Products From the 1980s That Millennials Have No Clue About

The 1980s were a decade that brought us lots of things: weird beauty tips, questionable fashion trends, bad music, and millennials.

People born between 1980 and 2000 are considered millennials. Some accuse them of killing off some iconic American brands, among other things. Then, there are some brands millennials never got a chance to experience. From the original Nintendo to Reebok Pumps, these are the products that defined the 1980s generation that millennials have no clue about.

1. Cabbage Patch Kids

Cabbage patch kids doll

These were the must-have toy of the ’80s. | Spencer Platt/Getty Images

  • What they were: Soft toy dolls

Looking at these now, you can’t help but wonder what all the fuss was about. In the 1980s, however, these dolls were must-have Christmas gifts that caused mass pandemonium in the stores. Like Tickle Me Elmo or Beanie Babies, the demand is way down now, though some sellers are asking a pretty penny on eBay, much more than the original $25 cost.

Next: This is one thing that made computers way different.

2. Floppy disks

Floppy disks

They’ve pretty much gone extinct. | CAESARstock/iStock/Getty Images

  • What they were: A way to save computer data

Computers now rarely come with any sort of drives. The ’80s were different. Clouds were only referenced in terms of weather, and if you said the words “flash drive” together people would probably think you were having your picture taken in a car. Internal memory wasn’t sufficient enough to store lots of data, so any work you did had to be saved on disks. First, there were thin, 5-inch floppy disks before rigid, 3.5-inch disks came along. Now, both are long extinct.

Next: The trend that mocked the Cabbage Patch Dolls craze

3. Garbage Pail Kids

Garbage Pail Kids Cards

They even made a movie. | Chris Hondros/Getty Images

  • What they were: Trading cards

Seeing the crazy success of the Cabbage Patch Kids dolls we just discussed, Topps released these trading cards in 1985. Characters had names, such as Up Chuck, Itchy Richie, and Potty Scotty, and the cards that spoofed the dolls got so popular that they made a movie. These days, some eBay sellers are charging more than $3,000 for a full original set, much more than what a pack cost back in the 1980s.

Next: This was some popular footwear back in the day.

4. Jellies sandals

Jellies sandals

Plastic shoes seemed like a good idea at the time. | Anthony Douanne/iStock/Getty Images

  • What they were: Plastic sandals

These cheap plastic sandals were huge in the ’80s. Why? Who knows? It was the ’80s, and reason never really factored into it. Similar to the way some people coordinate Apple Watch bands with their outfits, these shoes were affordable enough ($10 to $20 to start) that you could own several pairs and match them to what you were wearing. Knockoffs inevitably came, but regardless of whether they were originals, this was popular footwear that everyone had to have.

Next: More dolls that kids had to have

5. My Buddy and Kid Sister Dolls

Buddy and Kid Sister Dolls

These were pretty creepy. | weatherguru76 via YouTube

  • What they were: Gender-targeted dolls

We covered Cabbage Patch Kids already, but these were other dolls aimed at getting kids to beg their parents to buy them. Their popularity died down toward the end of the ’80s but not before a catchy commercial jingle got stuck in your head.

Next: The home entertainment trend that changed everything

6. Nintendo

A Nintendo Entertainment System and controller on a white background.

It’s now the old-school system. | Nintendo

  • What it was: 8-bit home video game console

Atari and ColecoVision had already come and gone by the time the Nintendo Entertainment System came to the United States in 1985. The first NES made people forget about its predecessors even quicker, even with a $199 price tag that was staggering for the time. Sometimes it took blowing on the cartridges to get the games to work, but that’s the price people were willing to pay to play Super Mario Bros. and Mike Tyson’s Punch-Out at home. You can buy a newly produced NES Classic pre-loaded with games, and save yourself some blowing.

Next: Footwear that needed you to do more than tie laces

7. Reebok Pumps

Reebok pumps sneakers

They were great until they inevitably popped. | SimplySneakers via YouTube

  • What they were: Shoes with inflatable air pockets inside

These just sneaked into the ’80s as they were released in November 1989. The thinking was the inflatable air bladder inside the shoe would provide a better fit to your foot. Whether it did is another debate. You can still buy Reebok shoes with pump technology, but the originals and their $170 price tag are long gone. Millennials will never know the late-’80s feeling of strolling into a Foot Locker in the mall, trying on a pair of original pumps, and pumping up until you lost circulation in your feet.

