40 Interesting Facts About The ‘90s That Few People RememberBy Anglina Roberts
The 1990s is such a wonderful time. The decade gave us Titanic, Britney Spears, Justin Timberlake, Friends, and The Simpsons. It was the final decade before the advancement of new technology, and there was only one website back in 1991. In 1999, the Y2K bug threatened to wipe out the world’s 280 million internet users, not to mention their Tamagotchi pets.
In this article, we’ll explore all of this and more. Get set to laugh at the awful styles, hairdos, and general backwardness of the world back then. Welcome to the ’90s – the wildest decade in recent history.
Jennifer Aniston Disliked Rachel’s Famous Haircut
It’s impossible to imagine a world without the megahit television series Friends. The show was top-rated and continues to earn a lot of money in reruns every year. In the Friends series, Jennifer Aniston’s character, Rachel Green, was the most well-known of the bunch. Women everywhere aspired to be her, and men everywhere longed to be with her.
As a result, the “Rachel” cut became a popular request at salons everywhere. Too bad Jen didn’t like it. In an interview with Glamour magazine, Jennifer Aniston confessed how she felt about her famous ’90s hairstyle. She went as far as to say, “I think that was the ugliest haircut I’ve ever seen,” and described the style as “cringe-y.”
Everyone on the Titanic Was on PCP
This is a little-known fact regarding the world-record-breaking film Titanic (1997). During filming, someone allegedly laced the cast and crew’s food with PCP. The hallucinations, distorted sound perceptions, and aggressive behavior associated with this drug have earned it the nickname “Angel Dust.” Director James Cameron was among the roughly 80 cast and crew members who required medical attention.
No one ever admitted to spiking the crew, but Jack seems like a likely suspect. That’s why, even though several experts had proven there’s plenty of room for them both, Rose shoved him off the door they were hanging onto for dear life.
Britney Spears and Her Cousin
The pop star Britney Spears was another ’90s icon. “(Hit Me)…Baby One More Time” was the anthem of the decade, and its accompanying music video set the standard for the rest of the ‘90s. Teen singer Britney Spears’ iconic music video had her dancing around a high school campus in a schoolgirl costume with her cousin Chad Spears as her on-screen lover.
You could think it’s unacceptable, but remember that they’re originally from Mississippi. Fortunately, it was all an act, and Britney moved on to date Justin Timberlake, another star of the ’90s who will be featured later in the article.
Bruce Willis Starred in Friends for Free
The Whole Nine Yards, a 1999 film about dangerous neighbors, starred Bruce Willis and Matthew Perry. Knowing that Willis would shortly be appearing in Friends, the two new friends made a wager on the film’s commercial success while it was in production. Perry was optimistic about its prospects, but Willis was pessimistic. In the end, Perry was able to cash in on his wager because of the widespread success of The Whole Nine Yards.
However, the claim that appearing in Friends was free wasn’t entirely accurate. As a result of his loss, Bruce Willis gave his entire Friends paycheck to organizations that aid victims of sexual assault and AIDS. You can’t get any more selfless than that, can you?
Jerry Seinfeld Had 73 Girlfriends
Much of the humor in Seinfeld came from Jerry’s never-ending search for a girlfriend. When he finally met a woman who could stand to be in the same room with him for more than three minutes, the resulting awkwardness was comedic gold.
Many of the most impressive young actresses of the ’90s were introduced to us as Jerry’s girlfriends. Among them were Debra Messing (Will & Grace), Courteney Cox (Friends), Anna Gunn (Breaking Bad), and Jane Leeves (Frasier).
“Tamagotchi” Means “Egg Friend”
Tamagotchis were the top-selling toy in the mid-1990s. Aki Maita’s mobile digital pet won her the 1997 Nobel Prize in Economics. The name Tamagotchi comes from the Japanese for “egg friend,” and the point of the keychain pet was to teach kids responsibility by having them “feed” and “water” it digitally so that it would survive as long as possible.
