Mexican Jumping Beans
In a time when the internet wasn’t around to pour more fuel on the trend fire (the 1970s), somehow the Mexican Jumping Bean became a popular trend across America, providing seconds of fun for children and adults of all ages. However, most people don’t know that a tiny moth larva lives inside the bean, making it move. People essentially paid money to watch as a moth larva struggled for survival, and it became really popular. It even made a comeback in 1994 which is kinda of sad.
One trend that was likely instrumental in killing any young adolescents self-esteem was the catchphrase “…not!” after a positive statement. Usually, it would go like this: “Hey, I love those shoes…not!” said the popular kid in school, followed by laughter and soul crushing defeat. The not-so-clever phrase was popularized by the hit movie Wayne’s World, but over time fizzled out when kids realized it was just a really dumb (and mean) thing to say.
Baby on Board Signs
Most people think “Baby on Board” signs came about as an awareness program after a horrific automobile accident with a child inside. This is not the case. The Baby on Board sign was developed in 1984 by Michael Lerner after he saw similar signs in Europe. At first, the signs became a huge hit (no pun intended) in 1985 but produced the opposite effect causing people to mock them and later were wildly dwarfed by parody signs. Distracting in nature, there’s also the case that they may cause more accidents. In that case, epic mission failure.
In the 1990s, fanny packs, against all odds, became a widely popular fashion trend. I mean, they’re practical, colorful, and kind of like a belt. How could you go wrong? Unfortunately for this short-lived trend, the fanny pack was quickly thrown out of fashion’s good graces, leaving it as a calling card for geeks and tourists. Unfortunately for everyone, fashion designers recently have been trying to revitalize the trend. The horror.
Harlem Shake Meme
It was just another quiet February in 2013 when all of a sudden the bass dropped and thousands of Harlem Shake videos appeared as if from nowhere, spreading across the internet like a contagion. The video meme featured the 2012 song of the same name by musician Baauer. A group of people, usually wearing outrageous costumes, gyrated and danced to the music in the video. Tt’s a funny meme at first, but by the third time, you’re ready to throw the computer screen on the floor.
A popular style by hip-hop artists in the 1990s, men sagging their pants has made a bit of a comeback in recent years. Rather than a fashion trend, some think it’s a symbol of delinquency and defiance against authority. But, I’d wager most just find it as an eyesore. A fashion choice predominantly among men, some guys wear their pants down to their knees; I guess in an effort to showcase their colorful boxer short designs or a silent protest against the oppressive belt industry? While most people probably wish it would just stop being a thing, many cities and states have passed laws to criminalize the trend. If only they’d do the same for Crocs.
At the dawn of social networks and the popularity of selfies, the “duck face” became a trend for average people to seem attractive and alluring. Of course, it’s taken on many forms but eventually grew so popular that the internet pushed back, making fun of the trend and turning it on its head, transforming it into a symbol of narcissism. Now the trend is more ironic and self-deprecating in nature but the results stay the same, duck face exists, and that’s good for no one. If you’re taking a selfie, just smile.
Anyone who sees someone Planking will inevitably believe it’s one of the dumbest trends to sweep the internet, and maybe that’s the point. The trend started around 2010 when a popular Facebook group encouraged people to lie down face first in awkward places, take a picture, and share it with everyone. While it may seem like harmless idiocy gone amok, Planking has led to several deaths of people who took it way too far.
Perhaps even more dumb and insane than Planking, Skywalking is where people climb up tall structures, hang off edges, and take pictures. People afraid of heights will undoubtedly shudder upon seeing these photos. Needless to say, the practice of hanging off of high buildings has also lead to several deaths. It might be safer and easier to just get a drone, guys. Just saying.
Originally invented in the 80s by a shop teacher, slap bracelets really took off in the 90s, probably by kids that struggled at putting on any other kind of bracelet. Apparently, slapping your wrists with a plastic band would be a faster and easier option. I mostly blame school fundraisers and Chuck-E-Cheese gift shops for bringing on this colorful trend to children. Eventually, like all trends, it died off, probably when the slap bracelets lost their elasticity and kids figured out putting regular bracelets were just as easy and less painful.
People will buy anything if it’s marketed properly, and in the 1970s that is particularly true when Gary Dahl sold millions of Pet Rocks across America. He became a millionaire by selling rocks. Let that sink in for a second. Boxed up in something akin to a McDonald’s happy meal box, the Pet Rock was literally a smooth stone, nothing more. It was labeled “the perfect pet” and had a series of commands, including, “Play dead.” People loved it, seemingly forgetting that there was an endless supply of rocks sitting right outside their door.
Speaking of pets that aren’t really alive, the Tamagotchi was essentially a digital pet rock. And in 1996, before smartphones and tablets dominated kids digital lives, it became massively popular as kids all over the country embraced these tiny digital pets they could take anywhere. You had to feed it, clean it, and play with it regularly otherwise it would die. Of course, you just had to reset it to bring it back to life. Tamagotchis became so popular that most schools ended up banning them for being too distracting in class.
In the 1990s, American kids were bored a lot. The internet and computers were still in their infancy and TV only entertained you for so long. So, in the early 90’s a huge phenomenon called Pogs came to be. Pogs are colorful, round milk caps that had different cartoon pictures on them that you could collect and trade with your friends. It was also a game that has an official Pog Federation (I know, very serious stuff). Despite marketing teams best efforts, the trend didn’t last too long and fizzled out quickly. Probably, because, you know, they’re milk caps.