Next: A way to go binge shopping before the internet

8. Scholastic book order forms

colection of books

Everyone knew Scholastic book fair day was the best day of the year. | ConstantinosZ/iStock/Getty Images

  • What they were: A way to order books at school

Believe it or not, teachers used to encourage kids to shop during class. It was the Scholastic Book Club order form (or Troll Carnival Book Club, which later became part of Scholastic). Basically, the teacher would pass out a flier that had all the books kids wanted to read, and the kids would put a check mark next to the ones their parents would (hopefully) order. Scholastic is still around, though the ordering process is a little different.

Next: A piece of jewelry only kids could love

9. Slap bracelets

Slap bracelets

The it bracelet of the ’80s and ’90s. | Amazon

  • What they were: Trendy wrist accessories

In the literal sense, slap bracelets were cheap pieces of metal wrapped in fabric that laid flat until they were slapped on your wrist and coiled into a circle. In the figurative sense, they were must-have fashion accessories no one could live without. The original Slap Wraps, as they were known, set the stage for a glut of cheap, lower-quality imitators. They’re not quite as popular now as they were in the ’80s, but Apple apparently referenced slap bracelets in a patent application in 2013. Not bad for a product that cost a little more than $1 at the peak of its popularity.

Next: Winter wear as a fashion statement

10. Starter jackets

Steelers starter jacket

The more colors you could mash together the better. | Fanatics

  • What they were: Brightly colored sports gear

Starter jackets are still around, though they aren’t nearly as popular now as they were in the late 1980s. Back then, nearly every kid wanted these flashy team jackets. And the brighter they were, the better.

Next: The must-have school accessory

11. Trapper Keepers

Trapper Keeper - Vintage from 80s

Trapper Keepers are ’80s vintage now. | eBay

  • What they were: Fancy three-ring binders

Paying $5 for a three-ring binder these days seems absurd. Paying $5 for a three-ring binder with a fancy design and branded as a Trapper Keeper? That was totally normal in the 1980s. Trapper Keepers came with colorful designs or fancy supercars on the outside and room for folders on the inside. It was a way for students to keep all their homework organized in one place. If you want to buy a piece of history, Trapper Keepers are for sale on eBay for substantially more than $5.

Next: We pity the fool who didn’t have a well-rounded breakfast.

12. TV and movie theme cereal

Gremlins cereal

There’s nothing like a Gremlin to make things seem appetizing. | tracy80sgirl via YouTube

  • What they were: The first meal of the day

Specialty cereals licensed for TV shows or movies are still around, but in the 1980s almost every show or movie had a cereal. Mr. T, Rainbow Brite, Ghostbusters, E.T., G.I. Joe, Gremlins, and C-3PO all had cereals in the 1980s. It gave new meaning to dining with the stars.

Next: Playing games in public

13. Video game arcades

Arcade game

This was before home gaming systems. | micahmcdowell/iStock/Getty Images

  • What they were: Places to play games

We already covered how Nintendo changed video games with the NES. Before home gaming, though, you usually had to go to a video arcade to play your video games. With all the games in one location, you could hop between Pac-Man, Space Invaders, Millipede, Rampage, and more. The only downsides? Running out of money, and waiting in line to play the best games.

Next: Your tunes go with you.

14. Walkman

Walkman

Now, even iPods are out of date. | Nutapol/iStock/Getty Images

  • What they were: Mobile music players

Way before phones with Spotify, before iPods came to be, and before MiniDisc players, the Sony Walkman was the biggest thing in mobile music. These days, only Star-Lord from Guardians of the Galaxy has a Walkman, but in the 1980s everybody wanted one. With enough batteries and storage space for your cassette tapes, you could take your music library with you. Sony made billions on Walkman and tapes in 1985. When it first came out in 1979, the Walkman cost $200.

Next: A 1980s fashion trend destined to stay there

15. Z. Cavaricci pants

Saturday style ✔️ Shop the LIGHT VINTAGE denim via link in bio // #zcavaricci

A post shared by Z.Cavaricci Original (@zcavariccioriginal) on

  • What they were: Pants. They were just pants.

Fashion in the 1980s was not necessarily something to be proud of. While certain elements are back in style, Z. Cavaricci pants aren’t among them. These high-waisted, pleated pants with roughly 300 belt loops and the name printed on the fly were huge for a time. Z. Cavaricci wasn’t the only short-lived fashion trend of the decade. Special shoutout to Zubaz pants and Esprit clothing, both of which are still around but not nearly as popular as they were back then. Heck, even some are speculating Z. Cavaricci could make a comeback.

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