Every couple of years, the world grows tired of modern pop culture trends and decides to recycle ones from the past. Lucky for us, the ’90s are the next decade on the list. In addition to the palazzo pants and overalls that are making a comeback, I vote that we all take the time to appreciate the many odors that came out of the period, the ones that make us stop and recall a time when Shia Labeouf was still the star of Even Stevens and “Well, why don’t you marry it?” was an acceptable response to pretty much anything.
1) L’Oreal Kids “No Tears” Shampoo
First of all, advertising this shampoo as “tears free” is equivalent to promoting a new Bengal tiger exhibit as “a collection of the world’s cuddliest kittens!” However, if you can get over that dubious lie, L’Oreal’s line of scented shampoos were actually quite splendid. The scents were basic (cherry, watermelon, new car) but they were just potent enough that you could enjoy it while sitting idly in class or visiting your local junkyard. Trash and feces didn’t stand a chance against those colorful, fish-shaped bottles.
2) Jelly Sandals (and other BPA-filled plastic)
Whether the world discovered a stockpile of plastic somewhere or scientists shared a report on the intoxicating power of PVS plastic smell, I’m still not sure, but either way, the rise in toys made of thick plastic proved to be a successful business strategy in the early ’90s. From jelly shoes to pencil cases, the collection of items that possessed the plastic-y odor grew until every child in America was sniffing their feet and school supplies when no one was looking.
3) Mr. Sketch Markers
But the smell of plastic was not responsible for the bad habits of ’90s kids. No, that honor belongs to Mr. Sketch markers. This line of scented markers functioned as both an arts and crafts item and an indicator of friendship. If you don’t know what I mean, hand your friend the black marker instead of the red one and see whether or not they’re still willing to talk to you.
4) Cherry Chapstick
Anyone that claims they never tried to eat their cherry Chapstick is a straight up liar. Any unsuspecting child, when handed one of the little pink sticks, would immediately assume they have been given some sort of candy in disguise, not just lip balm. Oh, and remember the girl with the cherry Chapstick Katy Perry supposedly kissed? ’90s enthusiast.
5) Play Dough
My intention was not to turn this into a list of all the inedible objects I’ve tried to eat but, alas, here we are. Play dough has been around for years but I distinctly remember using it to mold fake hamburgers and wild animals as a child. Next to my Easy Bake oven, it was my favorite toy, and the smell of artificial clay that it left on my hands is enough to land it a spot on this list.
While we’re on the topic of items that made my hands stink, let’s discuss Smencils, the next best school item behind Mr. Sketch markers and those Japanese erasers shaped like ice cream cones and penguins. Smencils, short for smelly pencils, would have kids lining up around the block every morning to get a new scent. With delicious choices like bubble gum, cherry, and cotton candy, they were almost good enough to eat. Almost.
7) Bubble Tape
Sometime between when you first chomp down on a roll of Bubble Tape and when your drool becomes permanently bubble gum flavored, you’ll probably notice how distinct the scent of Bubble Tape actually is (probably because you ingested so much, it has started to leak out of your pores). You don’t even need to eat the gum to channel the ’90s; all you need to do is smell the empty plastic container to travel back in time. (Not literally. I’m still working on how to harness this nostalgic force and use it to power my time machine. I’ll keep you all updated on my progress.)
8) Mountain Dew or Fanta
The only thing more memorable than the obnoxiously catchy Fanta jingle was the smell of the drink itself. Don’t get me wrong, I loved Fanta, and its radioactive cousin Mountain Dew, but inhaling the air around either drink usually resulted in a 2 pound weight gain and a diabetes warning from my pediatrician.
9) Scratch and Sniff Stickers
They’re not scratch and taste stickers but seeing as those haven’t officially been invented yet, I can settle for second best. Scratch and sniff stickers were the precursor to those pages in magazines covered in perfume samples, and taught every child that if something looks good, it’s totally okay to smell it. (Most of them figured out that this was a lie as they got older.)
10) Winterfresh Gum
So minty that you could probably freeze people with your breath, Winterfresh gum was a classic ’90s product. Sure, it didn’t have its own theme song like some gum brands now (I’m looking st you, Doublemint) but it was still good in its own right.
Oh wait, I spoke too soon:
Which smells bring you back to the ’90s?
Featured image via DesignDirectory.com.