19 Perks of Growing Up in the 90s

mixed tapes. I Love the 90's image

1.  Mixed Tapes

What a shame to know that our kids won’t know the incredible RUSH that came from pouncing on the radio in time to record 95% of Everybody Dance Now circa CC Music Factory. Or to finally snag It Smells Like Teen Spirit only to have your tape end half-way through.

2.  Slap Bracelets

When will we ever again be able to slap-on-fashion so refined?

 I Love the 90s. Yes or No. Passing a note


3.  TGIF

Family Matters. Full House. Step by Step. Hangin’ with Mr. Cooper. Dinosaurs. And of course my personal favorite, Boy Meets World. Need I say more? Flashback to sitting cross-legged on your living room floor with a Mountain Dew in one hand and your childhood in the other. Just don’t ever watch an episode of Family Matters or Full-House now. Remember it as it once was. Please, for nostalgia’s sake.

4.  Rise of the Mini-Van

And not these “Super-Vans” kids roll around in these days that will play a DVD whilst feeding you Strawberry Pop-Tarts and massaging your feet. No we’re talking Astrovan or baby-blue Chrysler Voyager, with a huge dent on the sliding door that would no longer shut all the way. Where it was not a question of if, but where and when was the van going to overheat next, leaving your family to do the stance-of-shame on the side of the highway.

5.  MTV

You know, Music Television, actually played, um, music. Seems strange but I promise it’s true.

6.  Suck and Blow

Sounds a tad bit dirtier than it is, but it was merely a game played in Lindsay Fitsgerald’s basement, passing the Queen of Hearts from one pair of lips to another. Just praying that we could somehow find a way to drop the card without it looking too obvious.

7.  MASH (the game)

Take one field-trip to a museum, a pad of paper, and a sprinkle of destiny, and before you could even exit the bus, you’d have married Frank Willington, birthed 18 kids, bought a shack in Maui, and were rocking it as a gold-medalist figure skater. How you managed to birth 18 offspring and still keep your figure-skating-figure, is still a middle-school-miracle.

8.  Prosperity-a-Plenty

Our parents stock portfolio’s were soaring on wings of eagles. Not that we cared much about such things, other than how that correlated into trips to Disneyland.

9.  Toilet Papering

I’m pretty sure us 90’s kids perfected the art of the T-Pee, which as we all know, was no easy task. Mainly because the fate of each successful T-Pee depended solely on the most fickle of co-conspirators — your friend’s mom Martha Eckel.

Somehow you had to convince Mrs. Eckel that she did in fact want to take the Astrovan out for a spin at 10 p.m., swing by the grocery store to pick up a six-month supply of toiler paper, and then wait in the dark for 45 minutes as your little sleep-over-outlaws found a place for all 124 rolls of Downy Soft on Jamie Sorenson’s giant elm trees. C’mon Mrs. Eckel, what could be better?

10.  Stick-Stickly

Well you see, he was a Popsicle stick. With googly eyes. All summer long he unveiled Nick in the Afternoon. And we loved him for it.

11.  Oregon Trail

‘You have died of dysentery’ does not sound morbid at all, but only stirs fond memories of playing Oregon Trail. The journey from Missouri to Oregon huddled around that gray, Apple computer, forging rivers and shooting buffalo, hoping that somehow you and Mary Matthews would be the only two to survive the rattlesnake bites and measles. Thus, of course, proving that God meant this as a sign that you should kiss at recess. Oh, yes that was one glorious trail.


mixed tapes. I Love the 90's image

Original Photo by Status Frustration – Creative Commons


12.  Ska

What a privilege it was to be on the forefront of a musical sensation that we knew would never die.

13.  Four Episodes of Saved by the Bell — a day!

Watching Saved by the Bell was like eating a 1 LB bag of M&M’s — you couldn’t help but devour the whole thing; even if it meant you felt a little nauseous and were too ashamed to tell your friends. But all summer long there would be two episodes on TBS and then shimmy on over my friend to WGN for two more episodes. As Zack, Kelly, and the Bayside Gang learned about life, so did we. Our generation is alright, only because we were Saved by the Bell.

