Freedom Rock
Aug26

Freedom Rock

Television shows of the late 70s/early 80s were slightly obsessed with the past. Think Happy Days and Laverne and Shirley. These were shows we could all watch together as a family about sock-hops, make-out points, and water skiing over sharks – stuff everybody did back then, right? That nostalgic obsession extended to our everyday culture in the 80s as well. I remember 50s dress up day in school (poodle skirts!) and the return of the black and white saddle oxford as the hip shoe for a season around 1983/4. Grease was most definitely the word. To capture our nostalgic obsessions, there was one commercial that ran on what seemed to be a never ending loop back in the 1980s. However, this ad took us back to a different part of the 60s and 70s, a time of hippies, free love, and sitting in chairs outside the van that you call home. Yes, this was Freedom Rock! If you owned a television and spent any amount of time in front of it, you could not escape these two cool, mellow dudes. Here are a few things I learned from this commercial about guys from the 60s: They enjoy sitting outside a van reminiscing about “the good old days” – war, protests, and going to jail are included in their description of the good old days. Fun! They refer to each other as “man” in every single exchange they have: Hippie #1: Hey man, is that Freedom Rock? Hippie #2: Yeah, man. Hippie #1: Well, TURN IT UP man! They enjoy a good deal; 4 records (records!) or 3 cassettes, only $19.95! Two CD’s only $24.95! Freedom Rock was actually a pretty decent compilation of rock music from back in the day; it included The Allman Brothers, Three Dog Night and Jefferson Airplane. Heck, the commercial opened with the guitar riff from “Layla” so you knew it had to be halfway decent. “Horse With No Name” by America, “Me And You And A Dog Named Boo” by Lobo (Lobo? Yes, Lobo!), and the obligatory “Turn, Turn, Turn” by The Byrds also make an appearance.   There are certain commercials from your childhood that you’ll never forget, and Freedom Rock is definitely one of them. Anyone else tempted to dial that 800 number hoping one of those righteous dudes is on the other end? Well, don’t bother–I just tried. Neither of them answered telling me to “TURN IT UP, MAN.” To those obvious Cheech and Chong rip offs, beloved Hippie #1 who talks with his hands like he’s holding an invisible loaf of bread and Hippie #2 with his crazy shirt and...

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Happy Birthday, John Stamos!
Aug19

Happy Birthday, John Stamos!

There are a handful of ‘80s celebrities who look just as good today, maybe even better, as they did back in the day. Think Rob Lowe, Robert Downey Jr., or maybe this guy, who happens to be celebrating his 52nd birthday today (August 19): John Stamos. 52 never looked so good. It’s hard to do a then-and-now piece on this guy because John Stamos never went off the radar (and for that I am pretty grateful.) He’s of course best known as the coolest uncle ever, playing super-foxy Jesse Katsopolis on the smash hit sitcom Full House from 1987 to 1995 (yes, it ran that long.)  But my favorite John Stamos character looked like this (below).  Who else longingly remembers General Hospital’s Blackie Parrish? Honestly, Blackie was the reason I rushed home from school every day. I had to be home by 3:00; I didn’t have time to hang out on the playground or do homework–John Stamos was on television. After Full House John Stamos remained a welcome, handsome, talented, and funny presence on the small screen, appearing on ER, Friends and Jake in Progress. Currently, he is using his Greek heritage/sex appeal to sell some yogurt.  Yes, ok, it works.  I’ll buy the yogurt.  Kudos to the Oikos marketing department for having a laser sharp read on their target market. An accomplished musician (as you may know from Full House, Jesse and the Rippers anyone?) John has released albums, performed on stage with The Beach Boys and starred on Broadway in shows such as Bye Bye Birdie, Cabaret, and How to Succeed in Business Without Really Trying. And now, everywhere you look, there is the big news of Fuller House, which will soon run on Netflix, addressing our unanswered questions as to the lives of Danny, Joey, DJ, Michelle, Stephanie and most importantly… Jesse. Is he still performing with The Rippers? Did he and Rebecca create more twins with Buster Brown inspired haircuts? Are they all still living in that house together?!? If you ask the question is he still a total fox, I know the answer to that one already. Those eyes. That talent. That mullet. Happy Birthday, John...

