Fads have been around for decades, if not centuries. Everyone has some memories of growing up with certain favorite items that were trending at the time. Some of these fads might have been useful, while others were simply there to look pretty or be part of a collection. Certain fads are downright dangerous as well, so it’s best if these don’t come back at all.
Some fads from the past, especially the ‘80s and ‘90s, might be back in style now. However, there are some crazy fads that simply seem to have come and gone. Certain people might still follow them to a certain extent due to the nostalgic factor, but they’re not as widespread as they used to be. Whether we remember them or not, taking a look at these bygone fads can be a lot of fun.
1. Fidget Spinners
This wasn’t a fad from the 70s, 80s, or even the 90s. Fidget spinners made a big band in the toy market in the late 2000s or even later depending on where you were. While these were originally made for autistic individuals to fidget with, they soon became a must-have item for kids, teens, and even some adults regardless of their position on the autism spectrum.
The fidget spinner fad wasn’t limited to just one kind of spinner. You could find them in all shapes, sizes and colors, with some kids even making a huge collection to show off to their friends. Bakers would try their hand at fidget spinner cookies, while crafters made videos on how to make DIY fidget spinners for their audience. However, the fad disappeared almost as quickly as it came. We can still find fidget spinners in toy stores, but they’re not a craze anymore.
There was a time when having a Blackberry gave you an air of professionalism, success, and riches. This little gadget was hardly a convenient one, but it meant that the owner had bragging rights and perhaps the chance to check their email when on the go if needed.
Even though the Blackberry is mostly made fun of today, anyone who had one enjoyed it. Some might have never let go of their original model, but the reality is that we’ve now completely moved on to today’s smartphones.
3. Water Beds
The theory of a water bed promises many things–a cool surface to sleep on, a soft mattress, and a lot of fun bouncing around. While several homes had a water bed at some point in the 80s and 90s, the practical experience of it wasn’t that great. Waterbeds may have featured more prominently in the movies and TV series of these decades than in real life. This might be because of the comedic element. Of all the crazy fads of the 80s, the water bed is one that hasn’t lasted and will probably never make a comeback. There might be some available online and in certain stores, but this trend was an uncomfortable one and won’t be returning anytime soon.
4. Pet Rock
In 1975, an entrepreneur in California joked about releasing and marketing the perfect pet. The only thing that seemed to fit all the requirements–no potty training, no feeding, and no noise– was a rock. The idea seemed hilarious at the time, but Gary Dahl managed to launch it and start one of the biggest toy fads of the ‘70s.
In just two weeks, Dahl authored the Pet Rock Training Manual, marketed his idea using a trade show, and started the pet rock trend. His story was covered by Newsweek, while the idea also got him on The Tonight Show. In just a few months, more than a million pet rocks were sold with the price tag of $3.95. With Dahl getting one dollar for each rock, he became a millionaire within a year. The crazy fads of the ‘70s don’t stop there; several other must-have items of the time are also worth reading about.
5. Shiny Leisure Suits
Shows and movies like Charlie’s Angels and Saturday Night Fever contributed heavily to the leisure suit fad. These were polyester suits in vibrant colors, with wide leg pockets and collars with wings. A lot of bands also sported these suits in the 1970s, such as the Bay City Rollers.
These shiny suits were probably not at all comfortable, which is just one reason why they didn’t remain mainstream. We do have leisurewear today, with the focus being more on comfort than making a striking statement.
6. Flappy Bird
This little smartphone game’s popularity exploded in 2013, but its story is quite unique. All you had to do in the game was to prevent a little bird from crashing into a tree. The gameplay was challenging yet very addictive, so many people expected it to attain the heights of Angry Birds in terms of success and advancement.
Instead of gearing up to make more levels or different forms of the game, though, the creator (Dong Nguyen) of Flappy Bird got too overwhelmed by his overnight success. According to him, he was experiencing guilt at making such an addictive game that led to people playing for hours. His aim was to make a simple game that one can play for a few minutes and get relaxed.
Even after the app was no longer available for download, many people stayed curious about it. For a short period of time, smartphones that already had the app gained value in the second hand market. In March 2014 alone, around 60 clones of Flappy Bird entered the market. However, the fad now seems to have faded away for good.
7. Livestrong Bracelets
These little rubber bands were a popular accessory during the mid-2000s–it’s not really clear why. They were nothing more than a simple band in a solid color (originally yellow) with ‘Livestrong’ printed on it. The name was of a foundation that helped out cancer patients and other deserving people, but the popularity of the bracelets was hardly related to it.
Each bracelet started out with a $1 price tag, with the proceeds mainly going towards the foundation. The overall sales amounted to a whopping $100 million, but there were also several knock off versions in several colors and even different fonts.
Eventually the bracelet became a cancer support icon, but it had many more meanings as well. It combined a strong message with a productive idea and a sleek design–all distributed by a well-known name, Nike. The price was affordable and helped everyone feel like they could be part of a noble cause. Cyclists in the Tour de France along with several celebrities were spotted with the bracelet in 2004, with the accessory being a status symbol among high schoolers as well.