Whether it was Taylor Swift wearing a t-shirt, Beyonce surprise releasing a new album, or Kim Kardashian being, well, Kim Kardashian, the term “break the internet” has become a trendy hyperbolic phrase anytime a celebrity does something huge, spiking social media activity. The term went viral, appearing in headlines and hashtags. Of course, none of those things would ever literally break the internet, and like most internet trends, the saying went from marketing darling to scorned lover.
The term “You Only Live Once” stretches back to the 19th century, but only until recently has it boomed into popularity by a younger generation. After a string of t-shirts and hats tried to market it as YOLO, Drake and other artists adopted the term, putting it into their songs, rocketing it into the pop culture consciousness. When it reached its peak, it was already being parodied by groups like The Lonely Island on Saturday Night Live.
Chuck Norris Jokes
Everyone loved a good Chuck Norris joke up to about the tenth one and then it became annoying. Started in 2005 on the Something Awful website, Chuck Norris jokes became so popular that Chuck Norris got in on it and they even published a book. Conan O’Brien’s sketch of him pulling a lever and showing a random clip from Walker, Texas Ranger probably had a hand in helping bring back Chuck Norris into the cultural ethos. Now, it’s just one of those jokes you might ironically reminisce about.
Sometime after Cher released her song “Believe”, music producers had the worst idea ever to start throwing auto-tune into every pop song. Gradually, the trend gained steam until we all found ourselves surrounded by music manufactured through a meat grinder. Artists like T-Pain and Ke$ha used it in all their songs so much it was hard to tell who was even singing. The abuse of auto-tune made the songs sound ridiculous. The harsh backlash was inevitable. While the tyranny to our ears has subsided, artists still use auto-tune today either ironically or to subtly fix their bad singing voices.
Oh, look, it’s an adorable cat with bad grammar and a cute phrase. What’s not to love? Oh, right, everything. Started in 2006 and made popular on the I Can Haz Cheezburger website, Lolcats is a big waste of time and gained widespread media attention (way too much) when Time magazine wrote an article about it. Fortunately for us all, this trend has drifted off into obscurity, but I’m sure cat lovers still get a kick out of it.
Similar to its cousin Planking, Tebowing (a real word) derives from the former football player Tim Tebow when he would kneel in prayer after making a touchdown. This trend grew when Tebowing.com invited others to send in photos of them Tebowing in bizarre places. Some wondered if the trend was mocking Tim Tebow or showing a sign of solidarity. Either way, it’s hard to see why anyone would do it at all. By this time, the “Planking” offshoots had gone too far and everyone knew it. It didn’t take long for Tebowing to go the way of the buffalo.
If you were a kid growing up in the 90s, chances are you loved the Macarena song and the dance that went along with it. From 1996 to 1997, the Macarena, despite being sung in Spanish, was #1 on the Billboard Hot Singles charts. It was so catchy and popular, Elementary schools would play the song over the intercom as a “fun” thing for their students. Somewhere along the way people came to their senses and realized the song was incredibly obnoxious and the dance was ridiculous. If they knew what the lyrics were about, it’s doubtful they’d play it so openly for kids in school.
Deep down you probably knew this was coming. Crocs are those hideous holey, multi-colored soft shoes that exploded in 2006. Of course, fierce debates have been waged on all sides about the uses of Crocs, some arguing their incredible comfort. However, I think it’s safe to say Crocs will always be remembered as those ugly clown shoes people wore out in public. In the end, we can breathe a sigh of relief that these shoes have mostly faded from sight and those against Crocs stood firmly on the right side of history.
The Shake Weight reminds me of those “exercise machines” in the 1940s and 50s that claimed to shake off all your weight. And like those machines, the Shake Weight is just begging to be parodied but for a totally different reason. It’s without a doubt that the marketing team knew people would tear into and make fun of the product. The inventor claimed they only took out a few small ads. That in itself is highly suspect. On the same day the ads hit, they went viral reaching 4,000,000 views. And you can easily see why. It’s so suggestive the most obtuse person in the world could see the innuendo. Hey, here’s a thought, how about just lifting some weights instead of buying a gimmick?
Kylie Jenner Lip Challenge
Social media has a history of creating weird challenges. Some can be for good causes like The Ice Bucket Challenge helping bring awareness toward ALS research, and others can be stupid, vain, and lead to serious injury. In the Kylie Jenner Lip challenge, teenagers took shot glasses or bottles and sucked inward to create a vacuum. This helped puff out their lips to look like Kylie Jenner. Harmless fun, right? Well, apparently creating such a tight vacuum creates trauma to the lips, breaking blood vessels and causing lacerations and bloody lips. It can also leave long lasting scarring and changes in pigmentation. The trend has died down but in case you were thinking of picking up a shot glass and taking on the challenge, I’d carefully reconsider.
The Cinnamon Challenge
I love cinnamon as much as the next guy. It’s tasty, nutritious, and makes oatmeal amazing, but this next “challenge”, seemingly created by a cinnamon addict, is just plain nuts. The challenge involves taking a spoonful of ground cinnamon and eating it as fast you can in 60 seconds while filming yourself. You then proceed to upload said video to social media. The problem is the health risks involved. You can potentially inhale cinnamon into your lungs, causing breathing problems and pneumonia. So, I’d say save yourself some money and a trip to the emergency room, and don’t do it.
The Fire Challenge
In 2014, teens across the country totally lost their minds by pouring flammable liquid on their bodies and setting themselves on fire all while filming it to put on social media. Yes, this is a real thing, and no, no one made it out unscathed. As you’ve probably guessed, immediate and harmful injury occurred to the teens involved, including second to third degree burns and a direct trip to the hospital. I would gladly listen to the Macarena and wear Crocs everyday if it meant not having these kinds of trends anymore.