If you were fortunate enough to grow up in the ’90s, you lived in a simpler time. Michael Jordan was dominating the NBA, Friends was must-see TV, and every time you went out to get the mail, you’d find at least a dozen America Online CDs.
Okay, not everything about the ’90s was better, but we don’t mind leaning into the nostalgia every once in a while. With that in mind, we hit up Amazon to see whether we could recreate the era of neon shirts and slap bracelets.
The good news: Most of your favorite items from your childhood are still out there. The bad news: Some of them aren’t as utterly bodacious as you thought they were.
1. Cupcake Princess Dolls were stupid, but oddly appealing.
These little dolls proved that ’90s toymakers were completely insane. They’re princesses that fold into cupcakes; you don’t know which princess you’re getting until you open the package. They’re also lightly scented with strawberry, grape, chocolate, lemon, or caramel fragrances, but they’re absolutely not edible.
At some point, you’d think that an executive would have realized that “plastic toys that look and smell like candy” is a bad idea, but surprisingly, these things are still available through Amazon’s Add-on program. Collect them all.
2. Teddy Ruxpin was a technological marvel, but he also haunted our dreams.
Okay, Teddy Ruxpin was technically a product of the late ’80s, but we had one, and it kept us up all night, so we’re throwing it in here.
The smart, “learning” teddy bear could respond to questions and read books with cues from a cassette player. If that’s not weird enough, his eyes moved, slowly studying each object in the room as he plotted his eventual takeover.
This new-and-improved Teddy seems a lot less creepy, and he works with an app, not a cassette player. With that said, we still think he’s going to come alive at night and eat us.
3. Goosebump books were all the rage at our middle school.
R.L. Stine seemed to write a hundred of these books every year. Remember finding them on the supermarket book stand—yes, supermarkets had book stands—and begging your parents to buy you one?
Well, you’re an adult now, and if you want to read cheesy children’s horror, nobody can stop you. This set comes with five of the series’ best-selling books, including Monster Blood, Why I’m Afraid of Bees, A Night in Terror Tower, The Beast From the East, and Legend of the Lost Legend.
It arrives in a nice collectible tin, perfect for hiding under your bed so that nobody realizes that you’re a 30-year-old who still reads Goosebumps books.
4. The original Slinky delivered approximately five minutes of entertainment.
Ah, the joy of watching a slinky plop awkwardly, yet somehow also elegantly, down a set of stairs was prime-time ’90s entertainment. There were plastic ones in every color, but the metal ones seem just a bit more high-brow.
Plastic, metal, or made of gold, however, the fun of a slinky was always replaced with the sadness and frustration of getting said slinky tangled up with no way out about five minutes in to playing with it. Perhaps now, as grown people, we may find longer, fuller joy from a slinky, as we are more able to care for our belongings—but probably not.
5. When Clarissa explained it all, everyone listened.
Clarissa Explains It All was a short-lived Nickelodeon sitcom in which Clarissa Darling (played by a young Melissa Joan Hart) addressed the camera directly, telling us all about her annoying little brother, her pimples, and her troubles at school. It was remarkably funny, and slightly ahead of its time; it only ran for 65 episodes. The good news: There’s a possible reboot in the works, according to a recent report from The Hollywood Reporter.
Until that materializes, we can enjoy this classic book, written by Clarissa (well, actually written by series creator Mitchell Kriegman in the voice of Clarissa). It’s a fun throwback to a simpler time, when our biggest problem was when our mother accidentally taped over our VHS of Snick.
Kriegman also has a book that puts Clarissa in her mid-20s, but it’s a bit darker (if no less entertaining) than the show. Check that out here.
6. If you drank anything from a paper cup in the ’90s, you probably know the “Jazz” design.
It was a stock design that caught on, for some reason, gracing the surface of multiple products in the early ’90s. It’s best known as “that one wavy thing that was on all of those paper cups.”
