to us.
6 The music
Following on from the absolute lack of real content on television, much of popular music maintained similar standards.
However, there were some particularly fantastic standouts: two 10-year-old boys from Georgia donning back-to-front clothes had a massive rap hit (above); alternative rock was slowly evolving into the grunge movement with bands like Alice in Chains and Soundgarden (and, of course, Nirvana); and songs about being a plastic doll, getting back up when you’ve been knocked down, and spacemen allowed several artists to land at the top of the charts before crashing out of our lives forever.
Bonus points if you can name those last three bands, by the way.
7 The First Pokemon Craze
Everyone thought that the Pokemon craze would meet the same fate as every other kids fad in the nineties.
And yet, here we are, twenty years later, trying to find them in the street for no apparent reason.
Our point is: Pokemon will likely be with us until society just collapses.
Since the original Red and Green games were released for the Nintendo Game Boy in 1996, the same strategy-infused RPG model which all of the main games has relied on — with a few tweaks here and there — continues to remain popular even with gamers who don’t consider themselves fans of the series.
In fact, as of early 2016, over 279 million Pokemon games have been sold (with around 200 million of those being from the main series). Check out our list of other classic video games here.
8 The World Wide Web
Obviously, the internet still exists today in a significantly more evolved form.
Hell, if you’re reading this article, you’re using it right now; but, back in the mid-90s, the internet was only just beginning to make its way into people’s homes and local libraries.
In fact, it was very common for homes — even those of middle-class families — to not own either a computer or an internet connection.
When the web (as it was then colloquially known) was first introduced back then, it cost somewhere around $10 for a monthly subscription, which would in turn get you around five hours of free internet access.
Beyond that, you would need to pay anywhere between three and five dollars for every extra hour of internet you used.
And, by the way, most connections back then were — at best — 56 kilobytes per second (which is at least 90 times slower than the connection you’re currently using if you have a low-level broadband connection).
Nevertheless, we still flocked to message boards and fansites dedicated to the topics we were most interested in.
Animated gifs reigned supreme during this period, as did terrible colour schemes and frameset-based designs.
While we have fond memories of those times, we definitely wouldn’t want to go back to them now.
This is probably the most bizarre and strange of all 90s trends; and that’s a pretty commendable feat, seeing as the decade was filled to the brim with nonsensical crazes and also saw the widespread acceptance of the bumbag (to be fair, bumbags were kind of an ingenius piece of fashion-based engineering).
Slime was sold to kids in tubs (no, we’re not making this up), and would provide them with hours of entertainment due to its deep lime hue and amorphous forms.
For the life of us, we can’t remember what we actually did with this stuff.
Some of it would glow in the dark, and other products were infused with glitter.
Still, there were slime products that didn’t actually have any particularly distinguishable qualities other than being, well, slime; and this stuff sold well enough to warrant a huge range of products.
In general, kids back then just seemed to like gross toys. Slime was even a huge part of Nickelodeon in the 80s and 90s, with kids who lost in certain competitions being doused in the stuff.
According to Bill Buchanan, who was a crew member on the popular show You Can’t Do That on Television, the slime was made from a concoction of applesauce, oatmeal, vanilla pudding, and — of course — green food dye.
10 Beanie Babies
Did you ever hear about the father who blew $100,000 on Beanie Babies? Yup, it’s a true story.
His son, Chris Robinson, actually made a documentary about it called Bankrupt by Beanies.
Apparently, his dad thought that he was going to be able to use the eventual profits from selling rarer Beanie Babies to pay for his five kids’ separate college tuitions.
In all fairness, his intentions were obviously pure. And who wasn’t fooled by this craze back in the day?
These cute plush toys were manufactured en masse, while the company that turned them into one of the biggest 90s trends successfully touted them as “future collectibles”.
They were found in happy meals and Hallmark stores, Toys ‘R’ Us, and anywhere else that was happy to take money people couldn’t seem to get rid of quick enough.
Unfortunately for some, the vast majority of the toys — and there were thousands of different versions — never reached a collector’s value higher than they held during the initial craze. Consequently, many people lost a considerable sum of money.
There’s two things we can take away from Beanie Babies: one is to be vigilante about what people are trying to sell you, and to question the worth of your material purchases.
The second is that there was actually a couple who, during their divorce proceedings, were photographed dividing their collection of the then immensely-popular toys on the floor of the courtroom as part of their separation. So, go Google that.