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We Got the Beat – Teen Beat and Tiger Beat Magazines
Aug17

We Got the Beat – Teen Beat and Tiger Beat Magazines

I’ve always been big on magazines. I love lip gloss magazines like Glamour and Cosmo, magazines with photos of beautiful food I will never make or eat like Gourmet and Food & Wine, and magazines that keep me up to date on all the important news of the day like US Weekly or In Touch (don’t judge: they pass the time nicely while getting my hair done.) As a teenager, I loved my Sassy and Seventeen magazines, of course. But as a pre-teen in the 80s, these were my periodicals of choice: Teen Beat and Tiger Beat had everything a 12-16 year old girl could ask for: fascinating, in-depth articles about rock stars, television stars, and movie stars. Wait; who am I kidding? Tiger Beat and Teen Beat had glorious pictures. And posters. And centerfolds like this. And this. And what about this?! Looking back now, I wonder if my parents knew what exactly was going on in the pages of these teen-themed mags? Because . . . wow, right? If you needed information on what foxy Michael J. Fox was up to, or wanted some exclusive pics of Ralph Macchio on set, or perhaps needed to know what a day in the life of THE COREYS was like, then you absolutely needed these magazines!!! Tiger Beat and Teen Beat have been around forever, published since the mid-60s reporting important news on teen fashions, teen gossip and the hottest teen heartthrobs. I recall during the late 70s having a nice Eric Estrada poster as his character Ponch from the television show CHiPs on my bedroom wall alongside Shaun Cassidy and Leif Garrett, courtesy of Teen/Tiger Beat. Tiger Beat is still around today! Reporting on One Direction, Taylor Swift and naturally, The Biebs. I gotta wonder if today’s teen stars are as shirtless within the pages of the magazine today. Do you think? I mean seriously, can you fathom that guy from the Twilight movies or one of those Jonas Brothers looking as good as this? I for one cannot. So, thank you 80s teen magazines once again for the fascinating articles, the relevant information, and the abundance of David Lee Roth. Yeah . . . mostly thanks for the David Lee...

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Return of the Original – Original New York Seltzer
Aug06

Return of the Original – Original New York Seltzer

There were so many 80s beverages that made an impression on my young life – think about how many metal cans of Hi-C’s neon green Ecto Cooler you put in your body. Or the novelty Crystal Pepsi (IT’S CLEAR!) and the betrayal that was New Coke. But there was one fizzy 80s drink that kind of defined the 80s. It was not your average soda. It was cool, refreshing, and came in a little glass bottle.  And, I was so excited to hear that it is back.  And, not only is it back, but  the Original New York Seltzer is back in its original form – same formula, flavors and cool glass bottle with the metal cap and the styrofoam label that you can peel off and wear like a cuff bracelet.  This bubbly concoction featured six delicious retro flavors — Root Beer, Vanilla Cream, Raspberry, Peach, Lemon & Lime, and my personal favorite, Black Cherry. Which was your favorite?   These original sodas originally made their way onto the market back in 1981 and stuck around until around 1990. Father and son Alan and Randy Miller wanted to produce a more “natural” non-caffeinated alternative to the Jolt Cola and Mello Yello thirsty consumers and the sodas took off big time. So imagine my excitement when I went to the grocery store and saw a giant end cap display overflowing with the flavors of my teenage years – I let out a little yelp as I loaded up my cart with some Black Cherry fizzy goodness! That short hefty bottle felt the same, that New York skyline, the art deco lettering, the rush of bubbles to the top, that first sip, aaahhhh . . . It’s back! Thank goodness it’s back! For years people online have been questioning why their beloved sodas had disappeared and sharing their memories and photos of their favorite flavors – thank goodness someone in New York, or wherever they’re bottling the stuff today, must have noticed. I’m not sure just how long I’ll be seeing these beauties at my local Win-Co. So I’m stocking up big time. Because what if something happens and they take it away again for another 25 years? This is not a risk I’m willing to take. I will be prepared this time, with enough Original New York Seltzer Black Cherry soda to last me a good, long time. And I will be armed with enough Styrofoam label Wonder Woman style cuff bracelets to take me through the next 25...

