It's easy to wax nostalgic about the '90s, a time gone by when "thrifting" became a verb. It seemed like such a simple, unspoiled time, and for many of us, it's easy to look fondly on our '90s favorites and wish we still had some of them today. In the '90s, it was exciting to hear the beep of your call waiting (if you were lucky enough to have it), you kept your massive Lip Smacker collection in a trusty Caboodle, and there was nothing more exciting than getting the latest issue of Sassy or YM and taking the quiz with your favorite Gelly Roll.
When the internet was in its infancy — you remember, back when you had dial up and you couldn't be online and on the phone at the same time — we had to get our information from actual paper books and magazines. And, though we all coveted a cellphone, we really didn't want to carry around those heavy (not to mention expensive) gadgets that Zack Morris used on Saved By the Bell, or Richard Gere toted in Pretty Woman. Try fitting one of those in your purse.
But for all lack of efficiency or how comically low-tech even our high-tech toys were, sometimes, it's still hard not to miss the things that are still obsolete today. Things have changed so much, and so fast, I'm sure I'm not the only one who misses these 15 things from the '90s — secretly or not. Why not wear that '90s nostalgia like a badge of honor? There's nothing to be ashamed of here!
1. Actual Phone Conversations
In the '90s it was totally normal to spend hours actually talking on the phone to our friends. Before texting, talking was most likely one of the top three activities of most '90s kids, and you did it using a landline. I didn't have call waiting, so my best friend would sometimes dial the operator and ask her to make an emergency breakthrough on my phone line (this was a real thing) so she could get in touch with me for some non-emergency matter, like what I was wearing to school the next day. These days, if you need to reach me, please for the love of god, send me a text.
2. Getting Your Favorite Magazine in the Mail and Taking the Quiz
As a middle-schooler in the '90s, there was nothing more exciting than coming home from school to find the latest issue of your favorite '90s magazine like Seventeen, Sassy or YM. Of course the first thing I flipped to was the quiz section to find out things like, "how to know if your crush really likes you?" or "how far would you go to be cool?" Before I could find these answers online, the magazine quiz was the go-to for answering most of my pressing questions.
3. Your Trusty Pager
Before every first grader had a cellphone, many kids had pagers. Most of my friends did, although alas, I did not (see above about not having call waiting). Paging your friends when you couldn't reach them at home was the way to track them down in the '90s after you outgrew the "looking for the bikes in the front yard thing." I often paged my best friend "911" to ask her things like, "what are you doing tonight?" These days pretty much the only people who still wear pagers are doctors, because reaching them in an actual emergency is still important.
4. High Shine Lip Gloss
Lip gloss was a right of passage for most '90s girls. My favorite was Maybelline's Kissing Potion. This slick and tasty roll-on came in a variety of fruit flavors (and scents), and it made me feel like I could one day actually look as sophisticated as Julia Roberts. I'm still working on that.
When I was in fifth grade, everyone seemed to have a Caboodle, so of course I got one too. What is a tween doing with so much make-up? Most of my make-up was pilfered from my mom, who frequently bought things at department store make-up counters so she could get the free gift. Most of the free gifts ended up in my Caboodle, which of course was a must-take when spending the night at a friend's house.
6. Paper Fortune Tellers
Forget seeing a psychic, the paper fortune teller knew all. This one went by many names, including "cootie catcher," "chatterbox," "salt cellar," and "whirlybird." The best thing about this was that you could decide what each square would say, therefore dictating the "fortunes" of your friends.
7. Actual Video Stores
Want to watch movie or rent a video game? Let's make it a Blockbuster night! '90s kids spent Friday and Saturday nights perusing new releases and old favorites at their (probably now defunct) neighborhood video store. Before video streaming was a thing, the only way to get access was to rent a VHS or DVD, which means you actually had to leave your house, and most likely drive, to a store that specialized in this sort of thing. Did you know that if you lose one of those movies, or perhaps leave it in the car on a 90-degree day, they charge you up to $100? Yeah, I found that out the hard way.
8. Epic Wardrobe Options
I mean, not to knock today or anything, but the '90s were my favorite decade for fashion. From flannel shirts and combat boot to baby-doll dresses, this was truly one decade of fashion I loved... and guess what? It's back. People walking around Los Angeles these days look they went shopping in my closet circa 1996. Check out these '90s fashion trends that I am so glad are back.
9. Actual Record Stores That Sold Actual CDs and Cassettes
These days, you most likely buy most of your music from iTunes or subscribe to music streaming service like Spotify. Back in the'90s, though, there were these really cool things called record stores — though they mostly sold posters, tapes, and CDs. This amazing phenomenon was chronicled in the '90s cult film Empire Records. Confession: I actually worked at a record store as one of my first jobs, and it was just like Empire Records. I'm not kidding.
10. Mad Libs
I liken Mad Libs to Cards Against Humanity — you know, before Cards Against Humanity were actually a thing. All '90s kids can remember laughing until their sides hurt while filling out Mad Libs with a friend.
11. Paper Bag Book Covers
Instead of being given a laptop, '90s kids were given stacks of school books that we were warned not to destroy. We went about keeping our books safe by using mom's paper grocery bags to fashion into sturdy book covers.
13. Super Cool Scrunchies
All '90s kids with long hair had a drawer of scrunchies at the ready. Usually you wore one in your hair and another around your wrist as a fashion accessory (dear god, why?), you know, in case the first one broke or something. This is one trend I am glad hasn't made a resurgence.
14. Ring Pops, AKA The King Of Bling
In the '90s you could wear and eat your bling. All '90s kids remember ring pops and could often be seen walking around sucking on the rings on their fingers. If a boy or girl you liked gave you a ring pop, well, that was really special.
15. The Ability To Get Places Without GPS
In the '90s, even if you were quite young, you most likely knew the routes to familiar places like your best friend's house or your school. If you didn't, your parents might consult a paper thing called a map. I remember asking my mom when I was very young how she just remembered how to get everywhere. It seemed so daunting to me. These days we overly rely on our smart phones, and many of us don't know how to get to where we're going. Sadly, some people even follow the GPS when it tells them to do something foolish, like drive into a lake. Good times.