If you’re longing to show your love of “Jazz,” you can pick up this chic PopSocket, which lets you hold your phone easily while showing off your ’90s bona fides.
7. When PopSockets aren’t enough, pick up this shirt, “inspired” by a popular ’90s game show.
We say “inspired” because we don’t want to say “ripped off,” but let’s be clear: This is the Green Monkeys shirt from Legends of the Hidden Temple. In that show, teams of kids would compete to retrieve artifacts from the titular hidden temple, dodging “temple guards” and traps. The kids changed, of course, but the teams were always the same: the Green Monkeys, Blue Barracudas, Orange Iguanas, Purple Parrots, Silver Snakes, and Red Jaguars.
No matter which team won, you’d spend the last five minutes of each show yelling at your TV, angrily cursing out the kid who couldn’t figure out how to assemble a three-part monkey statue. “The head goes on top, you doofus!”
Ah, memories. Anyway, you can buy this shirt, if you’re so inclined, and act out your own Legends of the Hidden Temple in your backyard. Just be sure to warn your neighbors first.
8. POGS were as stupid as you remember.
Ah, POGS. They were collectable pieces of cardboard that you slammed on the ground. Back before the internet, we were actually entertained by stuff like this.
If you want to go back to the old days, you might consider this 102-piece set, which includes “unused pogs” along with two slammers. For your $18, you get a random assortment; per the user reviews, your chances of getting X-Men or Spider-Man pogs is pretty low, so keep that in mind while ordering. But hey—getting disappointed is part of the POGS experience, right?
9. “Pin art” wasn’t really art, per se.
Go ahead and order this for your desk. You’ll stick your hand in it, put your face in it, and try to come up with something else to do with it—in vain, of course.
Yes, pin art wasn’t exactly artistic, but that’s not the point. The point was that it feels kind of cool on your skin. Look, the ’90s were a simpler time, okay?
10. Want to give your sibling a light concussion?
That’s where Sock’em Boppers came in. They were billed as “more fun than a pillow fight,” and that was pretty much true, until you hit your little sister too hard and she went crying to your mom. Remember begging her to keep quiet?
“No, listen—okay, you can hit me. As hard as you can. Go ahead!”
Man, come to think of it, the ’90s were pretty violent. Eventually, Sock’em Boppers were renamed Socker Boppers, apparently to discourage kids from hitting each other. Things ain’t what they used to be.
11. These things were in a quarter vending machine in every supermarket.
You held the stringy end, then slapped the hand at people. That was pretty much it, but the sticky touch of the stretchy vinyl made them oddly satisfying.
Of course, they’d pick up plenty of dirt, hair, and other debris, and within a day or two, they’re pretty much useless. Fortunately, this set comes with 72 pieces, so you can slap to your heart’s content.
12. Tickle Me Elmo was one of the hottest Christmas toys of all time.
Parents were paying hundreds of dollars to get this Sesame Street character, which giggles, laughs, and shakes when you touch it. It’s certainly cute, but looking back, it’s hard to see why this thing was such a big deal. In any case, it’s fairly affordable these days; for under $20, you can get your own Tickle Me Elmo.
We’re sure today’s toddlers will love him just as much—although, if you’re not in it for the nostalgia trip, the slightly more expensive Love 2 Learn Elmo is a better choice. Elmo loves updated technology! Hee hee!
13. When Surge was introduced, parents didn’t care about things like sugar and caffeine.
Marketed as a “citrus-flavored soda,” Surge tasted more like mohawks and skateboards. It was extreme, man.
Alas, at some point in the late ’90s, parents realized that loading up their kids with caffeinated sugar wasn’t a great way to keep them calm, and Surge went out of production. Thanks to ’90s nostalgia (and shoppers like you), it’s back.
According to the reviews, it tastes exactly the same. Add a Surge t-shirt to your order, drink all 12 cans in one sitting, and get a free bonus: caffeine jitters and twitching retinas.
