9 things you'll only understand if you grew up in the good old days

By Nicola Whitfield
04 September 2016

Crazes, they were – good old-fashioned ‘real’ ones, not virtual ones like hunting for Pokémon or playing Mine Craft.

South Africans went nuts over those teeny-tiny products Shoprite Checkers sold – the dinky dishwashing liquid, the mini-mini marshmallows, the adorable apples, the sweet little sweets.

Then there were the Stikeez that Pick n Pay handed out if you spent more than R150. Die-hard Stikeezers still have them suctioned onto their computer keyboards, windowsills, car dashboards, kitchen appliances, you name it.

And those of us who grew up in a more tactile world (ie, a long time ago) sat back and had a few ‘remember when…’ moments.

Back in the day crazes were big. Huge. In the dark era, when TV was first non-existent and then so limited even the test pattern was exciting, we had to come up with other ways of amusing ourselves.

So when fads reared their fabulous heads we fell on them with unrestrained glee. We swapped du jour items on the school bus. We played with them under our desks. We had contests with whatever was hot at break. We collected them like they were going out of fashion (which they always did).

So here, for the sake of nostalgia and the edification of those who didn’t grow up way back when, is a list of Fads That Made School in The Olden Days Much More Fun:

1. Glooks

PHOTO: glook.com.au PHOTO: glook.com.au Furry, fat, legless, part-animal, part-alien. Oh, the hours we spent styling their hair! Ah, the glook parties we had and the displays we created in our bedrooms!

2. Trolls

A photo posted by Spring Fawns(@fawnsspring) on

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So cute, man. And so many to choose from – dads and moms and babies, with hair in all the colours of the rainbow. There were even those little ones that fitted on the end of your pencil. Moeder.

3. The yoyo


This was major. The craze came round at least once a year and lasted for weeks. The tricks were endless: if you could rock the cradle, walk the dog and do the dog-bite trick you were hot stuff. People fell for you if you could rock a yoyo.

4. Dingbats

A plastic bat, a rubber ball and a piece of elastic was all you needed to start dinging away. Still, time and patience was required to become an adept dingbatter.

5. Woer-woers

You can Google how to make one now (yes, really) but back then you had to buy one if your dad couldn’t suss the science. It involved a cardboard disc and a complicated string contraption which you pulled until the disc started going woer-woer. The entertainment bar was pretty low in those days.

6. Smurfs

Don’t need much introduction. Those little blue guys were cool even before Hollywood made movies about them.

7. Pet rocks

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Whoever came up with this must really have laughed all the way to the bank. Who would think little rocks could actually become a thing? There was a daddy, a mommy and a baby and you got accessories too – a little house for them to live in and beds for them to sleep in. And the family had eyes and stuff and like so much personality. What wasn’t to love?

8. Mood rings

Slip one on your finger and all sorts of things came to the fore. If your ring went black you were stressed/nervous/tense, if it went blue you were calm/relaxed/loveable. And if it stayed green you were normal/average. No one wanted to stay green.

9. And last but not least, there was the humble piece of string


You tied both ends, made it into a square around both thumbs and baby fingers and then concocted all sorts of shapes using your other fingers. It’s hard to explain. You had to be there. And sorry for you if you weren’t. Sort of.

Read more:

People are freaking out about the teeny tiny products Checkers is giving away

How people are actually making money off their Stikeez

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