Remember the '90s? I sure as hell do. As a 5-year-old I remember watching Nirvana and Pearl Jam videos on MTV, holding up my boom box to record them my cassette tapes. I remember sipping my Capri Sun during field trips. I definitely remember trying every single body spray at Bath & Body Works, because that’s just what you did at the mall. But do you remember all those' 90s back-to-school smells? You know, the ones that could transport you back to Mr. Hernandez’s 5th grade classroom next to that boy you liked that always smelled faintly of spray-on deodorant and Hi-C? I mean, I definitely do. That boy smelled fantastic.
There’s something to be said about the nostalgia of smells. I mean, we talk about musical nostalgia all the time, and '90s fashion is constantly being dredged up and repurposed (which, hey, I’m all about flannels but I think we can collectively agree to leave JNCO jeans in the past, right?). Plus, we love our old school '90s TV shows. We’re a generation of sentimental memory collectors. In fact, I'm pretty positive that's why Netflix is a thing: so we can watch our old stories over and over again. But I digress.
The point is, smells are powerful, especially the ones that remind you of returning to school after a few lazy, sun-kissed summer months. The aromas wafting through your school hallways, the scents of brand new school supplies, and that smelly cafeteria food are just impossible to forget. Come, step back in time with me and let’s reminisce together:
The Smell Of Your Morning Cup Of Sunny D
Remember when we thought Sunny D was actually orange juice? I used to hate going to my cousin’s house because all they ever had was Tropicana (which was, you know, actually 100 percent juice). I didn’t understand why their OJ was so gross and mine was so bad ass. Then I became an adult, read the freakin' label, and was horrified to learn how much sugar I actually used to ingest.
The Smell Of Your Flavored Lip Smackers Upon Application
Bonne Belle Lip Smackers were da bomb, for real. Strawberry. Watermelon. Tropical Punch. Your lips could taste like all of them (in an artificial sort of way, of course).
The Smell Of Your Teen Spirit Deodorant
Once you started hitting puberty, it was time to get a little less funky. That’s where Teen Spirit came in. Oh, and if you want to hear the totally interesting story about how Kathleen Hanna inspired the song "Smells Like Teen Spirit" (which was actually written about one of Kurt Cobain's girlfriends), check out this video.
The Smell Of Chalk
These days, most classrooms have smart boards or white boards. I actually have no idea what a smart board even is, but I’m guessing it’s like a really huge iPad or something.
Anyway, back in the '90s we mostly had chalkboards, and it was always one lucky kid’s duty to go out into the hall and bang the erasers together, sending lots of chalk particles flying in the air. It had a particular smell, and yes, it reminds me of going back to school.
The Smell Of Your Brand New, Plastic Trapper Keeper
There are three important aspects to remember about Trapper Keepers which, for the record, are easily the coolest binders ever. Number one is that they always had the coolest designs ever. Two is the sound of the velcro opening and closing (so soothing). And finally, three: the smell of plastic that reminded you that, yes, you were the lucky one with a Trapper Keeper in your book bag.
The Smell Of White Out After You Write Your Favorite Band’s Name On Your Jansport Backpack
Remember writing your favorite band names on your book bag? I do. This was more a late '90s thing for me, if I'm being honest, but still. A lot of us simply used sharpies for this purpose, but I knew a ton of kids who had black Jansport backpacks. That's when the white out came in handy, my friends.
The Smell Of Body Glitter
Who didn’t love a good glop of body glitter in the '90s, right? It was basically inside of hair gel that we liked to wear (both on our hair and on our bodies). It made life sparkle just a bit.
The Smell Of L.A. Looks Gel
I’m sure plenty of girls used this stuff, too, but I mainly saw dude use it. If you were a dude at some point in the 90s, you tried to get spiky hair. Not sure where the trend came from, but there it was. And L.A. Looks made sure you looked and smelled like you were all about it.
The Smell Of Every Single Mr. Sketch Marker
I know Mr. Sketch markers came into existence prior to the '90s, but they also were a great part of our collective '90s childhood. So wonderful to smell all these colors. That is, of course, until some smart ass pushed your face and you had a red or purple dot on your nostril the rest of the day.
The Smell Of Handi-Snacks
Nothing like processed cheese product to signify the '90s, right? Sure, we loved our Cheez-Whiz from the can when we're home, but at school we were all about the Handi-Snacks. And boy did they leave an interesting aroma if they exploded inside said lunch box.
The Smell Of Bubble Tape
Who wouldn’t want six consecutive feet of bubble gum, right? Plus, the containers they came in doubled as stash boxes for everything from Tamagotchis to Pogs! And who could forget that sweet, sugary, pink smell, which often got wadded up into a ball and stuck under your wooden desk? Yeah, the '90s were certainly a special time.