9 Things You Did At The Mall On A Date In The '90s
These days I avoid the mall like the plague (which I'm partially convinced I might catch if I do go there), but growing up in the '90s was an entirely different story — the mall was my main domain, particularly when it came to my fledgling romantic interludes. If you also came of age in a somewhat suburban area during that decade, you likely remember all too well the things you did at the mall on a date in the '90s. And, if so, cut your choker-sporting, brown-lipstick wearing, Kate-Moss-and-Johnny-Depp-couple-obsessed self some slack. 'Twas a wildly different time for dating back then, and we were simply capitalizing on the object permanence of the one place we could convince our parents to let us pretend to be grown-ups at.
Back then, online dating wasn't really a thing, and definitely not for our age bracket. It was a time before swiping right and "ghosting" became dating buzz words, and many, many years before changing your relationship status on Facebook was considered the standard for informing the world you and your significant other were official. In the '90s, that moment came from cruising around the mall hand in hand and strategically running into a ton of your friends.
So, in homage to the simpler days of dating, let's take a nostalgic stroll down memory lane at some of the iconic things you did with your bf/gf at the mall during a '90s date.
1. Drop A Metric Ton Of Quarters At The Arcade
Because what could be more romantic than the dim glow of neon arcade game lights, right? Whatever, it was totally dreamy when your date spent a hefty chunk of change just trying to win you a giant teddy bear or capture a plush pink dog in the claw game — or when you were the one wielding the quarters.
2. Canoodle In The Movie Theater
If you were lucky enough to live near a mall with a movie theater, this was your main dating destination. No '90s mall date would have been complete with pulling up the arm rest between you and your date's seats and getting your snuggle on — at the very least. If you were a bit older or more brazen, you were definitely making out through most of Titanic.
3. Re-Fuel At The Food Court
Making laps around the mall was hard work, especially if you factor in all the calories you burned making out during the movie. Naturally, you restored your blood sugar levels by letting your date treat you to an Orange Julius and some Panda Express (or a big ol' slice of pizza at Sbarro, depending on your druthers).
4. Feel Grown AF At Spencer's
Did anyone make it through a mall trip during the '90s without a stop into Spencer's? Couples were no exception to this rule, and this time together looked a lot like giggling over the X-rated adult paraphernalia at the back of the store and/or pretending like you were old enough to even entertain the thought of taking home a set of fuzzy leopard trim handcuffs.
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5. Take Cutesy Photo Booth Pics
I can still remember the tingle of anticipation I would feel approaching a photo booth with a new boyfriend back in the day. Because, c'mon, you just knew at least one of your poses was going to include a kiss. Swoon. Of course, there was no better place in the world for said pics then taped to the door of your locker for all the world to see when you swapped books between periods.
6. Share Something Sweet (Literally)
One foolproof way to show your significant other your affection during a '90s mall date? Load 'em up with the sweet stuff. My '90s boyfriends definitely knew the way to my heart was through my sweet tooth by way of ginormous bags of gummy sharks from Sweet Factory, cinnamon pretzels from Auntie Annie's, and frothy coffee drinks at Gloria Jean's.
7. Browse The CD Selection At Sam Goody
Walking down the aisle, flipping through albums and reveling the fact you both had the same favorite bands (or at least pretended to) was romance incarnate. Coincidentally, this was also the activity of choice just after a break up. How else were you supposed to wallow in your post-relationship self pity if not with an emotionally wrought trip back to the scene of the crime? And by crime I obviously mean the moment your significant other recited the lyrics to your favorite Smashing Pumpkins jam and STOLE YOUR HEART.
8. Absolutely Nothing
By far, this is the mall date I remember most — doing next to nothing. Cruising the food court, sure. But mostly just hanging out aimlessly, occasionally checking out a store or stopping mid-mall to chat with some friends. Holding hands while walking around the indoor fountain was enough to make you swoon back then.
9. Call Your Parents To Come Pick You Up
Alas, those of us not yet old enough to drive or too broke to have yet reached the milestone-slash-teen-dream of car ownership were forced to wrap our mall dates up by heading to the nearest payphone (or breaking out our clamshell cell phone, if we were so fortunate) to summon the parental units for a ride home.