Maybe it’s you?
Nah, you’re still here, so it can’t be that.
I was hit by a pang of nostalgia this week. And it started with Perkins Paste.
Perkins Paste was a product I used during my childhood. I don’t know why it popped into my head, but I started wondering why I hadn’t seen it around lately.
Looking into it got me thinking about other things that had been prevalent in my youth, but had disappeared from popular use in ensuing years (ok, ok, decades) for a plethora of reasons – many of which are self-evident.
Let’s start with the catalyst for this nostalgia:
The spreadable, edible, craft glue. How I miss you.
The “original” cut-and-paste function, “Perkins Paste” was the classier (and more palatable) alternative to the watery “Clag Glue” used in paper craft during my early school years.
Perkins Paste was far superior to Clag, both in taste, texture, and adhesive abilities. Perkins Paste was made from boiled potato dextrin, was fast drying and had a plastic spatula built into the lid for ease of application (and consumption).
Clag was made from wheat starch dissolved in water – and it retained that wateriness. It warped the paper and it smudged the ink. Perkins did neither of those things.
Yet despite its iconic status, Perkins Paste was sadly ousted from the market with the advent of glue sticks. Somehow, Clag survived, to the detriment of today’s children’s palates and craftwork.
Forget Powerpoint presentations. Forget slideshows. Forget interactive whiteboards.
For most of my early schooling teachers used overhead projectors. Ol’ Teach used to handwrite the class notes on a series of clear, overhead transparency sheets, continuously replacing each sheet on the projector as the lesson went on (in lieu of today’s simple click of a laser pointer). It was always a challenge for the teacher to keep the stack in order.
It would also be a challenge for the teacher to prevent us from sneaking in a strategic “dick-’n-balls” halfway through his lesson stack. It’s much more difficult to infiltrate a PowerPoint presentation.
But oh how we’d laugh.
And oh how we’d get caned…
But it was totally worth it. “Where’s Willy” was the highlight of our week.
Spokey Dokeys were little multi-coloured plastic beads that clipped onto your bicycle wheel spokes. They didn’t really do much at high speed except provide a blur of colour, but at lower speeds they used to slide up and down the shaft (that’s what she said) and make a clacking noise.
The glow-in-the-dark ones used to make my 12-speed arc up like I was in Tron…
I think you can still get them, but sadly you don’t see them around much anymore.
Tab Cola and Mello Yellow
When Diet Coke hit Australian shores in the early 80’s, it pretty much smashed Tab out of the market. And Mello Yellow lost its battle with the creatively upcycled horse urine that is Mountain Dew, and was reinvented as the uninspiring, and uni-citrus “Lift Lemon”.
Tab not only launched the career of a young Elle Macpherson, but also launched the ice bucket challenge, if this 1982 commercial is anything to go by:
And Alex Wileman, the bouffant, blonde beauty in this early 80’s Australian Mello Yellow commercial is now spruiking incontinence pads:
I think the key learning here is that too much Mello Yellow leads to urinary leakage.
“Look out mouth, watch out thirst. This second Mello Yellow will cause my bladder to burst”.
You really should have stopped after the first, Alex.
But despite all that, it would appear that both products are good for your physique. They’re both in their 50’s, but Elle and Alex still have it.
Sadly however, aside from a few short, sentimental re-runs, neither Tab nor Mello Yellow have been readily available in Australia since the 80’s and 90’s. *wistful sigh*
Those little naked, fluorescent-haired, demon-eyed bastards. They were everywhere when I was a kid. The only trolls I encounter now, are the ones flaming on online forums.
I miss the former ones. They remind me of the Olsen twins, when they were toddlers on Full House. Man they were creepy lookin’ kids.
I don’t rightly recall what the point of Trolls Dolls was – they never had any particular storyline attached to them – unlike my mighty Smurfs. But for a time, I could always recall seeing them on bookshelves, or on people’s dashboards, or keyrings. And a part of me misses them.
Now that was a passing fad. The amazing material that changed colour with heat.
Remember its sexual assault inducing catchphrase?
It was pretty cool at the time, but I do remember it disconcertingly highlighted to the casual observer, just how much my armpit temperature differed from that of my chest.
It was a fleeting phenomenon though. Amazingly, they sold over $50M in product in the first 3 months.
Sadly though, after just a handful of washes, the magic powers faded and the shirt froze permanently into a mushy purply-brown.
And that, as they say, was that.
Music Cassette Tapes
Well, I don’t really miss them in the literal sense, but I do feel nostalgic about them. The first cassette tape I can recall purchasing was Savage Garden. Man, I so used to rock.
While the logistics of finding a song on a cassette tape was based upon precision guesswork, it was the technology of the time – and you made do with what you had.
But the thing I miss most about cassettes, is making Mixed Tapes. Sure, you can make a playlist. But you can’t gift a playlist to the potential love of your life, entitled “Roadtrip to my Heart” on your iPhone.
What if you never got it back? *shudders*
The Calculator Watch
While my fat fingers would struggle nowadays, I used to be the coolest nerd on the block, rocking my sweet Casio Databank Calculator Watch – the one with the pushbutton “Illuminator” function.
Go on, laugh you ignoramuses. Would you laugh at Walter White?!
Or Marty McFly?!
I rest my case.
Truthfully, back when I was at school it was the Rolls Royce of watches, and a high status symbol. At least for a year or so. Fads were fleeting in the 80’s. “Bros”, “Tiffany” and “Milli Vanilli” will vouch for that.
Having a calculator watch really was akin to having the first-release iPhone. Admittedly, I used it for little more than telling the time, and typing “5318008” for shits and giggles – but I was revered as a god by my Grade 4 peers. Not “The” God, but I was up there.
Speak and Spell
The original Speak and Spell was ostensibly a hand-held learning tool. Effectively it was the first handheld computer. Games inserted via cartridges provided different learning activities.
I must say I’m impressed with Nerd #3’s ability to sustain a mid-abdomen Harry Highpants without a belt. That’s a nerd god right there. It would also appear that James Franco has access to a time machine…
The Speak and Spell pretty much fizzled out by the 90’s, but I am however buoyed to report, that a Speak and Spell App exists, so its legacy lives on.
The Aussie Girl Group “Girlfriend” was the first ever concert I attended. It was 1993, and Gaz was a pimply, testosterone-fuelled, twelve-year-old.
I don’t think it had much to do with the music. It was pretty awful. But I had a massive crush on Melanie Alexander.
Incidentally, she still rocks it. Pimply Gaz had mad foresight…
Aaah, Alex Kidd. My first foray into video games. I had the classic Sega Master System II with the game in-built.
Alex Kidd was a platform-based game, where you collect magical artifacts, medallions and “Baums” (Miracle Word’s equivalent to Bitcoins) while trying to locate and trounce the usurper, Janken the Great and his minions.
Alex was “Shellcore” trained, a technique which allowed him to alter the size and toughness of his hands – which explains his hamfistedness. It was pretty much the precursor to future platform games, and as a kid, it was pretty addictive.
By 1990 though, Sonic the Hedgehog took over Sega’s mantle, and Alex Kidd pretty much faded away into oblivion.
So anyway, that’s a snapshot of some of the things I miss from a child who spent his formative years growing up in the late 80’s and early 90’s. I’m pretty sure I’ve missed some obvious ones, so if you think of any more, hit me up.
And before you start, no, I don’t miss fucking Pogs! I’m not some kind of Millhouse nerdlinger…