Student Life Archives (2001-2008)

I Love the ’90s

MCT Campus

For many of us, the 1990’s presented the pinnacle for everything pop culture and entertainment. When we were young and carefree, our days were spent with our friends partaking in fads of all kinds. Whether you were the quiet kid or the kid who always had the latest and coolest gadget, there were so many fads everywhere that simply every kid found a niche.

When you think about the ’90s, it’s practically impossible to overlook the crazes that swept the nation, like the rise of classic bubblegum pop and undeniably intriguing (and extremely annoying) gadgets and toys like virtual pets and Beanie Babies.

So take a seat and read on for a trip down memory lane as we look at a few favorite fads from a truly remarkable decade.

Tamagotchis/insert other
annoying virtual pet here

Time Frame: 1996-1997

The rise of virtual pets during the 1990s was something that every student remembers. In fact, these virtual pets were more than mere toys – they were status symbols, advanced gadgets that helped to define a kid. For many students with first-time boyfriends/girlfriends, fake rings and other normal objects used to display affection were ignored. Instead, enter Tamagotchis. Boys that were lucky enough to have extra Tamagotchis would often give them to their first girlfriends and vice versa.

Without a doubt, it was a big deal – a very big deal. At a time when stores were constantly selling out of the little electronic playthings, it was inconceivable and even ridiculous to think that, in a short matter of time, Tamagotchis would be outdated, thrown away, sold on eBay for a penny and ultimately, just another thing of the past. Still, in the years 1996 and 1997, Tamagotchis were all the rage for students like Sarah Johnson.

“I was lucky enough to have four of them. I only bought one myself; the rest I received as gifts,” said sophomore Sarah Johnson. “In school, people would always look after them in class. Actually, kids looked after them more than they did with their own real pets. I remember girls cried when their Tamagotchis would die; it was very dramatic. After kids got tired of them, they would just purposely try to kill them. Boys also played with them, but just in private. When kids would have big collections of Tamagotchis, they would often carry them around on one big keychain – we all thought we were really cool.”

And clearly, at the time, we all were.

Time Frame: 1991-mid 1995

Said to have originated in Hawaii during the 1920s, Pogs reappeared in the States in the early 1990s, targeting mostly young children and pre-teens. Pogs could either be played as a game or just traded and collected as individual pieces (caps), depending on the preference of the gamer. Each pog, or cap, featured a picture or a popular cartoon character. In fact, pogs are seen as the first major fad of the 1990s, with its popularity tapering off by the middle of the decade.

Senior Kim Claggett was one student who was particularly affected by the pog craze.
“Pogs were the most awesome things ever,” said Claggett. “I used to have huge cases full of them, and my sisters and I would play them with our friends. I remember going shopping with my mom for them all the time. I would play with them at school and trade them with my friends. In particular, I remember the Slammer pog, which was the special one. I actually still have them today.”

Pogs would often be played at school, causing them to actually become banned from schools in different areas across the United States. Pogs’ popularity began to diminish, however, as the decade progressed, and by 1995 pogs were no longer being traded nor played.

Beanie Babies
Time Frame: 1993-1996

During the earlier part of the decade, a form of stuffed animals filled with plastic beans made its way into the American marketplace. These beanbag-like stuffed animals came to be known as Beanie Babies, a fad that dominated a good chunk of the decade.

Even as the original Beanie Babies were fading, McDonald’s got the “creative” idea to create yet another obsessive fad by introducing miniature Beanie Babies in its Happy Meals. Kids and adults alike consumed massive amounts of fried food just to get these collectibles. Parents would stand in long lines to get new shipments for their kids or for themselves, hoping to make a killing on eBay in the future.
During their peak, Beanie Babies were all the rage for students like sophomore Hillary Voth.

“I received them mostly as presents from my parents and other relatives,” reminisced Voth. “My parents always told me never to take off the tags, which was like the worst thing that you could ever do to a Beanie Baby. I used to keep them in my closet, but many of my friends and fellow classmates would bring them to school to show them off. Nowadays, all of my Beanie Babies are hidden under my bed somewhere.”

These infectious animals found their place in millions of kids’ homes during the 1990s. They can now be found in bargain bins at toy stores, but some especially loved babies are still being kept as keepsake items.

Boy Bands
Time Frame: 1996-1999

Although we may not want to truly admit it, the popularity of boy bands during the mid-to-late ’90s was a part of daily life. In a time when we were all approaching and dealing with the trials and tribulations of puberty and adolescence, many students remember finding comfort and solace in the simple harmonies of these boy bands.

In a way, these boy bands helped to create an escape from the sometimes-harsh reality of middle school and stressful teenage years. Bands such as the Backstreet Boys and *NSync seemed to pervade music channels like MTV and VH1, and some days it seemed like the only music videos in rotation were those coming from these boy bands.

For many students, the first CDs that we ever purchased on our own were the debut albums of the Backstreet Boys, 98 Degrees, Savage Garden and *NSync. For students like sophomore Ashley Slaughter, many days in elementary and middle school were spent lingering over the latest boy bands.

“In school, every teenage girl had her locker decorated with pictures and posters of various boy bands,” recalled Slaughter.

Moreover, many Wash. U. students remember going to their first-ever concerts to see these boy bands.

“My first concert that I went to was the Backstreet Boys,” said sophomore Sarah Podolsky. “I was really excited at the time.”

Retrospectively, it is sometimes difficult to understand how kids actually liked boy bands, but for many teenagers growing up during the ’90s, boy bands represented something simple, constant and fun.

These fads are just a few that swept the nation during the 1990s, providing kids and pre-teens with hours of entertainment and fun on a regular basis. For many of us, these fads were not only fun, but they were also a way of escaping the inevitability of growing up.

Nowadays, students reflect on these fads and often relive their youth by cranking up the boy band music during homework slumps or discussing whose Beanie Baby empire was greater. We like to reflect on how these fads helped to define us or just, you know, make us look cool.

Goosebumps Book Series
Time Frame: 1992-1997

Man, that R.L. Stine sure was a terrific guy. With classic titles like, “Welcome to Dead House,” “Stay Out of the Basement” and “Monster Blood,” no one can deny the sheer genius that was Goosebumps. Spin-off series such as Goosebumps 2000, parodies such as “Gooseflumps” and the popular “Fear Street” series (also written by Stine) that was targeted towards older teenagers also came to dominate the ’90s and all reflected the huge success of the original series. The series proved to be so popular that a television show based on the series was created, which also managed to garner much success and attention from both kids and pre-teens alike. Everyone seems to remember Goosebumps, and their surprise endings, and everyone certainly had a personal favorite from the series.

For senior Lolu Adeyanju, the Goosebumps series brings back many positive memories.

“I thought the Goosebumps series was great,” said Adeyanju. “All my friends used to read them. My favorite book was about an evil dummy. When I got a little older, I also used to read the Fear Street series, which was darker and, at the time, very intense. I stopped reading Goosebumps when the 150th book in the series came out-by that time, it was just too much.”

Similarly, junior Chris Riha also had fond memories of the series.

“I started reading Goosebumps in second grade until the end of elementary school, which is when I turned to the Fear Street series,” said Riha. “I liked them because they got me reading, but in retrospect they’re a little trashy. Still, I was obsessed with Goosebumps.”

For many of us, Goosebumps was the first time we actually had fun reading.

Print This Post Print This Post

No Comments Yet

You can be the first to comment!

Student Life is the independent student newspaper of Washington University in St. Louis. Keep in touch with Washington University by subscribing to an RSS feed of our stories or an RSS feed of our comments. Privacy Policy | Comments Policy | Web Policy