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Q*bert Fever!
Jul20

Q*bert Fever!

When I was younger there were a few choice video games that I was drawn to when I hit the movie theatre, pizza parlor or especially, the arcade. Sure I loved Donkey Kong, Asteroids and what seemed to be every girl’s game of choice – Centipede. But there was another little character just as important in my life as everyone’s favorite, the star of the show, Pac Man. He was little, orange and had a little weird snout. He was an excellent jumper and only seemed to speak in incoherent expletives. His name was Q*bert. Q*bert joined the arcade in 1982. There was a giant pyramid that you needed to help little Q*bert get to the top of – when you’d hop on each of the cubes on your way up they would change colors and you’d move on to different levels of the game. The pyramid itself was pretty high tech for 1983, with a bit of a 3D effect it seemed to jump out a little but at you as you hopped from cube to cube. The arcade game was played with a joystick and the challenge was trying to avoid his enemies which included a coiled up purple snake, two purple creatures and two green creatures. When you are hit by or run into any of these, you are of course…dead. And swearing in a speech bubble. Like king Pac Man, Q*bert made his way outside of the arcade appearing on lunch boxes, t-shirts and toys; he even had his own cartoon (naturally) in 1983. Today, whenever I see anything with Q*bert on it I sing the “me and you . . . with Q*bert” line from the theme song over and over in my head. Thanks, Q*bert. As you can imagine, my brain was playing that song on a loop when Wreck it Ralph came out in 2012. Q*bert was back in the spotlight once again, spouting a string of exclamation points, pound signs and ampersands for a whole new generation. Just like anything that was great back in the day, they’ve tried to reboot Q*bert – the game Q*berts Cubes was nowhere near as popular as the original and several versions have appeared on different home video game systems, mobile devices and phones. But nothing comes close to the original: the early 80s arcade version. Move over Centipede, today I would choose the joystick over the rollerball – I’d give my quarters to...

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The July 4th Bike Parade
Jul01

The July 4th Bike Parade

I guess it is the nature of traditions that they stay around and get replayed year after year, but it is still comforting to realize all over again that something that meant something to you as a kid hasn’t gone completely away. The 35 years that have passed since the start of the 80s have seen truly phenomenal change, particularly in the areas of technology and its impact on our overall culture. With all that change, it gives me an especially warm fuzzy to realize that some things really do stay the same.  Don’t get me wrong, I’m all for progress.  I just wonder sometimes is some of the change we’ve seen actually represents progress. July 4th in the early to mid-80s meant several things: fireworks on the river bank at my grandmother’s house, copious amounts of watermelon, and my absolute favorite – the neighborhood bike parade. This was not the main city parade with floats and bands and the mayor in a convertible. No, this was something a lot closer to home. All the neighborhood kids carefully decorated their bikes in red, white, and blue (the types of decoration limited only by imagination and availability of supplies) and rode around the neighborhood in a large group followed by adults on foot, dogs off leashes, and babies in strollers. I generally favored the standard streamers-in-the-spokes approach (beautifully well executed in the photos below), but with my own flare: my teddy bear dressed in his best red, white, and blue outfit affixed to the handle bars.  The “parade” usually happened in the late afternoon so that you had time afterwards for a cookout and to head on downtown to get the best viewing spot for the fireworks extravaganza. Happily, today’s kids (at least some of them) still go to the trouble to deck out their bikes and cruise a patriotic victory lap in celebration of our nation’s independence.  Sure, there are some differences.  Most notably, the bike helmet did not exist in the 80s (ok, maybe it existed, but we sure didn’t wear them).  The decorations today are more elaborate and the outfits a little more planned (we just can’t help ourselves these days).  While in the 80s, we wore whatever we had in the closet that even remotely resembled red, white, and blue.  Tube socks helped in a pinch.  Even with these differences, though, I am thrilled to know that the July 4th bike parade is alive and well. It is that kind of continuity that gives us all another reason to celebrate this weekend.  Happy Birthday,...

