13 Random Things We Saw In 2021 That Made Us Feel Nostalgic - And A Little Old, Too

List Rules
Vote up the things from 2021 that bring out all kinds of feelings.

Nostalgia is a fascinating feeling. The longing for something for the past, the yearning for a sense of happiness associated with an earlier time - these things can feel good, but they may bring a touch of sadness as well. And, in some instances, they may remind you that you're getting older.

Not that getting old is a bad thing. In fact, it's an honor, and something we feel lucky to experience. Once in a while, we get some gut-punch reminders of what we've seen, how long we've lived, and just how much has changed over time - and in 2021, we got a lot of them.

From products we're old enough to remember the original incarnations of, to the first time an actor made it big, there are so many things we came across this year that brought up mixed feelings. Revisiting the lives of tabloid figures we learned about as kids waiting in grocery store check-out lines blew our minds. Looking at our favorite game shows or foods that no longer exist - or ones that have really changed - evoked some great memories, while updates on a once-popular figure we hadn't thought about in years really did make us exclaim "whoa!" 

We ended up experiencing many feelings in 2021 due to all the information that crossed our paths. Take a look at some of the ones that stood out to us and vote up the relics from 2021 that evoke a range of feelings from you, too.

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    210 VOTES

    No One Has To Memorize Phone Numbers, Wait For Songs On The Radio, Or Watch The Scrolling TV Guide Channel

    When asked about the things and experiences kids in the 1980s and '90s would have found normal that modern observers wouldn't understand, Reddit provided many examples we could relate to. One Redditor recalled:

    Sitting by the radio waiting for your favorite new song to come on so you could record it onto a cassette tape. And hoping the jack*ss DJ didn’t talk over the first 45 seconds. (Spoiler alert: He always did!)

    Others chimed in about memorizing multiple phone numbers, ones they still recall today. The importance of reruns if you missed your favorite show was mentioned, as was the latest issue of TV Guide:

    Getting a new TV Guide each Sunday with the newspaper and obsessing over it for hours highlighting what shows/movies you wanted to watch.

    Another option for television watchers was "the TV guide channel later on maybe 99ish and when you looked away for the channel you wanted you'd have to wait for the thing to scroll back around."

  • We Miss John Candy And We're Not Alone In That
    Photo: National Lampoon's Vacation / Warner Bros.

    Born on October 31, 1950, Candy's birthday is a topic of great joy for his daughter, Jen. She told The Hollywood Reporter in 2016, "I always say my dad was born in a pumpkin patch because he was born on Halloween."

    Candy reportedly liked sweet treats, something that earned him the nickname "Sweet Tooth" when he was growing up - a fitting moniker for someone with a birthday on Halloween. His actual last name didn't hurt either. 

    "Sweet" was also a word actor Catherine O'Hara used to describe Candy. In an interview with The Hamilton Spectator, O'Hara said Candy loved interacting with his fans, and was "just as wonderful and fun and sweet and great as you would imagine he would be."

    He could also be playful, and if fans "started doing some little bit with him, he would pick up on it and throw something back to them." Essentially, Candy participated in these interactions just as he would with professional performers. "[H]e would also treat them as an equal," O'Hara added.

    Candy was best known as a comedy actor and even the smallest roles seemed big. For example, he wasn't originally supposed to be a security guard at Walley World in 1983's National Lampoon's Vacation. In fact, the role didn't really factor into the original ending of the movie. The first version featured the Griswolds going to Roy Walley's home after they found their beloved theme park to be closed, but test audiences wanted something different.

    As a result, a new ending - one where security guard Russ Lasky was taken hostage and the group ran free among the rides - came to fruition. Bill Murray was considered to play Lasky in the new ending, but was unavailable for reshoots. As a result, Candy got the brief yet humorous part.

    As a longtime collaborator with John Hughes, Candy went to great lengths to appear for a relatively small part in Home Alone in 1990. Christopher Columbus directed the film and Hughes wrote it, but according to Columbus, Hughes "encouraged me to let John [Candy] improvise... When he’s talking about his band and the hits and polka, polka, polka - that’s all improvisation."

    Because he had a limited amount of time to film his scenes, Candy powered through 23 hours of work to get it all done. As Gus Polinski, the "Polka King of the Midwest" and leader of the Kenosha Kickers, Candy could also pull out experience with the clarinet. He'd learned to play the instrument in high school, and his character Yosh Schmenge wielded one on SCTV.

    Candy was only paid $414 for his cameo, which became a point of contention after Home Alone went on to bring in millions from the box office. When Candy agreed to play Polinski, however, he turned down a stake of the film's profits, telling Hughes he'd do it as a favor instead. 

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    172 VOTES

    There's Only One Blockbuster Video Store Left In The World

    As of 2019, the Blockbuster video store in Bend, OR, became the last of its kind. The Blockbuster Corporation had filed for bankruptcy nearly a decade earlier, after the massive decline of video rentals and sales brought on by the rise of streaming services. Slowly, over time, only one Blockbuster was left standing.

