"We were on a break!"—Ross Gellar
Every decade is host to a treasure chest of moments. Moments of fondness or regret, where thoughts of “OMG, did I really wear that?” or “I can’t believe that was actually a thing!” become all too real, either plaguing us or making us reminiscent. The 90s are no different—they had some seriously strange and wacky moments. This was just before technology soared, pop culture went global, and the world shrunk enough to fit into your pocket. So enjoy these 40 like, totally awesome facts you may know if you’re a 90s kid, a time where the Spice Girls and Bill Clinton, OJ Simpson and Furbies were just a few of the many things on everyone's minds.
The sounds of the super scary t-rex from Jurassic Park (1993) that had everyone on the edge of their seats, was voiced by... a Jack Russell Terrier! Sound designer Gary Rydstrom was inspired by his own dog, who would play and aggressively shake his rope toy, much like what the t-rex does to the lawyer in the film. Rydstrom made the connection that the t-rex is rather doglike, and tried recording his dog’s barks and slowing them down, and it actually worked!
While Full House was a feel-good family sitcom, Seinfeld writer Larry David wanted to move away from the sentimental warm and fuzzies when writing the famous “show about nothing.” He made a “no hugging, no learning” rule for all Seinfeld scripts.
Orbitz, the floating lava-lamp soft drink, made its debut in 1997 and was discontinued shortly thereafter. Although stunning to look at, the major consensus was that it tasted gross and it wasn’t bubbly. However, the rare few that did in fact like this other worldly beverage are now paying up to $30 for a single, unopened bottle, while whole cases can fetch beyond $100!
The Tamagotchi craze saw kids becoming best friends with their pocket sized, virtual pets before inevitably killing them from neglect. For the word Tamagotchi itself, Bandai created a portmanteau by combining the Japanese words for egg and friend.
The Spice Girls asked Tony Blair (just before becoming Prime Minister of the UK the following year) to be in the music video for their 1996 debut smash hit "Wannabe." He declined the offer.. his loss I guess.
The Hanson brothers, most famous for their luscious locks and their 1996 hit song "Mmmbop," have a craft beer company, (obviously) called Mmmhops. Their small beer business is based in Tulsa, Oklahoma, and their lager is a “full-bodied delicious pale ale with a unique toasted malt signature and refreshing hoppy finish.” I just hope they wear hairnets.
The Hasbro designers who brought Furby to life thought the talkative toy was too girly, and were fearful that boys may not be into it as much. That’s when they had the idea to make it more “boyish” and gave Furbies the ability to burp and fart. Classic!
Special edition Furbies with slight defects and discrepancies like a misprinted label have been known to sell for up to $500 on eBay.
When the OJ Simpson trial was hot and heavy in 1995, a ginormous amount of Americans tuned in to watch the final verdict on October 3, 1995—about 95 million of them! And in the middle of a workday no less.
History’s most fascinating stories and darkest secrets, delivered to your inbox daily. Making distraction rewarding since 2017.
Fewer people watched the Super Bowl (90 million) than the OJ verdict that year. To put it into perspective, the season 7 finale of what is probably today's biggest show, Game of Thrones, garnered only 16.5 million viewers.
Bill Clinton’s approval ratings skyrocketed in 1998 during the Monica Lewinsky scandal, and they remained high even during his impeachment processing. Even with his and her name across newspapers all over America, the historic scandal managed to improve how the country viewed him.
Slap bracelets, every kid had one! But it wasn't all fun and games—the nine-inch metal pieces wrapped in vibrantly colored and patterned fabric were eventually banned due to their cheap manufacturing and potential to hurt someone if the metal sliced through.
And, slap bracelets were first invented by a teacher! A high school shop teacher was playing with steel ribbons one day and saw the potential to make the product.
Remember that massive technical glitch that never happened on January 1, 2000? Yeah, Y2K, that’s the one the United States spent $100 billion preparing for with a Senate “Special Committee on the Year 2000 Technology Problem.” Guess it's better to be safe than sorry.