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Remembering The Far Side
Jun30

Remembering The Far Side

I always loved reading the Sunday comics; it was a little ritual every week: my dad pulled out the sports section, mom clipped coupons, and I lay on the couch reading the comic section. Sure, I loved Garfield, For Better or For Worse, Blondie, and Bloom County was cool. Cathy bugged me even back then with all of her bad dates, self-obsessing and “ACK’s!” But the comic that I really liked, the one that always made me laugh out loud was The Far Side. Drawn and written by Gary Larson, The Far Side was not your average comic strip. In fact it wasn’t a strip at all; it was a single panel of quirky, irreverent, smart, funny stuff. And while it would make sense to show you some examples here of Mr. Larson’s amazing work, he has asked nicely that people not distribute images of his work online. Instead, you’ll have to support the awesomeness of Mr. Larson’s work by getting The Complete Far Side and enjoying it all over again. The funniest ones that I remember seemed to always involve animals. You remember the one with the cows. They have a lookout cow that signals when a car is coming, and all the cows that have been standing around on just their two back legs having a civilized conversation in the field drop down on all fours to appear cow-like to the passing car. When they get the all clear after the car leaves, they all stand up again. Good stuff. In fact, this one with the cows was such a hit in our family, my brother and I had a print of it framed and gave it to my dad one Father’s Day. The Far Side became wildly popular in the 1980s; there were calendars, mugs, t-shirts, canvas tote bags and huge compilation books. Far Side-mania was sweeping bookstores and gift shops everywhere. Would you believe 23 books of Far Side comics were produced – and every one of them made The New York Times Best seller list. Gary Larson’s work ran for 14 years in newspapers all over the world, carried by over 1,800+ newspapers and translated into many different languages. You could even say that The Far Side heralded in the new decade as it launched on January 1, 1980. What made The Far Side so special was its simplicity and complexity — I know it sounds weird to put those two together. Fans of the comic, you know it’s true. It was sometimes more than a little strange. It poked fun at the absurdity of everyday life, know-it-all-smartie-pants, and cavemen.  It even found humor...

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The Sweet Smell of Youth — Love’s Baby Soft
Jun12

The Sweet Smell of Youth — Love’s Baby Soft

Before the days of Colors by benetton, before Liz Claiborne, and waaay before the very mature, very overpowering Obsession obsession, pre-teen girls of the 80s everywhere were spritzing this on their wrists and behind their ears: Love’s Baby Soft was the “it” fragrance to have sitting atop your dresser – it smelled (and still smells) like . . . well . . . youth. The powdery and pretty scent came in a rounded pink bottle with a big white cap. The scent was light, gentle, and just like the name of it states: soft. Flowery with notes of rose, jasmine, geranium and musk, wearing Love’s was a rite of passage; you weren’t quite a teenager yet, but you were no longer a little kid. It was the perfect “cologne” for an eleven/twelve year old girl to wear. Born in 1974 by Love Cosmetics, the perfume was a huge, sweet success – you couldn’t walk by a group of girls without being engulfed in a wave of the sweet scent of baby powder and flowers. Initial marketing for the product definitely reads as pretty creepy today . . . In the 80s, the scent was still going strong, and the vibe was cooler and less creepy. You may remember their tag line, “underneath it all, she’s baby soft.” And I totally ripped this page out of my Seventeen Magazine because of this dreamboat . . . The popularity of the pink stuff of course led to a spinoff, Love’s Fresh Lemon, which from what I can remember smelled like a lemonade stand exploded in my bathroom. The same signature shaped bottle but all golden and sweet, reminiscent of another popular lemon scent of the time — Jean Nate. Today you can still find Love’s Baby Soft lots of places, Sears, ebay, and here on Amazon. The perfume of course also has its own Facebook page where devoted fans can be reminded of seventh grade when they see that bottle update their status now and then. It really is amazing how powerful a sense memory is; if you want to feel like a kid again, check out your local drug store or get online and get yourself a bottle of youth, the pink stuff with the big white cap (well, the new packaging uses a pink cap, but we can pretend). I guarantee one whiff and you’ll feel like an 80s tween all over...

