Home Entertainment Dial-Up To Dank: ’90s Memes That Defined Simpler Times

Dial-Up To Dank: ’90s Memes That Defined Simpler Times

Monica September 29, 2023

How well do you remember the ’90s? It’s a time that people look back on quite fondly and quite often these days. They were the good old days of playing outdoors, burning CDs, using floppy discs, playing Nintendo, and eating snacks full of sugar. The days seemed more carefree and enjoyable since you had to create your own entertainment without using a phone or social media.

Indeed, today’s world, while being much more technologically advanced, seems much more hostile and tightly wound due to a constant sense of connection to the Internet – and all the ‘lovely’ things that come along with that. We’re here to give you a brief break from all of that. We curated a list of some of the best, most nostalgic 90’s memes that will take you back to the glory days you probably wish you could go back to.


The Perfect Weekend Kit

Imagine yourself in a world of Nintendo 64, Doritos, Mountain Dew, and Pizza Hut. There was nothing better than sticking your hands into a bag of Doritos while chugging on Mountain Dew and using a controller to move Mario around. When you put the controller down, you probably grabbed a movie from your pile of Blockbuster videos to find the perfect film for a night in. Those weekends were unmatchable to anything else (via Facebook).


Feel Old Yet?

If this doesn’t make you feel old, we’re not sure what will. If you’re a true veteran of the digital realm from the ’90s, then you’ll know these games by heart. What better way to spend an evening by yourself than playing Solitaire or Minesweeper? Solitare taught us how to use the mouse, to click and drop things faster and with more efficiency. If you’re like many other people, you probably didn’t know how to play Minesweeper either (via Reddit).


Previewing CDs

Without the existence of Apple Music or Spotify in the ’90s, we had to rely on CD previews to hear our favorite songs. This is when we had to wait for new music and couldn’t access it at the click of a button. In a way, it made it more special, since it required patience and rewarded us in the end. You might have looked forward to those CD-listening stations for weeks before you could preview a new song, let alone buy it (via Reddit).

Sad and Useless Humor

Big Jeans

As a 90’s kid, you probably had an entire wardrobe full of denim. You’re not alone. Nearly every kid from that decade seemed to own an abundance of denim, weighing them down day in and day out. They loved those super baggy jeans, oversized denim jackets, and denim purses. It probably made you feel like you were constantly carrying around an extra human or two. Even sitting down required precise accuracy to avoid getting tangled up in all that denim. It was a symbol of rebellion for most people, and there was no better way to define the ’90s than with denim (via One Block Down).


Harsh Reality

In the modern day, kids use their smartphones and tablets more than they play outside. It wasn’t like that in the ’90s when we had to entertain ourselves in different ways. This meant playing in the dirt all day, every day. This meme brings back those memories and points out how different modern times are. There was a certain beauty to these unplugged adventures that the kids nowadays will never get to experience. Most of those outdoor games included hopscotch, elastics, jumping rope, and tag, to name a few (via Stamford Mercury).


The Simple Things

Way back then, extravagant parties involved simple things, like hotdogs, a cake full of sugar, juice, and a lot of laughter. To top it all off, you probably added a timeless popsicle or two. These barebones, simple essentials made everything better. There’s a reason why they say less is more. To relive those days, all we can do now is have ’90s-themed parties as opposed to the real thing (via Bands for Hire).


The California Raisins

This is a true blast from the past that’ll bring back more nostalgia than you can probably hope for. These animated raisins grew in popularity in the ’80s until they were a cultural phenomenon. They had stellar dance moves and soulful voices, making their appearance in many Saturday morning cartoons (via IMDb).


Creating Ankle Socks

It took a lot of creativity to make fashion socks from regular socks. This happened when ankle socks weren’t as available as they are nowadays. We had to dive into the deepest parts of our creative minds to create stylish footwear. To do this, we had to repurpose long socks and fold them to give us the desired length. These custom-fit ankle socks were a bit comfortable, but at the very least they got the job done (via Cosmopolitan).


Disney Plus At Home

Before we had streaming services like Netflix and Disney+, we had our version of entertainment with VHS tapes. The pre-digital age brought joy and excitement every time we pushed a tape into the VHS machine. If you had a favorite scene you wanted to rewatch, you’d have to grab the remote and listen to the tape reel backward. You probably even used a VHS tape to do a workout video (via Legacy Box).


Became Al Bundy

The ’90s birthed some of the best sitcoms ever. One of those was Married… with Children. That’s where the iconic character Al Bundy, with his sarcastic wit and quirky personality made its way to fame. As children, you probably laughed at his misadventures. But little did we know at the time, that his life was a bit more relatable than we want it to be. Not only do we have to deal with the mundane routines of adulthood, but bills and responsibilities too (via Joe).


