Pretty much all millennials will tell you the ’90s was the best decade to grow up in. The kids of the ’90s were born within a world before the technology boom. We actually played outside. Let me take you back to your youth with a taste of ’90s nostalgia.
The ’90s… The decade that, some would say, defined today’s pop culture. The decade of Shell suits, bum bags, and the transition from the ’80s mullet.
I was born in the mid-’80s but grew up in the ’90s. I loved everything about the ’90s. Apart from the terrible experience I had at school it really is a decade to remember.
Who remembers ‘playing out’. If you mention that to a kid these days, they look at you like your stupid. We had to go in when the street lights came on. In my case, if we were playing on the field out the back of our house, rather than my mam shouting and sounding like a fish wife, she’d blow a whistle. As soon as people heard the whistle… They knew our tea was ready. Sometimes before we even did. Modern mobile phones were only just starting to come out and were still the size of an ironing board and cost about 98p per second to ring someone, so no one really had one.
We did this really strange thing… we interacted with people, face to face… I know, bare with me on this one. If you’re a Generation-Z, your mind is about to be blown… we asked our friends to their face, what they had for tea… after they had their tea! That’s just madness right?! We could have taken a photo beforehand but we’d have had to go to supersnaps and get the whole film developed, wait 3 days then we could have shown you. Along with a few photos of aunt Ethel’s 70th birthday and a photo of a thumb.
Mrs. F and I have been watching a TV show lately on Chanel 5 with a countdown of the best songs of the ’90s. It made us look back at our youth and reminisce. Incidentally, Channel 5 didn’t start broadcasting until 1997… So, let’s take a look at a few of my top picks from the ’90s nostalgia archive, in no particular order.
These were probably, the most addictive, frustrating, annoying, stressful, but, brilliant toys in the ’90s. You had to keep this little electronic device on you, literally everywhere you went, just to keep the bloody thing alive. It was a digital pet, made up of 6 pixels. That in all fairness was quite harsh. If you didn’t look after it, it died. If it died, your Mam would just be fuming at you. She spent something like a tenner on a toy that is now totally useless because the digital animal is dead and you couldn’t do anything to reset it. Imagine having a Tamagochi now… “sorry, one moment, I just need to play with my Tamagotchi for 2 minutes”. people would just think you’re being vulgar.
I absolutely loved Pogs. It was one of many toy crazes that hit the UK in the ’90s. It created a lot of playground hate though. The aim of the game, was for both players to stack some Pogs discs in a pile, chuck a slammer on the pile, however many Pogs fell of the stack the winning player keeps them. If you had a shiny metal slammer, you were the one to beat. No one beats a metal slammer. I vaguely remember being a champion for about a week. Until I was beaten by a much heavier shiny slammer.
Apple Macintosh Classic
This is just because I’m a technology geek. Unless you were super-wealthy, no home user could afford one of these. They cost an absolute fortune. Schools, however, got a chunk of money in the ’90s to invest in the upcoming technology boom that was about to hit in the year 2000. No one was allowed to touch the Mac’s unless you had been pre-selected to by the ICT in some sort of weird initiation ceremony. And even then you were only allowed to use word processing and spreadsheets, to make some pointless traffic light simulation.
I think every kid must have owned one of these at some point in the ’90s. Everyone had a Filofax, Mums and Dads etc. It was the kid’s turn to feel as important as their parents did. The Funfax was full of random but useful stuff for a kid. It had jokes, stickers, activities, a calendar, contact list. You could even buy additional inserts, like books, and academics for it. If you were really adventurous you could get the SpyFile where you can crack mysteries and had to do all sorts of tasks.
Ok, if you were born after the year 2000, you have no idea of the struggles we had. You panic over the wifi being down for 5 minutes… try spending 30 minutes just trying to get onto the internet. Especially at tea time!
Let me set the scene; you turn on the family computer that was bought from Tiny and you install the Freeserve dialup internet CD that you got free with it. You double-click the little icon. SQUEEEEEEEEAK, SQWAAAAAARK, BRRRRRR, BEEEEEEP, SQUUUURK. Then all of a sudden you hear a click then a faint voice coming from your computer. It’s your Grandma on the phone to your Mum wondering if she can take her to get her pension because uncle Keith has to take Sharon to the hairdressers. Then, after a pointless 30-minute telephone conversation you manage to get back onto the internet and try to download 1 song from Napster to then realise it is going to take approximately 7 weeks and 3 days, just to listen to Cotton Eyed Joe.
Mobile phones were out in the ’70s, but nothing like this. The Nokia 3310, was and still is, one of the most robust and solid phones known to man. The games you could play on it were phenomenal, the graphics were out of this world. I’m being totally sarcastic. This phone was literally a brick that could ring people. In one of the games, Snake, you basically had a line that went around the screen following a dot. It was incredibly addictive though.
If you were feeling adventurous, you could even change the operator logo to whatever you wanted. All you had to do was wait until your Mum and Dad went out, look through the newspaper and find an advert page for ringtones and logos. Then find the logo you wanted, then ring the premium rate number from the house phone, and the logo would be sent as a text message. Then… deny all knowledge of the phone call.
Looking back on the ’90s
I loved the ’90s. Every millennial, like me, will always be stuck between the transition of old skool and the technological world we live in now. It’s probably why we all like a bit of 90s nostalgia. In some cases this may be a good thing, we kind of had the best of both offline and online life. We evolved as technology evolved.
I’m sure I’m not the only one who misses dressing like someone from East17 and not caring because that was the fashion back then. Or rushing home from school to watch ZZZap. Zig & Zag before school and Saved by the bell on a Sunday afternoon. Taping the top 40 while your Mam cooks Sunday lunch, Kapa tracksuits, and going to blockbuster on a Saturday evening.
What were your best bits of the ’90s?