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We Got the Colgate Pump!
May27

We Got the Colgate Pump!

Are you ready for your mid-week 80s earworm? No, it’s not a song that spent ten weeks at number one on American Top 40 or the theme song to The Facts of Life. It’s a commercial you probably thought you’d forgotten (watch below). But now that you hear it, you totally didn’t forget it – am I right?!? I came across this little nugget around two weeks back and it’s still going through my head on a loop.  While it didn’t chart in the US, the song used in the commercial was a hit in the UK in 1980 where it spent 20 weeks in the charts, topping out at #3.  The insanely catchy tune is the song ‘Baggy Trousers’ by Madness off their 1980 album, Absolutely (check out the original Madness song and video at the end of the story). I know. I’m sorry. I thought that maybe by sharing the Colgate Pump love it may leap from my noggin into yours. But you gotta admit, this ad for kid’s toothpaste was pretty damn catchy. Like a mini MTV music video: kids in little spy outfits, lots of sunglasses, bowties, a pint-sized Uncle Sam, jungle-themed toothbrushes, bright colors, and English accents (real? fake? I’m not sure). All this is happening while an insanely catchy tune plays and silhouettes of people hand-in-hand do a very methodical crouch/stand/crouch/stand march to the music. Whew. Oh yeah, and let’s not overlook the images of that toothpaste in a pump that I had to have! Because, well, it was in a pump! Maybe Apple borrowed the bright colors and silhouette idea for their early ipod ads? Maybe? But it was the song; the song that got stuck in your head and made you crave the Colgate Pump. Standing at the grocery store with your mom how could you not robotically grab it and sing cockney style, “WE GOT THE COLGATE PUMP! WE GOT THE COLGATE PUMP! WE GOT THE COLGATE PUMP! WE GOT THE COLGATE PUMP!” An song that can still get stuck in your head 30 years later? That’s pretty good marketing, don’t you think? Here’s the original song by Madness, ‘Baggy...

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A Prince Is Born
May04

A Prince Is Born

The world has been waiting in anticipation on the announcement from London of the name of the new little princess — welcome to the world Charlotte Elizabeth Diana. Living in the USA, all of the pomp and circumstance of kings, queens, princes and (sigh) princesses is all so fascinating, so regal, and so different from how we do things here. It’s so, well, royal. Who can forget the fairytale wedding of Charles and Diana back in 1981? EVERYBODY watched them get married; it was a worldwide televised event! And of course, what followed a year later was the birth of their first child, Prince William, on June 21, 1982. That baby in the picture is now the father to young Prince George and new Princess Charlotte.   Prince William, Duke of Cambridge, is second in line to follow his father, Prince Charles, as the King of England; that’s a lot of pressure for a little one, don’t you think? Someday you’ll be king, baby! Prince William was born at Saint Mary’s Hospital and his arrival was just as anticipated as George and Charlotte’s. Also just like George and Charlotte, crowds of people gathered around the hospital anxiously awaiting his arrival and finally get a first glimpse of the new born prince. Prince William was introduced on the steps of the St. Mary’s Hospital by his parents, Charles and Diana. Prince Charles carried the newborn price down the stairs then handed him to his mum, as celebratory crowds cheered, and news reporters’ cameras flashed. The ever-beautiful Princess Diana wore a typical 80s-smock maternity style dress, teal with white polka dots complete with a big flouncy bow and sensible flat shoes. The little prince and his mother were extremely close, going on ski trips, playing tennis, horseback riding and travelling the world together. Even though Diana had access to a great deal of help/as many nannies as needed, she was always a very hands-on mother with both William and his younger brother, Prince Harry.         As Princess Charlotte is introduced, it’s lovely to think back to that day in 1982 when Charles and Di stepped out on those same hospital steps as the world welcomed a newborn prince into the...

