As a generation of aging Gen Y children, many of us currently in our 20s love looking back with nostalgia at our halcyon days of innocence: When Carson Daly was an edgy voice-of-the-youth on MTV, not for housewives on Good Morning America. When Gordon Bombay Mighty Ducks jerseys weren’t considered throwbacks. When pump-up sneakers were considered performance-enhancing and GoldenEye multiplayer adventures (…in The Facility, throwing knives only) were the go-to after-school activity. We all hated Barney on the playground even more than we hate Justin Bieber now.
A couple of weeks ago a friend and I were reminiscing about our collective crushes on Danielle Fishel and Sabrina the Teenage Witch-era Melissa Joan Hart back in the day.
This got me thinking: All Bros in their late-20s probably have very similar childhood memories, so why not list them out? Sometimes it’s fun to look back at the cultural mile-markers that, once upon a time, defined your generation. For those of us who grew up and came of age in the 90s, it’s a chunk of time we’ll always look back fondly upon and cherish as our very own.
I came up with a list of 118 items. I’m sure there could easily be another 200, though I tried to keep them as broad as possible. I’ll fully admit that my list is a subjective one defined by the tastes and experiences of my childhood. Your list is probably different, so me know what else belongs in the comments.
1. Navigating the pandemonium of the cafeteria on Pizza Hut Pizza day.
2. Desperately wanting a glowing piece of the Aggro Crag from Guts as the centerpiece for your bedroom.
3. Watching Amahad Rashal host Inside the NBA.
4. Falsely thinking Larry Johnson’s Reebok pumps would help improve your basketball game.
5. Enjoying just how perfect every song on the Space Jam soundtrack was.
6. Convincing your parents to let you borrow their credit card so you could take advantage of a Colombia House/BMI Record Club deal where you get 10 CDs for a dollar.
8. Squinting your eyes to play an old school Gameboy with a green screen.
9. Being pissed the NBA Finals were interrupted to broadcast OJ Simpson’s white Bronco speed down a California freeway.
10. Anti-skip protection.
11. Playing Mario Kart 64 and always doing the short-cut through the cave in Koppa Troppa Beach.
12. Michael Jordan’s Game 6 flu game.
13. Receiving a Huffy for your birthday.
14. Not being allowed to watch Bevis and Butthead because of some stupid media outrage, but doing it anyway at a friend’s house whose parents were never home.
15. Going through a “dinosaur stage” right around the time Jurassic Park came out.
16. Going through a soccer phase after the 1994 World Cup that involved buying Umbros.
17. Beating Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles: Turtles In Time in a night.
18. Passing notes in class with crushes, usually with “circle yes/no” options.
19. Being endlessly entertained by Ruthie, the drunk girl who was a trainwreck on The Real World: Hawaii.
20. Thinking Fred Durst’s Kongol dink hat and Mark McGrath’s frosted tips were cool for a very hot second.
21. Asking your parents to buy you Lunchables at the grocery store, usually to their refusal.
22. Watching Woodstock 99 burn and descend into chaos live on MTV.
23. Hearing the urban legend about the burglars who were caught running from the cops because they were wearing LA Gear light-up sneakers at night.
24. Trying to call TRL after school but never getting through.
25. …So instead, calling a radio station request line.
26. Having an adult uncomfortably explain Michael Jackson’s abuse allegations.
27. Considering movies about Batman to be a joke.
28. Thinking the rating system for CDs was a joke.
29. Aladdin’s Castle birthday parties.
30. Flipping to another channel if your favorite TGIF show was doing a lame PSA episode.
31. Playing with either John Stockton and Karl Malone or Alonzo Morning and Larry Johnson in NBA Jam and having an absolutely ridiculous, never-ending “He’s on fireeee!!!” streak.
32. Crushing hard on the following: Danielle Fishel, Melissa Joan Hart, and Larisa Oleynik, who played Alex Mack from The Secret World of Alex Mack.
