Not even the latest and greatest technology can take the place of some of these nostalgic classics. From hairstyles to frustrating tech to pet rocks, there are some experiences and true struggles that 2000s kids will never understand. So grab your pre-printed Mapquest directions, because we’re taking a trip down memory lane.
1. All Things Lisa Frank
There are your everyday rainbow stickers and stickers of cute pets — and then there’s Lisa Frank stickers. The popular Lisa Frank brand easily set itself apart from the competition. When it comes school supplies, it had the most iconic look in the world bar none, in our humble opinions.
For anyone too young to know the true glory days of Lisa Frank, the company specialized in bright, neon, cartoonish artwork that would oftentimes feature animals like “dolphins, pandas, and unicorns.” The designs were placed on products like lunch boxes, notebooks, other school supplies, and stickers, all with the unique and psychedelically bright flair that made Lisa Frank products easily recognizable.
2. Choosing Between Using The Phone or The Internet
We are going to go ahead and take a wild guess that it’s been quite a while since anyone said the words, “Are you using the phone? I wanted to go on the Internet!” But anyone who grew up in the 1990s or earlier is old enough to remember when this question was actually commonplace.
For those who were lucky enough to skip this age of Internet, the question refers to the era when most Internet access was dial-up. The way this worked was that people were connected to the Internet via telephone line, creating the perfect dilemma as parents and children around the world fought over phone and Internet time.
3. Begging Parents For A Cabbage Patch Kid
Sure, Cabbage Patch Kids are still available on toy store shelves, but 2000s kids will never understand the true 1980s obsession with these dolls, and the absolute chaos that ensued. Back in 1983, parents would stand in line for Cabbage Patch Kids, and the dolls were so scarce that toy stores would often ration 1 doll per person.
Videos on local news broadcasts showed parents literally fighting over the dolls and waiting in line at Toys “R” Us at 7 AM. Those lucky few to get their hands on a coveted doll would also do so after watching a Cabbage Patch Doll be “birthed” from a fake cabbage. All in all, the whole experience was weird and we’d prefer not to ever go back to this strange time.
4. All Of The Frosted Tips
If anyone was looking through pictures of young men in the 1990s, they might be confused as to why every man’s hair looked like they only had enough money to color the very ends of their hair. And, honestly, it has been over 20 years, and here we are, still trying to figure this out.
We can all credit this confusion to the 1990s trend of “frosted tips,” meaning that (mostly) men would dye just the tips of their hair, usually in a bright blond. The entire process was hilarious, as it required men to put plastic bags on their head and fish out tiny bits of their hair.
5. The Days Before Netflix
It’s a Friday night, schools have closed their doors for the next few days, and everyone is getting ready for their weekend. Back in the day, there was no better time to hit up a local Blockbuster store to prepare for some weekend relaxation.
Long before pretty much everyone could browse through categories on Netflix, people used to browse real live shelves at Blockbuster Video stores to gear up for their weekend marathons. It seems unimaginable, but not only would people leave their couches to buy movies — they would leave again to return those same movies and rent new selections to replace them.
6. All-Day Tamagotchi Time
There was a time when it seemed that every single teenager in the United States could not leave their home without one of these electronic gadgets that could fit right in the palm of their hands. All eyes were cast down as people used them in cars, in buses, and just about everywhere else.
For anyone who assumed that we were talking about smartphones, guess again. We are talking about Tamagotchis, the handheld, digital pets that took the world by storm for much of the 1990s and early 2000s. The egg-shaped computer game became one of the preferred ways to pass time, long before anyone spent hours blankly scrolling through social media.
7. Having To Whip Out The CD Binder
Let’s travel back in time, to an era when travelling on a road trip included one very essential thing: a CD binder. From the 1980s all the way to the early 2000s, everyone who was even semi-serious about music would have a binder full of their favorite music.
The most eclectic music lovers would have a mix of CDs they’d collected in their binders. This ranged from their favorite albums to a mix tape that they created themselves, which was usually labeled with permanent marker lettering. For all of the kids out there, imagine an entire Spotify library, but without a search function or really any order at all. That is a CD binder.
8. The Original Text Messages
Before cell phones, the struggle to connect with someone and send along a message was so much more real. For kids in school who needed to send a message to their friend, their chosen method of communication was usually passing along a note through the class.
For teachers, the chosen method of shaming usually involved catching those notes in transit, taking them, and reading them out loud to the class. But sometimes the most important messages are worth the dangers, and young students across the world would risk it all just to pass a simple note to their bestie across the classroom.