After about ten years of this successful campaign, Livestrong and Nike parted ways. This was mainly after Lance Armstrong, the inspiration behind the bracelets, admitted to using performance-enhancing drugs such as testosterone. While Armstrong lost all his Tour de France titles, the Livestrong Foundation had already raised more than $500 million for their cancer research.
8. Koosh Balls
Rubber band balls may be practical items for the schoolroom and office, but Koosh balls were pure fun. The ball consisted of rubber filaments, all connected to one soft core. It came in many sizes and colors, so kids would race each other for the largest and most varied collection.
What was the exact purpose of Koosh balls? You could dangle it by one rubber filament, throw it back and forth, or enjoy its unique texture–however, the backstory states that this ball was made to help the creator’s children learn how to catch. The rubber strands make it easy to catch even for tiny fingers, while the soft construction makes sure that no one gets hurt.
The company behind the Koosh ball was Hasbro, but there were probably a lot of knockoffs and fake products going around too. Today, the Koosh ball has been relaunched a few times and even has a cartoon series based on it. However, it’s really not a fad anymore.
9. Car Surfing
There are some fads that should never come back and probably shouldn’t have happened in the first place. Car surfing is one of these; this was a fad mostly inspired by the Teen Wolf movie. This movie showed the main character, played by Michael J. Fox, standing on the roof of a moving vehicle. Granted, the character was (spoiler alert) a werewolf at the time, but it was still an irresponsible stunt to show to impressionable audiences.
The youngsters of the 80s all knew about this craze, with several taking part in it. This usually involved climbing onto the top of a car while someone else (usually a friend) was driving it. You then stood on the car roof and tried to imitate a surfing position. The fad may have given a thrill, but at the heavy cost of many head injuries, deaths, and other forms of trauma. The lesson here is not to condone or participate in any dangerous fads, no matter how cool or exciting they might look.
10. Shoulder Pads
Shoulder pads were among the biggest fads in the ‘80s decade. They were usually worn by upper and middle classes, especially by working women fighting to stand their ground against male-dominated workplaces.
Overall, shoulder pads were a form of power dressing. They also became a fashionable trend in general, with even Cindy Crawford modeling them during that decade. The aim was to portray itself as an intelligent, no-nonsense, serious woman.
Today, we’d like to believe that it is a woman’s talent and sincerity at the workplace that gets her a strong status. While power dressing is still applicable, those uncomfortable and unwieldy shoulder pads are probably not.
11. Hair Crimping, Spraying, and Coloring
Fads in the 80s had several implications on a person’s hair–more often that of women. Women and girls would get up an hour or so earlier to crimp, style, and spray their hair beyond recognition.
The crimped hair style was very popular in the 80s school disco, with huge hoop earrings and leg warmers combined. There would also be some hair color to adorn your locks, hairspray to keep it all in place, and a lot of maintenance required before you finally achieved the perfect getup!
12. Hacky Sacks
Like the Koosh Ball, it’s not evident what hacky sacks are used for. They’re miniature leather bean bags available in several colors, with various facial expressions as well. You could use them to play catch, kick it to someone else, or even hit it with your head. The aim is not to use your hands.
The hacky sack game might also be seen as a proper sport in the USA. While it’s a simple enough pastime, it can get boring after just five minutes of play. There are several other games you can play with Hacky Sacks, but none that really last that long. With so many gadgets and new kinds of toys, it’s not surprising that Hacky Sacks have mostly fallen out of favor with today’s kids.
When it comes to bad hairstyles, the 80s fads left no stone unturned. With the mullet being in style, many men at the time would follow the example of Pat Sharp. This individual inspired several youngsters to make notes of and copy his work. Even George Clooney sported a mullet at the time.
14. Big Hair
Men usually sported the mullets, though some women had them too. However, American women in the ‘80s were usually obsessed with big, poufy hairstyles. Some even had an especially big hairdo on their wedding day and have the pictures to prove it.
The big hair of the ‘80s was usually held in place by a lot of hair spray, teasing, and other methods. Some girls didn’t even brush their hair but teased it with a comb each day before school. While this trend is mostly outdated now, big hair might come into fashion again at some unpredictable point.
First the Walkman, and then the Discman–these two gadgets were the pioneers of easily carrying around your music. We take this option for granted now, with our phones and iPods carrying several thousand songs at any given point.
When the Walkman first came out, though, it soon became the pinnacle of technological development in music. Kids, teens and adults would carry one around everywhere; some would jog while listening to music while others would take them on field trips, road trips, and even the classroom.
The crazy fads of past decades had their heyday, but they’re now probably gone for good. It’s unlikely that any of the fads above will ever make a comeback with the original force, though you never really know.
By definition, fads and trends have a tendency to fade away and become irrelevant. In fact, some of us might feel embarrassed to have certain items or obsessions from back in the day. They were fun while they lasted, though, and a trip down memory lane is always enjoyable too.