Wednesday, April 05, 2017

"90s nostalgia" Really?

So the thing all over the Internet right now is nostalgia for the "Szechuan" dipping sauce that was sold for McNuggets back in 1998, which was supposedly when Mulan came out.

I....don't remember this. In fact, when I saw all the discussion of it, I thought, Oh, this is one of those April Fool's Day jokes, an Emperor's New Clothes thing, where everyone who was a kid in 1998 will be all "oh heck yeah, Szechuan sauce! I remember that" when they don't actually.

I don't remember it AT ALL (and I thought "Mulan" was earlier than 1998). I was a heckin' adult in 1998 (I was 29 years old, writing my dissertation) and I do not remember the stuff.

Granted, I didn't exactly eat a lot of fast food - there was a McDonald's in the food court at the student union but if my lab mates and I were going over there to buy lunch, we got the personal pizzas from the Pizza Hut instead. (Though most of the time, because we were grad students and perpetually broke, we carried our lunches from home).

I remember some of the stuff that constituted "kid culture" - I remember Dunkaroos (though I don't think I ever ate them), which are apparently one of the things that tops the "bring this food back" lists of many people. (I would counter with: Carnation breakfast bars. Please.)

I remember the cartoons - the various ones on Nickelodeon (Rocko's Modern Life, which slipped some really pretty risque jokes in there, and Rugrats, which I thought was stupid....) and the Disney block (they are bringing back Ducktales, though I don't think I'll be able to watch it, because Scrooge McDuck's voice is "wrong" in the new one  - oh, I know, Alan Young has gone on to his reward, but....I can't hear Scrooge other than in his voice. And I wish they'd re-run the old episodes. And TaleSpin. And Darkwing Duck, which I thought was a better show). And Animaniacs, which was greatly loved by many people I went to grad school with because much of its humor was intelligent, self-referential, but also entirely anarchic. And Pinky and the Brain. (Heh. I wonder - fan art being what it is - if someone has tried to redraw Pinky and the Brain comics with Pinkie Pie and maybe Twilight Sparkle (though perhaps Starlight Glimmer would make a better Brain....)

And I remember some of the toys - Polly Pocket, which was a thing I would have loved deeply if it had been available when I was a kid in the 1970s. (The 1970s hated children. Or rather: we were a demographically-small cohort during a time of oil embargoes that raised the price of plastic, so we got a lot of kind of cruddy toys. Barbie. I could never relate to Barbie, and yet she kind of dominated the toy aisles). And in the early 90s, the first generation of My Little Ponies was still around, I guess. (I think it's bizarre how it was out there and I totally ignored it - other than making a little fun of it as a late high-schooler - but now I look at these toys and am like "Wow, that one was made the year I graduated from high school" and the like).

But, I don't know. It does make me feel a little old to see this wave of 1990s nostalgia. I was already a grown up (of sorts) by then.

I guess I do feel some (limited) nostalgia for my own childhood - the 1970s and v. early 1980s: Diener erasers, those little bags of plastic zoo animals you could get at five and dime stores (and, for that matter, five and dime stores: though I guess the "Dollar Stores" of today are what they have become). The Muppet Show. Public-library summer book clubs (those still exist but I wonder how the age of smartphones and gamification of everything has changed them). Radio stations that were actually local and had local DJs and local followings, instead of everything being satellited or programmed out of LA or New York. Just in general more local stuff - the local PBS affiliate had Ohio-made programming (the kids' PBS programming now is SO slick). Things like Del and Tom's morning show....

Maybe another toy, though I didn't play with it THAT much, was the Sunshine Family. I've mentioned these before: dolls, slightly smaller in size than Barbie (and with slightly better articulation: they had hinge-jointed knees rather than the "rubbery snap" knees like Barbie had, where if you played with them a lot, the joint wore out and Barbie had a floppy knee). It was a married couple (Steve and...Susan? I think?) and their baby. Later on, a little girl was added but I just had the original family of three. They were, I can't remember exactly if they were meant to be "pioneer" types (Susan wore a long calico dress) or back-to-the-lander modern types. But somehow - because they were a family I could relate to them better than I could to Barbie's glamorous lifestyle. Also, they came with instructions for stuff like making furniture for them from cast-offs from around the house and I liked that.

(Maybe, secretly, some part of me aspired to be a Gardening Mom like Susan instead of a fashion plate like Barbie? Perhaps that's it?)

I can't particularly think of any foods. Maybe Noble Roman's pizza? Most of the food we ate was stuff my mom cooked so outside of that and the aforementioned Carnation Breakfast Bars, I don't have anything that I'm so very nostalgic about in that department. Even ice cream - my dad had supposedly read somewhere that flavored ice cream (like chocolate) was just reprocessed "expired" vanilla, so we only ever had vanilla. (I kind of call BS on that now, but whatever)

Mostly what I feel nostalgic for from childhood was some of the feeling of freedom: that weekends seemed like forever, like Saturday was just one big day for playing and doing what you wanted, same about summer break. And I think in a way some things were simpler - I would hate to be a kid during the Internet era, even with stuff like Netflix kids' programming and the (now-defunct) Club seems social media would just give the kids who bullied me* another platform to do it from. At least during breaks from school I could get away from the mean kids; if you were a kid and online today that would be harder.

(*And yeah, I think I'm gonna call it that, after seeing a list of "personality traits of formerly bullied kids" somewhere online and realizing I exhibit a great many of them)

1 comment:

purlewe said...

NOBLE ROMANS!!! *sigh.

We also had a small chain near us called Pizza King. And another chain called Arni's. Each made a different kind of pizza. PK and Arni's still exist, but of course Noble Romans filled a different niche of pizza that is now bare in my hometown.

And yes, I do always try to hit up pizza joints when I go home.