Ahh, the 90s. What a unique time in American history, wouldn’t you say? I’ve noticed that some current top trends are derived from 1990s nostalgia, and while it’s all well and good for people to wear chokers or sip Crystal Pepsi, there are some things from this decade that should just stay there.
In the 90s, we liked our jeans baggy. If the bottoms of your pants weren’t dragging along the floor, you were NOT winning, my friend. It wasn’t uncommon for people to even go a few sizes up just to make sure they got the necessary level of slack.
One denim company liked where this was going and decided to take it further – way further. I have to admit I don’t personally remember ever seeing anyone wearing JNCO jeans in real life, and I don’t ever want to. The only cool thing about these pants? They’re big enough to function as a makeshift parachute! (Don’t test that.)
Much like with fashion, our concept of what is “healthy” seems to change with every decade, too. The 1990s were all about low-fat, or better yet, fat-free!
Manufacturers tried to accommodate this by removing fat content from their products where possible, often replacing it with additional sugars (whoops). Then along came olestra. It functioned as a genuine substitute for fat but didn’t add any calories or cholesterol. Unfortunately, it also prevented the proper absorption of nutrients and gave people 50 shades of indigestion.
Olestra’s popularity tanked in the late 90s. It’s not used much anymore, and was even banned in Canada.
Microsoft Word Assistants
This guy, the infamous Clippy, and other assistants were first introduced in Office 97 and lasted until the 2003 edition. Clippy would pop up and offer “helpful” tips based on whatever you were writing, whether you wanted them or not. Everyone hated this feature, but they especially hated Clippy. If you do a Google image search for Clippy now, it’s mostly parodying pictures along with some, uh, fan art showing a pregnant Clippy (why, God?).
Clippy and friends were ultimately removed from Microsoft Word in 2007 to everyone’s delight, but the concept of virtual assistants has never died. Siri, Alexa, and Cortana? All the descendants of Clippy.
Ask anyone born before 2000 about the Macarena. After an expression of disgust or embarrassment, they’ll probably start singing it, and if you’re (un)lucky, performing the associated dance. Yes, this track was huge in the 90s, spending a full fourteen weeks as the No. 1 song on the Billboard Hot 100 chart.
As far as I’m aware, the Macarena is virtually unknown among kids today. I was going to say that’s a great thing, but I just realized that there’s a contemporary equivalent. You know, a Spanish-language song that’s incredibly popular, yet incredibly annoying? Of course, I am talking about the nefarious “Despacito.” Ugh.
The McLean Deluxe
This was the McDonalds attempt to join in the low-fat craze of the 90s. I know what some of you are thinking. “Low-fat? McDonalds? This guy must be crazy!” Well, don’t make that phone call to the mental hospital just yet. Mickey D’s made this sandwich 91% fat-free by using ultra-lean beef.
Without fat, though, the burger didn’t have much structure (or flavor). McDonalds ended up replacing it with something else. No, not olestra, but seaweed! That’s right, this “deluxe” creation was jam-packed with the stuff. Apparently it did well in some taste tests, but people just don’t associate McDonalds with healthy food, so the sales weren’t great.
For those of you who lived through this stuff, do you miss any of it? And for those of you born too late to experience any of these things firsthand, do you find yourself intrigued by them? If you answered “yes” to either of those, please reconsider. I can assure you that society does NOT need tent-like pants or laxative potato chips again. Once was quite enough.