ZooPals came out in the mid-'00s, and while they weren't anything super fancy or amazing, they held a big spot in the hearts of '90s and '00s babies everywhere. ZooPals were the zoo-inspired plates (as well as bowls and cups, though the plates were the coolest of the collection) that Millenials spent their formative years eating peanut butter sandwiches, pizza rolls, and other kid-like snacks off of.
They were cute and fun and everyone loved them. My personal favorite was the pig or the koala. Leave your favorite in the comments below!
ZooPals then versus now
Even though these cute, zoo-inspired plates were discontinued in 2007 or 2008, people still think they're the bomb ('00s reference). There is a "Bring ZooPal Plates back!" petition with over 49,000 of the necessary 50,000 votes needed.
So, if you really loved ZooPals, and want to again know the joy of eating microwaved pizza rolls off of a paper frog's face, you can be one of the many to sign this petition. There is even a ZooPals revival fandom, which really took me by surprise. Either way, I would imagine Hefty will be making ZooPals Plates again if this keeps up. '00s kids demand ZooPals are still cool and will be cool again.
The Sopranos was a huge part of '00s pop culture. The Sopranos was one of the shows being constantly referenced, talked about, and eagerly awaited in the 2000s. Simply put, it was a big deal. If I am being super honest, I didn't get it. I knew what The Sopranos was about. I knew the basics, but I never got into it. Truth is, I was too busy watching The Real World.
However, even though I didn't watch, I still, as a good '90s kid should, knew the names of the characters and tuned in for the very weird but iconic final episode.
The Sopranos then versus now
The Sopranos aired from 1999 to 2007. Though the show is still popular, its cool factor has surely faded over time, but it is now considered a cult classic. While The Sopranos is no more, The Many Saints of Newark is supposed to be a prequel of the popular series. Being produced and written by the original writers of The Sopranos, David Chase and Lawrence Konner, The Many Saints of Newark is sure to either be a huge hit or greatly disappoint '00s fans of The Sopranos.
In the mid-'90s, Pixel Dolls came out, and by the early 2000s, sitting at the family computer for hours creating well... virtual paper dolls with way better clothes than you, was the thing to do. Mostly, their clothes were better than yours because they were wearing clothes better suited for clubbing than school.
The DollzMania Dolls had all the right '00s features and clothing including, low-rise jeans, knee-high socks, crop tops, flared pants, awful chunky highlights, and all the best platform shoes. DollzMania had many imitators that were also popular in the '00s, but everyone knew DollzMania was the best.
DollzMania then versus now
Though the popularity of making virtual paper dolls to post on social media, believe it or not, you can absolutely go make yourself a Style Dollz or go to DollzMania's new forward, and make a Virtual Pop Star. The StyleDollz remain more true to the original '00s pixel dolls (you can even make blinkies just like the '00s MySpace days), but Virtual Pop Star seems to be the "new" version of DollzMania with updated graphics and styles.
Myspace was amazing. It was better than any of today's social media and I stand by that. It wasn't about who looked the best, had the best clothes, had the most money, or who was trending. It was about one thing: who had the best page layout and auto-play song combo.
Kids learned minor HTML and CSS coding skills just to make their page look amazing. We added blinkies and songs to show our personalities. I still remember having a black background with hearts and stars, falling, sparkling stars in the forefront, and an auto-play song. I even posted my DollzMania dolls to Myspace. I really miss it. It was more interactive, fun to put together, more personalized, and less about popularity or material possessions. It was kind of pure.
Myspace then versus now
In 2003, Tom Anderson and Chris DeWolfe created the well-known social platform '90s and '00s kids loved. By the time Facebook came out in 2004, Myspace had so much popularity that it was able to maintain the lead for a few years. Plus, Facebook was mainly used by college students at that time.
Today, we have so many social media platforms to choose from. So, you can still make a Myspace account, but not many do. Myspace, I sincerely miss you most of all.
If you were a '90s or '00s baby, you know all about the sound that was Nickelback. It was on the radio constantly. It was played on the bus, on the way to school in the mornings, and on the way home. Everyone knew the lyrics, saw their faces in magazines, and most of us couldn't help but sing along.
I don't know if Nickelback was "cool," but they were popular. It was a love-hate relationship for most. What seemed to have begun with love and admiration became a quick disdain for the overplayed. I don't care how much you love a song, if you hear it too much, it becomes a bit annoying. Plus, most of their songs sound very similar.
Nickelback then versus now
Nickelback came out in 1995 and is comprised of their five members: Chad Kroeger, Ryan Peake, Mike Kroeger, and Daniel Adair. The band is still touring, writing, and producing music currently. However, in the '00s, Nickelback was a rock band known for their iconic sound, and today they are producing more pop and pop-rock. They've also become more known for the love-hate relationship listeners have with their music, even being voted as the worst band of all time in Word Magazine at the end of the '00s.
Heelys are the roller shoe that we all wanted in the 2000s. They tormented teachers, as kids rolled down the halls from class to class, and were widely considered controversial since they were thought of as a dangerous distraction by many parents and teachers. Eventually, they were banned from many malls (because malls were still cool in the '00s) and schools due to the growing fear of serious injuries.
