Recently I was walking through my local CVS and found myself in the back-to-school aisle. I got excited because I was immediately whisked back to years past when it was time to go school supply shopping. I know not everyone is like this, but I’m the type of person to get excited by a shopping trip to Staples. I could spend days in the folder aisle alone. So to say that back-to-school shopping was thrilling for me as a child is an understatement.
But on this particular day, I was surprised and disappointed to see what options lay before me. (Since I have a toddler, I don’t yet have to shop for school supplies for any kids, so this was purely a reconnaissance mission.) There were plain folders, locks for lockers, some standard pens and pencils, and flash drives. FLASH DRIVES. I realized how far we have come from my days in middle school and immediately became nostalgic for all of the awesome supplies that my friends and I would show up to school with in early September.
In the spirit of revisiting the past, here are some favorites of mine from childhood:
I’m talking good, old, metal lunch boxes with our favorite cartoons on them. Sure, they still exist, but you won’t find any 8-year-old walking around with one. When I went back to school for my MBA, my husband bought me a Peanuts lunch box, and it was one of the best gifts I ever got.
2. Trapper Keepers
These mega folders were the epitome of organization. They could hold all of your subject folders, your zipper pencil case, and any loose papers you needed to stick in. Plus you always had the option of buying one adorned with your favorite character on the front. Oh, how I miss these things.
3. Pencil Boxes
I’m pretty sure I had a Hello Kitty one at some point, but those weren’t the only ones out there, of course. They were amazing because they often had secret compartments and those cute little magnets that clicked shut to hold everything in.
4. Themed Folders
What better way to express your individuality than with your favorite animals or heartthrobs on your folders? As a younger child, I always had puppies, but I certainly grew into a solid New Kids on the Block and 90210 folder phase as years went on. Class could never be boring with Jordan Knight or Luke Perry staring at me from my science folder.
5. Troll Pencil Toppers
Of course, you couldn’t use your pencil’s eraser when one of these guys topped your pencil, but that didn’t matter. They were also incredibly distracting, but that also didn’t matter. In moments of boredom, you could twirl or blow on their fuzzy hair and they were just plain fantastic.
6. Pop-a-Point Pencils
I’m not completely sure what the “point” of these were since they didn’t work very well. And they usually didn’t have erasers at the end (they were attached to the cap instead), which was annoying because you would routinely forget and try to erase something with their plastic tip. But they were all the rage. Remember what would happen if you lost one of the capsules? The pencil wouldn’t work at all because there wasn’t enough pushing the top one out.
7. Hole Reinforcements
My inner geek is really coming out now. There was nothing more frustrating than having a piece of loose-leaf tear out of a binder or Trapper Keeper. Hole reinforcements to the rescue!
8. 4-Color Pens
We never really used the red or green ink unless we were writing notes to pass to each other in class. But having one of these was essential.
9. Elmer’s Glue
Sure we used it in art class occasionally, but the really fun thing about Elmer’s was attempting to freak out your unsuspecting friend by peeling off your “skin” from the palm of your hand. A nice thin layers of Elmer’s was all you needed for this elementary prank.
10. Mead Notebooks
These were mildly inconvenient when you needed to rip out a piece of paper. Unlike their spiral notebook cousins with the built-in perforated pages, a Mead sheet would just tear out in a big, jagged mess. But they were the go-to notebook back in the day, and we personalized them by coloring in the white parts of the cover with different color highlighters and the red and green ink from our 4-color pens.