The list of top singles included artists like Bruce Springsteen, Madonna, and Elton John. MTV was at its height, and nearly everyone knew The Breakfast Club, Pretty in Pink, and St.Elmo’s Fire by heart. The 1980s were a remarkable time to grow up.
There are a lot of cultural quirks unique to 80s kids, things you just had to be there for. Many of those things are surprisingly small, like passing notes in class or goofing off with slap bracelets. Sometimes it’s the tiny details that end up sticking in your head for the longest time.
Before smartphones, iPods, or AirPods, the Walkman was the method of listening to music. Invented in 1979, the Walkman was huge throughout the 80s. Having a Walkman meant that you could listen to your cassette tapes while you were out in the world.
All you had to do was put on your headphones, put in your favorite album or mixtape, and you were happy. Of course, having a Walkman also meant that you were envied by every single one of your friends who weren’t so lucky.
The “Just Say No” campaign was a part of the War Against Drugs in the 1980s. The campaign was initiated and run by First Lady Nancy Reagan. It involved a series of commercials designed to teach kids to “just say no” instead of experimenting with drugs. The First Lady personally came up with the “Just Say No” slogan.
Current evidence suggests that these commercials may not have had quite the effect that it was hoped they would (though to some level, it depends who you ask), but no one can deny that they made an impact. Most 80s kids were positively immersed in the “Just Say No” campaign.
For many 80s kids, arcades in the 80s were practically a sanctuary from boredom. All you needed was a little spare change, and you could happily lose hours to chasing those infuriating Pac-Man ghosts or shooting down seemingly endless waves of space invaders.
The arcade was an after-school retreat where you could unwind and have fun with friends, a place filled with good memories. Unfortunately, in this modern age of phone games and online slots, the arcade is sliding dangerously close to becoming obsolete.
Trapper Keepers were three-ring binders (usually brightly colored) containing folders referred to as Trappers. When you opened a Trapper Keeper, you would be rewarded by the distinctive sound of the Velcro tearing open—so, obviously, you did it over and over again.
It was almost impossible to open or close those things without making some noise. Technically, Trapper Keepers have been around since the late 1970s, but they were huge during the 1980s. Practically every school-aged kid had a Trapper Keeper. Actually, plenty of adults had them too.