What parents and teachers didn't realize was that their warnings and disapproval only made Heelys cooler and made those of us that didn't have them want them more. I swear, if I wasn't the clumsiest person I know, I would've had a pair and it would have been epic, or I would've thought so at least.
Heelys then versus now
Heelys came out in the year 2000, and it has been reported that Heelys Inc. sold over 4.5 million pairs of Heelys. Pretty impressive for a roller shoe, right? While you can still purchase Heelys, they aren't near as popular as they were in the '00s and don't come with the same cool factor they once did. Since then, many newer brands have also come out with cooler, more modern designs.
Starting in the early '00s, these simple, affordable jelly bracelets became extremely popular again. Yes, again. Originally, these bracelets soared with popularity in the '80s thanks to the one and only, Madonna. While there was a lot of controversy in the '00s about why kids were wearing them and what they were being used for, this controversy was mostly based on rumors and myths.
Kids and teens in the '00s wore these because they came in every color for every outfit, were extremely affordable, were in all the most popular stores (they were sold pretty much everywhere), and all our friends were wearing them. They were trending, okay?
Jelly bracelets then versus now
In the '80s, Madonna made these bracelets a must-have. In the '00s, they became the unnecessary spotlight for rumors and controversy when they were really just cheap jewelry. Today, you can still buy jelly bracelets, but they aren't anywhere near as relevant as they once were.
We used AOL instant messenger, better known as the beloved AIM, to join chat rooms, post moody "away messages," chat with friends about how our parents don't understand anything, and meet new people. We sat at our computers, made a snack while the computer went off like a fax machine (the joys of dial-up internet), and we told people our A/S/L.
If you remember the joys of hearing the lovely AIM sound effects and setting a moody away message, then you know the joys of life in the '00s. It was magnificent. It was the beginning of something big and led to the tech-ran world we live in today.
AIM then versus now
AIM came out in 1997 and became a must-have for every computer owner by the early 2000s. AIM influenced so much of what we do today in terms of the internet and technology. The '00s were a golden age for technological advancement. They were chock-full of fun gadgets and new tech. AIM is a big part of that '00s, new tech boom culture. AIM was merged with Yahoo and ended up being discontinued in 2017. It was a sad day for us '90s and '00s babies.
Am I the only one who thinks of NSYNC when I hear the words "frosted tips?"
I mean, they were a big deal, and Justin and Lance (from NSYNC of course) were certainly sporting them all over the cover of every popular magazine of the time. You couldn't open a magazine without seeing a guy with frosted tips. It was the coolest, okay? Boy bands were a huge instigator with this classically '90s and 2000s trend, but lots of women were also getting their equivalent to frosted tips and it was '00s fabulous, though maybe not fabulous to today's standards.
Frosted tips then versus now
In the '90s and early '00s, everyone knew frosted tips were it. Highlights were chunkier than today's standard highlights, and frosted tips were rarely toned anything like today's are. Some still get frosted tips, but they certainly don't call them that. Highlights, shadow roots, and complicated toning are done in today's much different hair world. Though there are still some out there that choose to use frosting caps to frost their hair, it's a rare occurrence.
Watching Netflix meant getting DVDs delivered to your mailbox in the '00s. This is not fake news, I promise. We loved convenience in the '00s too, and Netflix DVDs were the height of convenience in a time when getting a new movie meant waiting for release, going to the local rental store, wishing and hoping it wouldn't be rented out by the time you got there, and watching it several times before handing it in late (and paying a late fee).
Times were... different. Plus, getting packages is always exciting. All I can say is, it was amazing to have DVDs delivered to your home in the '00s, and Netflix was really the first to offer that kind of service.
Netflix then versus now
Obviously, Netflix is still a thing. Most of us have a Netflix subscription. We watch our favorite shows and spend our Sunday nights relaxing with whatever new release we've been waiting for. We even watch Netflix Originals, which was not in the making until 2013. Netflix is definitely still a thing, more popular than it ever was in the '00s, but from 1999 to 2011, Netflix was a very different experience.
We used to wait days to get one DVD in the mail. There are literal memes about this strange fact, but back then it was awesome. We may have waited days to get a movie, but the anticipation was everything. It was fun. Today, Netflix is really the antithesis of what it was. Now, it is about instant gratification. So, while Netflix is still "cool," even cooler than it was in the '00s, it almost doesn't feel like the same Netflix we loved in the '00s.
In the '00s, many cars still didn't have a GPS (the first GPS was in 1995). The first map app for mobile didn't come out until 2008. So, the standard practice was to use the big family computer (mine was a Dell) to visit MapQuest, print out the directions and the map, and then you could be on your way to your destination.
It was a pretty common practice when driving to a new place to print out a MapQuest map. As someone who is pretty navigation-dependent, it horrifies me to think about a time when driving didn't include Siri giving me verbal directions as I almost pass my exit. But, thank goodness for MapQuest. It was there when the '90s and '00s babies needed it most.
