Sometimes I think the true marker of a modern society is the presence of tons of things that are, in essence, useless. I mean, if we have so many ultimately nonfunctional items cluttering up our lives, that must mean we’ve got the basics down pat, right? Then again, maybe not — the ‘90s were full of totally useless things, for example, and we definitely didn’t have everything figured out then. Heck, we still don’t have everything figured out, and we likely won’t for a while yet. Still, though: We love our trinkets, even when they serve no real purpose.
Of course, beauty is, as they say, in the eye of the beholder — so if you find value in these seemingly “worthless” things, then they’re precious treasures. Even if they’re functionally useless, their value is in their meaning, and meaning is ultimately determined by each individual person. Not to get too deep on you about it all, but, I mean, hey. Even slap bracelets can mean something special to the right human.
These 15 things? They don’t really serve a purpose in the grand scheme of things. But they sure were fun. Heck, they’re still fun, and I’m well past the age of childhood now. And sometimes, something just being fun is enough.
I mean, seriously. What is it for?
Of course, its relative uselessness was really the point of Gak; particularly in its early days, Nickelodeon was all about fun for fun’s sake — which, I would argue, Gak embodies more than anything else. Yes, even more than slime — slime had a purpose, after all (that is, to encourage a healthy sense of our own ridiculousness by ending up all over somebody’s head). Gak has no purpose. It’s just Gak.
2. Shoes That Light Up
There is no earthly reason we need our shoes to do anything other than protect our feet… and yet we’ve developed this odd habit of turning our shoes into toys, too. Heelys are made from the same mold: Do we need our shoes to double as roller skates? No — but it sure is a heck of a lot of fun when they do.
Or Pogs, or Beanie Babies, or whatever. I still think that collecting as a hobby is kind of weird. I mean, the goal is just to acquire things. Materialism at its finest. (Or, y’know, worst.)
4. Your Parents’ Cell Phone That Was The Size Of Your Head
If you need to carry a giant Mary Poppins bag just to tote around your “portable device”… well, then it’s not really that portable, is it?
I mean, let’s be honest: There is no earthly reason we needed a whole music player that would only play tiny portions of your favorite songs rendered in extraordinarily low quality. None.
6. Suspenders That Don't Actually Hold Up Anything
Looking at you, Kelly Kapowski.
7. The Dancing Baby
8. Slap Bracelets
Don’t get me wrong — I loved slap bracelets just as much as the next ‘90s kid. But that doesn’t mean the gimmick wasn’t wholly unnecessary, either.
9. Those Sand Gecko Toy Things
Do you guys remember these? They were kind of like upscale Beanie Babies. And like Beanie Babies, they didn’t really do a whole lot other than hang out wherever you plunked them, occasionally leaking their innards all over the place due to the leaks they constantly sprang.
10. Frosted Tips
Also known as the one ‘90s trend that needs to stay dead and buried.
11. Necklaces With Your Name On A Grain Of Rice
Go ahead and tell me that it actually has your name on it all you want — if it’s too tiny to read, it may as well say “blargleflargle" as far as I'm concerned.
12. Discmen With No Anti-Skip Protection
Similarly to the whole giant cell phone thing, if your portable audio device can’t handle anything other than sitting perfectly still on a tabletop, it sort of defeats the purpose.
OK, so maybe we didn’t actually adore Clippy; in fact, I’m willing to bet that most of us hated the anthropomorphic paper clip with the passion of a thousand fiery suns. But he was pretty useless, sooooo… yeah.
Fun fact: Cleverbot is still alive and well. Apparently it's had over 200 million conversations since it first went online in 1997. How's that for staying power?
15. Arnold’s Hat
It’s not big enough to keep the sun out of his face. Nor is it sized properly to keep the rain off his head. It just kind of… sits there. Confident in its uselessness. Mocking us and our desire for it to do something — anything. And when we look up and shout, “Save us!”, it will look down and whisper, “…No.”
Images: Getty Images (2); Giphy (10)