9 Optical Illusions Everyone Was Obsessed With In The '90s

When we dug something in the ‘90s, we went next level with it. We didn’t just like a thing; we liked the everloving heck out of things with a single-minded obsession (until the next trendy thing came along, that is). Take, for example, optical illusions: There were a bevy of optical illusions in the '90s with which everyone was obsessed, because... well, who knows? Maybe it was because we liked to stare at things until we went cross-eyed. Or maybe it was because we were dead set on trying to find that goshdarn 3-D sailboat in the sea of dots. Whatever the reason, optical illusions were our jam.

It’s not that these optical illusions were invented in the ‘90s, either. We can’t lay claim on them, as many had been around for decades and sometimes even generations prior to our coming of age. Still, they came into vogue at some point in the ‘90s, and we latched on. They may not have been created by ‘90s kids, but ‘90s kids loved them like they were our own.

If you grew up in the ‘90s, the odds are good that you spent a lot of time staring intently at the following optical illusions. To be honest, some of us are still trying to see that freaking sailboat.

1. Magic Eye Pictures


How many minutes of our youth were wasted standing blurry-eyed over a Magic Eye poster trying to will the hidden image to appear? If you had a dollar for every time some condescending Magic Eye master told you "don't look at it; look past it," you'd be a gazillionaire.

2. Anything By M.C. Escher

True story: My middle school English teacher had a poster of Escher's "Ascending and Descending" on her classroom wall, and my BFF must have tried to recreate "Drawing Hands" 100 times in art class. Escher's eye-bending art was the bees' knees in the '90s.

3. The Woman’s Face That Was Also Something Else

Was it a beautiful young woman looking directly at you? Or a man turned to the side, playing the saxophone? We may never know.

4. The Windows Pipe Maze Screen Saver


Be real: You could low-key watch this thing go on for hours. It was like brain yoga.

5. The Infinity Symbol


The whole gist of the infinity symbol, of course, is the optical illusion that it goes on forever and ever and ever with no end. This certainly wasn't true of the infinity symbols we doodled all over our notebooks — if you looked close enough, you could see the connecting lines — we were obsessed. (Still are, TBH.)

6. The Rabbit Duck Illusion

One of the most popular examples of an ambiguous image, the rabbit/duck made stellar chain email content. "Do you see a rabbit, or a duck? Copy, paste your answer into the subject line, and send to 10 friends or you'll have bad luck for life."

7. Devil’s Fork

We're friends, right? 'Cause, just between friends, the fact that the three prongs on the bottom of this thing magically morph into two the more I look at it blows my mind to this very day.

8. Thaumatropes


When the strings of these discs were twirled, the pictures on each side appeared to blend. This fascinated '90s kids to no end, who loved them almost as much as we did other novelty items like those little finger trap things.

9. Necker Cubes

If you were a '90s kid, you came up with every excuse possible to show off your Necker cube-sketching skills. 'Cause, really, who couldn't use a drawing of a cup full of ice?

Images: Amazon; Wikipedia Commons; Giphy (4)