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20 Things We Miss About the '80s

Mixtapes

Chances are, you could be caught on a Friday night listening to your favorite jams on your boombox just waiting for the perfect moment to tap the record button in order to catch the best ones on a mixtape. Life was just easier when you could gift someone a mixtape and let the music say what you were too shy to say out loud.

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Movie Rentals

Ah, yes! Going to the video store on a weekend to stock up on the newest movie releases. There was an inexplicable excitement about going to pick out new movies, and it was always fun to gather the family or friends around the television to watch the newest blockbuster.

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The Cartoon Express

In the ‘80s, chances were after school, you were watching the Cartoon Express on USA. Characters such as Snaggletooth, Captain Caveman, Josie and the Pussycats, Johnny Quest, and a plethora of others entertained us for hours on end. We were sad to see it go in 1996.

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Break Dancing

Everyone who was anyone wanted to learn how to breakdance in the ‘80s! Not everyone could cut it, though! We were all super envious of moves like the Windmill and the Head Slide, while the rest of us sat on the sidelines attempting to perfect our Robot moves.

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TGI Fridays on ABC

Oh, come on! Who didn’t LOVE TGIF Friday nights on ABC? It had everything a respectable family could want to watch: Family Matters, Full House, Perfect Strangers, Mr. Belvedere, and Just the Ten of Us started out the list. It was the perfect way to end a stressful week with the family.

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Boomboxes

Yasss! Who cares that now we have the power and technology to hold the entire catalog of music in our hands to access whenever we want? Boomboxes were where it was at in the ‘80s. It wasn’t a rare sight to see a group of teenagers walking down the street with one kid holding a boombox up on their shoulders blasting a killer song.

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Garbage Pail Kid Cards

They were gross, but they were entertaining. And as far as we are concerned, they were the only cards worth collecting in the ’80s. Baseball cards? Nah, those were for the nerds. The cool kids all traded Garbage Pail Kids.

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Punk Rock

Okay, so punk rock was really born in the ‘70s. However, it was born in the mid-'70s, which means it really hit its stride in the ‘80s. It wasn’t just about the music, however. In the ‘80s punk rock-influenced ideologies, fashion, visual art, dance, literature, and film. Punk was an entire lifestyle that eventually influenced heavy metal, alternative, and the emo genres of music.

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Jelly Sandals

What girl didn’t love a good pair of jelly shoes? They were comfortable, convenient, and they came in every single color we could imagine. They even came with sparkles! Ah, the memories of trying to run while wearing a pair only to just fall right out of them.

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Plasma Globes

Plasma globes were one of THE coolest novelty items to come out of the ’80s. One day, we looked up, and these modern marvels were everywhere. There was just something about running your hand over that current of electricity without getting electrocuted that fascinated us. Oh, well. It was the ‘80s, after all.

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The Clapper

The Clapper. The mode of uber convenience of the ’80s. Sure, now we can click buttons on our phones or speak to Google or Alexa to get our electrical items to turn on or off, but in the ’80s, if you had a clapper all you had to do was clap your hands twice to turn on or off your electrical appliances. I mean, who needs a smartphone?

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The Where’s the Beef Ladies

Perhaps the most successful advertising campaign of the ’80s was won by Wendy’s. Nothing flashy or loud. Just three old ladies standing around a small burger and asking the question, “Where’s the Beef?” T-shirts were made. Posters were made. There was an entire marketing campaign that centered around those three ladies. We ate it all up!

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Chia Pets

Who didn’t want to grow their own Chia Pet in the ’80s? Most kids who got them as Christmas presents, that’s who. Oh yes, the chia pet. A ceramic planter in the shape of an animal or cartoon character to grow a succulent in. Simply pour in the seeds and the water, and you got to watch your pet bloom. Literally.

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The Original NES

Up until 1983, the only video game that some families had at home was an Atari, which was super fun— that is, until we saw the Nintendo Entertainment System in 1983. The graphics were amazing, the controller was super complicated with its three play buttons, and it came with so many games!

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MTV

Oh, yes. We know. MTV is still around, and it’s still relevant. However, once upon a time all one had to do was turn to the correct channel and one could watch music videos for hours at a time. MTV had their own programming here and there, but for the most part, they played music videos and we LOVED it.

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Princess Diana

The fairy tale story came true. The world watched in fascination on July 29, 1981, when Lady Diana Spencer, an elementary school teacher, married Prince Charles, the heir to England’s throne. She became one of the most respected and influential people of the 1980s. And then the world mourned, heartbroken and shocked when the People’s Princess died on August 31, 1997.

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Working Out with Jane Fonda

If you were alive in the ‘80s, your mom had a copy of Jane Fonda’s Workout VHS tape somewhere in the house. The tape was one of the most popular of all time, selling more than 17 million copies worldwide. That workout is apparently still popular, as it sells on Amazon.com for $9.99 a copy, and Vogue Magazine said it was “still the best exercise class out there” as recently as 2018.

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The Rubiks Cube

Ah, the Rubiks Cube. The greatest puzzle to come out of the ‘80s. Well, technically, the ‘70s, but it hit mainstream America in the ‘80s and became so popular that it inspired worldwide competitions to see who could solve the cube’s puzzle the fastest. Just in case you were wondering, the world record is 5.5 seconds.

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Hair Bands

Hair bands—strictly a product of the ‘80s. By the 1990s Nirvana had made its debut on the scene and the popularity of heavy metal waned into a love of the grunge music coming by way of Seattle. But boy do we miss the days of Van Halen, Whitesnake, Metallica, Motley Crue, and Poison. Nothing was quite like driving down the road with your windows down, jamming one of these bands’ totally rad songs.

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Hands Across America

Possibly the most successful public fundraising event ever undertaken, Hands Across America took place on Sunday, May 25, 1986. Each participant was expected to pay $10 to reserve their place in the line and approximately 6.5 million people showed up at the same time to hold hands for 15 minutes in order to fight hunger and homelessness in America. We miss the spirit and sense of community that Hands Across America represented.

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