Some moments are so monumentally impactful on a group of people that years after the moment happens only one word or one picture is needed in order to bring those memories flooding back. No matter how many times and how clearly we describe these things to other people they will just never be able to understand what it was like to be there because nothing can beat the experience of living it for one's self. The experience could come in any form. It could be living through a musical era or an activity that was popular for a year or two. It's time to have a look at 40 of the deeply American experiences that needed to be lived in order to be understood.
1. 'Watch Out For The Tree'
Almost anyone who grew up in a snowy region of America either had or knew someone who had a GT snow racer.
It was the sled of sleds. It allowed its rider to have more control than any sled had previously allowed. Cutting through the ice and snow with a devil-may-care attitude and speeding downhill reaching speeds that were nothing short of reckless, people of all ages, right across 'cold' America, have been enjoying the adrenaline rush that comes with riding this racer, for decades.
2. 'Out Of Stock'
It was a simpler time. A time of free popcorn and limited film options. Before the time of digital media, there was no choice but to spend anywhere from 5 minutes to an hour searching around a Blockbuster or Jumbo Video looking for that evening's entertainment.
It is hard to believe that an entire generation has already grown up having no idea what it was like to go to the local video store on a Friday or Saturday night to rent a movie. They will never be told 'no, sorry we don't have that one, would you like to rent something else?'
3. 'Stickin' Around?'
Devil sticks re-emerged in the 90s with a vengeance. They were the distant cousin to the hackie sack and one of the fads that predated pogs. They could be seen at schools, summer camps, and colleges right across the country.
It took a little bit of time to get used to the feeling of tossing one stick to the other and then back again but once accomplished the helicopter would come easily. It was the flips and twists and throwing the sticks back and forth to other 'devilers', however, that helped to make devil sticks the fad they were.
4. 'Um, That One Was Mine'
Stuffed animals and plush toys are the perfect things to keep small children entertained. They give the illusion that they have their very own pets which they get to name and take care of.
Beanie Babies were not just for kids. There are literally hundreds of different Beanie Babies and they were most definitely not just for children. Adults collectors got so deep into this addiction that divorcing couples even split up their collections as though they were debating custody of their children.
5. 'New Personal Best'
Nowadays there is an unlimited amount of games that can be downloaded and played on a cellphone. In fact, ever since the creation of the smartphone, cellphones have been more like computers than phones. Two decades ago things were quite different.
Cellular phones used to come with very few games if any, and there was no way to add any more games to one's mobile device. When Nokia first put 'snakes' onto one of their phones, the world went wild. There were not many things better than 'snakes' to occupy one's time in class.
6. 'Playin' Around'
Growing up with one of these wooden parks in the neighborhood meant having to be constantly removing splinters from one's hands and cleaning the blood off of their knees.
A wooden playground with wood chips all over the ground was just a firefighter phone call waiting to happen, but they sure were a lot more fun than the more recent editions. The metal ones just get too hot in the sun.
7. 'Taking Pollution Down To Zero'
It was not easy to get kids to care about the environment in the late 80s but when Captain Planet showed up in 1990, people started to listen.
When the Planeteers combined their powers, Captain Planet would appear and not only save the day but also teach an important lesson about the environment. After 6 educational years, with his job all but complete, Captain Planet hung up his tights and left the Earth in the hands of those he aimed to educate.
8. 'It Doesn't Matter What His Name Was!'
The Brahma Bull Vs Hollywood Hogan. The People's Champ Vs The Hulkster. The Rock Vs Hulkamania. No matter how we look at it, this match had the potential to be history-making from the moment the card for Wrestlemania XVIII was announced. No two wrestlers defined their generations better than Hulk Hogan and The Rock.
A rare 'passing of the torch' for professional wrestling. It was Hogan's last outing as, even a remotely, credible force and an event that proved that The Rock was indeed the 'most electrifying man in sports entertainment'. Hogan came out of the match stronger than before it, and The Rock went on to surpass The Hulkster to become bigger than wrestling itself. "I was there. It's my all-time Mark Out fan moment" - J. Schwartz
9. 'This Is My Song!'
Portable music sure has come along way in the past thirty years. The troubles of what songs to put on a tape or burn onto a cd are a thing of the past.
Those who remember what went into jumping to the track they desired to listen to on their walkman or doing their best not to let their Discman skip during a track, are few and far between. Want to listen to more than 90 minutes of music? Forget it. These relics had limits to the tracks they could carry so every decision was a big decision.
10. 'One Stitch At A Time'
Known as either 'gimp' or 'boondoggle' this stuff has been entertaining us for decades. It came in a seemingly endless number of colors and had an equal amount of different things that could be created with it.
