Teen nostalgia: our top 10 trends of the 2000s

Teen Nostalgia

Anna Darnold

Teen Nostalgia

The Nintendo DS (released Nov. 21, 2004)

Between hurling Koopa shells at my friends in Mario Kart, failing to ever truly catch all the Pokémon or caring more about my neighbors in Animal Crossing than those next door, I was lost without my DS Lite, and I’m not ashamed to admit it. Nintendo’s handheld console opened the door to places unimaginable in boring real life. Why should I care about politics when I can jump on the heads of walking mushrooms? After investing tens, hundreds, perhaps thousands of hours of my time into a little rectangular toy, I still don’t know if I could answer that question today.

nintendo color

Nerf Blasters (N-Strike released 2004)

Something about meandering around, waiting to ambush my friends with my shiny new Nerf Blaster, made me feel bad to the bone in my childhood. I know better now, but taking these harmless toys seriously is part of what made them so cool. The simple concept of violence, for better or worse, has come to dominate American culture, and clearly one foam toy company saw this in 2004. With a wide array of options, including blasters with glow-in-the-dark and adhesive darts, collecting all of the N-Strike products was just as fun as engaging in the primitive, pain-free violence they provided.

Nerf color

The Black Eyed Peas (The E.N.D released June 9, 2009) 

This album had all too much to do with the sense of swagger I carried as a 5th grader. Every time “Imma Be” or “Boom Boom Pow” was heard throughout the school, which was all the time, the aspiring rapper in me leapt out of my frail, suburban-white-boy frame in the form of some completely unrelatable lyrics. These songs spent so much time atop the charts it seemed that Will.I.Am never would stop the beat, but when he finally did society let out a collective sigh of relief.

BEP color

The iPod Nano (released Sep. 7, 2005)

Before the age of the iPhone, I was a young, tasteless child unfamiliar with the realm of music. My dad aimed to change that when he purchased me an iPod Nano, and thankfully, although not for the reasons he may have intended, it worked. The freedom to download music, games and TV shows on the web felt undeniably liberating. These features were heavily restricted by my parents, of course, but I’ll never forget how free my iPod made me feel. Now, only 10 years later, this magical invention seems as archaic as that of the wheel.
ipod color

Drake and Josh (aired Jan. 11, 2004)

Drake and Josh has influenced more of my teenage development than I thought possible watching it as an elementary school boy. Whether they were stuck in a treehouse or struggling to pack sushi, the constant bickering of these unlikely brothers always led to laughs and life lessons. The two complemented each other so well, and with a cast including mischievous sister Meghan (Miranda Cosgrove) and bipolar theater employee Crazy Steve (Jerry Trainor), this show provided the cheesy punchlines that last a lifetime. I just wish today’s youth could learn rhymes like “orange” and “door hinge” in their sitcoms.

D&J color

Gauchos: (Height of popularity: 2008)

For those who don’t remember, these stretchy flare pants were all the rage back in ’08. Growing up, I had pairs in unfortunate shades of brown, black and, yes, hot pink. They looked especially cute paired with my bedazzled wedge flip-flops and layered camisole tops. Fourth grade was obviously the pinnacle of my fashion sense.

Gaucho color

High School Musical: (released Jan. 20, 2006)

Let’s take a second to thank Disney Channel for the creation of the most celebrated movie of my childhood, High School Musical. I will forever have the lyrics to “Breaking Free” commited to memory. Before bizarre shows like Dog With a Blog came around, televisions were graced with the presence of quality actors like Raven Symone and the Sprouse twins. Admit it. At some point you practiced drawing the Disney logo with a blue wand and saying, “I’m [insert name here], and you’re watching Disney Channel.”

HSM2 color

Crocs: (First released in 2002)

Today, the Croc brand has expanded to include high heels, winter boots and flip-flops, but back in the 2000s, the classic Croc was the latest fad. Looking back, I can see Crocs for what they really are: ugly rubber gloves for your feet. However, Crocs were so ridiculously comfortable everyone chose to ignore the fashion violation. As an added bonus, Crocs were appropriate to wear at all times because you could find Jibbitz, charms that fit into the holes on top of the shoes, to match any occasion.

Croc color

Jonas Brothers: (Formed in 2005)

Back in ’05, long before boy bands like 5SOS or One Direction, the Jonas Brothers were the heartthrobs of every 9-year-old girl. I may not have been a hardcore fan, but even I knew all the lyrics to “Burnin’ Up” and “Lovebug.” Naturally, every girl had to have a favorite JoBro (but of course not the same one as their best friend). Here’s my friendly reminder that Joe was the best and Kevin was the worst.

JoBros color

Blockbuster: (Height of popularity in 2004)

Perusing Blockbuster’s extensive walls of movie options was my favorite thing to do before sleepovers in the early 2000s. The initially overwhelming selection size was easily navigated as there was always a disinterested worker to help you find exactly what you were looking for. Of course, nowadays, I can make my movie selections from the comfort of my own bed via Netflix. However, I can’t help but miss Blockbuster’s poorly lit, crowded aisles and those special popcorn tubs I bought that popped “movie theater popcorn” in my very own microwave.


art by Anna Darnold