Fads. They come, and they go. Some are flash in the pan nonsense with no real staying power. Others last long enough to become the inexorable torment of educators and parents alike. The greatest of fads never go away and can find themselves amongst the defining hallmarks of generations. Like hula hoops. They’re literally the only thing that happened in the 50s. Don’t fact check that, just trust me.
These days, fads are just as much a part of kids’ childhood as they’ve always been, but I noticed something. Every fad now, has an air of familiarity to it. It’s almost as if they are all recycled versions of the fads of our youth. The things driving us, as adults, nuts now are just a repackaged version of the awesome stuff that we collectively embraced and made popular. But whose version is better?? It’s time for some side by side comparisons, as fads from our past, go head to head with the fads of today.
Shuttle Pens VS Fidget Spinners
You know you have a solid fad when schools start banning your product. This is the case with both Shuttle Pens and Fidget Spinners. Both give you oodles to do with your hands. Both are universally derided by teachers across the land. Click click click click click click click, or spin spin spin spin spin spin spin…..
Sorry Fidget Spinners. You’re a one trick pony going up against the thoroughbred of pens. The colors, the clicking, the coolness factor…. Shuttle Pens had it all. What can you create with a FidgetSpinner? Spins, that’s all. The Shuttle Pen, on the other hand, opened up all of your colorful creativeness. Generally expressed in that awesome S we all drew. You know what I’m talking about.
Micro Machines VS Shopkins
1980’s marketing meeting:
“Let’s make Hot Wheels, only tiny. Small enough that they can be lost within seconds for no reason at all so parents will have to buy more and more.”
“Brilliant Jenkins. Have all of the moneys.”
2015’s marketing meeting:
“Remember that absolute legend, Jenkins? Let’s use his idea…. But for like… everything.”
Sure, Shopkins has many more products, but they don’t have the fast talking guy that sold the original. This win for this choking hazard of a round goes to Micro Machines. Easily.
The Running Man VS The Floss
There are so many dances that we could pull from our era to stand against the mesmerizing, and surprisingly difficult Floss. The Cabbage Patch, Vogueing, The Roger Rabbit, Moonwalking, The Lambada…. But the defining dance of the 80’s was The Running Man. The Floss has taken over all kids with enough coordination to master the motions and the wave of popularity hasn’t slowed.
Please, do I really have to say it? Running Man without question. This dance and all it’s variants, were both mesmerizing and customizable. Where do you go with The Floss? Nowhere. You stand still and just do. Let’s let Turk from Scrubs demonstrate the possibilities you have with the basic Running Man:
Paper Fortune Tellers VS Bottle Flipping
Ok, these two fads don’t look like they should go head to head, but both take a bit of skill and are an incredible waste of time. The Fortune Teller has a supernatural edge to it, in that it will predict your future for you, where bottle flipping requires some nuanced physical dexterity. The skill in Fortune Telling involved knowing how to fold the paper. Something I never mastered.
Paper Fortune Tellers never did live up to their promises. You predictions generally ended up being something like “You smell like regurgitated donkey sausage.” Which in your case, probably described the present and not the future. But despite future telling inaccuracies, they did make you get creative and could be changed to fit anything you want to say or predict. That’s why it wins over the repetitive flip of a bottle that maybe scored some kids a YouTube view.
Mongoose Scooter VS Hoverboards
Sure, Hoverboards are fun if you can master them. But, you also run the risk of the battery fires, and potential cyclone effect mishaps. With Mongoose Scooters, though, you actually had to use your own power to make it move. Also, one of your friends would inevitably add pegs to the back which seemed awesome. That is, until you put them on and destroyed your ankle a million times before getting used to kicking wider.
Mongoose Scooters FTW. Nothing made you cooler than having one of these. They were accessible to more people, were human powered and the jumps I could do on them were epic…… At least they seemed that way when I was 11. By my estimations I generally got like, 8 feet off the ground. Besides, everyone knows Hoverboards are a gateway to vaping and calling everyone “Bro.” Just say no kids. Just say no.
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Psych VS Dab
One is a celebration. A visual representation of a success, both minor, or great. It’s a symbol of conquest. The other, is nothing short of a betrayal. It’s a fake out, represented by a cold hand running through the side of the perpetrators hair. A motion that screams to all within eyeshot that a fool has been made. And it was awesome.
Psych takes it. The Dab became a mockery of itself. Where it first depicted true juvenile triumph, it was soon employed for the most basic of wins. The Psych, on the other hand always meant a winner and a loser. Whether it being falling for a small lie, or missing that promised high five you swung for. The Psych was there to announce the victor and the loser for any and all to see.
Garbage Pail Kids VS Squishies
How great was the day when you opened your Garbage Pail Kids and managed to score an Adam Bomb or Jay Decay? Great days indeed. But nothing was better than getting your own name in a pack (Patrick Hat Trick for me). Granted, it must have sucked for all those people whose name never shows up on souvenir license plates, but for the rest of us, it was gold. These stickers were everywhere and they were, and continue to be amazing. Squishies just do not have the lasting power. Being able to mash something down is great for 10 seconds, but they likely won’t be remembered with the fondness of Garbage Pail kids, earning them the win.
Garbage Pail Kids, clearly. Not only did they totally mock another 80’s fad, but they were brilliant pieces of art that are still traded and sold today. Squishies are fun, but they can’t possibly elicit the simultaneous disgust and love that these magnificent stickers did.
I know it appears that I’m biased. That all of the spectacular things from my childhood won out in every category and to this I say, you are 100% correct. I’m sure some fads that cycle through are superior, but not in my mind. Maybe in 30 years someone will look back at today’s fads with the same sense of nostalgia that I have, and recognize their superiority over what kids in 2048 are doing, but for now our stupid things handily beat our all of their stupid things. And they always will.