14. These stick-on jewels are basically the same thing as earrings, according to your mom.
These were all the rage in third grade. Granted, you’ll receive a few odd looks if you try rocking these as an adult, but they’re still excellent party favors for kids’ birthdays.
You get a remarkable variety of “jewels,” and if you’ve got a few small kids, you’ll start finding these things on every possible surface.
15. Captain Planet was the world’s first environmental superhero.
When the five teenage Planeteers put their rings together, they could summon the nearly all-powerful Captain Planet, who was able to clear up massive amounts of pollution in seconds (as long as he didn’t get even the slightest bit of dirt on him).
We always wondered: Why not just summon Captain Planet all of the time instead of trying (in vain) to solve problems without him? Maybe that’s why we were never in the Planeteers. In any case, you can buy this on DVD, but watching it on demand is the more eco-friendly—and less expensive—option.
16. Back in the day, you kept all of your thoughts in this super-secret diary.
It’s got a padlock on it. That means that it’s basically impenetrable, right?
Okay, your little brother probably could have opened up your Secret Diary with a hairpin and a few minutes of effort, but fortunately, he never thought of that. This modern version has a heart-shaped padlock, opened with an ungrooved key, so it’s not really any more secure. Still, it’s pretty cute, and that definitely counts for something.
17. Tamagotchi pets weren’t as awesome as you remember.
Every ’90s kid has warm memories of feeding, cleaning, and eventually accidentally starving a Tamagotchi.
The product description notes: “Tamagotchi was originally designed for children 8 years or older, but these Tamagotchi toys are also for the kid-at-heart adults looking to travel back in time to their childhood or explore Tamagotchi for the first time!”
Well, we agree that it’s a great nostalgia item, but if you didn’t have a Tamagotchi growing up, you’re probably going to find this to be ridiculously simplistic.
18. Moon Shoes let you feel like you were walking on the moon—sort of.
These were basically individual trampolines for your feet. They felt pretty awesome, until you inevitably fell down and scraped your knee. Hey, think of it this way: That experience helped to shape you into the cynical, world-weary person you are today.
As Moon Shoes are a hot nostalgia item, they’re fairly overpriced on Amazon. If you’re looking for a modern alternative, consider Madd Gear Boosters, which are basically the same thing with a slightly different design and a lower price tag.
19. Bop It! was the most annoying game ever invented.
A voice tells you to “Bop it! Twist it! Pull it!” and you bopped, twisted, or pulled. It gradually speeds up, until your hands dart out in a mad flurry of bopping, twisting, and pulling.
This thing is just as fun as you remember, although your parents will get post-traumatic flashbacks from hearing that annoying electronic voice. The modern version has 10 new moves, including “sing it, whip it, and cradle it.” Never accuse Hasbro Toys of running out of ideas.
20. Polaroids were the original Instagram.
Who wants to wait a week for pictures to develop? With the Polaroid 600, you could point, shoot, and watch as your photo of the back of your friend’s head gradually developed in front of your eyes.
Protip: While “shaking it like a Polaroid picture” can make the photo show up a little bit faster, it also distorts the colors. For best results, just wait the extra minute. Hey, you were patient enough to wait in the ’90s, weren’t you?
This refurbished unit may have signs of wear, but it’s been carefully serviced to work like new. You can also buy film for your Polaroid 600 series camera on Amazon, and it’s fairly affordable.
21. Butterfly hair clips were completely rad.
We miss saying “rad.” The ’90s were a great time to call things “rad.”
Anyway, butterfly hair clips were the playground equivalent of a Gucci bag. This line from one of the product’s reviews sums up the appeal:
“Do you miss the days when you didn’t have to pay your bills and no one had clinical depression? Me too!”
Hey, us, too! This package includes 100 clips, which make great party favors for your next ’90s-themed bash. They’re fairly small, however—hey, they’re made for kids, not nostalgic 30-year-olds.
22. Water games were “games” in the loosest sense of the word.
You might remember water games as “the only cool-looking thing you could afford with your Showbizz Pizza tickets.”