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Look it up! – Encyclopedias in the 80s
Mar09

Look it up! – Encyclopedias in the 80s

Like junior high and high school kids today, ‘80s kids stayed busy doing homework, doing research, and writing papers. When books on the subject at hand, whether it happened to be pollywogs, cavemen, or the digestive tract, weren’t cutting the mustard, we had to look elsewhere for information. We had to look it up. This was of course way before the Internet—way before Google or Wikipedia. We couldn’t just look up information on sedimentary rocks, cross-pollination, Grover Cleveland, or the state glad of Texas on an all-powerful device in our pockets. We, instead, had to consult a big ‘ole hardback book. We looked up our facts in an encyclopedia. Remember those? Encyclopedias came in giant volumes arranged alphabetically containing facts on a variety of topics, from famous historical figures, plant and animal life, the human body, and historic events; these things all lived together from A-Z, typically in a 32-volume set.  They made accessing important information easy.  This ad is hilarious. So easy to use, even Dad can manage it. The volumes could be found at the library, or, if your parents fell for the door-to-door sales pitch and had the means, you had your own set of Encyclopedia Britannica on the bookshelves of your home. Or perhaps you were more of a World Book or Funk and Wagnalls (which were sold at the grocery store!) kinda kid. Encyclopedia Were Expensive A complete set of these giant hardbacks were so expensive that they would stay in families a LONG time, perhaps longer than their useful life. For example, if you had a 1956 set of World Books that had been passed down, the world’s countries weren’t necessarily the same by the time you were trying to do your geography report in 1983. History had changed political boundaries and country names. You had to be careful to get your facts right! The outrageous costs of these ____-filled volumes was justified as “a great investment in your children’s future . . . [with] a wealth of important information that will pay high dividends for years to come.”  So sayeth the Funk and Wagnall’s advertisement, anyway. Hours of Thumbing Through Random Facts I loved looking through these giant fact-factories. We would sit in the library and leaf through the alphabet, turning the pages of these fancy books learning about …well…pretty much everything. My favorites were the topics that had the extra treatment by the printers, not just black and white text. The flags of the world section was in full color – so cool. And, the coolest section of all: the human body with the see-through layers of various systems of the...

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6 Ways Your Birthday Party Was Different in the 80s
Feb25

6 Ways Your Birthday Party Was Different in the 80s

Whenever my birthday rolls around, I tend to get a little nostalgic. I find myself thinking back to the good old days, to parties of yesteryear, from childhood and teenhood in the late 70s and 80s. Is it me or do some parents today go reeeeallly over the top in planning parties for their kids? Semi-trucks pull up to their houses full of video games, artsy (read: CRAZY expensive) cakes from bakeries, and theme parties where every little detail matches and matters (I’m looking at you princess tea party with the sterling silver spoons, Wedgwood china, and real linen napkins).  What happened to the simple pleasures of free cake, ice cream, and a chance to run around with your friends.  There was only one theme to any party I had growing up, regardless of age or venue): pizza. Here are some 80s birthday party memories that remain, like, totally cool. Roller Skating What is more 80s than flying around the roller rink in your Jordache jeans while your ribbon barrettes fly in the wind as you round the corner? NOTHING. I had several roller skating birthday parties. I love the memory of speed skating to “Separate Ways” and a slow skate to “Open Arms.” I will always think of roller skating when I hear Journey and Eddy Grant. And “The Stroke” by Billy Squier. Sure, there are a few roller rinks left, and they still do birthday parties, but the hokey pokey just isn’t the same these days. And, they are on roller blades . . . House Party Here’s the deal with the house party: people would come over to your house to celebrate your birthday. That’s it. Maybe they would dress up a little bit, put on a nice blouse or their shiny shoes. The catering consisted of bowls of Cheetos, cheese pizza, and a cake that your mom made. To keep it festive, you might have balloons and crepe paper- maybe even some pointy hats and paper plates with The Smurfs on them. Happy Birthday! No special entertainment required. McDonald’s Party You deserve a break today . . . and you deserve a birthday party too. At McDonald’s! They had the greatest party games – how many Styrofoam burger boxes can you stack before they fall over? Now that’s how you celebrate a birthday. Do they even do this anymore? Burgers, fries, McDonaldland characters atop your cake? The Grimace creeping you out? A free Happy Meal and a sundae. Then you got to let loose and run around the belly of the Hamburgler or climb up into Officer Big Mac at the PlayPlace (when it looked...

