The Boomers Called It: 20 Stupid Trends That Backfired

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By Darryl Henderson

Trends always seem like a good idea at the time, yet hindsight tells you that many of the biggest and best trends were mistakes that backfired or are cringy to think back on! Here are 20 of the silliest trends that Boomers definitely recognized for what they were.


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Goldfish-swallowing initially became a craze back in the 1930s, yet with the rise of social media, trends like this are returning, and they’re dangerous due to the choking hazard. Not to mention, it’s now considered animal cruelty to swallow a live fish, regardless of whether sushi is in your diet normally or not.

The Tamagotchi

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Tamagotchis were digital pets that fit in your pocket. At first, it seemed like a simple concept: feed them and take care of them. Unfortunately, they also died, so as Psychologist Dr. Andrew Cohen, via The New York Times, explains, “a real sense of loss and a mourning process” came with it. 

The Tanning Bed Craze

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Most people these days have turned to fake tan applications rather than risking the tanning bed, though there are still people who use them. Tanning beds used to be the absolute go-to before a vacation or a long weekend. Nobody seemed to mind being cooked in a box!

Fanny Packs

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Although these nifty storage packs are still around, at one time, everyone had them around their waist. Especially with family day outs, you couldn’t move without spotting a fanny pack that a parent was struggling over to give their kids some change. Let’s stick to backpacks!

The Mullet Hairstyle

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Sure, some people still rock a mullet these days, but back when it was a trend, it was the go-to look for some reason. If you wanted to look like you had only half your hair, then it was the very thing to ask at the salon. Outrageously, they’re making a comeback!

Flammable Pajamas

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There was a time when many materials, including soft furnishings in the home, didn’t have flammable resistance. This also included flammable pajamas. Many pajamas carry a warning about whether the material can catch fire, which is of particular worry to parents trying to shop for their kids!

Jell-O Salad

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Jello-O Salads were particularly prevalent in the 1950s, with dinner parties creating both food and table art through suspended items. Gelatin is definitely an acquired taste – both literally and whether you want it staring at you across the dinner table. Thankfully, we don’t see it that much anymore.

Inflatable Furniture

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Being a kid, it really mattered what you sat on, and, for some reason, sharp and cold plastic furniture was the dream! However, it seems that inflatable furniture is set to make a return: Architectural Digest claims that “inflatables are fun… and lend a much-needed pop of color”! We’re not sure we agree!

Roller Skate Shoes

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Why have shoes or roller skates when you can have both all at once? Travel to school much quicker (and more dangerously) by buying roller skate shoes instead! It was the most in-demand Christmas present at one time, but most people have now made the rightful switch back to normal shoes.

Eyelashes for Cars

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We all know that cars really do look like they have faces with headlights, but it should really be a passing thought and not something to build upon. Alas, someone decided eyelashes for car headlights should be a thing, leaving many cars looking like they were ready for a night out.

Jelly Shoes

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Adults prioritize comfort over anything for a pair of shoes, which begs the question of why anyone thought hard and sweaty plastic was a great choice, especially when most of them had heels! You couldn’t necessarily say they were even stylish, but thankfully, they faded out of existence.


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Clackers were a popular toy back in the 70s, but the trend quickly backfired after it became clear this particular toy was dangerous. CBC explains one of the main reasons clackers were eventually banned: “The balls would break, turning into flying projectiles.” Yikes.

Wearing Huge Ties

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The correct way to tie a tie is largely still up for debate, depending on your preference: skinny tie or larger knot? Nevertheless, back in the day, having ridiculous huge ties was a thing. Most students had their ties as big and as short as possible, which, in hindsight, seems bizarre!

Spray-On Hair

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These days, the go-to for covering baldness is a hair transplant; either that or accept the inevitable. However, there was a time when spray-on hair was trending: hair in a can that you could easily use to disguise any troublesome spots. Thankfully, we’ve come a long way since then!

The Sock Bun

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The messy bun remains an iconic hairstyle, but the trouble is that many less-than-successful trends have derived from it. The sock bun, in particular, left people looking like they were wearing large bagels on the back of their heads. It’s safe to say we do it better these days.

Taking a Segway Everywhere

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Segways still have their technological charm, yet when they first came out and were trending, many people thought they were the future of transportation—as if trying to balance at ten mph was preferable to walking! Tourists seemed to love them, though.

Reality TV Talent Shows

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Reality TV is still going strong–we don’t think it will ever go away–but back when it was first trending, there was a big focus on talent shows. This would be wannabe circus performers, singers, and those with particularly unique skills. Thankfully, the definition of ‘talent’ has progressed a little since then.

Incessant Pop-Up Ads

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Pop-up ads created a trend all by themselves: they were going to annoy every computer user relentlessly. You couldn’t log on to any website without having at least one pop-up telling you who was available in your local area. Luckily, advances in technology mean we now have ad-blocking software.

Fitness DVDs

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Due to the decline of DVDs, it makes sense why fitness DVDs, in particular, are no longer available. They were hugely popular in the 2000s, but these days, people turn to the internet, with Healthline reminding us that YouTube provides “thousands of free exercise videos to help you stay in shape.”

Animal Print

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Let’s end on one of the biggest fashion fails: animal print. There was a time when animal print was trending everywhere in fashion: leopard print dresses, zebra print pants, you name it. Though animal print can still be confidently worn these days, in hindsight, it was a pretty tacky look back when it first arrived in our shops.