Children worldwide practiced having pets on these digital guinea pigs before getting real ones. Unfortunately, kids were emotionally connected to their Tamagotchis, and when they passed away, it was like losing a real pet.
Over Half of the Baywatch Crew Had a Serious Fear of Water
At its peak, an incredible one billion viewers tuned in each week to watch Baywatch. It aired in the late ’90s and early ’00s and was known for its abundance of attractive actresses, male models, and David Hasselhoff. Unfortunately, Pamela Anderson, Carmen Electra, and Pamela Bowen had a crippling water phobia.
Since Pamela Bowen could not perform underwater, Shawn Weatherly was brought in as a last-minute replacement. The team didn’t know until Bowen’s first ocean scene when she freaked out. She was replaced because her doctor told her to avoid water, and the production couldn’t insure her.
Beverly Hills 90210 Inspired a Famous Band
The ’90s was also home to the groundbreaking television series Beverly Hills 90210. The show followed the lives of Shannen Doherty and Jason Priestley’s characters, Brenda and Brendon Walsh, who played obnoxious twins.
Kara’s Flowers was a little-known band that appeared in the eighth season’s “Forgive and Forget” episode. After almost ten years, they found global success as rock stars. What did Kara’s Flowers turn into, though? Maroon 5 was the band that evolved from Kara’s Flowers!
A Lunch Meeting in 1994 Inspired Four Pixar Films
John Lasseter, Pete Docter, and Joe Ranft, the founders of Pixar, sat together for lunch in 1994 to discuss how they could top the brilliance of Toy Story, which was in production at the time. The three creative minds conceived four of Pixar’s future blockbuster movies in that single encounter.
During that one lunch meeting, the seeds of the concepts for the films A Bug’s Life (1998), Monsters, Inc. (2001), Finding Nemo (2003), and Wall-E (2008) were planted. What were they drinking? Pour us a glass.
The Name *NSYNC Was Created by Justin Timberlake’s Mother
The name of the popular ’90s boy band *NSYNC was inspired by a remark made by Justin Timberlake’s mother about how “in sync” the members sang. Mrs. Timberlake came up with the name by combining the last letters of the band members’ names: justiN, chriS, joeY, jasoN, and jC.
Fortunately, she utilized the names’ final letters because *JCJJJ doesn’t glide off the tongue as smoothly. Funnily enough, such a name was successful for the British pop group Kajagoogoo in the 1980s.
A Jack Russell Voiced Jurassic Park’s Dinosaurs
How do you recreate the sound of a roaring dinosaur that went extinct 66 million years ago? How do you possibly imagine what their voices sounded like? Gary Rydstrom, the sound designer on Jurassic Park, devised a clever way to simulate the T-Rex’s roars, which we all remember well from our childhoods.
Gary recorded his Jack Russell Terrier, Buster, and slowed down the tape significantly so that Buster’s movements resembled those of the CGI T-Rex. He was the one responsible for those terrifying dinosaur noises.
The T-Rex in Jurassic Park Kept Breaking Down
When Jurassic Park was released in 1993, it revolutionized the genre by using CGI to make dinosaurs look and act like the real thing. However, not all of the dinosaurs in the film were CGI. Instead, some of the monsters were enormous mechanical replicas.
Kathleen Kennedy, the film’s producer, said rain regularly caused the animatronic dinosaurs to fail, making them appear to “come to life.” She stated: “The T. Rex went into the heebie-jeebies sometimes. Scared the crap out of us. We’d be, like, eating lunch, and all of a sudden, a T-rex would come alive.” There was, however, little reason for fear unless they developed the ability to open doors.
Wes Craven’s Animal Cruelty Stories Made Drew Barrymore Cry
“Do you like scary movies?” So begins the classic slasher Scream (1996). When Drew Barrymore’s character had to talk to the killer on the phone before being murdered, director Wes Craven didn’t hold back in “helping” her find the emotion. Before filming, Craven told Barrymore animal cruelty stories to get her into character. Poor Drew was genuinely upset and afraid, setting the tone for the film.