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Valentine’s Day, 1987
Feb11

Valentine’s Day, 1987

Let’s step back in time – how about February 14th, 1987? Imagine you’re 16 again; it’s the most romantic day of the year, and you have several guys (or girls) you have serious crushes on. You don’t have a date for tonight – yet. But again, it’s the most romantic day of the year! And today, the possibilities, like your love, are ENDLESS. 6:30 a.m. The alarm goes off on your pink Conair alarm clock with the bright green numbers. Heart wakes you up, belting out the chorus to Alone. What a great song . . . and . . . how fitting. You stumble out of bed and head to the bathroom to prepare for the battle which is high school. 7:30 a.m. After getting your hair extra-perfect with Aussie Sprunch Spray and an extra spritz of Colors by Benetton perfume and after much thought and consideration, you decide on the chunky pink Forenza cable knit sweater over the red one. This kept you up half the night; looking in the mirror now, you think you’ve made the right decision. You pair it with a black and white check skirt, black knee socks and shiny shoes. You run downstairs and see that mom has left a card and a heart-shaped box of Russell Stover’s chocolate. You can’t eat that because of your diet, but it’s a sweet thought. 7:45 a.m. You hear the beep outside of your B/F/F’s horn as she waits in her bumpin’ Turismo, blasting Head to Toe by Lisa Lisa and Cult Jam. You’re awake now. She has plans tonight with Chad, a boy who she’s been interested in for a while. I’m happy for her. But, you’re left once again wishing you had plans tonight too. You put on some extra coats of Dial-A-Lash and an extra-extra coat of pink lip gloss to match the pink sweater. 8:00 a.m. The first bell rings and the halls are lined with girls wearing pink and red. Already some are carrying those red carnations. The cheerleaders do a fundraiser, selling the flowers for a buck each that you can send to your significant other or anonymously to a secret admirer. GOD PLEASE LET ME GET ONE. 11:20 a.m. It’s lunch, and I still haven’t gotten a damn flower. Your B/F/F already has two, one from Chad and one from a secret admirer. I eat a heart shaped Little Debbie cake for my lunch. 2:00 p.m. The bell rings in 15 minutes and still no carnation. Oh well. 3:00 p.m. You’re back home, and thank God at least now something good will happen: General Hospital followed by a...

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Strawberry Shortcake Dolls
Feb09

