The 90s could easily be summed up with boy bands, lock-and-key diaries, cartoons, trash TV, tacky accessories, and sour candies. Chances are, if you were born in the 90s, you’ll remember these iconic necessities:
These pellet-filled, miniature animals were not only plush toys, but they were collection items. Founded by Ty Inc. in 1991, these diverse critters were snuggly, flexible, and oddly realistic. In the late ‘90s, the toy emerged as a total fad. It wasn’t if you owned a Beanie Baby; it was how many did you own! Today, the bean-filled toys are the conversation among finance gurus, who all want a piece of the now pricey Beanies.
This American-made electronic toy, made to resemble an owl-like creature, was released in the late ‘90s by Tiger Electronics. Half cute and half creepy, these “must have” toys sold like hot cakes in Toys ‘R’ Us and in McDonalds Happy Meals. In just three years, over 40 million Furbies were sold around the world, with speaking capabilities in 24 different languages. Not only are they noteworthy as a toy, but they were a huge leap for innovators. The Furby is noted today as the first attempt to produce and sell a US-based robot.
Remember those vibrant journals, pencils, erasers, and backpacks with brightly colored (and smiling) leopards and dolphins? Not only do you remember them, but you owned probably every Lisa Frank item available. Well, you aren’t alone. Lisa Frank—an American businesswoman based in Tucson, Arizona—created whimsical designs for school supplies marketed towards children. Her rainbow pandas made school more exciting, especially for young girls.
Though chokers have been worn around women’s necks for centuries, the plastic choker is one of the most notable trend. Woven like a loose braid, these flexible, vibrant chokers were the epitome of ‘90s grunge. It’s no surprise this decorative accessory is making a comeback!
Based on the Pokémon video game series, the first deck of collectible cards was printed in October 1996. It wasn’t uncommon for middle schoolers to flip through cards during class, rather than pay attention to their teacher. With the cards came status. How many cards do you have? You have Mewtwo? Wow!
This line of pocket-sized dolls and accessories was a true icon of the 90s. Originally designed by Chris Wiggs in 1983 for his daughter Joanna, Bluebird Toys of England licensed the idea and brought the toys to stores in 1989. With pliable plastics, rubbers, and magnetics, you could take these lightweight Pollies with you anywhere!
These uniquely written fantasy novels were a sure way to get young ones reading! Upon publishing her first book Harry Potter and Sorcerer’s Stone in 1997, J.K. Rowling and her fiction character, the young wizard Harry Potter, immediately gained fame. Over 500 million copies of the seven-book series have been published since its inception, translated in over 70 languages. Today, ‘90s kids (along with their parents and children) are still in awe of the alternate universe Rowling created. Even as adults, they still go back to re-read the books and re-watch the movies. Heck, they even make sure to visit Harry Potter World, an amusement park in Orlando, Florida!
These roller shoes were every kid’s dream, as they ensured you could roller-skate incognito through the class hallways. Sneaker on the outside, but wheelie transportation on the inside, these were a two-for-one. With wheels embedded into the sole, a wearer could transform their walking stride to a roll, simply by shifting their weight. To brake, one just needed to lower the back of the foot.
Say goodbye to chapped lips and pucker up! Aimed at pre-teens, Bonne Bell’s flavorful lip balms sticks—such as strawberry, green apple, and watermelon—were all the rage in the ‘90s! Today, approximately 400 flavors of Lip Smackers are available for purchase, with variations that add gloss and shine.
This digital audio player was a surefire way to get Britney Spears’s Hit Me Baby One More Time stuck in your head (as if it wasn’t already). Playing just one-minute clips of the most catchy pop songs, the HitClip got hips shakin’. However, it wasn’t long until MP3 took over.
With a motto like “Discover the power of sour,” Warheads weren’t popular solely for their overwhelming flavor, but for the opportunity they presented to ego-infused middle schoolers. The prompt “How many can you put in your mouth at one time?” resulted in blue-faced, pucker-lipped 12-year-olds all trying to prove their toughness. Before long, these candies were a teachers’ most common confiscation. Though the candy was invented in 1975, it wasn’t imported to the States until 1993. By 1999, the candy was dubbed a “$40 million brand” in media, for its insane acid reputation.
Looking back on the odd and energetic ‘90s decade stirs a bittersweet nostalgia. On the brink of a tech revolution and smothered in pop culture, the 90s felt so progressive at the time. Now, it’s easy to look back and miss the simplicity: one-minute tunes, unbearable candies, wizardry books, and semi-creepy robot animals. These were the things that 90s kids got psyched up about—the things that define our childhood!