I have talked a lot about the 80’s, but this is 80’s and 90’s Central so it’s only fair I spend some time talking about the 90’s. It was a crazy time for me, I went from being a kid in high school to a married man with a crummy job. Quite a busy ten years. Today I want to discuss five things that were big during those ten years which today seem silly or just flat out don’t exist anymore!
#5.Beanie Babies
Ah, what cute little wastes of money these things were. Seriously, what the hell? I get why they were popular, but why in the world were they soooo popular?? These were cute little teddy bears which came in all sorts of colors and designs. And they were HUGE!! I mean people went crazy collecting these things! How crazy? McDonald’s used to give them away in happy meals and there were reports of people buying happy meals just to get the beanie babies. Then they would throw the food away which is deplorable in my opinion. At least give the food away! These things faded away but have been coming back. As for the value of them…yeah, unless you have a rare one in mint condition good luck making a profit on these “collectors items”.
 
#4.Pagers & 1-800-COLLECT
Call 1-800-Collect rather than dialing 0 and save money! Yeah, right. Did anyone ever actually use this? 1-8oo-Collect was simply an MCI access code to get around making collect calls. It saved a buck or two!! Well golly gee! What made this popular were the clever and memorable ads featuring all sorts of silly characters. There were knock off’s like 1-800-Call Att. I guess this is still around though I haven’t seen a new ad in ages. What was worst? Before we had cell phones, we had pagers. What was up with this? Everyone wanted to pretend to be doctors I guess. Thankfully this ended when cell phones became popular, but for a time everyone wore these things. I never got it into but I know it was huge.

#3.The Macarena
The 70’s had the Electric Slide. The 80’s had Breakdancing. And the 90’s has The Macarena. This was lame the second it came along, and yet it was huge!! I mean EVERYONE was learning how to do this. This was a silly dance which I can’t really explain in print. You were supposed to dance to the song of the same name. The song was about a girl who likes to have sex. Well, sort of anyway. The important part wasn’t the lyrucs but the dance. This was a Spanish dance song by Los Del Rio and I imagine you can still find people doing it. Since the only way to explain this fad is to show it……

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=TBeg7puGPU8

Hey it’s no more lame than the Harlem Shake  :)
#2.Early Internet/Dial-UP/AOL
Remember when AOL ruled the freaking world? I sure do. Remember when logging into the internet sounded like a bunch of cats screeching in pain? Remember The days when you got charged for how many hours you spent online rather than a flat rate? Before it became free. Ah yes, the early days of the internet!  When the internet first came around it was awesome, but no one really knew what to do with it. People I knew pretty much hung out in chat rooms more than anything else. We also collected wav’s. Wav files were little soundbites and were huge. They aren’t now but I still have a folder on my computer stuffed with them. America Online was THE service provider, and people actually paid for the email and web service. Until Google and Yahoo offered the same stuff for free. There was also the fact that AOL locked you in so you had to use their platform and had no access to the rest of the net. And not to mention a disastrous merger with Time Warner. Anyone still have those lame instalation discs that would come out every year? I wish I did. The internet is so much cooler now than it was when it first started getting popular with broadband and streaming video, but man those old days still bring a nostalgic tear to my eye.
#1.Psychic Friends Networks/Informercial Explosion
The 80’s had televangelists, the 90’s gave us the Psychic Friends Network. Oh man, was this big! I mean this was all over the place, and I admit I even called one or two for fun. PFN was huge and had lots of imitators. There were also some big names associated with these. Most notably Deion Warwick and Latoya Jackson (who hosted her own version). These TV ads aired all the freaking time! There were also infomercials that acted like talk shows and discussed how wonderful the network was. In fact one could argue that the Psychic Friends Network is what started the informercial craze we got in the 90’s. Oh yeah we had them before, and since, but in the 90’s these went nuts!! I mean everything got a crazy infomercial and some of the products were downright silly. These spots usually had a very happy studio audience and a very outspoken host like Susan Powter or Ron Popeil. And the products were….weird. Wow, a salad spinner! Spray on hair! And I still don’t know what OxiClean is but I want it!! And the Snuggie, just what I needed! A blanket with sleeves!! Check out Mike J’s Informercialism for more wacky products. But Psychic Friends was the most popular and most parodied. What was it about this that people bought into it? If you don’t know the concept was simple. Call a 1-800 # and for just a $5 a minute a “real live” psychic will tell you your future or whatever. The company ended up declaring bakriptcy and still exsist online.

By richb

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