USA’s new series Unsolved: The Murders of Tupac and The Notorious B.I.G. takes us back to 1997 when the LAPD began investigating the murders of two ‘90s rap icons. For some viewers, this will seem like ancient history but for others, it might be a period piece from their own childhoods -- a golden age of technology, entertainment, and fun food. Here are 11 things that will surely bring back memories if you lived through 1997.
1. The Tamagotchi Digipet
The ‘70s had pet rocks. The ‘90s had pet rocks that cost $17.99. The Tamagotchi was a pet simulator launched in the U.S. in May of 1997. It needed to be fed at regular intervals. Kids would bring them to school so they wouldn’t miss feedings -- otherwise, it could starve to death and your parents would have to spring for another $17.99.
2. The First Lilith Fair
Music fans still remember this female empowerment tour even though it only lasted three years (a 2010 comeback didn’t last either). Founded by Sarah McLachlan, the all-female artist event had its first performances in ’97 with headliners McLachlan, Sheryl Crow, Jewel, Fiona Apple, Lisa Loeb, Natalie Merchant, and many more.
3. Seinfeld Was Still on Prime Time and Buffy Just Started
The show about nothing was must-see TV until its season finale in 1998. Even though it’s still quoted to this day, Seinfeld was actually number-two to Home Improvement. And if the end of Seinfeld was a sad loss, new shows like Buffy, the Vampire Slayer and South Park were just beginning, making sure TV addicts always had something to talk about.
4. The Teletubbies
This colorful, sensory overload show for children starred four kid-like creatures with TV screens in their tummies. Just when parents thought they could escape the gibberish and music, they had to buy Teletubbies toys, CDs, and video games. There was no escaping Teletubbies -- even when they were cancelled in 2001, they lived on in reruns!
5. Using a Netscape Browser
The modern-day web is a complex place. You may use all types of browsers to explore the internet and it’s all good -- whichever works for you! But back in the ‘90s, chances were that anyone who had internet was using Netscape. It wasn’t until 1998 that AOL bought Netscape and the browser gradually folded into AOL’s product line, ultimately rendered obsolete.
6. Playing Goldeneye N64
Pierce Brosnan made his debut as James Bond in the 1995 film Goldeneye. That was nothing compared to the video game adaptation two years later. People would spend two hours watching the movie. Gamers would spend days and weeks trying to beat the groundbreaking game’s movie-inspired levels, and that doesn’t even account for multi-player death matches. Clunky polygon images of Brosnan and Famke Janssen made it feel like you were IN Goldeneye, and then you could unlock characters from other Bond classics like Jaws and Oddjob.
7. Dial-up Internet
The internet wasn’t always readily available in your house at high speeds. Early internet providers like AOL and Compuserve would let you dial into their service to connect. Back then a 14.4K modem was considered fast and furious (compared to 2400 baud). If you remember that annoying sound when the service picked up, you’re totally ‘90s.
8. McDonald’s Big N’ Tasty (or McExtra if you’re from Canada)
Every once in a while, McDonald’s adds some new menu items, and not just the limited Szechuan sauce or McRib. The Big N’ Tasty, which debuted in 1997, was basically a quarter pounder with lettuce and tomato slices. It was part of the dollar menu for a while but left for good in 2011.
9. Wheel of Fortune Went Digital
Remember when Vanna White had to physically turn the letters around to reveal the puzzle? Oh, you don’t? That means you must be under 20. Watching Vanna do manual labor was a rite of passage for weeknight puzzle solvers. It all changed when Wheel went digital and the letters would appear with a mere swipe of her hands.
10. Han Solo's Self-Defense
Up until 1997, Star Wars fans could all agree on one version of the films. That all changed when George Lucas released the Special Editions. While it was great to see Star Wars on the big screen again, Lucas decided to change a few things. The most jarring was when he added a laser blast to the bounty hunter Greedo, making Han Solo fire his shot in self-defense. Now, for 21 years since, Star Wars on DVD and Blu-ray still has Greedo shoot first.
11. Phish Food
Ben & Jerry’s debuted an ice cream flavor based on the band Phish on March 18, 1997. It’s chocolate ice cream with marshmallow, caramel swirls, and fish-shaped fudge pieces. Whether you love the band or just love ice cream, Phish Food has been a tasty treat for 21 years. Proceeds go to Lake Champlain’s Watershed environmental efforts.
Are you ready to go back to the 1990s? Watch the premiere of Unsolved: The Murders of Tupac and The Notorious B.I.G. Tuesday at 10/9c on USA Network.