The majority of people, when asked in a totally serious and non-creepy way, admit that gym class was the bane of their existence during their long, boring stay within the walls of the public education system. To me, this kind of snap judgement is an ignorant lamentation. Sure, middle and high school gym class were akin to slave plantations during the turn of the century complete with sweaty armpits, long bouts of exercise without rest, and angry masters hurling insults at you, brandishing a moldy coach’s whistle instead of a whip.
However, you’re letting all the bad parts of gym class cloud your recollection of all the good, and I’m talking REALLY good, times. In the 90s, gym classes in the thousands of elementary schools across the country were a time of reflection, fun, and primal, fist-clenching, elbow-scraping competition.
Now, you’ve got to remember, getting a roomful of rugrats together to do anything even slightly organized is more futile an endeavor than convincing them not to eat brightly-colored, food-shaped hunks of Play Doh. The gym teachers, clad in their windbreaker suits and sporting white New Balance cross trainers that conflicted horribly with the rest of their outfit, stood at attention wielding whistles and issuing commands to their minions in the same way a farmer gathers stray cows when they’ve had their fill of grass. My elementary school’s particular cattle herding room was affectionately referred to as the cafegymnatorium.
I’ve been spending some time going through my old toy bins lately, constantly coming across beloved pieces of the past. Today, prying open another dusty lid, I saw a familiar friend staring back at me. This little guy used to be one of my favorite larger toys and often made his way to the front of the line in my massive action figure battles. His size and demeanor made him a perfect fit for a lead villain or another mastermind’s right hand henchman. They call him the Trollminator. Much like Arnold on Judgement Day, he has decided to come back.
The Original Battle Trolls are action figures produced by Hasbro in the early 90s. In a shallow effort to capitalize on the popular troll doll craze that was sweeping the nation, a real star was born. Wanting to take the appeal of the troll doll in all of its many forms and spin the brand to appeal to young boys, the troll image had to be redefined. With the addition of some mean facial expressions, robots, monsters, and other cool things of that nature, Hasbro succeeded in capturing their target audience.
I always liked this line of toys. It’s impossible to resist a troll doll in its purest form, so adding elements of badassery and referencing classic fiction and pop culture only makes the Original Battle Trolls figures even more appealing to my childish sensibilities.
There’s always been a sort of brotherhood among lunchrooms spanning the globe. Despite the food fights, the relentless cruelty of teasing, and the eating disorders, elementary school cafeterias were always filled with an overwhelming sense of community. This unity stemmed from the pirate-like bartering system that existed in our 40 minute microcosm of lunchtime–trading snacks.
Whether it was a banana for a pudding pack or a handful of gushers for a fruit roll-up, there was always an endless amount of sharing and exchanging that went on between friends. Everyone remembers the kid whose mother wouldn’t let him have anything unhealthy and his desperate attempts to trade up his fruit cups for something more delectable. Sucks to be that nerd.
One of the hottest commodities on the lunchbox trading scene was the grandaddy of all snack foods in the 90s. This treasure was a product that still graces grocery store shelves with a deliciousness that cannot be denied and mascot who only ups the level of intrigue. I’m talking about the be-all, end-all treat that made normal kids turn into shivering crackheads at the sight of it. I’m talking about DUNK-A-ROOS.
Launched in 1988 by Betty Crocker, this amazing food was pioneered by mad scientists who knew how to please children. Its mascot, the Australian-accented Sydney the kangaroo was just as demonic and lovable as Joe Camel or any of the other kid-centric monsters of marketing. He knew exactly what he was doing when he hopped along the TV screen, enticing kids with his poor Paul Hogan impression.
I was a snot-nosed little rabscallion when I was introduced to, quite possibly, the most influential and inspiring piece of software ever to grace a home console system. In all my years of being entranced by bright pixels and engrossing game worlds, I had never been captivated by a game so completely as by Chrono Trigger on the SNES.
Chrono Trigger, at its core, is a game about a ragtag group of adventurers spanning many time periods who must work together to prevent global destruction at the hands of a being known only as Lavos. Throughout the epic journey, players are engaged with fully-developed characters and an intriguing and well-crafted storyline that still reigns supreme, in my mind, as the greatest game of all time.
Being a disgustingly obese capitalist American pig, I’ve had my fair share of dealing with snack foods over the years. Whether it be prepackaged snack cakes, chips, candy, soda, or those forgotten crumbs of deliciousity known as Munch Ems, I’ve taken quite the fancy to the evolution and study of such salty, sugary, calorically-overwhelming pieces of Americana.
Some of the most-consumed products of this type from my childhood were the holy triangular pieces of scrumptious delight known only as “Doritos.” Friday night horror movie viewing parties would not be complete without a bag of these flavor-blasted tortilla treats. If you lined up the total number of bags of Doritos I’ve eaten over the course of my lifetime, you could probably reach to the moon and back. They were something special.
Part of the allure and temptation of these kind of snack foods were the devious ways in which in which they were advertised. It was not just a product they were selling to you, but a sense of belonging and “coolness.”