Snail Downloads

We live in a world of high-speed internet. We’re blessed with fast downloads and uploads, and the ability to press a button and have millions of answers within a second. But for those of you who lived through an era of dial-up connections and slow download speeds, those memories are burned into your mind. There’s nothing more painful than looking at download speeds that tell you you’ll age several decades before ever listening to that song or watching that video. You probably made a bowl of popcorn or two before the progress bar inched any further (via GWS Media).


The Evolution Of Fashion

Because fashion is always changing, the way we dressed in the ’90s is nothing like the way we dress now. You probably felt nostalgic looking at those girls dressed in pure ’90s styles. In modern times, people only dress like that if they’re going to a ’90s-themed party, though bold patterns and innovative cuts were fun to wear. They dress kids differently nowadays, though it seems less fun than it used to (via Fashion History).


iTunes of the ’90s

We used to organize our music, our most prized possessions, in thick CD carry cases. These cases contained dozens of CDs, waiting to be plucked and pushed into a CD player. You had to be meticulous about storing them since one wrong scratch and the entire CD was ruined. But there was no better feeling than grabbing that CD pack from the closet and opening it up to an array of different musical selections (via Quora).


The Best Phone

Back in the ’90s, we didn’t have iPhones or Androids. We had plastic telephones, oftentimes in the shape of cartoon characters. The coolest phone wasn’t the most high-tech one like it is nowadays. Back then, it was phones shaped like everyone’s favorite sarcastic cat or completely see-through ones. This retro phone didn’t have Instagram or Twitter. It was all about making phone calls and having conversations with our friends who lived across town (via Mental Floss).


The Elder Scroll

It’s always a tedious task, having to scroll down and find the year you were born. You’d think that in this day and age, they’d make it a little bit easier. And the older you get, the harder you find that date. It’s strange to see how you can choose birthdays from 2015 to 2005, to 2001… has it made you feel old, yet? Once you finally hit your decade, you might feel a mild bit of annoyance (via Reddit).


Retro Pizza Hut

There was a time when going to Pizza Hut was a Friday night outing. This meant getting dressed up, going out, and immersing yourself in an atmosphere full of retro aesthetics and playful patterns. Those classic chandeliers, buffet slices, and vinyl seats gave a visual feast that paired perfectly with a pizza dinner (via BuzzFeed).


The Simple Way

Childhood creates a lot of nostalgia. It’s when we had days full of laughter, dirt, imagination, and friends. We played in the great outdoors, whether it was sunny, raining, or snowing. You probably have fond memories of creating bonds through games, as opposed to playing games through a screen, as the kids do nowadays. There was nothing better than gathering neighborhood friends together to play a game of hide and seek or forage in the forest for supplies to make forts (via Stamford Mercury).


Classic Rock

Those airwaves don’t lie when they play nostalgic songs bringing us a blast from the past. Guitar riffs and ’90s anthems bring us back to moments of the ’90s when screens didn’t rule our days, and we had to wait for music to come out. Those were the times of bands like Green Day and Nirvana. If only we could jump back in time, where music was an experience we had to have patience for (via Time Out).


The Struggle Is Real

As a ’90s kid, you probably loved those non-sharpening pencils. People who loved color coding their notes especially loved them, since it made organization much easier. Kids today will never comprehend the struggle and satisfaction we went through with these pencils. The struggle began if we accidentally dropped that pencil or applied too much force. That’s when the cap and the base separated, interrupting our workflow and focus (via Pinterest).


How Times Have Changed

When you were a kid, all you hoped for was a simple pen that had multiple colors. That meant, by barely lifting a finger, you could change the colors on your pen. Back then, owning an iPhone wasn’t an idea that existed. A communication device we could carry around with us to contact friends? Impossible. The only form of communication kids used back then was writing notes with this kind of pen and secretly passing them along when the teacher wasn’t looking (via Bustle).


The Actual Struggle

Kids today complaining about buffering or loading issues on Spotify don’t realize how easy they have it. The kids of the ’90s had to face the real struggle with our favorite tunes, including pushing a cassette tape into players and keeping them safe. It required patience and practice, and once the tape was correctly in place, the magic happened (via Mental Floss).


The Best Form Of Communication

Note passing is equivalent to sending a text today, though it took a lot more effort and patience. You had to do it without getting caught, and although kids nowadays do the same with texts, they can send one in a millisecond of the time it took to pass a note properly. There were many more factors, like making sure it got to the right person and didn’t end up in the wrong person’s hands. Once someone received the note, it was full of inside jokes and revealed a much-awaited anticipation, like a tiny treasure box (via Romper).