14.  Carmen San Diego and Where’s Waldo?

Two highly elusive characters that constantly evaded our eyes, but never our hearts. Where in the world is Carmen San Diego, you ask? Oh I think we both know.

15.  The Nintendo, Sega, Nintendo 64 Evolution

Mario Brothers blew our minds with Mario Brothers 3 and the secret whistles warping us into eternal childlike bliss. Follow that up with Duck Hunt, RBI Baseball, Contra, Tecmo Bowl, then Madden and NHL Hockey. Then progress to Mario Kart and nights of Golden-Eye in your basement looking for the Golden Gun, and you pretty much have just described 3,459 hours of our childhood.

16.  Real-Freaking-Cartoons

None of this 3-D animated crap. No, we had cartoonist labors-of-love in the form of Talespin, Chip ‘n Dales Rescue Rangers, Tranformers, Darkwing Duck, Pinky and the Brain, Animaniacs, Tiny Toons, the list, and our childhood, goes on and on and…

17.  Hot Pockets

One moment it was filled with pepperoni and cheese, the next you have some Grade C steak and peppers, then maybe eggs and bacon cocooned in bready-cocooness. The Hot Pocket possibilities, and our waistlines, were endless.

18.  Family Double Dare

On your mark, get set, GO….!!!” Oh Mark Summers. Oh Family Double Dare. Oh “Physical Challenges” with you carrying a cup of water in your mouth as your mom blasted you with a mud-like substance. I think we all dreamed of one day being on Family Double Dare – mainly so that we could lavish our dad’s head with green slime and not be grounded.

19.  The Art of Passing a Note

Our kids might not even know what paper is, let alone the accomplishment of passing a note. Getting a thrice-folded piece of paper from one corner of the room to another without your 7th grade history teacher Mrs. Willingham cracking the code, was an act of stealth worthy of James Bond. No cowardly texts under the table for us. No ma’am. Passing a note was an act of unified defiance, banding a class together like a family passing bread through the Berlin Wall.  It still brings tears to my eyes to think of an entire class sacrificing so much to make sure that Jamie could ask Jake, for Lauren, who was secretly asking for Kaitlyn, if Jake had a crush on anyone — yes or no.

20. What did I miss? 



  1. Annie

    Chip ‘n’ Dale: Pound of the Baskervilles, YES!

    • admin

      Thanks Annie! Every moment I sing the Chip ‘n Dales theme song, is the best moment of my day

  2. Renee

    I think I just figuratively died… Thank you. Thank you so much for proving why the 90s childhood rocked the world. I just honestly feel so bad for kids nowadays, seen through the eyes of my nieces and nephews, who are discovering science on their parents iPad. Screw that, I had Magic School Bus and Bill Nye.

    And I am a better person for it.

    • admin

      Ha! Thanks Renee. Bill Nye. Great addition. Definitely should’ve made the list

  3. dan snyder

    hahaha…love #1. for real. this had me crackin up!

    • admin

      Thanks Dan! Somewhere in my childhood closet hides some pretty legit mixed tapes.

  4. Caitlin

    If only I had bought that extra wagon axle!

  5. Sydney Aaliyah

    I love this list. How can you say school is tough if you haven’t been mortified by a teacher confiscating a note and reading it to the class. That note intended for your best friend, ranking the top three guys in the class you would consider kissing.

    My best friend and I used to make mix tapes for each other for christmas ever year. Even though we saw each other daily, stayed at each others house every weekend, we spent the entire year gathering music we knew the other didn’t listen to in order to have these special mix tapes.

    • admin

      Sydney. Fantasticly well said. Mixed tapes are to this day the most time I ever spent on a gift

  6. Erin

    “Write to me, Stick-Stckly. P.O. Box 963. New York City, New York State, 10108” …And no, I did not have to google that. Captain Planet was also cool…and multicultural.

