Of course, our memories deceive us. A freshly cracked open tub of Play-Doh tends to bring up all the good memories and our resilient brains tend to filter out the bad ones.
All in all, it’s a nice feeling. But did you know nostalgia used to be classified as a psychological disorder that was thought to evoke longing and pain? So, in some sense, even nostalgia itself ain’t what it used to be!
Take a look through these 50 items that were popular in the past – are they bittersweet or do they give you the warm fuzzies? It’s certainly the latter for us!)
1. Remember begging your parents for a dime or a quarter?
From candy to useless trinkets, everything inside of these machines seemed like the best thing ever and we can still feel the anticipation of hoping for a particular color or character as we opened the slot to see the prize.
2. Rocking out to Sesame Street
Remember when your music collection was limited to 4 plastic records? Simpler times…
3. The ultimate gift
Of course, Teddy Ruxpin is back for a new generation, but we have the feeling only parents who had always wanted one of their own are snapping them up for their little ones.
4. The semi-edible Easter egg
It was the piece of candy you saved until last because it was just too pretty (and it took some work to pull out any inedible parts – at least if you were a kid in the time before choking hazards were regulated).
5. Gym class fun
It was almost always a bad idea since it required about 20 kids to stand in place until it was all set up and then work together to make it open properly. There was always one kid who wanted to shake it violently so it wouldn’t soar.
But it was fun to try and run under and out of it before it came down on your head.
6. The pressure was everywhere
Remember ashtrays being ubiquitous? And the standard car cigarette lighter (that never really worked that well)?
7. The best part of the paper
Sometimes you’d even have to call the theater to see what times the movies were playing that week!
8. The big event
The order forms! The decisions! The days of begging for enough money to buy everything you wanted!
It kind of makes us want to go to a bookstore right now.
9. Home decor
And for some reason, you’d find the perfect one only to find that it was $3 more expensive than all the rest.
10. Splinter time!
That’s not to say kids don’t have fun at them now – they certainly do. But they’re missing out on a whole set of injuries that we really took for granted, from splinters to broken arms.
Remember how hard the ground was when you inevitably fell (or were pushed) off the side?
11. Stacking pencils
The amount of plastic waste one of these pencils could produce is pretty eye-opening today, but it certainly wasn’t something that concerned us in middle school.
12. Book cover night!
Did you have rules for what you could write on your book covers? Or did you cover them in stickers?
13. The worst test
That’s why it was always so embarrassing to realize that a test that looked so easy was actually really hard. And, of course, you had to do it in front of the whole gym class.
14. Movie time
While we were thrilled to see it, we never really got to watch anything fun on it. And if you sat in the back of the classroom you couldn’t see squat.
But it still seemed better than a day of regular class.
15. High-tech learning
And there was always some kid who would try to prank them by switching out their markers for permanent ones.
16. Ancient technology
And there would always be a little pile of pencil mess underneath them on the floor.
Did you ever sharpen your pencil so much that the point snapped immediately?
17. The book of secrets
It wasn’t exactly the most private way to store information, but this was long before classrooms had computers.
18. The book of everything
We did. And we managed to get ink all over our hands while doing it.
While they still print these, we can’t imagine using one anymore.
19. The AOL Instant Messenger
And if you used it with gusto, you probably spent more time than you’re willing to admit coming up with the perfect away message that made you look cool. It was always song lyrics for us – and no doubt we’d be embarrassed by every single message we ever left.
20. Taking a bite out of crime
Warning us the crooks liked to prey on houses that didn’t turn lights on or lock doors, we all became pretty vigilant about safety.
In the years the followed, McGruff likely saved a lot of kids by making them aware that they could tell an adult if they felt like they were in danger.
21. The strangest game
We can still hear the jingle in our heads even though we never owned the game.
22. School lunches
Looking back at it now, it’s pretty gross, but we’re not sure we wouldn’t take a bite just for old time’s sake.
23. Back when handheld games were educational
It felt very official walking around the house with your fancy spelling device.
You could always get grandma to buy you a new one when you were at the store too.
25. Sno Cones
Do you remember doling out sno cones to your friends?
It was a bummer when you ran out of flavor though – especially if you were one of the kids to find out the hard way the food coloring was not a valid substitute.
26. Orange and fizzy
The real trick was making a vanilla ice cream float with it though.
27. The beast
This definitely passed for fancy in the 90s and all the kids were jealous of families that had one.
28. Office toys
Even when we were too old for it, it still seemed like a legit way to pass the time – especially if they didn’t have any Ranger Rick magazines to peruse.
29. Ancient audiobooks
Do you remember the sound of the chime that signaled when it was time to turn the page?
30. Home theater system
Of course, even when it was dark and you projected it onto a white wall, it was still rather dim. But it hardly mattered to us at the time.
31. Herbie the Love Bug
We’re pretty sure we saw every Herbie movie ever made.
32. Where juice comes from
Can you still hear the sound of mixing it in the pitcher?
But we would never admit to getting any of our clothing there, no matter what.
34. Cool kids
And we were pretty proud of them, just like these kids!
35. Multiplication tables
You really have to make it harder to get the answer.
36. A real blast from the past
Alas, it remained out of reach. But seeing it really brings back memories!
37. Can you hear it?
The only problem was that you couldn’t print anything out without alerting the whole house.
38. The ultimate vehicle
If you haven’t, you’ve no doubt heard the same story over and over again from anyone that did.
39. You have died of dysentery
Have you ever looked up dysentery? It’s a really terrible way to die.
40. The department store for nerds
It’s hard to explain to anyone who doesn’t recognize it what a wonderland it truly was.
41. Tougher than it looks
But if you have some jacks lying around the house (check the attic), give it a try. It takes some serious hand-eye coordination!
42. Prehistoric VR
Granted, you couldn’t move around within the photos, but they were pretty darn cool – especially the underwater scenes.
43. Beautiful color shining bright
There was something so satisfying about making art with Lite Brights. And if you had a friend who could go off-pattern and invent their own, then a whole new world opened up to you.
44. The recent musical past
Now it’s all about telling your phone to connect and play your favorite jams.
45. In retrospect, it seems like a bad idea
Somehow, our parents were never impressed when we put the whole pack in our mouths at once.
Do you remember the kid in class who would always have some extras stored away in their pencil case?
47. True relics
And while there’s nothing inherently better about them, we’re still proud of having used them (mostly to play Where In the World Is Carmen Sandiego?).
Boredom knows no bounds.
49. Splinter tongue
It might have taken us a while to realize that you couldn’t eat them straight out of the freezer without the chance of breaking the “spoon.” But you can’t give a kid ice cream and tell them to wait!
50. We’ve always been bored
There was always some kid in class who would get in trouble for spinning their ruler while the teacher was talking.