10 Ingeniously Fun 90s School Supplies That Make Us (Kind Of) Nostalgic

pencil grips on the left, yikes pencils on the right

Some of us never grew out of our love of school supplies. OK, it’s me. I never grew out of shopping for and owning school supplies. The older things make me swoon with memories of walking to school, hoping to have the most awesome lunchbox, trapper keeper, or folders in my class. My enthusiasm was met with my classmates showing off their new stuff. Then we all suffered the stark realization that we all had matching gear. Ahhh… the 90s. What a glorious time! Enjoy our rundown of the most popular “had to have it” supplies from that era!

10. Pencil Grips

Squishy pencil grips came in a variety of shapes, colors, and sizes. They were a perfect distraction. They also flew pretty well and bounced off your intended target when you wanted their attention. These are still available at many school supply retailers, in-store and online.

9. Trapper Keepers

Everyone had a Trapper Keeper. They were available with your favorite boy band, Lisa Frank’s artwork, your favorite animal, and almost anything else you can imagine. These cumbersome notebooks kept all our schoolwork organized in one place. You can still find Trapper Keepers with new designs or some classic retro designs, although they are not nearly as popular lately.

8. Scratch and Sniff Stickers

Smelly things were huge back in the day! A trend that began in the 80s continues to this day. Just check out any Scholastic Book Fair! Everything was scratch and sniff, from the ads in the Sunday newspaper to the stickers we had to embellish our school supplies.

7. Gelly Roll Gel Pens

Whether you like to color, draw, or just doodle, having this set of vibrantly colored gel pens was a must! They are still available in retail establishments in every imaginable color.

6. Yikes Pencils

We all needed standard number two pencils in class. When Yikes pencils hit the market in 1993 they made owning pencils exciting. Dull, yellow, classic pencils became the sign of an uncool kid.

5. Crayola Color Change Markers

Using a “magic wand” supplied with this marker set caused the colors to change right before your eyes! This product is still available but isn’t the mainstay it once was.

Image shows seven different colors drawn on a white background. The center of the image shows how color-changing markers "magic pen" changes the colors.
Image from YouTube.

4. Spacemaker Pencil Box

If you had one of these, you probably remember that it never closed properly after being smashed into a jam-packed backpack. Ingenious students used hair ties, rubber bands, or shoelaces to keep the boxes closed. Although this item is no longer manufactured, you can find vintage editions on eBay and in thrift stores.

3. All Things Lisa Frank

Lisa Frank’s cute, colorful designs were (and still are) very popular, at least with the girls. Her mix of colors and adorable animal drawings adorned everything from notebooks and folders to clothing.

2. Multicolor Pens

Some of these had two colors, some four, and some had even more. These are still available and can be useful in situations where you need to switch ink colors frequently. Plus, they are FUN!

1990s School supplies included these multicolored pens. Image shows a SpongeBob-themed pen with six colors laying on a notecard that says, "Some of us still have ours.
Image supplied by the author.

1. Pooping Cow Keychain

These obnoxious little things could annoy anyone, but they also provided an abundance of silly giggles. Nothing about this popular item makes sense. You squeeze the body and… well… just watch.

Wow, these take me back! Do you still have any of these?

You can find the source of this story’s featured image here and here.

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