    In Bend, the lone store has adapted to social and economic changes. After being featured in the Netflix documentary The Last Blockbuster in 2020, people's interest in the store increased. In 2021, Netflix ordered a follow-up series of sorts - one set in the store.

    The business also sells merchandise, brings in overnight guests as an Airbnb, and enjoys general support from steadfast Blockbuster loyalists.

    The demise of video store chains was more or less contemporaneous with changing video technologies. VHS tapes were replaced by DVDs, which in turn were minimized in the marketplace by the presence of Blu-Ray discs. Streaming has had (and continues to have) a huge impact on all previous forms of media. 

    A History of Violence, directed by David Cronenberg and starring Viggo Mortensen, was released to theaters in 2005 and on DVD and VHS the following year. Its release on VHS marked the last time a major Hollywood movie was made available on tape. 

    Since their invention in the 1970s, VHS tapes had dominated the home movie market, but the growth of DVD technology during the late 1990s quickly signaled a shift in the marketplace. By 2001, DVD sales topped VHS buys, and in 2003, DVD rentals outnumbered their VHS counterparts.

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    194 VOTES

    The 1980s And '90s Were Full Of Fun Tech Gadgets That Are Now Obsolete 

    If you had a boombox or a Sony Walkman as a kid, you could listen to music in style. As early as the mid-1970s, boomboxes (or ghetto blasters) were big - literally and figuratively. In an NPR interview, musician and former host of Yo! MTV Raps Fab 5 Freddy recalled

    I remember some boxes so big, they required 20 D-size batteries to an already heavy box... So these boxes were so heavy that some cats that would carry their boxes all the time, they would develop massive forearms and biceps... I traveled with my massive boombox. That thing moved with me. I remember... being on the plane - it couldn't go in the overhead bin, but that was my baby. It traveled first class right along with me.

    He continued,

    A big part of this hip-hop culture in the beginning was putting things in your face, whether you liked it or not.... That was the graffiti, that's like a break dance battle right at your feet, you know what I'm saying? Or this music blasting loud, whether you wanted to hear it or not.

    Walkmans, on the other hand, offered smaller, more personal forms of entertainment. According to Time:

    The popularity of Sony's device - and those by brands like Aiwa, Panasonic and Toshiba who followed in Sony's lead - helped the cassette tape outsell vinyl records for the first time in 1983. By 1986 the word "Walkman" had entered the Oxford English Dictionary. Its launch coincided with the birth of the aerobics craze, and millions used the Walkman to make their workouts more entertaining. Between 1987 and 1997 - the height of the Walkman's popularity - the number of people who said they walked for exercise increased by 30%.

    While Walkmans allowed for users to "close your eyes and you could be anywhere," there were concerns about the tendency to use it "to cut yourself off from the rest of the world at the touch of a button." Regardless of where one fell on the issue, Walkmans helped initiate the creation of "mixtapes [which] mark[ed] the moment of consumer culture in which listeners attained control over what they heard, in what order and at what cost."

    Music companies responded with campaigns like the "Home Taping Is Killing Music" initiatives that ultimately failed and the entire music industry was changed forever. 

  • Netflix Announced The Spin-Off 'That '90s Show,' Which Is Actually Overdue
    Photo: That '70s Show / Fox
    115 VOTES

    Netflix Announced The Spin-Off 'That '90s Show,' Which Is Actually Overdue

    In October 2021, Netflix announced that they were ordering a new series titled That '90s Show,' a spin-off of That '70s Show. While it may seem like the '90s were yesterday, the era is actually further in the past than the '70s were for That '70s Show.

    That '70s Show premiered in 1998, and was set in 1976, meaning it was set 22 years in the past. Netflix has not announced the release date of That '90s Show, but it is set to film in 2022, with the premiere episodes taking place in 1995, which would be 28 years in the past.

    The show will follow Eric and Donna's daughter as she stays with her grandparents (Red and Kitty Forman) in Wisconsin for the summer.

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    158 VOTES

    Jessica McClure Is A Full-Fledged Adult

    In October 1987, the world watched as Texas baby Jessica McClure was rescued from the 22-foot well into which she'd fallen. The 18-month-old was stuck in the well for 58 hours, with neither food nor water. After her rescue, she became a household name, appearing on talk shows and magazine covers.

    As the years went on, McClure underwent 15 surgeries. More than 30 years after the incident, she still lives with a few signs that remind her of her past. According to a May 2017 People magazine story

    She [Jessica] has few visible signs of the ordeal three decades ago, during which she went without food or water. But her right foot, which is noticeably smaller than her left, had to be reconstructed because it became gangrenous after it was above her head during the entire episode.

    A mom of two, Jessica now leads a normal life with her husband Danny Morales, residing in Midland, TX. Morales is a foreman at a pipe supply company and Jessica is a special education teacher's aide. In an October 2017 interview with People, she discussed the kindness she's received since her accident: 

    If you look hard enough, there are so many good people in this world.