’90s Kids Are Now Early Risers

As you age, it gets harder and harder to stay up late. Staying awake past 9 p.m. becomes worthy of celebration. You probably prefer indulging in relaxing, calming activities that include moments of solitude. There’s a certain type of tranquility that comes with the night. While younger people might scoff at your early bedtime, if you’re a child of the ’90s, your late-night days are over. And there’s nothing wrong with that (via Reddit).

Bored Panda

This Was My Google

Kids nowadays will never know the struggle that comes with research projects. Back then, ’90s kids had to head to the library, use encyclopedias, and dig through filing cabinets to find information they could use for their projects. Kids now can press a few buttons on a computer, hit search, and have millions of files accessible with the click of a button (via Bored Panda).


No Internet

The ’90s were a time when we didn’t have easy access to the internet. Those of you who grew up before the digital revolution had to entertain themselves in different ways. And while you likely had a computer in your parent’s office, it was very different from what there is nowadays. This starter pack nails the ’90s kid’s struggles on the head. There was Minesweeper, Solitaire, Pinball Space Cadet, and MS Paint, which helped us explore our creative pursuits (via Reddit).


Tangled With Love

’90s kids had to work for phone calls, heavy with anticipation as they waited for their school crush to answer the phone. You probably stood next to the phone, with its cord wrapped around your head, waiting for someone to pick it up. It was a fidgeting tool, much like biting your nails. And the more intense the conversation, when they finally did pick up, the more you probably wrapped the cord around your head. There was something so wonderful about that coiled wire and getting lost in its tactile pleasure (via Reddit).


Date Nights In The ’90s

Getting ready for date night in the ’90s was a little bit different than what it’s like today. Take a look a this photo, for example. The ’90s was known for its eclectic fashion choices, and that went so far as matching your outfit to your car. Oversized clothing, bold colors and patterns, and quirky personalities took the spotlight, and the more outlandish the outfit, the better (via Fashinza).


Bright Windbreakers

It seemed that everyone in the ’90s sported a bright windbreaker of some sort. There was nothing like this vibrant armor that stood out against the crowd and transformed white landscapes into bright bursts of color. That vast sea of muted tones suddenly became a neon one that defined the ’90s. As some Reddit users put it, after looking at photos of people in tracksuits like these, they can “hear the picture.” All that crinkling material makes quite a bit of noise (via Reddit).


Which Old Phone?

From brick phones to Nokias, phones of the ’90s defined the era. They were clunky, limited in features, and were mainly used for simple texting and calling. We have to give them credit, though, they paved the way for the digital revolution we’re experiencing today. They birthed our iPhones (via What Mobile).


Grocery Store Jams

It’s wild to think about how quickly life passes before our eyes. One second, you’re young and free, and the next you’re standing in a grocery store, listening to those ’90s tunes you once danced the night away to. There’s something so beautiful and nostalgic about those vibrant nights spent under a disco ball. As you’re walking down the grocery aisle, you probably do your best to envision those nights to take yourself back to the good old days (via Reddit).



This one probably took you way back. This is the world of the Dinosaurs sitcom, which took place in the early ’90s. You can thank ABC, who unleashed this hilarious gem into your living room, featuring extinct creatures that made you laugh. This dinosaur family, also called the Sinclairs, defined the ’90s. It would have been a different world without them (via Slate).


Ceiling Of The ’90s

In the ’90s, your bedroom ceiling was dotted with neon star stickers. This whimsical touch brought you to dreamland, and a world dotted with magic. Every kid’s ceiling was dotted with these stars, even though you have to admit, it was very cheesy. At the very least, it captured the universe and brought it right to your ceiling (via Yellow Pop).


Hit The Lean

This meme is accurate. Throughout the ’90s, an album cover had to have a certain kind of appeal to attract customers and listeners. Among the most appealing were ones that had artists with a specific type of lean. It exuded confidence, ease, authority, and coolness, much like you’re seeing with these covers (via Rolling Stone).


The Original GoFundMe

In the ’80s and ’90s, people were more creative about how they raised money. There was no GoFundMe page, where people could press a button and donate a few bucks. Nope, kids of this era had to grab the lawn mower and get to work. It just goes to show you how ambitious, innovative, and creative kids were of that generation. Other ways to earn money as a kid in the ’90s included starting a babysitters club, doing chores, and burning CDs and selling them (via Bustle).