10 Very 90s Things The Kids Of Today Will Never Understand

The 1990s was a weird and wonderful place full of girl power, outrageous fashion statements, the launch of the 16 bit computer and tons of other things the kids of today will never understand.

Here’s some of my favourites.

Sega Mega Drive ‘leccy’ nightmares

There was nothing quite like investing half a day of your life on Sonic the Hedgehog, refusing to eat, drink or take a leak in the quest to complete the game.

You’d be almost there, approaching the end level, cool, calm, collected and feeling confident that you had this shit completely under control. Then out of nowhere, BOOM, the credit on the pay as you go electric ran out meaning you were forced to start again from the beginning.

Even worse if you’d rinsed the emergency credit too.

No chance of simply starting up again to painstakingly attempt completion immediately, nope you needed a trip to the shop.

Worse of all, you could only buy it from the Norweb shop three miles away in the town centre.

Kids of today have zero concept of not being able to save your progress when gaming.

Communication and information

In the 90s, as kids, mobile phones and a magical tinterweb to connect the world, enabling us to find the answer to a wonderful array of anything and everything at the touch of a button was still the stuff of science fiction.

If you wanted to find out what your friends and family had been up to, share the photos from your recent holiday abroad, show off that fancy new bag or let the world know how cute your baby was, you were required to go out there and actually speak to people – how very primitive.

Friends already left the house when you called the landline?

Get your walking boots on son!

You may very well need to circle the estate seventy-four times before you find anyone. None of this Whatsapping wizardry in those days.

Arguments in pubs remained unsolved for years before Google waded in like the local gob shite know-it-all who lives next door but one.

Your answer was only retrievable from a dusty, cold, quiet building called a library, and who could be arsed with that?

VHS and portable aerial fuckery

Record TV was still light years away in the 90s.

And, recording on a VHS cassette (you may have heard your parents speaking of this strange and ancient relic) meant that everyone had to watch the programme you were taping, making it a pretty feckin’ useless pile of turd unless you were all going out.

Unless EVERY single member of your family was out when you needed to record something you were forced to use a portable TV, which weighed approximately the same as an adolescent rhinoceros.

With these heavy bad boys came portable aerials.

Oh the hours of fun we had using every last bit of airspace around our bedrooms in a pointless mission to get what we still thought back then was a clear picture.

Of course, to get the very best picture quality usually meant you had to stand behind the TV and just listen to it, or stand waving it around like an air traffic control flagman at an illegal acid house rave, intermittently sampling a snippet of what you were trying in vain to watch.

Either way, it didn’t make for comfortable viewing, and if you were unlucky enough to be forced into a VHS recording operation upstairs, you could pretty much guarantee the only thing that recorded clearly enough to watch later were the adverts.

Sunday laws

As there were no mobile phones to take selfies in the local shopping centre, tag yourself into a trendy, designer clothes shops we couldn’t have afforded to buy a button from, or photograph your Big Mac meal, retailers didn’t bother opening on Sunday.

We were forced to play out and create lifelong memories (ask your parents about playing out), it was the law that you must sit down with your family for a traditional Sunday roast, and the public house at the end of your street acted accordingly by only opening 12 until 3 during the day to make sure dads and step-dads across the land made it back in time and their dinner didn’t find its way into the dog.

Quality over quantity

Terrestrial TV channels still gave a damn about making, or importing, plenty of quality TV programmes in the 90s instead of filling the daily schedule full of dross like Made In Toffland, Brain Dead in Essex or Celebrity Twat Island, leaving little need for 250 million channels to choose from.

We got to feast on the likes of One Foot in the Grave, Keeping up Appearances, Dinosaurs, Bottom, Big Break, What’s Up Doc, Baywatch, TFI Friday, Gladiators, Art Attack, Noel’s House Party, Going Live and Strike it Lucky to name but a few.

Youtube them all, go on, treat yourself.

A quid was enough to buy anything

A can of coke, chocolate bar, packet of crisps and a return to and from the town centre on the bus could quite easily all be covered by a quid and leave you with change, meaning your parents only allowed you out of their sight with 50p at a time.

Moaning for anything more could result in a squeeze of the arm and a “wait until you get home”, or a “keep crying and I’ll give you something to cry for”, especially when out in public.

Furthermore, that quid would need to be earned by completing a task your mum hated doing around the house.   


Even if you were a matter of six stone in weight piss wet through it was customary to wear extra large t-shirts and jumpers.

You were literally nobody unless your t-shirt sleeve lay mid-way between your elbow and your wrist, or your jumper didn’t resemble a maxi-dress.

Shell suits, Spliffy jeans and Naff jackets were all the rage (wear protective shades if you google them), and hoop earrings with a large gold cross hanging from them were honest to God an actual thing – for boys!

You were the dishwasher

The very moment the eldest child reached a height sufficient enough to wash the dishes without smashing them to pieces, it became their job.

In the hope that one day when the next sibling in line reached the perfect, dish-washing height and you would be released from the chains of your mum’s pans she had welded dinner to daily, you cracked on with the job in hand, only to be told at the the time that they didn’t have the same commonsense as you and you couldn’t be released on good behaviour just yet.

After all, if you wanted that 50p pocket money you needed to comply. If not, get a paper-round and see how much fun that is in the freezing cold, pissing down rain at 6:30am.

Musical inefficiencies

In the 90s a stream was nothing more than a babbling brook, and for much of the 90s the only way to listen to your favourite song on repeat was to tape it back to back on both sides of an audio cassette tape – last uncovered by Indiana Jones in the Temple of Boom Shake The Room.

The minute we moved into the CD revolution some infuriating mofo invented and encouraged us to buy a portable CD player known as a Discman.

If you needed to move any quicker than a slug the Discman quickly transformed into the Skipman, rendering you unable to get past the first verse.

Aaaa…aaall…tha…..that…sh…s…s….sh…she…w…w…wa…wa…wa…wa…wa…wants is a feckin’ iPod.

One shot

Back in the 90s we still needed cameras with films in to take our photos.

Usually it was your parents camera and you were lucky to get your grubby little mitts within 500 metres of it.

If you did there was none of this poncing around with various pouts and poses until you were happy with one of the five billion photos you’d taken – you had 24 picture opportunities, 36 if you were lucky. 

Taking pictures of your dinner had still yet to be invented and it took a week to develop them at a photo developers where you invariably received  Sharon’s holidays pictures off the estate by mistake.

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David Naylor is the editor of the Thinking Thrifty blog. An award winning personal finance and lifestyle blogger, he shows how it is possible to live extremely well for less.
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9 thoughts on “10 Very 90s Things The Kids Of Today Will Never Understand

  1. How things change. We are renting a house this week that has cable. My sone asked why there were commercials. Then he asked me to hit he fast forward button through them… He also refuses to watch older black and white cartoons.
    I’m thinking the black and white tv I had as a kid wouldn’t have been well received…
    FullTimeFinance recently posted…When and how to Teach Kids About FinanceMy Profile

  2. LOL, the dishwasher thing is so true! Though, in my parent’s defense, my younger siblings also had to wash the dishes. I remember once in summer camp people there were really amazed that I knew how to wash the dishes (I was already 12 years old at the time). That’s when I realized not all children had to wash the dishes though. 😀

  3. “Arguments in pubs went unsolved for years….” hahaha! Hilarious, this is a very true reminiscent story of what the 90’s were most certainly like! We’ve become those grandparents, ‘back in my day we had to go out in public to actually talk to people!’

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