You pressed the button and the balls went flying through the water. Try to fit them into the little baskets, and…well, that’s it. Back in the day, we didn’t all have Gameboys, so we got our entertainment wherever we could find it.
23. Speaking of the Gameboy—yes, it’s still available.
The Gameboy Color was the best version of the early Gameboy, since the backlit screen let you play it anywhere—not just directly in front of a bright lamp—and the faster processor let you play state-of-the-art games like Super Mario Bros. Deluxe in all of their 8-bit glory.
You can actually find a huge variety of affordable games for the original Gameboy on Amazon, so load up on your old favorites and enjoy the nostalgia. Just don’t loan it to your best friend; he’ll keep on making excuses for why he can’t bring it to school, and he’ll end up keeping it for months. Yes, we’re talking about you, Trevor Kowalski.
24. Lip Smackers were the absolute best way to cover your lips with sugar.
We all know that the Dr. Pepper flavor was the best, but the strawberry and watermelon balms were great, too. The only problem was that you’d end up licking your lips every few minutes, which eventually led to chapping.
Lip Smackers are still available, and why wouldn’t they be? Everyone needs a deliciously sweet lip balm every now and then. We’ve linked the original flavors below, but be sure to check out the Coca-Cola party pack (oddly named, as we can’t imagine what a Lip Smackers-themed party would look like).
25. At our school, Slap Bracelets were the best way to get a detention.
We feel sorry for our middle school teachers. They were just trying to pass on important knowledge about how the mitochondria is the powerhouse of the cell, and there we were, mindlessly slapping bracelets onto our wrists.
Well, you’re an adult now, and if you want to slap your bracelet, you won’t have to stick around after class. You can get a pack of 25 slap bracelets for just under $8 on Amazon, and we know you need 25 slap bracelets. Be sure to share them with friends—just don’t break them out around your old teachers.
If, for some odd reason, you don’t want 25 slap bracelets, you can get this smaller tie-dye set for just under $6.
26. Crayola Stamper markers were awesome for decorating (but terrible for actually writing).
The tip of each marker looks like a symbol—this set includes everything from “Shadow ‘Stache” to “Magenta Love,” and yes, they’re all named like that—which makes them perfect for adding little accents to your favorite works of art.
The newest Crayola Stamper markers are “ultra washable,” an innovation that your mom certainly would have appreciated when you put little pink hearts all over her favorite tablecloth.
27. Furby was either absolutely adorable or incredibly annoying, depending on your point of view.
Billed as a “learning robot,” the Furby didn’t actually learn much of anything. However, it was pretty cute, and soon after its release, it became one of the most sought-after toys on the market. Parents actually got into fistfights over these things, only to finally get hold of one and realize that its squeaky little voice becomes annoying after approximately five minutes of use.
We’ve linked the original Furby below, but if you’re not in it for the nostalgia, be sure to check out the Furby Connect, which interacts with a free app to learn new phrases.
28. The Spice Girls told us to tell them what we really really wanted, and tell them, we did.
“We don’t want any more Spice Girls,” we said, sometime around 2002. Sure, the Spice Girls faded from popularity quickly, but we still have fond memories of the ’90s most immediately recognizable girl group.
For under $25, you can pick up a Posh Spice doll on Amazon. We used to love these things, but we should note: If you really want to be her lover, you’ve got to get with her friends, and you’ll need to shell out over $100 to get all five dolls. Maybe we’ll just pick up Spice World on DVD.
29. Every ’90s household had at least one Koosh ball.
We’re pretty sure that toy stores gave these things away, because everyone we knew had a couple of Koosh balls lying around. They were marketed as “safe to throw, easy to catch,” but tell that to our mom’s vase.
For just under $7, you can relive the glory days of Koosh. Colors vary; that’s part of the fun.
