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Out of sight is usually out of mind, but some things just stick with you. The toys you were attached to as a kid, things you remember seeing around the house growing up, a beloved fragrance that triggers sense memory: these are the nostalgic things you’ll always cherish. Blasts from the past that remind you of simpler times.
Feel like taking a trip back in time? Forget memory lane—a lot of your favorite products from a bygone era are still in production and readily available online. Here, we’ve dug up buried treasures like Etch-a-Sketch, Underoos, Brylcreem and so much more. Remember these?
Between the traffic, the boss, the baby and the dog, this stressed-out working mom has had it. “Calgon, take me away!,” she cries before luxuriating in the tub—and just like that, one of advertising’s most memorable catch phrases is born. Order up a 30-ounce bottle of “skin silkening” Calgon Bubble Bath and soak away the day like it’s 1979.
An iPad? What’s that? Kids of the ‘70s and ‘80s could spend hours engrossed in Lite Brite’s “magical colored lights.” This modern version retains all of the charm of the original, but uses battery-operated LED lights in its light box for a brighter, more energy-efficient display. It includes colorful pegs, six design templates and endless opportunities for freehand creativity.
Wonder Woman, Spider Man, The Incredible Hulk—no matter what fictional hero you idolized in the ‘80s, you could pay homage with “the underwear that was fun to wear.” Original Underoos for kids are in production to this day, with old-school characters like Bat Girl and modern-day favorites like Paw Patrol. Now, nostalgic grown-ups can relive their youth in adult-size Underoos, too—because a Skeletor undershirt and briefs sounds like the perfect quarantine outfit to us.
Kids of the ‘50s onward could wile away the day with these paper-thin vinyl cut-outs that “stick like magic.” The adhesive-free decals depicted your favorite cartoon characters or even just letters, numbers and random shapes. The creative options were endless and the mess was non-existent. Plenty of Colorforms are still available online, including vintage darling Holly Hobbie and the classic Miss Weather kit that took the country by storm in the ‘70s.
When you think of a toy that encapsulates the simplicity of childhood, this “marvelous thing” always springs to mind. Invented accidentally in the ‘40s by a Naval engineer, the original Slinky—an icon to this day—proved that it doesn’t necessarily take technology to captivate kids’ imaginations. Sometimes all it takes is a metal coil that walks down the stairs by itself.
If you were trying to achieve that perfect Farrah Fawcett flip in the ‘70s, “betcha” you were also washing your locks in Gee, Your Hair Smells Terrific. This shampoo had a name so cut-and-dried it almost didn’t need any advertising—but the commercials are the stuff of legend. Though hard-to-find, this shampoo and conditioner is still produced and available online.
Families started learning how to “be a winner at the Game of Life” way back in the ‘60s, and the shelf life of this iconic Milton Bradley game proved to be pretty long. It was still a hit in the ‘80s but has been missing in action for quite a while. Good news: the Game of Life is alive and well—and an updated version of the original is still easy to find online.
Before there were bath bombs, there was Jean Naté after-bath splash. Who among us didn’t have a giant bottle of this magic potion sitting in the bathroom, or an aunt, mom or grandmother who swore by it? The light citrus fragrance is anything but washed up: it’s still available online in its original packaging, just like you remember it. May we suggest a few dabs of bath powder afterward?
Riddles, puzzles, games and trivia—it was all hidden inside this delightful activity book that busted boredom and spelled out fun for legions of ‘80s kids. And when we say the answers were hidden, we mean that literally—the only way to reveal them was to use a special marker included in the shrink-wrapped plastic. Believe it or not, Yes & Know Invisible Ink books still exist and look almost identical more than three decades later.
This was all you’d ever need to have the ladies running their fingers through your hair in the ‘50s, especially if you wanted a sleek, Don Draper-esque ‘do or to look like you were auditioning to be an extra in ‘West Side Story.’ Yes, you can still secure the original, alcohol-free Brylcreem—at CVS, no less—to restore shine to your freshly washed coif. Just remember: “a little dab’ll do ya!”
This might have been the only kids’ toy that required an oven (unless you played Skully in urban areas like New York City), but anyone who came of age in the ‘70s or ‘80s managed to convince their parents to help them bake their Shrinky Dinks. Kids can still transform their hand-colored art into shrunken-down keepsakes, because this retro toy is readily available at arts and crafts stores and online.
This was not your average jump rope. It took some pretty nimble foot work to master the Chinese Jump Rope—the best way to describe it might be Cat’s Cradle for your feet—but kids have been diligently practicing in U.S. playgrounds since the ‘60s. This elasticized rope encourages hours of in-out-side-side cardio for kids of all ages: get one for your backyard and let the games begin.
The 21st century may be all about chia seeds in pudding and smoothies, but the the ‘80s were all about “the pottery that grows,” a.k.a. chia seeds that sprouted into plants emerging from a terracotta pot to resemble everything from animals to cartoon characters. The kitschy “Ch-ch-ch-chia” pet first emerged as a bust-like, big-haired figure called “Chia Guy” in 1977. In honor of his 43rd birthday, we suggest stocking up on a happy little Bob Ross version.
Kids of the ‘60s onward remember laughing until they cried at the stories that unraveled when they brainstormed random nouns, verbs and adjectives to fill in the blanks of their Mad Libs. The best and most beloved choose-your-own-adventure tales are all included in this 50th anniversary comedy workbook—a crowd-pleaser that’s totally timeless.
If you were a tween in the ‘70s, ‘80s and 90s, then Love’s Baby Soft was the definitive fragrance of your youth. The scent could only be described as baby-powder fresh, and the iconic pink packaging—with its cursive logo—was the apple of every middle schooler’s eye. All it took was a quick trip to the pharmacy to indulge your obsession—and now it just takes a few clicks to order a bottle to your door.
If only all mistakes could be erased as easily as a bad drawing on an Etch a Sketch. Churning out precise sketches took some pro-level twisting of the toy’s two knobs, but once you did create a masterpiece, a spontaneous shake could erase it forever. Now’s the moment to nab your second chance at becoming an ace at this ‘60s era toy with staying power.
If you remember seeing this red bar of soap in everyone’s bathroom, then you probably were around in the ‘40s or before. Even its red, yellow and white packaging will bring you down memory lane, and you’ll be tickled to know that it’s still sold in a similar box. Give your sink a retro update with a bar of this anti-bacterial cleanser—the original soap is produced to this day. Fun fact: A teenage Martha Stewart starred in a late-1950s Lifebuoy commercial.
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