Earlier this year, while cleaning out a storage unit, I unearthed a virtual treasure trove from the past: My family's dusty old collection of VHS tapes, circa the '90s. Whilst I had to partake in a moment of silence-slash-sorrow since I don't actually own any equipment outdated enough to play these tapes, just seeing them sure brought me back and got me thinking about all of the things you definitely watched on your VCR in the '90s. After all, the VCR had achieved technological dominance by the mid '80s — by the time the '90s rolled around, there was practically one in every household. Fortunately for '90s kids, there was also no shortage of entertaining stuff to watch.
We had our classic Saturday morning cartoons. We had angsty teen series. We had now cult-status movies like Clueless and Pulp Fiction. It wasn't always such glamorous fare we watched on our old-fashioned VCRs, though. Well, in our defense, they were cutting-edge at the time... but I digress. The point is that since we didn't have the kind of technological instant gratification back then that we enjoy today, we couldn't be nearly as picky about what we watched. The luxury of idling through a streaming service's extensive database to find the perfect flick wasn't really an option. Rather, we had to make do with what was readily available.
For a lot of us, that looked like the following 10 things '90s kids could be found watching via VCR on any given day.
1. Your Golden Moment
Maybe it was the day you scored the winning goal. Or that time you tapped danced your way into first place at the school talent show. You know the drill — you'd pretend like you were mortified your Mom and Dad recorded the moment ... but you watched it in secret and marveled at your mad skills every chance you got.
2. The Entire Series of Your Favorite Show
It's not like we had Netflix back then, people. No, we had to hike four miles uphill during a blizzard just to rent VHS tapes from Blockbuster. OK, so maybe sans the blizzard. But we really did have to undertake the tedious process of watching entire series like Full House and ALF via VHS — that required commitment!
3. That Educational Series Your Mom Ordered By Phone From An Infomercial
Reading Rainbow? Check. Explorations brought to you by Encyclopedia Britannica? You betcha. Your parents had to find some way to stimulate your brain and counteract the torpor caused by copious amounts of your favorite '90s snacks.
4. An Old Super Bowl Game
While you maintain your stance to this very day that recording live sporting events is just silly, your dad was a hardcore Bills fan and refused to let go of their three-peat Bowl appearances in the early '90s. And if you ever accidentally recorded over one, well, hell hath no fury like a '90s dad-slash-superfan who just found out you erased a Super Bowl tape.
5. Embarrassing Home Videos
Of course your parents recorded you doing ridiculous things. And of course they held onto those recordings for your entire life, just waiting for the right moment to spring them on your unsuspecting adult self. Probably at your wedding. My parents showed everyone in our entire town the choreographed rendition of Sir Mix-a-Lot's "Baby Got Back" my siblings and I once performed at a small family gathering. Because that was so appropriate for a couple of preteens in acid wash jeans.
6. Your Parents' Wedding
Depending on how cool your parents are, this might have been a pretty rad bonding moment. On the other hand, it could also have been uncomfortable and so boring you couldn't keep your eyes open long enough to see your mom make it down the aisle.
7. All of Adam Sandler's Best Movies
The '90s were definitely Sandler's best years — think Airheads, Billy Madison, Happy Gilmore, The Wedding Singer, The Waterboy, and Big Daddy. All of which I still own on VHS.
8. Richard Simmons' "Sweatin' to the Oldies"
Sing it with me now! "It's my party and I'll cry if I want to, cry if I want to, cry if I want to, you would cry too if it happened to you." And by happened to you, I clearly mean your mom forcing you to follow along every morning to this now iconic Richard Simmons workout series. Although, to be fair, my little '90s calves were the stuff of legends.
9. The Soaps Your Mom Missed While She Was at Work
Who could really blame your mom? It only took a few days of failing to watch soap operas like Guiding Light and Days of Our Lives in the '90s to miss sweeping storylines involving things like clones and pivotal characters mysteriously reappearing years after falling off a yacht (you get the gist).
10. Movies Taped Off Of TV
VHS tapes were expensive, y'all. So when your older cousin handed you a recording with no label, you were thrilled to find everything from The Little Mermaid to Good Burger in your VHS collection. Score!
11. A New Kids on the Block Concert (Or Two, Or Three, Or Seven)
Oh, c'mon. We're all friends here ... you're in the circle of trust. I won't tell anyone you totally watch NKOTB concert tapes all the time, if you won't tell anyone that I did too.
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