30. Gak was disgusting stuff, but that was the point.
Squish it, squeeze it, stretch it, or just force it around the container to make fart sounds. Nickelodeon’s Gak provided hours of entertainment, much to your parents’ chagrin. Eventually, you’d accidentally leave the container open, and it would dry out. Sure, you could add water, and it’d sort of return to its original state, but it was never really the same.
Nickelodeon reintroduced Gak in 2017, but it wasn’t nearly as successful. Today’s kids don’t appreciate a good thing when they see it.
31. Looking back, trolls were kind of creepy.
They were little naked creatures with ridiculous hair, and for some reason, we bought tons of them. We had trolls in our desks, on our pencils, and on our birthday cakes. Where did they come from? Why did people like them? Why didn’t they wear clothes? We have no idea.
In 2016, Dreamworks made a surprisingly dark movie about them, but for some reason, trolls haven’t really caught on with today’s kids. Maybe that’s a good thing.
32. Play veterinarian with a pregnant plushy.
Hey, we don’t invent the toys, we just report on them. Puppy Surprise was an innovative stuffed animal that was stuffed with way more than cotton. Yes, this is a pregnant doll.
Take her out of the box and reach inside, just like a real dog birth, but without the horror and medical risk. Each toy contains a “surprise” number of tiny puppy newborns. It’s not that much of a surprise, because they tell you you’re either getting three, four, or five puppies.
We’re pretty sure we remember apocryphal tales of six and even seven-puppy litters, but they haven’t been independently verified.
33. It’s like a cell phone that can’t make calls. Or do much of anything, really.
You think the latest augmented reality cell phone game came out of nowhere? In fact, we had handheld gaming down to a science even when the only mobile phone we’d ever seen was weighing down the backpack of a lovable huckster named Zack Morris.
These little handheld LCD games came in all sorts of flavors. This one is based on Aladdin, and you can tell it’s legit because it says “Disney’s Aladdin,” not like “Laddin’s Genie” or something sketch like that. We do not remember this game, but we’re pretty sure it mostly just runs out of batteries.
34. Endanger your fingers in the name of fun. That is so ’90s.
It was a more innocent age, an age in which a children’s game could actually hurt you. If you don’t remember Crocodile Dentist, it’s that mechanized game in which a plastic monster slams its jaw shut on your hand if you make the wrong move.
It doesn’t really hurt. It only sort of hurts. In retrospect, any pain at all seems like the wrong amount for a children’s game, but what do we know? We grew up to be helicopter parents.
35. Three words: Mario Kart 64.
Okay, that’s two words and a number. The point is, this iteration of Nintendo’s racing game was just one of the classics that kept us up all night when we had to get up for school the next day. (We kept the volume muted; sorry, mom.) The Nintendo 64 didn’t pack the power of today’s high-speed consoles, but it gave us some of the greatest games of all time.
We’re talking about games stuff on the level of The Legend of Zelda: Ocarina of Time and GoldenEye 007. Sigh. They just don’t make ’em like they used to. Luckily, you can still find used N64 consoles on Amazon. And this time, there’s no one to catch us up past our bedtime.
36. It’s like an Easy Bake Oven but for bugs.
If you remember the Easy Bake Oven, you probably remember the Creepy Crawlers Workshop. They both operate on the same principle: Cooking with a light bulb.
There were some important differences between the two, though. The Easy Bake Oven made food and had girls in the ads. The Creepy Crawlers Workshop made rubber bugs and had boys in the ads. It was not an enlightened time, those ’90s.
Anyway, if you want to pour gunk into a bug-shaped ice cube tray and wait for it to set under the heat of a bulb, this is the only way to get your fix.
37. Wake up to the official color palette of the 1990s.
In the ’90s, we didn’t have cell phones and Twitter. We had to get by with Nickelodeon, and a lot of it. What we learned from the classic line-up of shows like Double Dare, Clarissa Explains it All, and You Can’t Do That on Television is that slime is hilarious and everything should be purple.
Here’s an alarm clock that pulls off the same trick. For a real dose of ’90s culture, it also has an AM/FM radio. Podcasts can go get slimed.