This was hardly the first time an actor was scared into giving a believable portrayal. For example, in The Exorcist (1973), director William Friedkin often fired guns on set to elicit a fear response from his actors.
One-Half of All CDs Can Be Traced Back to Aol
Half of all CDs ever produced were the work of AOL back when it was a software start-up in the mid to late 90s. America Online’s Chief Marketing Officer, Jan Brandt, came up with the “carpet bombing” marketing strategy, which was adopted by the company’s web portal and online service provider.
She used an approach to provide free AOL trials in every way she could. An AOL CD was hidden in every newspaper, magazine, and cereal box you opened. AOL’s advertising campaign was so effective that the company went from having 200,000 subscribers to having over 22 million users in just a few years.
“You’ve Got Mail” Was Recorded on Cassette
One of the most memorable sounds of the decade, AOL’s email greeting inspired the Tom Hanks and Meg Ryan movie You’ve Got Mail (1998). Those famous lines were recorded by Elwood Edwards on a cassette recorder in his living room.
Just 25 years ago, billion-dollar companies lacked the technology to record soundbites without resorting to tape decks. May we remind you that this is the same technology that requires a pencil to repair the tape after it had been chewed up by a Walkman or unspooled all over the floor?
Japan Invented a New Word for President George H.W. Bush
Though he was the “leader of the free world,” President George H.W. Bush wasn’t very good at making friends and swaying opinions. On an official trip to Japan in 1992, he puked in the lap of then-Prime Minister Kiichi Miyazawa.
Bush stated that he had severe gastroenteritis, and it was the cause of his embarrassing slip-up. Perhaps he secretly wanted to spark another conflict between the United States and Japan. Who knows for sure? After Bush’s public vomiting incident, Japanese people coined a new word, “Bushusuru,” which means “to do a Bush” (aka to throw up in public).
President Lincoln Joined the Wrestling Hall of Fame in 1992
We know this sounds far-fetched but bear with us. Lincoln, who was 6 feet 4 inches tall, wrestled competitively before he became president and abolished slavery. Wrestling was a popular sport in the 19th century, though it lacked the lycra and theatrics.
Put yourself in the shoes of the announcer: “Ladies and gentlemen, in the red corner, standing six foot four – or six foot ten in his stovetop hat – with just one defeat in twelve years, may we introduce Abraham “Beast Mode” Lincoln. Hold onto your hats, folks!”
Furbies Became a National Security Threat
The 1980s had Cabbage Patch Dolls, but the 1990s had Furbies. These scary, Gremlin-like plush toys were a hit for some inexplicable reason. While kids loved them, many parents believed that Furbies were wired to record conversations. The NSA was frightened by this urban legend and banned Furbies from the premises.
Of course, a ridiculous conspiracy theory like that would never happen in today’s world, right? While a lot has changed since the 1990s regarding technology, privacy, and global mass panic, we’re not so ready to dismiss the idea that someone may be secretly monitoring our every move through our smartphones.
One Man Created 90% Of All LSD Produced
With production beginning in the 1970s, William Leonard Pickard produced massive quantities of LSD. By the middle of the 1990s, he had a corner on the global LSD manufacturing and distribution market.
At the time of their arrest in 2000, while transporting their LSD lab through Kansas in the back of a Ryder rental truck, Pickard and his accomplice Clyde Apperson had produced 410 million acid tabs worth $8 billion. On July 27th, 2020, at the age of 75, Pickard was released from prison on humanitarian grounds.
A $1 Billion Offer Was Made to Abba
Björn Ulvaeus stated that ABBA would release new music in May 2021, marking the first new material from the band since 1981’s The Visitors. This isn’t the first time we heard rumors of a comeback of the 1970s supergroup. The Swedish pop group ABBA was offered a billion dollars in the mid-1990s to end their hiatus and go on a world tour. They simply replied “Nej” – the Swedish word for no.