Strawberry Shortcake Dolls

In the early 80s, we sure loved putting perfumy-fruity scents on things: scratch-and-sniff stickers, chunky erasers, lip balms and magic markers were all kissed with the scent of buttered popcorn, pink lemonade, pepperoni pizza and Dr. Pepper! But ask any girl what her favorite strawberry-scented object of affection was in the 80s, and I bet she will tell you this: Strawberry Shortcake.  She was the doll that smelled like strawberries! She actually smelled really good.  And she had a crew of friends each with their own distinct smell.  My favorite smell was actually from the taller-than-the-others Purple Pie Man. He may have been the bad guy in the stories, but he sure smelled fabulous. The character was, and still is, owned by American Greetings. She started out as a star in their card line, then moved on into your house with you with her line of dolls, colognes, bed sheets, shirts, make your own pillow patterns, and posters – I sooo remember the posters being huge during Scholastic book order time at school. The Strawberry Shortcake doll was first introduced by Kenner in 1980 and was hugely popular; the dolls and toys made well over 100-million dollars in their first year out — a berry good deal for a little girl who lived inside a strawberry! The appeal of the character as told through books and television specials was that she was always optimistic, kind and ready to help anyone in need.     Besides Strawberry Shortcake, the line included several other sweetly-scented characters most of whom came with a food-named pet. For example, Strawberry Shortcake had a cat named Custard. There was Huckleberry Pie, Blueberry Muffin and Apple Dumplin’ just to name a few. These sweet smelling dolls needed a place to hang out! Like maybe the Berry Happy Home, Big Berry Trolley, Berry Bake Shoppe, or (my personal favorite) the Maple Stirrup and Oatsmobile? A handful of Strawberry Shortcake animated television specials aired in the early 80s; it wasn’t a regular series, but instead it consisted of specials geared toward pushing the toy line. Something clicked because the toys and the legendary characters still live on today! In 2003, a new TV series aired, and a whole new generation of girls met the little girl with freckles and a bonnet that smells like summertime. Boy, do times change – today’s Strawberry Shortcake sure looks different from the doll I used to have. Then . . . . . . Now Today she comes with her dog, Pupcake, and a pink comb to get through those long pink locks. But one thing still carries over from the 80s...

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Goodbye to the Legendary Lip Smacker
Feb04

Goodbye to the Legendary Lip Smacker

Whenever I find out something from my youth is going away I always feel a pang of sadness mixed with some sticky-sweet nostalgia. So many 80s things that were important have passed on but are not forgotten: RIP Jello Pudding Pops, Sassoon Jeans, Planters Cheez Balls, Shine Free cosmetics, and Original New York Seltzer.  But when I heard the news about this next product going bye-bye, I have to say it made my pre-teen heart ache just a little bit more than usual. Lip Smackers by Bonne Belle will be no more as of the end of March. I cannot begin to tell you the importance of the Lip Smacker in my nine/ten/eleven year old life. Back then, when I had saved up some allowance, I would walk up to the pharmacy/drug store that had the best things in the world besides prescription meds and Pepto Bismol: Hello Kitty Diaries, smelly erasers, puffy stickers, Smurf figurines, and Little Twin Stars mini colored pencils. In other words, the pharmacy was kind of pre-teen heaven. Along with these treasures was an array of lip balms that smelled so delicious I’m sure I ate several tubes over the course of my young life. In 1973, cosmetics company Bonne Belle introduced a strawberry scented lip pomade which became super popular with pre-teens everywhere. Soon other flavors followed: watermelon, tropical punch, vanilla, jelly bean and orange pop. But the standouts, the ones I remember the most, weren’t all fruity, they were more fizzy — Dr. Pepper and 7up. Lip Smackers were more than a lip balm – they were an accessory! Along with a giant comb in the back pocket of your designer jeans, you could wear your giant Lip Smacker around your neck, because . . . that was cool! I don’t know how well Lip Smackers truly moisturized or protected my lips, all I know is that they smelled and tasted great and left a nice little shine on my lips, with maybe just a hint of color, nothing to upset Mom or Dad in my pre-makeup days. After the news broke about Lip Smackers going to the beauty product graveyard people were selling tubes of the $2.95 sticks for around ten bucks (of course they were…) and girls of the 80s were posting, tweeting and facebooking odes to the favorite flavors of their youth. So RIP Lip Smackers – let’s all kiss a little part of our youth goodbye. With the aftertaste of Dr. Pepper, naturally. Update: It seems that the news may not have been completely accurate, THANK GOODNESS.  Bonne Bell just posted this update on their Facebook page in...

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