19 Nostalgic Things Older Millennials Love That Younger Millennials Don’t Understand

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When people talk about "millennials," it usually feels like a massive generalization (and, more often than not, an insult). According to The Atlantic, the millennial designation has been assigned to anyone born between 1982 and 2004. Aside from the fact that this timespan captures a massive number of humans that can't possibly be described based on the theories of a few so-called experts, it also loops into one generation people who were raised with wildly different cultural experiences. I'm a millennial, but so are my younger sisters — and, of the four of them, I would say that not one of them would have the same warm spots in their heart for the shows, movies, and toys that were such a part of my childhood and early tweendom. In that spirit, I've pulled together a list of nostalgic things older millennials love that younger millennials don't understand. Because if we're all going to be called the same thing, we really need to educate each other.

This list accounts mostly for the late '80s and early '90s, along with a few things that didn't make it big until the later '90s and early aughts, but were perfectly timed to rock older millennials' worlds. Everyone can benefit from some of this culture, even if it doesn't bring a tear to their eye like it does mine.

The Macarena


It was good enough for the crowd at the 1996 Democratic National Convention, and in the years after the dance hit first released in 1993, it was good enough for pretty much everyone. The song gets stuck in your head and the moves are impossible to forget, so it's no wonder the Macarena has such nostalgic staying power.

Muppet Babies


According to Entertainment Weekly, Disney Junior will reboot the late-'80s animated classic in a computer-animated style for 2018, but older millennials will never get over the OG version.


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Before Voice Memos were a thing, there was Talkgirl, the handheld voice recorder that allowed '80s and '90s kids everywhere to immortalize their thoughts on tape and make their own audiobooks (if you were me, at least). This was pretty high-tech stuff!

"How Rude!"


The Tanner family is back thanks to Fuller House, but unless you got to see the original Full House episodes in real time, I doubt you can fully (see what I did there?) appreciate the franchise's best loved catchphrases, more specifically, "How rude!" Younger millennials can quote it, of course, but not with the same sense of history.



Tiger Electronics (a throwback in itself, I know) debuted the HitClips digital audio player in 1999, but only kids at the older end of the millennial spectrum would have been at the right age to get their hands on one. Proud owners only had to slip in a cartridge — one cartridge per song — to listen to the sweet, sweet sounds of Avril Lavigne, Backstreet Boys, Pink, and *NSYNC.



As if we needed another reason to love David Bowie! Labyrinth premiered in 1986, distinguishing itself almost immediately as the must-watch movie for any child who never wanted to sleep again (me!). Just the thought of this one fills me with both nostalgia and dread.

The Oregon Trail


No list of nostalgic references to the '80s and '90s would be complete without a moment of silence for the many weary and pixellated travelers who lost their lives to dysentery or were tipped over while fording a river in their wagon. This game definitely looks super lame to anyone born after 1996, but the rest of us know that it was the best thing ever to happen to floppy disks.

Poodle Skirts


Poodle skirts were technically a product of the '50s, but wearing them to parties was, like, the thing to do 40 years later. I was invited to no less than ten sock-hop theme parties before the end of elementary school, and I cried happy tears when I learned I'd be able to repurpose my beloved poodle skirt as the costume for a class play.

The Princess Diana Beanie Baby

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Older millennials are probably emotionally triggered by the image of just about any Beanie Baby, but the Princess Diana special edition bear is at another level entirely. Remember how jealous you were of your classmates whose moms had gotten their hands on one?

A School Library Card Catalog


There was no better place to learn a little self-reliance than in the stacks of your elementary school library. Lesson one? The basics of the card catalog, an institution that I'm pretty sure is now basically defunct.

Brian Dunkleman


When the original iteration of American Idol premiered on Fox in 2002, older millennials were at the prime age to really enjoy it — and host Ryan Seacrest wasn't the polished (and controversial) media magnate we know today. He also wasn't alone. Brian Dunkleman was there too, and Dunkleman's largely unexplained disappearance from the show is a source of angst for many an early viewer.

Care Bears


The only thing more '80s than Care Bears is Spandex. These cute characters have timeless kiddie appeal, but only those of us who were there at the beginning can really understand what it was like to witness their rise.

'Blank Check'

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Ah, yes — the film that's fueled more than 20 years of unrealistic views on money! Blank Check was a Disney Channel staple in the early '90s, but you rarely hear about it anymore.

Lisa Frank


As a child of the early '90s, there was absolutely nothing in my life that I wanted not to be Lisa Frank. I really did gotta have it. While there's definitely an awareness of the brand among the younger members of the millennial generation, they were never diehards like us.

Nancy Kerrigan


Before she was the punchline of I, Tonya or a coach on The Bachelor Winter Games, Nancy Kerrigan was the angelic golden child of American figure skating. She won a silver medal at the 1994 Winter Olympics, automatically earning the devotion of rapt young people everywhere.

Disney Sunday Movie


Before we started joking about the Sunday Scaries, we had the Disney Sunday night movie... and the more I think about it, the more I wonder if that weekly tradition was the only thing keeping the scaries away in the first place.

"Fraggle Rock'


Jim Henson had another home run with Fraggle Rock, which aired between 1983 and 1987 and in syndication for years after that. And that theme song! Drawing a blank? "Dance your cares away..." I bet you've got it now.

Dear Diary

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A kinder, gentler smartphone that was more interested in your feelings than your to-do list, Dear Diary promised to lock your secrets behind a password. It also had a calculator and organizer, so it was practical too!

'Reading Rainbow'


Reading seemed really cool to us '90s kids thanks to Reading Rainbow, which made it easy for young bookworms to believe that books could take them places in more ways than one.