    • admin

      Ha! Amazing Erin. Now can you tell me what they dipped him episode four, Season Two?

    • admin

      A labor of love! Ha

  7. Beth Mettlach

    I believe you left out one large detail – Legends of the Hidden Temple – The purple parrots changed my life…

    • Tanya Marcy

      Beth, I was addicted to Legends of the Hidden Temple. 😀

  8. Tanya Marcy

    “None of this 3-d animated crap.” Amen!

    Sometime this year, my teenage sister asked me who Stick-Stickly was. I tried to explain, but it was hopeless.

  9. Linds

    Oh my gosh! The second I read “Stick Stickly” I had the song stuck in my head. That might be the only address from my childhood that I can remember lol! I’d have to second Legends of the Hidden Temple – I LOVED that show so much! And Captain Planet, and the old Disney cartoons they used to play, none of the saccharin CGI stuff they air now. And oh my gosh I can’t BELIEVE I forgot about this: Are You Afraid of the Dark? Seriously. Best. Show. Ever.

  10. seechrystalshoot

    N*SYNC, Aaron Carter, “Baby one more time” Brittany Spears, Backstreet Boys, Battles between who was a better boy band: N*SYNC vs Backstreet Boys. Spice Girls. Doug, Arthur, Clifford The Big Red Dog. Game Boy Pokemon!

    yuuup… Good Times 🙂

  11. Gloria

    wow, I may still know stick stickley’s address! damn jingles lol!

    • tim gallen

      gloria, i hear the jingle but all i can remember is, “new york city, new york state, 10108.”

  12. M

    The stance-of-shame. YES. Only it was a boxy old burgundy minivan, exactly the same age as me, lovingly entitled “384 Gross Irish Carrots” due to its license plate of 384-GIC. Poor baby. I still miss it.

  13. tim gallen

    i think i just magically relived my entire childhood just reading this list. love it, paul! ch-ch-ch-chip ‘n dale, rescue rangers! ch-ch-ch-chip ‘n dale!

    • admin

      “Oh no it never fails, we’ll take the clues and find the where’s and why’s and who’s….”

      Is that right? Sounds right in my head.

      Thanks Tim!

  14. Ali

    Making up your own Darkwing Duck intros

  15. Josh Vardaman

    I would definitely put Fresh Prince style on this list. Nothing better than turning on the tube and seeing Will in an awesome snapback and colorful t-shirt with weird patterns. It was so good it is back in style!

    • admin

      Thanks Josh. Love me some Fresh Prince of Bel-Air. I’ll be 85 years old and still able to sing that intro.

  16. Shay Hust

    Since we didn’t have cable in my house: 1 Saturday Mornings on ABC, like Doug, Recess, Pepper Ann. Oh, and clear backpacks for girls

  17. Krisi

    You missed the most important one: BEANIE BABIES

  18. Amber

    ska is not dead!

    and mix tapes! To this day I can tell you the name and artist of way too many 90s songs from the first note or 2 of the song!

  19. Melissa

    Um, LOVING this. Talk about flashback city. Wait, does that make me old? The mix tapes… standing at the boom box (what?!) being sure not to miss a) your fav song and b) stop it before the commercial goes on. Those were the days. Awesome, as always!

  20. Hailie

    The art of passing notes was genius!

    • admin

      Thanks Hailie!

  21. KC

    I almost died with MASH. I’m from overseas and it gives me butterflies thinking other 90s kids around the world had also once enjoyed doing that. Other items you nailed: real music via MTV, Ska and mixed tapes! Ah those fleeting minutes! 🙂 Thanks for these!

    • admin

      Yes! Thanks KC. See us 90 kids were living more similar lives than we knew

  22. Lindsay

    Two words: Cosby sweaters.

    • admin

      Yes! Thanks Lindsay for the comment

  23. BryanASands

    Great list! I’ll just add that I’m glad baggy pants are gone!


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