The forgotten treasures of Gen-X childhood

Slide show: From Malibu Barbie to unsafe playground equipment, the toys and trends that defined the 1970s and '80s

Published June 18, 2011 9:01PM (EDT)

A lot of people our age hate the label "Generation X," preferring to call themselves children of the 1970s and 1980s. Those are goofy decades to embrace, with their avocado refrigerators and wood-paneled rec rooms, their leg warmers and shoulder pads. But if you loved your childhood home even though it wasn’t the most glamorous place on the block, you likely have fond memories of the years in which you grew up -- no matter how goofy, no matter how clumsy. In a way, these two are decades only a native could take to heart.

It's not really the things that we loved; it’s our memories of those things and how they fit into our lives. The orange-and-red shag carpeting in your bedroom isn't as important as the hours you spent trying to make your Lincoln Logs stand up on it. Malibu Barbie isn’t necessarily the world's best doll, but if when you think of her you picture your cousin and remember how hard you laughed when her baby brother bit Barbie in the boob, then to you she is the best doll, now and for eternity.

"Life moves pretty fast," said our fellow 1980s child Ferris Bueller. "If you don’t stop and look around once in a while, you could miss it." That’s what we’re trying to do -- stop and look around, close our eyes, and redecorate the rooms of our childhood. We want to remember the sounds we heard, the foods we ate, the toys that passed into our hands for a day or for a decade.

Gael Fashingbauer Cooper is a journalist who writes the pop-culture blog Pop Culture Junk Mail. Brian Bellmont is a former television reporter and producer who now runs a public relations agency. Visit their website at

Reprinted from Whatever Happened to Pudding Pops by Gael Fashingbauer Cooper and Brian Bellmont by arrangement with Perigee, a member of Penguin Group (USA) Inc., Copyright (c) 2011 by Gael Fashingbauer Cooper and Brian Bellmont.

By Brian Bellmont

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