The infamous haircut from Friends donned by Jennifer Aniston, known as “the Rachel,” made waves across the Western world. Women were flocking to salons to get their hair done like hers. But actually, Aniston despised it, calling it, “…the ugliest haircut [she'd] ever seen!”
Napster changed the way we listen to music today. From its start 1999 to 2001, it garnered 26.4 million pirates…erm, users!
Oh, floppy disks, we hardly knew ye. The colorful plastic squares were how you loaded your favorite game in computers class or how you saved your essay. These bad boys held a whopping 1.44 MB of data, compared to a modern USB flash drive of today that holds 32 GB, or 32,000 MB….
It’s hard to remember a time before mobile devices (the classic Zack Morris portable brick phone, anybody?) however, in 1994, pagers were the precursor to today's smartphone—an estimated 61 million people were using the devices at one point.
Tight choker necklaces were the thing to wear in the 90s (actually, come to think of it, they’re making a come back in 2018, too) but the history behind the choker is an interesting one. During the time of the French Revolution, women wore red ribbons around their necks to pay tribute to the souls executed in the town square. Alternatively, in the 1800s, it was also a way to mark and identify prostitutes, as seen in Manet's landmark 1863 painting Olympia.
Remember that iconic dial-up sound from modems? Shockingly, about 3% of the American population is still very familiar with that screech, as they are still forced to use dial-up today—which means it takes almost 5 minutes to load one page on Pinterest.
Youree Dell Harris, the dressed up, mystical shaman from Jamaica also known as Miss Cleo, was slapped with a $5 million fine from the FTC for making deceptive claims.
However, in her three years of working, it’s estimated that Miss Cleo and her psychic service billed $1 billion through 900 numbers and credit cards, and collected about half of it. Also, despite the lawsuits, many customers were still satisfied with her service! Those pre-Internet days sure were something else.
In the third episode of the eighth season of Beverly Hills, 90210, called "Forgive and Forget," a little band by the name of Kara’s Flowers makes an appearance, playing in a scene at a bar. Today, they are better known as Maroon 5.
In October 1996, in a time before the Internet and Ellen Degeneres, Tyco owed the overnight success of their wildly popular Tickle Me Elmo to Rosie O’Donnell. Rosie introduced it on her daytime talk show, and exposure caused a feeding frenzy. This pitch was the start of the holiday talk show tradition of showing off the season’s “Must-Have-Toys” that we are all too familiar with today.
Anytime you’ve ever heard, “You’ve got mail,” “Welcome,” “You’ve got voicemail,” “Goodbye” and other such greetings, you can think of Elwood Edwards, the man who was hired by America Online to voice their greetings. Specifically, “You’ve got mail” was recorded using a cassette player in his living room. How hi-tech!
Beanie Babies first came out in 1993, and they weren’t very successful. No one liked them all that much until a group of neighbors outside of Chicago found out that they all collected them, and began to trade the stuffed toys. The neighbors attributed specific values to specific ones based on their rarity, so one rare Kiwi the Toucan was worth two of Tabasco the Bull. Eventually, this spread like wildfire and the craze was on.
*NSYNC, one of the two boy bands that defined the 90s, was a name that Justin Timberlake’s mom came up with, simply by combining the last letter of each band member’s name.
The other boy band synonymous with the 90s, the Backstreet Boys, was named after a flea market in their hometown of Orlando, Florida called the Backstreet Market. I always thought it was because they were a bunch of tough guys from the back streets. Seriously, I did.
eBay was founded in 1995, and was originally known as AuctionWeb (doesn't quite have the same ring, does it…). AuctionWeb was a part of the Echo Bay Technology Group—founder Pierre Omidyar’s consulting firm. Omidyar tried to register the site as echobay.com, but it was taken by a gold mining company, so he shortened it to eBay.com, his second choice.
Polly Pocket, the miniature hand-held dollhouse loved by little girls everywhere in the 90s, was designed by Chris Wiggs for his daughter Kate in 1983. He fashioned a small house for a tiny doll using a powder compact. In England, the concept was licensed by Blue Bird Toys. It was in the early 90s when Mattel had a distribution arrangement with BlueBird Toys that Polly Pocket hit it big in North America.
