It is a truth universally acknowledged that a child of the ‘90s in possession of a Trapper Keeper must be in want of all the things every ‘90s kid had in their Trapper Keeper. The beauty of it, though, was how personalized each child’s Trapper Keeper could be — from its exterior right on down to the pencils lovingly cradled in its requisite pencil pouch. We may all have had more or less the same type of supplies tucked away between those Velcroed covers… but the actual details of them all made them uniquely our own.
School was so much fun in the ‘90s, was it not?
Make no mistake — the Trapper Keeper itself was by far the most important school supply a ‘90s kid could own. It was the ‘90s kid equivalent of the smartphone (and the '70s and '80s kid equivalent, as well — Trapper Keepers date back to 1978): It kept you organized, it reminded you to do your homework, it kept a few nifty tricks up its sleeve to make day-to-day life easier, and more. But in much the same way that a smartphone’s usefulness depends on what apps you install on it, a Trapper Keeper, of course, was only as good as the things we decked them out with. It couldn’t keep you organized if you didn’t have any folders or dividers to do the heavy lifting; it couldn’t help you hack the classroom if you didn’t have any useful tools tucked away in it; and it obviously couldn’t keep you amused if you didn’t decorate it to the proverbial nines.
Here are those things. May they live long in our memories, and in our hearts.
One for each subject, of course. Bonus points if at least one of them was Lisa Frank.
2. A Snazzy Notebook
Because loose-leaf paper was boring. More bonus points if this, too, was Lisa Frank.
Why? No reason. Just… because.
(These were also probably Lisa Frank, too. Lisa Frank is love. Lisa Frank is life.)
4. A Pencil Pouch
Yes, you had a separate pencil case. Yes, it was probably a mechanical one. Yes, you had an additional pouch for pencils, erasers, and pens in your Trapper Keeper anyway.
5. Yikes! Pencils
There was no pencil like a Yikes! pencil. I mean, who could resist taking notes with a tool that was half bright purple, half lime green, and all awesome?
6. A Pencil Troll
While it’s true that it probably didn’t fit on top of your Yikes! pencils (they had some pretty oddly-shaped erasers), you usually kept at least one regular No. 2 around specifically for the purposes of troll toppage. Or you had at least one pencil with a troll actually glued to the top. Either way, trolls were had, and they were magnificent.
7. Approximately 50 Billion Gelly Rolls
Or, y’know, five. 10, maybe, if you were lucky. Basically you jammed as many of them as possible into your pencil pouch, because of course you did. And hey, at least we can still buy Gelly Rolls today!
8. And Also A Couple Of Milky Pens
9. And A Plain Old Ballpoint With Blue Or Black Ink, Too
Because your teacher wouldn’t accept assignments written in Gelly Roll or milky pen.
The kind in a bottle with a brush, because those nifty little pens—or, even better, the ones that just put a strip of something resembling white tape over your mistakes — hadn’t been invented yet. Odds are it opened and leaked all over everything in your pencil pouch at least once, too.
11. A Notebook Three-Hole Punch
It usually fastened right into the rings of your Trapper Keeper. You always felt so special being able to hole-punch your own math assignments without having to wait for the big ol’ metal one that usually lived on your teacher’s desk to make its way to you. You can also still buy these, by the way, so if you have a notebook or binder hanging around that needs a little somethin' somethin', here you go.
12. A Colorful Protractor
You rarely used it, but you had one anyway.
13. And A Colorful Compass To Match
The kind that helped you draw circles, not the kind that helped you figure out which way was north.
14. A Couple Of Random Butterfly Clips
You kept them in your Trapper Keeper’s pencil pouch; you kept them in your JanSport; you kept them in your locker; basically you kept a handful of them pretty much everywhere you might possibly need them. You never know when you’re going to have to get your hair out of your face by fastening it back with a bunch of tiny and mostly impractical plastic accessories.
15. A Paper Fortune Teller
For recess. Or, if you were feeling rebellious, for hiding under your desk when you were supposed to be paying attention during your geography lesson.
16. At Least One Piece Of Paper With That Wacky “S” Thing Doodled In The Margins
I say “at least one,” but it’s likely that literally every piece of paper in your Trapper Keeper had that “S” drawn all over it.
17. A Pocket Calculator
You didn’t get a proper graphing calculator until later on — and when you finally did, it was way too bulky to fit anywhere other than in the front pocket of your backpack. A pocket calculator, at least, fit nicely in your pencil pouch.
18. A Dum-Dum Wrapper
You earned the Dum-Dum by getting a 100 on your spelling test. You ate it on the bus on the way home, and because you were an environmentally-minded child, you stuck the wrapper in your Trapper Keeper so you could throw it out properly later… except that you kept forgetting to actually stick it in the trash can. Ah well. Points for trying.
19. Your Lunch Money
If you didn’t already have a Lunchable stashed in your locker, that is.
20. Something You Weren’t Supposed To Have
Pokemon cards? Pogs? Something else your teacher confiscated? Take your pick.