Beginning with the basic butterfly pattern (loop through loop) and progressing into: zipper, square, and circle, while eventually mastering diamond and staircase, it was the aim of boondogglers everywhere to master the multi-patterned keychain or bracelet.
11. 'Be Our Guest'
A VHS collection was not complete in the 90s unless at least a section of the shelf was dedicated in part to the Disney film collection.
Disney hit the nail on the head with the marketing and production of their VHS film series. The large case had an almost cartoon look to it that was very befitting of the collection itself.
Slipping and sliding into the nostalgic minds of anyone who remembers using these, the 'slip & slide' has been a key part of childhoods nationwide since the 1960s.
All those who experienced the joys of sliding across the lawn on a wet sheet of plastic probably also recall the pains of grass and carpet burns and the trail of grass blades that would follow them around for what seemed like days. Just remember, these are mean to be used on flat or downhill surfaces, it will be rather anti-climactic to try and take one of these up even the slightest of inclines.
13. 'You Saved Over it?!?!'
Before the 1 TB hard drives and endless saving potential for video game consoles we had to be selective over what games we saved and which ones we did not.
This 1 MB memory card could hold only 15 blocks of memory. Although most games only took up one block of memory, some like Grand Turismo and Metal Gear Solid could take up to 4 blocks per saved game. The resulting need for gamers of the time was to have labels on their multiple memory cards describing which games were saved on the corresponding card.
14. 'Got a Mint'
When Altoids first showed up they were the hip new mint in town because of their flashy cases and delicious flavors.
Not every shop sold Altoids at first but everyone knew where to go in their cities in order to purchase these breath-fresheners. The bulbous tins that the mints came in could be seen lining the pockets of teens and adults across America.
15. 'It's a 3 Dimensional World'
3D puzzles were quite the phenomenon when they first arrived. They were a fantastic alternative for the, slightly less interesting 2D puzzles.
These puzzles were a fantastic outlet for a child who wanted to grow up to be an architect or those who just needed something to keep themselves occupied. The puzzles would bring marvelous works to life before one's eyes and the light foam pieces, with which they were made, meant for easy transportation in comparison to the fragile flatter older editions.
16. 'Dr. Jones?'
That latter part of the 90s brought with it an abundance of pop music from all over the world and Scandanavia was not about to get left behind.
History will show that the Danish-Norwegian Europop music group, Aqua took the world by storm in 1997 with their mega-hits 'Barbie Girl' and 'Candyman'. 'Aquanites' everywhere would take every opportunity they could to tune in to MTV in hopes of seeing one of the many Aqua music videos that were released along with their 1997 album, 'Aquarium'.
17. 'Anyone For a Cheeseburger?'
Archie comics have been around since 1942, but it almost seems as though they have been around forever. For almost eighty years teenagers have been joining Archie and the gang on their wild adventures.
Archie comics were the comic book for those who did not want to be classified as a 'comic book nerd'. The storylines would mostly focus on real issues that teenagers would face on a daily basis, but would also have the rare science fiction twist thrown in every now and again.
In the early 90s, when the New Kids On The Block faded away, people were either thrilled or heartbroken there was not much in between. Later on in the decade, there was a new boy band for a new generation.
The Backstreet Boys came out of the gates strong and did not look back. There was no bigger group in the world for those few years, and anyone who lived through the Boy Band Era of the late 90s, whether they loved them or hated them, still bob their heads and sing along to their tunes more than two decades after the Backstreet Boys wanted it 'that way'.
19. 'The Kid'
Baseball card collecting is a pastime that goes back almost as far as the sport of baseball itself. Over the years the hobby has had its ups and downs but as the sport started to expand the number of teams in the league, baseball card companies began to multiply as well. Kids across the country used to hurry down to their local baseball card shop (which actually was a thing) any time a new series of cards was being released.
Baseball card collectors in the 1980s were treated to something special when Upper Deck released their first line cards in 1989. The headlining card in the set, even at the time, was Seattle Mariners rookie outfielder Ken Griffey Jr. Baseball card collectors everywhere will always recall the anxiety they had as they opened pack after pack of 1989 Upper Deck baseball cards in hopes of finding The Kid's coveted rookie card (a mint condition copy is now worth over $4000).
20. 'Just A Click Away'
In the 80s and 90s if something was not bright and noisy it was probably not worth having. The sound of beads clicking against one another is something that can not easily be forgotten.
These beads would be clipped onto the spokes of one's bicycle and as they peddled, they would slide up and down and all around making noise and catching the eyes of neighbors everywhere. It became somewhat of a challenge to see who on the block would have the best pattern on their bike.
21. 'Is Everyone In The Frame?'
Countless great photo opportunities have been lost over the years due to the absence of a camera. Nowadays everyone has a camera built into their phones however, it was not until disposable cameras came out that people really started to take advantage of the photographic options at hand.