There was no need for Benny, Bjorn, Agnetha, and Anni-Frid to yell “Gimme, Gimme, Gimme” because they weren’t in it for the money. Especially Anni-Frid, who married Prince Heinrich Ruzzo Reuss of Plauen and became a legitimate princess.
The Greatest Love Letter of All Time
If you’re unfamiliar with letters, think of them as written versions of emails. On June 23, 1994, for June Carter’s 65th birthday, country music superstar Johnny Cash wrote the “Greatest Love Letter of All Time.” It’s the loveliest love letter you’ll ever read, full of his heartfelt reflections on their long time together. Make sure you have a box of tissues handy before reading this.
Everyone’s favorite quote is: “Maybe sometimes we take each other for granted. But once in a while, like today, I meditate on it and realize how lucky I am to share my life with the greatest woman I ever met.” How sweet.
Y2K Cost Us Taxpayers $100 Billion
As Y2K loomed, the US Senate created the Special Committee on the Year 2000 Technology Problem to ensure a seamless transition. The fear was that people’s computers would revert back to 1900 or blow up. On December 31st, 1999, everyone was on edge, waiting to see if the world would end or not. NASDAQ didn’t close. No aircraft crashed. Nothing occurred.
The birds sang, the light came on, and the taxpayers wasted a hundred billion dollars on preparations for the digital armageddon. And you thought NYE 2021 was boring!
Mattel Sued Aqua Over Their Hit Single “Barbie Girl”
In 1997, Danish-Norwegian dance-pop trio Aqua, led by the stunning Lene Nystrøm, debuted the kitschy, earworm hit song “Barbie Girl,” which quickly rose to the top of the charts. However, Mattel, the toy manufacturer responsible for creating the Barbie Doll in 1959, was displeased that someone was profiting from their design. They attempted to sue MCA records for copyright infringement. Did they succeed?
Maybe you thought we would tell you about a multimillion-dollar settlement, but something much more interesting occurred. The lawsuit was dismissed after a US Court of Appeals judge declared that “the parties are advised to chill.”
That rumor about eating spiders in your sleep
Internet users were concerned about how quickly misinformation may circulate online and be taken as gospel back in 1993. Lisa Birgit Holst, a columnist for PC Professional, allegedly made up information to “show the gullibility of email recipients,” as reported by BBC News. Everyone, she claimed, unknowingly ingested eight spiders each year while sleeping.
There was rapid dissemination of her spider theory after she made it public. Millions of people using the world wide web still think the rumor is true. Fake news, alternative facts, and conspiracy theories have taken over the internet, proving the early web pioneers’ worst fears.
Frank Sinatra Died During the Seinfeld Finale
Did you know that Frank Sinatra passed away in the middle of the final episode of Seinfeld as it was broadcast to the West Coast of the United States? Fifteen minutes into the last episode, someone at Sinatra’s Beverly Hills house placed a 911 call. Unfortunately, Ole Blue Eyes had a heart attack. With little delay, the ambulance took him to Cedars-Sinai Medical Center.
Seventy-six million Americans were glued to their televisions, leaving the streets deserted. Sinatra’s daughter Nancy only would have had to drive five minutes to get to the hospital. Sadly, she missed her father’s farewell because she was preoccupied with Jerry, Elaine, George, and Kramer’s final quest, which is pretty much the most Seinfeld plot imaginable!
Larry David’s “No Hugging, No Learning” Rule
Seinfeld characters were forbidden to hug or learn during the show. The rule that none of the Seinfeld characters could have character arcs in which they learned from their mistakes is not surprising to anyone familiar with Seinfeld or Larry David’s later work, Curb Your Enthusiasm.
Most situation comedies revolve around characters who are confined to their small, miserable worlds for the sake of the audience’s entertainment. Larry David also strictly prohibited hugging. This kept the characters from getting overly sentimental, a problem plaguing many other sitcoms of the time. Greetings to you, Friends!