33. Wondering if the world really was going to end during Y2K.
34. Debating whether Britney Spears or Christina Aguilera was hotter.
35. Watching Michael Jordan’s retirement announcement from basketball to play baseball after his dad died and being deeply saddened and confused.
36. Giggling about the upbeat steel drum jingle from the Girl’s Gone Wild infomercial.
37. Being awe-struck by Jessie Spano’s caffeine pill freak-out and the very obvious D.A.R.E. message that drugs are bad.
38. Feeling a groundswell of old fashion patriotism when the Olympics were held in Atlanta, especially when Muhammad Ali lit the torch.
39. Being weirdly mesmerized by the conversations adults were having on Love Line.
40. Pumping up a yellow and green Super Soaker for the first time on a sunny summer day.
41. Getting the Nerf bow-and-arrow for Christmas… and it inevitably breaking.
42. Going into a pitch-dark bathroom with a mirror and saying “Candyman” five times fast to see if something scary would appear.
43. Watching Saturday morning cartoons for the ridiculous sugary cereal commercials while eating ridiculously sugary cereal.
44. Knowing every single word to the Carman San Diego theme song.
45. Thinking Donatello from the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles really got shafted by only having a giant stick for a weapon.
46. Having very strong opinions about Bill Clinton’s impeachment that were very similar to your parents.
47. Buying a pair of Adidas sandals with the spikey rubber soles that you still own today.
48. …Wearing them with socks at least once.
49. Wanting an Austin 3:16 shirt ’cause that’s the bottom line, but not really knowing where to get one besides at a WWE match.
50. Getting a computer with a CD-R drive, then going to town on making mixes with Napster and Limewire.
51. Buying as many R.L. Stein books as possible at your school’s book fair.
52. Having a school assembly where a speaker would tear a phone book in half and tell you to never do drugs because then you can never be the type of person who rips a phone book in half.
53. Wearing behind-the-head headphones into your Discman to protect your dew.
54. Not realizing that Marc Summers could do anything on television besides host What Would You Do?, let alone Food Network shows.
55. Getting a lumpy feeling in your throat about the Boy Meets World episode where Cory’s best friend Shawn gets arrested.
56. Not being sure if you hated Hanson or Jonathan Taylor Thomas more.
57. Being told it was way past your bedtime if Dan Patrick and Keith Olberman were hosting SportsCenter.
58. Drinking All Sport after soccer or little league games. Not knowing it was TERRIBLE for you.
59. Checking out every single Rohald Diehl book from the school library.
60. Wondering why the cool older brother in Step-by-Step lived in a van next to the house. In retrospect, was he a meth head?
61. Convincing your parents to let them use their credit card to order a Now: That’s What I Call Music! CD via 800-number.
62. Wondering what the kids who worked on the ranch in Hey Dude! did wrong to end up there? Was it punishment?
63. Not being able to stand the annoying kid at recess who inappropriately yelled “Did I to that?!” in a Steve Erkel voice way after it the shtick was played out.
64. Knowing at least one person’s dad who frequently made Tim Allen’s signature grunt at the beginning of every Home Improvement episode.
66. Hating the asshole who picked Yoshi first in Mario Kart.
67. Circling all the things you wanted for Christmas in the Eastbay catalog.
68. Always getting an awkward chuckle out of the part in the Salute Your Shorts theme song when Bobby Budnick screams “Makes me want to fart!”
69. Wondering why anyone’s favorite Power Ranger would be the Yellow one.
70. Accidentally destroying a Capri Sun by jabbing a straw completely through it, puncturing it and getting fake sugary fruit juice everywhere.
71. Thinking Kel’s obsession with orange soda was pretty close to the behavior your D.A.R.E. officer described for drug addicts.
72. Thinking the whole ladder-to-the-bedroom window trick in Clarissa Explains It All was a smooth move for hanging out in girl’s bedroom at night.