Take pictures, remove the film, and throw away the camera. Disposable cameras were simply amazing. They were practical, convenient, and easy to use and in later years they were also waterproof. Not needing to worry about damaging an expensive camera was definitely one of the main perks but selfies sure were a lot harder to center in a frame.
22. 'I'm Going To Flip Out'
Cell phones have come a long way from the times of Zack Morris ordering pizza to school on his foot-long phone. Phones got progressively smaller and then gradually bigger over the years, but few things could top the flip phone when it first hit the market.
A flip phone was quite possibly the coolest thing a kid could have had when they were first released, and when the caller display screen was added to the outside of the phone...just WOW!
23. 'Earning Their Stripes'
Originally with four members, the Stripes family has dwindled to one in recent years. Yipes Stripes, the Zebra, outlasted the Elephant, Mouse, and Tiger to become the sole mascot and only surviving member of the fruit-flavored family.
It tasted great for all of five minutes but for some reason, we kept on buying it. It may have been the multiple flavors in the one pack that brought us back or perhaps it was the clever marketing.
24. 'Well, that's new'
Younger generations will never know what it was like to play black and white video games. It is hard to believe that there was ever a time when we had to use our imaginations in order to see the red laser shoot from a gun or the green grass on the ground in Zelda, but that was exactly what those of us who grew up with the original GameBoy had to do.
It was not until 1998 that the GameBoy Colour was released. After more than a decade of black and white portable games, we were finally given the treat of seeing our favorite characters in color. Pokemon Yellow was released for the GameBoy Color, and Pokepeople everywhere lined up for the chance to be one of the first to be able to see the little creatures as they were meant to be seen.
25. 'Big Mac Land'
The greed of the owners and players alike, which caused the baseball strike of 1994/95, drove fans away from the sport for most of the duration of the 90s. In 1998 something happened that would not only bring fans back to the ballpark but also brought baseball back to the hearts of baseball fans everywhere. When the 1998 Major League Baseball season began no one could have known how important it was going to be for the sport of baseball.
Mark McGuire and Sammy Sosa embarked on what became the most exciting summer baseball had possibly ever seen. Dinger for dinger, the two chased each other right into the record books while chasing Roger Maris' single-season home run record which had been safe for the past 38 years. In those 38 years, the 50 home run plateau had only been achieved 8 times. The 1998 season not only saw 4 different players reach the elusive 50 home run milestone led by Big Mac and Slammin' Sammy who respectively hit 70 and 66.
26. 'Heads Up'
The rubbery neon balls that were shot around on slingshots became one of the goofier experiences of the 90s, and it was all because of a talk show host who just loved quirky gadgets. No, it's not Ellen.
Koosh gained a lot of its fame in the late 1990s because of Rosie O' Donnell. She would come out shooting kooshballs out towards her studio audience to begin each show, much like how Ellen would dance through her audience to begin hers.
27. 'Are You Mad'
Mad magazine has been a mainstay in the offices of doctors and dentists for more than 60 years. Their quirky and satirical articles managed to evolve with the times but because of the online magazine revolution future generations will not know the joys of buying the new issue and flipping to their favorite section.
Spy Vs Spy was first introduced into Mad magazine's 60th edition in 1961 as a wordless, black and white, comic on political satire. Much like the codes hidden within the comic's first set of panels, Spy Vs Spy was a gem hidden within a gold mine.
28. 'If There Can Be No Victory, Then I Will Fight Forever'
Not every fad can last the test of time as Magic has. No, not hocus pocus magic. Magic: The Gathering.
Magic: The Gathering showed up not long after pogs however, due to the strategic nature of the card game it has evaded extinction. In fact, there are worldwide tournaments that occur every year both online and in person. Magic: The Gathering is not a game but a lifestyle for those who were there from the start.
29. 'See It Yet?'
Unfocus. Then slowly re-focus, but don't re-focus too much. Then slowly back away from the picture. Then stare at it until the hidden image is revealed. Can't see it yet? Keep staring.
And we did keep staring. Magic Eye drove people to their wit's end but they just could not give up on seeing the image hidden before their eyes. One either saw the sailboat or they didn't, and after long enough everyone eventually just said they did. Even 'Seinfeld' and 'Mallrats' touched on how insanely frustrating these could be.
30. 'Just One More Slice...Pleeeease'
McDonald's has had some memorable promotions over the years. Menu items like the McRib and the McCaesar wrap have come and gone more times than can be remembered. But there was one of their menu items in the 90s that has all but disappeared without a trace.
In the 90s Mcdonald's had pizza. That's right, pizza. 5 to 10 minutes after ordering, there would be a fresh and hot ready to be devoured pizza on the table. To those of us who lived through that era of McDonald's' menu, it will always seem like another of those 'Sinbad in Shazaam' Mandela effect moments that never actually happened. But it did happen and hopefully will again one day.