Carl Sagan Filed a Lawsuit Against Apple
Apple engineers in 1994 gave their brand new Power Macintosh 7100 the name “Carl Sagan” in honor of the famous astronomer because they anticipated the machine would bring in “billions and billions” for the company. However, the late astronomer didn’t like their moniker because he feared it would be interpreted as an endorsement.
Apple altered the name to “BHA” when Sagan submitted a cease-and-desist letter to the company. As it turned out, BHA stood for “Butt-Head Astronomer.” Sagan sued for libel, but the judge sided with Apple, saying that the company was “clearly attempting to retaliate in a humorous and satirical way.”
Michael Jackson Wrote “Do the Bartman”
It’s time to get back to The Simpsons. “Do The Bartman” became an instant hit in 1990 when Michael Jackson was still considered slightly offbeat. Bart Simpson sang lead vocals for the song, with Michael Jackson contributing harmonies. In spite of its success abroad, the song was never issued as a single in the United States. It did, however, enjoy widespread radio play.
Jackson’s contributions as a producer and backup singer were well-known at the time, but it wasn’t until much later that the world learned Jackson had also written the song. We’re not sure whether he was proud of the comedy single, but we do know that he never brought it up.
A Billboard Was Almost Launched Into Space
The ludicrous plan to put a giant billboard advertisement into low Earth orbit was conceived by Space Marketing Inc. in 1993. The billboard’s size and brightness were comparable to that of the moon. Regardless of how far-fetched the concept may have been, the US-based startup managed to win over a lot of backers. Perhaps investors believed it would be cool to live in the Blade Runner universe.
Lucky for us, the project was destroyed before the largest advertising campaign in the known universe could be begun. Legislation prohibiting the future use of space by the United States for advertising purposes was enacted as a direct result of this egregious initiative.
The Beast Was Voiced by Jackie Chan
Robby Benson, a relatively unknown performer, provided the Beast’s voice in the classic Disney film Beauty and the Beast (1991). That same year, the film was also released in China, with martial arts icon Jackie Chan playing the title role in the Chinese dub. The action movie star even sang on the film’s soundtrack. Jackie Chan is an opera singer with classical training, believe it or not!
Chan began his training at the Chinese Opera Research Institute when he was just seven years old. He spent the following decade perfecting his martial arts and acrobatics in preparation for a career in the Beijing Opera.
The ‘90S Nokia Tune Was Composed in 1902
The “Gran Vals” by Spanish composer and classical guitarist Francisco Tárrega is the source of the most famous and irritating musical ringtone for cell phones around the world. One hundred years after it was written, the ringtone had its debut in a 1992 Nokia advertisement. Nokia’s cell phones first included the tune in 1994. You’re probably humming it right now.
Another odd fact is that Nokia, the international telecom, IT, and electronics business that invented the cell phone, was established in Finland in 1865. The company started as a pulp mill but has now branched into the rubber and wellington boot industries.
Conspiracy Theories Surrounded Kfc’s Name Change
Kentucky Fried Chicken, the world’s most well-known fast food chicken brand, shortened its name to KFC in 1991. A crazy chicken-based conspiracy quickly grew out of control as many refused to accept that this was just a typical corporate rebranding to make the finger-lickin’ chicken outfit’s name glide off the tongue.
Customers who ordered by the bucket assumed that Colonel Sanders had to change the restaurant’s name since the chicken in the delectable wings and burgers had been replaced by fifteen-foot tall monsters developed in a laboratory from fake meat.
The “Wassup” Campaign Went Wild
Justin Reardon is among the names from the ’90s that you probably don’t remember. The advertising executive was responsible for the now-iconic “Wassup?” Budweiser commercial. The expression quickly went viral and became widely used. Everyone alive in 1999 had to say “Wassup?” at least 20 times a day since that one word had become a global phenomenon.
It’s unclear just how much compensation Justin Reardon received for coining the now-ubiquitous term. All we do know is that his employer gave him a $250 bonus and a baseball bat inscribed with the phrase “Wassup?” What a rare treat!