MapQuest then versus now
We all know most people use their smartphones, or have a car with GPS navigation systems to get from point A to point B, but MapQuest is still around to make us all feel nostalgic and get us going where we need to be. The site has had a major upgrade and can still be printed out, but it doesn't experience the traffic and doesn't have the cool factor it once did. I love that MapQuest has advanced with the times and hope it's here to stay for a long time to come.
Spencer Gifts, otherwise known as Spencer's, was the store everyone went to and I'm not really sure what it was. Maybe it was the Tripp pants, jelly bracelets, plethora of posters, and consistently low prices. Spencer Gifts had just about anything you could want, as well as some of the most useless but enjoyable knickknacks of the late '90s and early '00s.
This was the place to go for the belly button ring you begged your mom to let you get or the random assortment of shirts with just about every band name thinkable. I loved going to Spencer's, and even bought my polka-dot homecoming "dress" at Spencer Gifts (our homecoming was circus-themed) back when scene style was the big trend. Yes, I was a scene kid.
Spencer Gifts then versus now
Did you know Spencer Gifts actually goes way back to 1947? Well, now you do. Spencers was in action long before the '00s, but it was in the '00s that Spencer Gifts really became the spot to shop (or one of them at least). Part of being a '90s or '00s baby was buying clothes, jewelry, and random knickknacks at Spencer Gifts.
Today, Spencer Gifts still has over 600 stores nationwide, but the appeal doesn't seem to be what it once was. The cool factor of Spencer Gifts has left the building, though I do think of Spencer's fondly.
Beyblades were the toy that seemed to be popular for kids and teens alike. Not only were they incredibly affordable, but people loved them. The reality was, they were just really cool-looking spinning tops. Since tops have been around forever (I'm talking 35th century BC), you would think that it would take more to excite us '90s and '00s kids. It didn't. They were the supped-up spinning tops with tracks we all needed. There were even Beyblade tournaments.
We loved them, and I will defend Beyblades until my dying day. They were a spinning top phenomenon.
Beyblades then versus now
Hasbro came out with Beyblades in 2002 and they blew up pretty much right away. They have been on the market ever since and are still available. So, if you really need a Beyblade, you can buy one today. However, the line has changed and advanced over time, and they really aren't close to the popularity they were once known for. Fidget spinners (developed in 1997, but didn't trend until 2016 or 2017), are the modern-day equivalent of the '00s Beyblade phenomenon.
In the '00s, the low-rise jean trend was pretty well... distinctive? Prominent? I mean, actresses were wearing it on the red carpet. Now, I have questioned my sanity a few times, asking myself, "Was it a literal fashion statement for your underwear to be showing with your low-rise jeans?" Yes. It really was. I still remember my dad being like, "What on earth are you wearing?" He was horrified by how low-rise my low-rise jeans were, and to be honest, I now realize it looked kind of silly.
It happened. We wore them. We did what we did. There is no turning back. Except, there kind of is.
Low-rise jeans then versus now
Fashion and trends are cyclical after all. Us '90s and '00s babies have watched chockers, velvet, and multiple other trends come back into fashion over the years. Did you know that there was a brief but glorious blip in time between 2018 and 2019 that low-rise jeans came back into fashion? It happened. It was very, very brief, but it was real. Today, high-waisted jeans seem to be the major trend, but I often look back with both horror and nostalgia to what I walked around wearing in the '00s.
Making cootie catchers and passing notes took up such a big part of the '00s for me. I passed notes in class. Made cootie catchers to figure out which famous boyband member was going to be my husband and how many kids we were going to inevitably have.
Since smartphones weren't yet mainstream for kids and teens to have in the '00s, this is how we communicated. We wrote notes, folded the paper into complicated shapes, and passed them to our friends. When we got into trouble, our teachers read them aloud, and to soothe our embarrassment, we predicted our futures with cootie catchers. This was the '00s way of life.
Cootie catchers then versus now
Of course, kids and teens still pass notes and '00s kids certainly didn't invent note passing. However, it does seem that once kids and teens having smartphones become more commonplace, texting took over the need for note passing.
Not to mention, with all the fun games and apps on phones and tech today, making cootie catchers doesn't have the appeal it did to us '90s and '00s kids. While some kids still make cootie catchers, they are mainly used as arts and crafts projects for younger kids and come in animal faces and other designs. I'm happy to report my nieces said they know what they are and make them from time to time. I'm very proud. Today, you can buy valentine cootie catchers though, which makes me feel too nostalgic for my own good.
Puka shell necklaces were trending big time in the 2000s. Everyone wore them. Boy band members. Actresses. Teens, kids, and people of all backgrounds and styles loved puka shell necklaces. They went perfectly with everything. White matches everything, after all. They were the accessories of the decade, and I don't know how we survived the last 11 years without them.
Bring them back, please (maybe I'm just feeling nostalgic).
Puka shell necklaces then versus now
While Puka shell necklaces first became popular in Hawaii in the '60s, they gained unrivaled popularity in the mainland in the late '90s and early '00s. From time to time, I still see a puka shell bracelet or necklace or two, but nothing like I did back in the 2000s. The trend is for sure no more, but that doesn't mean we didn't appreciate their 15 minutes of fame and everything that came with that.
You were loved, puka shell necklaces! You were.