31. 'Anyone For A Game?'
When pogs hit the schoolyard in the 90s no one knew how big it would become. This simple game involved flipping custom milk caps over using a metal piece called a 'slammer'.
Showing up in schools around the same time as Magic: The Gathering, pogs were banned from many institutions because of their gambling nature. Children would spend their allowances on pogs and slammers, only to lose them to their friends in the schoolyard during a 'friendly' lunchtime pogs tournament. This was one game that caused endless hostilities and tore friendships apart but when looking back on it, it was an experience that anyone who lived it will surely never forget.
32. 'Gotta Catch 'em All'
In February of 1995 something happened that would change the world as we knew it forever. Little did anyone know just how impactful the GameBoy game, Pokemon would be.
With over 368 million copies of the original game sold and more than 1000 episodes produced, in 169 countries, of the subsequent TV series, Ash Ketchem and his pal Pikachu took the world by storm. Pokemon is still going strong with new versions being periodically created over the 25 years since North American gamers first got their taste of the game, but being there from the start is something that loyal Pokepeople will not soon be forgetting.
33. 'Nope, Wrong Side'
Only those who can recall a time before PowerPoint presentations will remember the days of tormenting their teachers with shadow puppets and smudged lesson plans.
These ancient relics were a mainstay in educational institutions and business offices alike for more than half a century. Anyone who lived through the times that these projectors were used will remember the clear plastic sheets of paper and the erasable markers that were used in order to write on them. Of course, we all remember that one kid who always wanted to be the teacher's helper and change the page.
34. 'Just In Time To See The Bus Drive By'
Waking up in the mornings and getting ready for school can be one of the hardest things to find motivation for as a child but hanging out with Zack and the gang before heading out for the bus, made it a little bit more tolerable.
'Saved By The Bell' was one of the typical early 90s, feel-good sitcoms. No matter what trouble the gang would get themselves into, they would always work things out in the end and usually grab a bite to eat down at the Max. With the mere mention of the names Zack Morris or Kelly Kapowski, someone who experienced this show firsthand can hear the faint sound of the bell ringing from the opening credits.
35. 'Feeding Time'
For a brief time in the late 90s, kids from all over America were disrupting their classes when their electronic pocket pet Tamagotchi would start beeping to let them know it was hungry.
Only if someone lived through the peak of the Tamagotchi craze could they ever truly understand how popular these needy little electronic creatures were.
Up, Up, Down, Down, Left, Right, Left, Right, B, A, START. It would be rather difficult to find someone who lived through the original NES and SNES days that does not know those eleven words.
Prior to cell phones and high-speed internet, we had to write down all of the cheat codes which a video game would give us. Few games had the capability to be saved but they did give us 'save game codes' at various checkpoints. Missing one letter or number in the code, however, meant having to replay entire sections of the game.
37. 'Who Done It?'
There were two huge criminal cases in the mid-90s. The O.J. Simpson trial and the case of 'Who Shot Mr. Burns?'
It was a television event like no one had seen since the finale of 'Cheers' in 1993. The summer of '95 was full of endless conspiracy theories as to who it was that shot, Mr. Burns. For those who are still yet to see it, the answer is not that the shooter ran in a West-Southwestern direction.
38. 'Annnnnd Jump'
There was a time before the internet when children had to go outside to play. When they had to be active because there was no alternative.
The 'Skip-It' was a great way for children to get outside and burn some energy. Children all over America were jumping, skipping and counting their ways right across suburbia and beyond. The later version of the 'Skip-It' had a built-in counter for those who had trouble keeping track.
39. 'When Life Gets Twist Turned Upside Down'
Before Will Smith was 'Gettin' Jiggy Wit it' down in 'Miami' with the 'Men in Black', he was feeling rather fresh as a prince out in Bel-Air. The Banks family had no idea what they were in for when cousin Will moved to town and neither did viewers.
Following the fame he received as a rapper in the early 1990s, The Fresh Prince made the successful transition into the world of television with the smash hit, 'The Fresh Prince of Bel-Air'. For the next six seasons, Will Smith passive-aggressively insulted his way into the hearts of viewers everywhere.
40. 'It's Morphin' Time'
Living through the first few seasons of the Power Rangers was something that should not be taken lightly. Anyone who watched the show had their favorite Ranger as well as an affinity for disliking the quirky bullies Bulk and Skull.
The first few seasons of Power Rangers were a roller coaster of emotions for fans. First, we were hit with the Green Ranger Saga, where we were introduced to Tommy and then halfway through the second season three of the original Rangers left the show. Almost three decades later and the Power Rangers are still fighting evil but no Rangers will ever compare to the originals.