Pizza Orders Soared During Oj’s Trial
In 1994, a TV news helicopter showed live images of police chasing a white Ford Bronco through Los Angeles. The former NFL star and actor OJ Simpson was in the car when his girlfriend’s body was discovered. The subsequent trial had 95 million viewers. To put that in perspective, 13.5 million viewers saw the Lost series finale, and just 7 million tuned in for the Game of Thrones series finale.
People watched and ordered a record amount of pizzas despite the fact that it aired on school days. It was probably the slowest week in American history unless you were in the pizza business.
The Russian President’s Wild Night
In 1991, following the “defeat” of communism by Ronald Reagan and Mikhail Gorbachev, Boris Yeltsin was elected president of Russia, and he was quite a character. Four years later, Yeltsin asked Clinton, “Do you think OJ did it?” Unfortunately, Clinton’s answer wasn’t recorded. However, Boris’ poor behavior only seemed to worsen.
Secret Service agents discovered Yeltsin intoxicated in the middle of the night after one particularly wild evening. In his undies, he was caught walking Pennsylvania Avenue and screaming for a taxi. He pleaded with the perplexed agents, slurring his words, explaining that he needed a cab to go out for pizza. Why can’t all politicians be as fun as Yeltsin?
Barbara Bush publicly apologized to Marge Simpson
The First Lady of the United States publicly attacked The Simpsons in 1990. She called the show “the dumbest thing I’ve ever seen.” Marge Simpson, the housewife of Springfield, wrote to FLOTUS asking her to reconsider her critical attitude and explaining that her hard-working, blue-collar family was doing the best they could despite having only four fingers.
Marge received a public apology from the First Lady for her “loose tongue,” which she claimed may have also been a symptom of gastroenteritis. It seems gastroenteritis can get you out of anything in the world of politics.
American Pie didn’t use apple pie
Everyone has fond memories of the classic coming-of-age film American Pie. Specifically, we recall Alyson Hannigan’s flute performance at band camp and, of course, Stifler’s mother. But did you know the infamous pie scene didn’t really involve apple pie? The pie they used was made of styrofoam, with some real chunks of apple pie around the outside for effect.
The humor in the film wasn’t the only thing that was low. The offending apple pie cost somewhere in the neighborhood $1.99, and it was bought from the wholesale giant Costco.
Denise Richards, Neve Campbell, and That Infamous Kiss
Wild Things (1998), a neo-noir erotica crime thriller, featured iconic ’90s actors such as Matt Dillon, Kevin Bacon, and Bill Murray. The truth is that people paid their money to see two of the hottest actresses in the industry – Denise Richards and Neve Campbell – dressed in skimpy attire. Despite being “the trashiest thing he had ever read,” Kevin Bacon said the script was full of surprises at every turn.
No doubt, the kissing scene between the two women was a shock. In a later interview, Neve Campbell admitted that she and Richards had to drink heavily in Campbell’s trailer before filming their passionate kissing sequence.
Liv Tyler’s teen co-star was her real-life stepdad
After her breakthrough role in Armageddon (1998), Liv Tyler was cast in The Lord of the Rings (2001) and other films. Before all this, her real-life stepfather, Coyote Shivers, portrayed her co-star “Berko” in Empire Records. The classic 1995 film follows the story of a group of teenagers who run a record store.
To get the part, Shivers lied about his age, and the producers didn’t find out he was married to Bebe Buell (Liv Tyler’s mom and a singer/model for Playboy) until it was too late to recast.
Choker Necklaces Were Popular but Controversial
Many young ladies of the 1990s wore choker necklaces, which were at the height of their popularity at the time. Recently, they’ve experienced something of a revival. People who wear them, however, are unlikely to be aware of the risqué history of the choker.
If you could hop into a time machine and visit the 1800s, you’d find that choker necklaces like this were widely available. During the Victorian era, sex workers used to wear chokers to distinguish themselves from other women and to help men pick them out of a crowd.