9. The Struggle Of Fixing A Broken VHS
Today, one of the most distressing things that kids could imagine is losing any of the photos or videos that are stored in “the Cloud.” Think about all of those lost memories, or even (gasp!) having to go online and purchase a movie all over again. But anyone born before the 2000s can imagine the feeling based on a similar experience.
During the glory days of VHS tapes, those pesky black boxes would break basically all of the time. Sometimes the film would get damaged, and sometimes it would break free of the VHS and tape would spill from the sides. But no matter what happened, it was a devastating feeling every single time.
10. Infecting Our Computers Just For A Little Music
Remember when a simple music download would take 3 hours? Now, remember when that was actually an acceptable amount of time to wait? And remember when, after all of that waiting, the computer would just completely shut off because it had been infected with every computer virus on the planet? Anyone who answered yes to these questions remembers what it was like to use Napster.
By way of Napster and other sources like LimeWire, people would fully ruin their computers in order to avoid paying for music through channels like Apple Music (in its earlier days). And isn’t a little bit of free music worth all of that malware? We’d say no, but hindsight is always 20/20.
11. The Horror Of A Scratched CD
We can’t even begin to scratch the surface as to some of the things 2000s kids will never understand until we’ve discussed the horror of scratched CDs. Not only would the experience of scratching a favorite CD be inconvenient, but it would also create a skipping, repetitive sound that would make trying to listen about a million times more annoying.
And the worst part? Rather than just fixing a small error in a Spotify or iTunes app, there was really nothing that could be done to revive a scratched CD. Instead, music lovers would have to take the walk of shame over to the local CD store and repurchase the entire album.
12. The 9 PM Cell Phone Rule
Anyone who has lived through the 1990s knows how much nostalgia is packed into the simple request of: “Can you call me back after 9 PM so that the call is free?” It might seem odd now, but questions like this were completely normal before the 2000s, as cell phones were just being introduced on a grander scale.
During these early days of mass cell phone use, many phone companies would offer a “nights and weekends” plan, which made phone calls free only on weekends and at night, a.k.a anytime after 9 PM. For a higher monthly cost, some users could have an “early evening” plan, which pushed free calls up to 6 PM. Dream big!
13. The Boombox Boom
Probably one of the most famous and iconic movie scenes in history was when John Cusack’s character Lloyd Dobler in the movie Say Anything held a boombox over his head as it blasted Peter Gabriel’s song “In Your Eyes.” At the time, the scene was dubbed as an example of “a modern serenade.” But today, nothing about this beautifully romantic boombox scene would be considered modern.
Kids today will truly never know the commitment to music appreciation that comes with dragging a boombox around, let along lifting it above their heads. Instead, they get to live in blissful ignorance as their music players fit snugly in their jeans pockets.
14. When Pages Were Not Just On Facebook
Long before there were text messages, receiving notes from a pager or beeper was all the rage. There were one-way pagers and two-way pagers, there were pagers that would just beep and others that would show text. But regardless, everyone had or wanted to get their hands on this nifty little device.
In case anyone was doubting the coolness of an OG pager, the semi-useless device even made its way into 1990s hip-hop culture. Rappers like Ice Cube, Method Man, and A Tribe Called Quest flaunted their pagers in music videos, while Sir Mix-A-Lot and Destiny’s Child made reference to pagers in their music.
15. The Most Rockin’ Pets
There is one pet that kids who were born after 2000 will never understand, and that’s probably because everyone else is still trying to understand them too. But believe it or not, there was actually once a time when a pet rock became a popular toy boasting 1.5 million sales worldwide.
The Pet Rock was made in 1975 and was advertised like a real, live pet. The completely unremarkable pet was an actual rock that was placed into a cardboard box with breathing holes cut out (although, we should not have to mention, pet rocks do not need breathing holes). The Pet Rock boom only lasted for about 6 months, but their oddity will live on in infamy.
16. Wall-To-Wall Shag Carpeting
If anyone grew up with shag carpeting, then they might still be looking for that earring they dropped on the ground to this day. It seemed like basically just about anything could get lost in a shag carpet, yet now the nostalgia of a shag carpet is lost on anyone born after the 2000s.
In recent years, shag has seen a slight comeback as people are still seeking to decorate their homes with these rugs. But we are hopeful that kids born after the year 2000 will never have to understand the true heyday of dismally-colored shag carpeting and its wall-to-wall glory. No one else should have to live through that ever again.
17. The World’s Easiest Pets (Besides Pet Rocks)
Before cell phones and before the Internet became what it is today, kids were just looking for simple ways to have fun. Apparently, parents would do just about anything to entertain their kids, and that includes investing in the odd purchase of a tank filled with Sea-Monkeys.