Fictional character Carmen Sandiego, of the long-running children’s edutainment series, has a middle name. It’s Isabela.
In the music video for Britney Spears’ first smash hit, "Hit Me Baby One More Time" (1998), her love interest is...her cousin, Chad Spears, an Abercrombie & Fitch model.
The Hamster Dance (the annoying jingle that has earwormed its way into everyone’s being) is the creation of Deidre La Carte, an art student who simply wanted to drive more traffic to her website—and boy did she ever. It’s actually still in existence: http://www.hamsterdance.org/hamsterdance/.
The show that helped define the early 90s, Saved By the Bell, started as a pilot about a teacher in Indianapolis called Good Morning, Miss Bliss.
In the famous episode of Saved By The Bell (season two, episode nine) where Jessie is addicted to caffeine pills (remember the “I’m soooo excited…. I’m SCARED…” freak out?), producers originally wanted her to be addicted to speed. They switched over to caffeine pills after NBC claimed it would be too gruesome for a kid’s show.
Goosebumps writer R.L. Stine, who freaked every child out with his spooky, suspense-filled, off the wall stories, wrote the novelizations for Spaceballs and Ghostbusters 2.
Baywatch’s famous slow-motion footage of scantily clad lifeguards running towards danger has become a trademark of the 90s classic. Co-creator Michael Berk had a eureka moment when he had seen his producing partner’s footage of athletes at the Summer Olympic Games shot at slower frame rates. It was later claimed, according to David Hasselhoff, that these shots helped “pad” episodes that were running short without having to blow more money on filming more footage. Honestly? That's a really good idea.
Quite possibly one of the best children’s movies (and the first feature film produced by Pixar), Toy Story (1995) was originally supposed to have Billy Crystal as the voice of Buzz Lightyear. Crystal turned it down, and the role went to Tim Allen. Crystal claims his only regret throughout his entire acting career is having turned down that role.
1993 was the year Lorena Bobbitt, a Virginia woman, cut off the penis of her abusive husband with a knife while he was sleeping, drove away with it, and tossed it out of her car window into a field. John Wayne Bobbitt was able to have it reattached (how the heck did they find it?!) after a 10-hour operation. What’s more, he later starred in several pornographic film, and actually won awards for them. I can only assume they used some kind of Frankenstein angle?
Once upon a time in the '90s, McDonald’s served pizza—McPizza, of course. It was discontinued because it took so long to make, but if you still have a hankering and you’re up for a road trip, you can grab a slice at the only two remaining locations that still serve it: one in Pomeroy, Ohio and one in Spencer, Virginia.
My mom never told me how her best friend died. Years later, I was using her phone when I made an utterly chilling discovery.
Madame de Pompadour was the alluring chief mistress of King Louis XV, but few people know her dark history—or the chilling secret shared by her and Louis.
I tried to get my ex-wife served with divorce papers. I knew that she was going to take it badly, but I had no idea about the insane lengths she would go to just to get revenge and mess with my life.
Catherine of Aragon is now infamous as King Henry VIII’s rejected queen—but few people know her even darker history.
Want to tell us to write facts on a topic? We’re always looking for your input! Please reach out to us to let us know what you’re interested in reading. Your suggestions can be as general or specific as you like, from “Life” to “Compact Cars and Trucks” to “A Subspecies of Capybara Called Hydrochoerus Isthmius.” We’ll get our writers on it because we want to create articles on the topics you’re interested in. Please submit feedback to firstname.lastname@example.org. Thanks for your time!
Do you question the accuracy of a fact you just read? At Factinate, we’re dedicated to getting things right. Our credibility is the turbo-charged engine of our success. We want our readers to trust us. Our editors are instructed to fact check thoroughly, including finding at least three references for each fact. However, despite our best efforts, we sometimes miss the mark. When we do, we depend on our loyal, helpful readers to point out how we can do better. Please let us know if a fact we’ve published is inaccurate (or even if you just suspect it’s inaccurate) by reaching out to us at email@example.com. Thanks for your help!
The Factinate team
If you like humaverse you may also consider subscribing to these newsletters: