We can say this much about the '80s: they were a very, very long time ago. And we can hardly remember them. That’s probably for the better. An era of dramatically large, frizzy hair and over-sized shoulder pads is probably best left alone.
But that wouldn’t be as fun, right? So, instead, we’ve spent some time with our therapists to unlock our memories and have delved deep into the ridiculous things we thought were cool or great back in that long-forgotten decade. Take a trip back with us, won’t you?
These days it’s all about wearing clothing that clings so tight to your figure that others may wonder if those pants are actually painted on you. Not so in the '80s! In the '80s the ladies (and certain gentlemen) bought over-sized, slouchy t-shirts and fed them through these things. Because nothing said “fashion” more clearly than a shirt you bought that was too big, but then made slightly smaller.
Have you heard the news? Ecto Cooler may actually be coming back! We have to admit that we are very excited about this possibility. Back in the '80s, Ghostbusters was not only a film, but also a children’s cartoon featuring a floating green blob with a huge tongue named Slimer. Slimer was cool! Because... slime? Whatever. And Hi-C -- peddler of over-sugared drinks that kept us running around the classroom driving our teachers nuts -- came out with Ecto Cooler: a disturbingly slime-green citrus drink that we couldn’t get enough of. These days, kids know enough to stay away from green things… back in the '80s? Nope! Just load it up with sugar and make it vaguely orange-flavored and we were set to go.
In the '80s, girls were all into walking around on piles of Twizzlers. Or at least we think that must be what explains the passion for Jellies. Thoroughly unattractive squooshy shoes that looked like they were made of glowsticks or licorice whips? Sign us up! Jellies were all the rage… for some reason. Thankfully, these will most likely never make a comeback.
The best-selling toy of the mid-'80s was none other than this creepy thing. Teddy Ruxpin was an animatronic teddy bear that blinked and moved its mouth as it told you stories that you jammed into a cassette player that was sliced into his back. Sound creepy? It just got worse when his batteries ran low and he started blinking unevenly and his voice dropped six octaves. If you thought Teddy Ruxpin was disturbing, Teddy Ruxpin going through puberty was worse. Still, our parents were too busy wearing shoulder pads and teasing out their hair so who else was going to read to us, dammit?
Slip 'N Slide
Nothing says summer fun more than a long, urine-yellow sheet of plastic that stretches across your backyard. Slip ’N Slide was literally that. A big, yellow sheet that you sprayed with water to make it slippery just before you ran at it, launched yourself in the air, and landed on your stomach, zipping you across pebbles, rocks, stray bottles, branches, and all sorts of things you could very much feel through the very thin Slip N’ Slide. Do these things still exist? Probably not. And the knees and torsos of children everywhere breathe a sigh of relief.
Cabbage Patch Kids
Yes, we had dolls in the '80s! And the most popular variety of those dolls had heads harder than ceramic that could dole out concussions when you smacked your friends with them. We won't get into their weird dead buggy-eyed Stepford alien faces because the psychological damage from those pale in comparison from the bruises we sustained when our sisters hit us square in the face. Our parents let us have these! They were essentially the nonprison version of a sack full of doorknobs. Thanks, Mom and Dad!
Garbage Pail Kids
Cabbage Patch Kids were for girls, right? So what did the toy creators make for their brothers? Garbage Pail Kids! They looked like the Cabbage Patch variety, except they were totally for boys. They had things boys apparently liked, like boogers and farts and day-old dairy products and seeping acne scars and squiggly stink lines. Yes! We loved those things. And they made girls go “Ewwww!” which was ideal, since girls had cooties and all. Oh, and you know, boys don't like dolls, so the Garbage Pail Kids were only available in trading card format. Because boys loved cards. Or something.
Being tripped by mean bullies at school was so much fun, but what were we to do when we were at home with nice people who loved us? This predicament was solved with the invention of Skip-It: a piece of plastic that had a handcuff-like shackle on one end that you jammed your foot in and then a big plastic thing on the other end. You would then spin the Skip-It and try to jump over it with your free foot. The Skip-It would then count its total revolutions as you tripped all over yourself. Much like the Cabbage Patch Kids, it also made an excellent weapon. So many uses!
We are noticing a trend of very, very dangerous toys from our childhoods. Were our parents trying to tell us something? Pogo Ball was less of a ball and more of a very distorted heavy-duty balloon that was jammed into a Saturn-like ring of plastic. You then stood on the ring of plastic… and jumped! Well, you spent more time falling and hurting yourself than jumping… but wasn’t that fun? We can’t remember. The concussions took those memories away.
Believe it or not, the Reebok Pump sneaker was released a month before New Year and the dawn of the '90s. But we’re including it here because it was clearly brainstormed, tested and created during the '80s, and therefore totally counts. What were they? Sneakers with an inflatable basketball button on the tongue. You would push the button and it made your shoes tighter until all the circulation in your feet was cut off. After all, you didn’t buy Reebok Pumps to get the touted “custom fit”; you bought them because you suffered from ADD and wanted to push something on your shoes again and again until the ball exploded from the built-up pressure! Fun!
Privacy was very important in 1980s junior high school. We didn’t want Jennifer finding out what we said about her in our very secret note we scribbled to Tiffany during Social Studies (folded just so). How best to keep our notes (both educational and Jennifer-bashing) secret? With a thin, protective layer of very loud velcro! Trapper Keepers were the coolest binders ever. Having them meant our parents obviously loved us. They also allowed us to rip them open and close them over and over, making an obnoxiously loud RRRRRRRIPPPP sound that drove our poor alcoholic teachers insane until the velcro wore out and we had to get our loving parents to buy us new ones.
Where In The World Is Carmen San Diego?
Video game makers were so sneaky in the '80s! They took advantage of the low-tech environment of the day to give us “games” that actually taught us things. And we actually played these things because -- well, they were more fun than blackboards. Carmen San Diego was an “adventure game” where players “chased” an international criminal around the world, and the only way to win was to know things about history and geography. Tricky! Not actually fun! But whatever, we’ll play another round anyway.(H/T Slapped Ham, BuzzFeed)