What were Sea-Monkeys? They were basically brine shrimp whose eggs were sold for at-home growth. How did the Sea-Monkey tank work? In the most unnatural and strange way: the owner first filled a tank with “water purifier,” followed by “instant lives eggs” and a package of “growth food,” and watched their teensy pets hatch. Come to think of it, we aren’t quite sure we even understand this one.
18. The Stress Before GPS
In 2005, the world was granted the gift of Google Maps. But long before the days of satellite imagery, street-by-street photography, live directions, and real-time traffic updates, the world of navigation was simpler and yet more complicated. Today, we would love to see people born after 2000 try to read a road map.
And for those who are old enough to remember the road map, they would also remember the awkward step between the road map and true GPS. That midway stage usually involved going onto the Mapquest website, printing directions, and following each step. Did one even live in the late ’90s if they did not hang a Mapquest outline from their rear view mirror?
19. Banana Biking
Even with all of the bike options today, from electric bikes to beach cruisers to scooters, kids these days will never understand the joy of riding on a banana bike. These slick rides, also known as wheelie bikes, muscle bikes, high-risers, or spyder bikes, first saw their rise to stardom in the 1960s.
The bikes were basically a kid-friendly alternative to a motorcycle, and included the wide ape hanger handlebars and a long saddled seat that much resembled the amenities people would find on a 1960s motorcycle. Back in the era of Flower Power, anyone who had one of these banana bikes was the epitome of cool.
20. Playing Snake For Hours
Just how many hours of our lives could be dedicated to directing a skinny line as it danced across a tiny screen in order to run into small, pixelated dots? Well, in 1998, the world found out in a big way, as millions of hours would go wasted (or, not wasted, depending on one’s opinion) on the game “Snake.”
The game came preloaded on Nokia cell phones as early as 1998, and before anyone had their heads constantly surgically attached to their iPhones, the world had their eyes glued to Nokia screens playing repeated games of Snake. Since then, game graphics and telephones have both gotten huge upgrades, but we still long for those good old Snake days.
21. The Lunacy Of Mall Madness
Even before online shopping really took hold of society, there was still a way to shop without leaving the comfort of one’s couch, all thanks to the popular gaming craze Mall Madness. The original game came out in 1988, and for the next few years after that, Mall Madness was truly causing madness among preteen girls.
Every Mall Madness set came with everything someone would need to pretend shop: some sale and clearance signs, cardboard shopping lists, paper money, and fake credit cards. Parents across the country rejoiced as young women could take in the thrill of shopping without having to actually spend any of their money. Now that’s a good deal all around.
22. The True Art of Magna Doodle
Even if someone did not own an Magna Doodle themselves, chances were that they would see one represented somewhere in pop culture. For example, Chandler and Joey’s apartment in the hit show Friends famously had a Magna Doodle attached to the inside of the front door. But in order to fully understand the Magna Doodle craze, one really just had to be there.
After these mess-free doodle boards were invented in 1974, every single kid wanted to get their hands on one. They were the newer, fancier alternative to the Etch A Sketch boards that kids had been using since the 1960s, and allowed for much more freedom.
23. The Original Trolling
Just because a child was born before the Internet doesn’t mean that they didn’t grow up with their fair share of trolls out there. But this type of troll was much different than the ones we are used to seeing today. Instead of being nameless social media characters, these trolls came in the form of plastic dolls with spiked hair and a smile.
The original Troll Dolls were introduced in 1959, and quickly caught on as one of the most popular toys in the United States for much of the 1960s and part of the 1970s. And while a recent animated movie called Trolls has its own take on the classic toys, no one born after 2000 can ever understand the scope of the true troll hype.
24. Using 2 Bottles Of Hairspray In A Week
Looking for a foolproof way of making sure hair does not move a single centimeter throughout the day? Try applying hair spray. Not seeming to do the trick? Well, try some more hair spray, or try even more after that. In fact, spray so much that you help create a whole in the ozone layer.
It seems that 2000s kids will never understand the pain of having to dump an entire half bottle of hair spray into hair every single morning, or crushing a few bottles in just a matter of weeks. Nowadays, teenagers mostly experience the stiff feeling of hair spray during a school prom. During the 1980s, this whole ritual was a constant.
25. The Magic of 8-Tracks
Today, the act of being able to pick up music players and take them anywhere is taken very much for granted. Just ask anyone who had to live through the days of the 8-tracks. These tapes were once the most popular way to listen to music, especially while on the go.
The age of the 8-track really took off in the mid-1960s, as Ford Motor Company became the first to put 8-track systems in cars. For the first time ever, drivers could pick up tapes and get to chose what they listened to on road trips, rather than repeatedly browsing radio channels.
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