73. Oooing and awwwing over McCauly Caukin’s bedroom in Richie Rich.
74. Telling ghost stories 10-times scarier to your friends than anything on Are you Afraid of the Dark?
75. Making absolutely ridiculous ICQ screen names and signatures.
76. Reading Book-it books exclusively for the free pizza coupons.
77. Understanding that the best way to learn about anything in school is by watching either Bill Nye or The Magic School Bus on a Friday afternoon.
78. Obsessing over the following movies, in no particular order: Mighty Ducks, The Sandlot, Little Giants, Rookie of the Year, etc.
79. Gawking at the following people in Playboy: Pamela Anderson, Jenny McCarthy, and Chyna. Yes, Chyna. Admit it, you looked.
80. Hating the person with the Dallas Cowboys Starter jacket.
81. …But being envious of the person with the Charlotte Hornets one.
82. Getting fined by the video store for not rewinding, thus not being kind.
83. Always routing for the Purple Parrots on Legends of the Hidden Temple.
84. Getting frustrated by Doug Funnie for not growing a pair and just asking Patty Mayonnaise out.
85. Feeling kinda sad for Arnold in Hey Arnold for having to live with his grandparents, as awesome as they were.
86. Realizing that Angelica’s traits on Rugrats were the exact same as the most obnoxious girl you went to school with.
87. Yelling, “You killed Kenny, you bastard!” way too many times after South Park first aired.
88. Wondering how a 10-year-old kid could legally get such an elaborate tattoo called “Petunia” on Pete and Pete. Cool, but what the hell were his parents thinking?
89. Having to make due with a lumpy kickball for recess.
90. Being embarrassed at least once for doing the Macarena in public.
91. Wanting to go to Space Camp.
92. Watching late night, “after dark” HBO or Cinemax after parents went to sleep at sleepovers.
93. Testing out newly discovered, explicit vocabulary skills on strangers in AOL chat rooms.
94. Secretly stashing a Sports Illustrated Swimsuit Issue under your bed.
95. …Or the women’s underwear ads of the Sears catalog.
96. …OR finding an older adults Playboy stash.
97. Being mildly terrified of Gak.
98. Knowing a kid who sold Pogs for a premium markup on the playground. 20 years later, he’s either a tremendously successful businessman or in jail for selling drugs. Usually the latter.
99. Going through a stage where you were mildly obsessed with Duct Tape.
100. Taking a Friday night trip to Blockbuster.
101. …And being supremely disappointed if the movie you wanted to watch wasn’t in stock.
102. Owning rollerblades.
103. Doing D Generation X “Suck It” gestures at school without really thinking about what it means. Maybe getting in trouble for it.
104. Drawing on a Five Star binder with a white-out pen.
105. Tuning in to watch David Copperfield make the Statue of Liberty “disappear” in a bullshit made-for-television special.
106. Thinking “I could do that even better” while watching Wild and Crazy Kids.
107. Participating in the great middle school laser pointer craze, which inevitably resulted in someone you know getting a laser pointer confiscated by a teacher.
108. Being slightly terrified by Mike Tyson biting someone’s ear off in-front of a live television audience. Being told he was a bad dude.
109. Thinking Amanda Bynes seemed just like the perfectly normal, peppy, slightly know-it-all girl we all went to school with on All That.
111. Having someone tell you that drinking Mt. Dew lowers your sperm count, despite being a little to young to truly understand what that means.
112. Watching your Mom mourn Princess Diane’s sudden and untimely death.
113. Thinking you were awesome setting proximity mine traps in Goldeneye multiplayer, then getting blown up by a friend with an even more clever proximity mine booby-trap.
114. Not getting a cell phone until you were able to drive.
115. Thinking you were cool shit if you had a mechanical pencil.
116. …Especially if the girl you were crushing on asked if you had any extra lead.
117. Learning to doodle The Cool S aka The Stussy S and the Universal S and then putting it on every notebook you owned.