Ah, the '90s. A decade during which everything was better with body glitter, Dunkaroos were all the rage, and a shirt simply wasn't worth wearing if it wasn't cropped, tie-dyed, or emblazoned with a Big Dog logo. Yes, 'twas a time of many trends, but you may be shocked to discover some of the fads you didn't realize originated in the '90s. And that's where I come in.
Being a '90s kids, I generally kind of lump all of the incredible and incredibly bad trends of the decade together to form a sparkly, neon, Lisa Frank unicorn-and-kitten-laden mass in my mind. The good cloaks the bad, and the bad tempers the good enough to keep me from starting a campaign encouraging the entire world to revert back to a state of '90s glory. But somewhat surprisingly, I don't attribute every good, fun, or comically bad fad to ever bee-bop around to that raddest of decades — there are times I am genuinely surprised to learn certain fads were spawned by the decade in which I spent my formative years.
So in that spirit, join me on my path of enlightenment, won't you? Let's take a look at six of the fads we didn't realize originated in the '90s.
1. Now That's What I Call Music!
Unless you've been living under a rock, you've undoubtedly seen the commercials at the end of each year touting a new Now That's What I Call Music compilation. You know what I'm talking about — CDs stuffed to the gills with the biggest pop earworms of the year, which you pretended to think were lame but totally snuck into your local Sam Goody to buy. And really, who could blame you? For perspective, the only other singular orb that can contain Janet Jackson, the Backstreet Boys, K-Ci & JoJo, the Spice Girls, Hanson, Radiohead, and Marcy Playground at once is THE PLANET. So kudos to the little disc that could, and has been coming to the United States from the UK since 1998 (though to be fair, it began across the pond much earlier than that).
2. Frosted Tips
In full disclosure, this is a highly non-scientific finding. Anytime I run across a picture of someone with frosted tips (here's looking at you, Mark McGrath), I always think it looks like something straight out of the '80s. Only — surprise! — it's someone from the '90s every.single.time. That's not entirely shocking, given that I know for a fact it was a huge trend in the '90s ... which basically means it was outdated before it even began. However, after doing a little sleuthing, I was unable to verify that frosted tips were a thing at all in the '80s. Bleached hair? Sure. Permed hair? You betcha. Bleached, permed, and otherwise supremely overprocessed? Yep. But it seems as though bleaching just the tips of hair and then using gel to artfully sculpt them was a product of pure '90s ingenuity.
Let me be clear — Rollerblades, or in-line skates, were not created in the '90s. Primitive versions are rumored to have been around since the 1700s, but they certainly didn't look like the rollerblades I zipped around on in my grandma's gigantic driveway. The modern incarnation of rollerblades were invented in 1980 by Minnesota brothers Scott and Brennan Olsen, who were eager to find a way an ideal way to practice hockey in the off-season. However, the first models were plagued with serious problems and design flaw. Even after the initial kinks were worked out, distribution of rollerblades was highly limited. It was until the weight of the skates was reduced and active brake technology was added, in 1990 and 1993 respectively, that rollerblades became the coolest way to bruise our butt bone or face-plant in front of your friends.
4. Reef Sandals
Who am I kidding? I definitely still adore-slash-rock me some Reefs. I suppose I'd never really given much thought to my favorite footwear, so this coastal girl was stoked to learn the iconic sandals took off in the '90s. In 1984, Fernando and Santiago Aguerre — a set of sun-loving, entrepreneur brothers from South America — moved to Southern California and set up production of their trademark open-toe footwear. But it wasn't until the '90s that these sandals seriously took off, establishing Reef as a truly global brand.
5. Tickle Me Elmo
For some reason, I was under the impression this super-popular giggling toy was a byproduct of the 2000s. As it turns out, though, he's quite a bit older than I gave him credit for. The toy was first introduced in 1996, at which time it immediately became a massive fad — as in being bought on the internet for thousands of dollars after they sold out faster than anticipated around Christmas. There were even reports of injuries during what was dubbed "Elmo-mania." Since the, other Tickle Me toys have hit the market with similar (but never quite as intense) success, including Tickle Me Ernie, Tickle Me Big Bird, and Tickle Me Cookie Monster.
6. Power Rangers
Is it just me, or does it seem like the Power Rangers have been around forever? I kind of always assumed they were rolled out in the '80s or earlier, given they already seemed to be so established in the '90s. Such is not the case, though. In actuality, the TV series that launched the Power Rangers franchise first began broadcasting in 1993; furthermore, the Japanese show that provided the source material for Mighty Morphin Power Rangers, Kyōryū Sentai Zyuranger, originally began airing in 1992. Mighty Morphin Power Rangers lasted for only three seasons on Fox Kids in its original format, but it was picked up by Saban Entertainment in 1993 and has lived on in various incarnations ever since. It's morphin' time!