80s Nostalgia: Strange and Iconic

Kids today just don’t get it, -the 80s felt like a completely different world.

I wanted to share my top 10 memories from the 1980s (my 80s nostalgia). It was a strange time to be alive, hard to imagine just how much things have changed…

This post contains speculation and personal opinion. It may also contain adult comedy and sarcasm. It is not advice and is solely for entertainment and informational purposes.

1. The Boom Box – Better than Vinyl (80s Nostalgia)

An 80s Nostalgia picture of 80s man with a boom box on shoulder
Iconic 80s Boom box. Attribution – Alan Light

Ah, the Classic Boom-Box. In the 1980s, FULL STEREO blaring directly into your ear hole was the only way a true connoisseur would listen to music. Unlike the miniature iPods of today, you didn’t need space in your pocket or bag, because a Boom-Box sat quite comfortably, on top of your shoulder.

2. 1980s Style Pizza Hut (Retro 80s Nostalgia)

Photo of Pizza Hut Sign outside a restaurant
A Pizza Hut restaurant. Attribution

The Pizza Hut franchise was a very different thing in the mid-1980s… it was like a proper family restaurant. The whole family would go and get served deep-panned pizzas in real, pipping hot, skillets. It was tasty stuff and smelled awesome too. When we were lucky enough to go ourselves, we even had to dress up. Because it was an event. -Not Church dress-up mind you, but still, not MacDonald’s causals either.

3. Healthy Options… Smoking Indoors (Nostalgic Smells)

Picture of a woman smoking indoors
Image of a woman smoking indoors

All I wanna say on this is, in the ’80s smoking indoors was a normal, everyday, occurrence. It was normal to walk into a shop, or venue, and to be greeted by a wall of smoke. After a delicious meal, you could light up your favourite brand of cigarette, right there and then in the restaurant, and smoke away to your heart’s content! As a result, everything was covered in a layer of soot and cigarette butts were littered all over the place. On the plus side, Singles were available to purchase from all good corner stores.

4. Phones attached to the Wall

Picture of a corded phone hanging off the hook
Home phone with a wire -circa 1980

Yes, phones used to be attached to wires, and the wires had to be plugged into a socket. ~That was the entire logic of the world in the 1980s. How else would you send the voice noises? TV remote controls were kids sitting on the floor in front of their parents. And don’t ask me how the TV signal actually worked because I don’t know! Didn’t matter anyway… wasn’t reliable in the slightest, all we watched was flickering all day, but I digress. If you wanted to talk to somebody while not in their presence, you needed to tell them to be near a phone, which was always attached to a wall, somewhere.

5. Markets & High Streets (Top 10 80s Nostalgia)

A photo of a busy market - 1980s Nostalgia
Market stalls – Going shopping in the 80s

I know you can get everything online nowadays, but in the 80s the Market was the place to go to get stuff from all over the world. None tested to local standards mind you, but that’s what made it so affordable. Markets were a weekly activity for most families and it was where we always bought fresh fruit and veg. It was also the reason behind Velcro wallets and wearing bum-bags/fanny packs; to keep your money safe when literally stuck in the crowd. We also wore comfy walking shoes for all the miles we’d rack up. The stall keepers were vibrant, passionate, and cared, -even if only trying to “flog” you something. Whereas nowadays, many Sales Assistants get paid a wage and really couldn’t care less about what they sell (I too was once a Sales Assistant and speak with some authority on the matter).

6. Video VHS Stores (Blockbuster)

An 80s Nostalgia picture of a video store photo
’80s Nostalgia, A VHS Video Store. Attribution – David Wilson

Renting a video and picking up some popcorn was one of the best things to do in the 1980s and 90s. It was wonderful. We would walk around the Video Store, musing over some random VHS tape we knew nothing about, just because we liked the photo on the cover, or because we liked the Star. Of course, there were always big action films like Star Wars, Top Gun, and E.T., but most rentals were just potluck (without internet reviews). Either way, 3 things were guaranteed: 1. Somebody would have to work the video tracker to reduce flickering, 2. We’d have to endure the sound of the tape being stretched in the machine, and 3. We’d have to rewind the tape or risk being fined.

Blockbuster was our local Video Store and it’s still strange to see the building reconditioned, all these years later. 

Related: Remembering WCW Sting (90s nostalgia)

7. Flares & Hand-Me-downs (Throwback Fashion and Nostalgia)

Picture of flares/bell bottoms
A lady in fashionable Flares/Bell Bottoms. Attribution – Mike Powell

I know every generation wears hand-me-downs, but when the decade before your birth is the 1970s, hand-me-downs take on a whole new meaning. I wore 70s Flares for most of my Primary School life (or way too much of it!), and it wasn’t fun, or cool. Their glory days had long ended. Denim Jeans were trendy, sure. But the Flare Peaks were not.

8. Cassettes Tapes and Players (1980 Pop Culture)

Photo of a cassette tape
The soundtrack of our lives

I used to record my favourite songs from the radio onto Cassette Tape, to enjoy later at my leisure. But recording a song from the radio in the 1980s meant: 1. Having a tape ready to record in the Cassette Player 2. Listening to the radio station until your song was played 3. Holding your fingers over the RECORD/PLAY buttons near the end of each song, -because the next song could be yours. And lastly, 4. Hoping that the DJ didn’t mess it all up by chatting over the beginning or ending of your track… It took a lot of patience!

9. The Nintendo NES (80s Kids Gaming Nostalgia)

An 80s Nostalgia picture of a Nintendo NES
The Original Retro console – The Nintendo NES (Replacing the Arcade)

I didn’t have a Nintendo Entertainment System (NES) because we couldn’t afford one. However, some of my friends did… or, I should say, some kids who I befriended once I discovered that they had one, did! I remember playing video games like Mario and Double Dragon at a friend’s house. -No longer did I have to imagine my Toy Soldiers fighting; now a computer could do all that for me. It’s a trend that continued for the rest of my life.

Gaming in the 1980s was pretty cool stuff. Later that decade I would get to co-own (with my brother) my (our) very own (spit between us) Super NES. Awesome!

10. Your Mum… (80s Kids and School Days)

An 80s Nostalgia photo of mum holding childs hand

It seems nowadays, people can say whatever they like. And being the grumpy old cynic I am, I’m not a fan. Back in my day, one simple phrase could start something:


I remember, you could push sooo far and everything would still be cool, right up until somebody got carried away and said, “Your Mum”.

The inevitable response was, “My mum?, MY MUM? Don’t talk about MY MUM!” as eyes turned red and headwear came off.

“Your Mum”, was the final diss/cuss, but also the greatest response to nearly anything.

And it didn’t matter how good or bad a mother actually was because her honour needed to be defended at all costs!

My Top 10 1980s Nostalgia

I was born in the early 80s and can remember from the mid-1980s on, -the cartoons, the music, and the big events.

What strange or iconic things do you remember from those days? 

Let me know in the comments below.

Copyright: oldcynic.com
Images used by way of review/critic – Further copyright accounted for with images where required

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  1. A-Team! GI Joe! Airwolf! McGyver! High-cut V-shape Bikinis! Puffy hair! 80s Pop music! Action movies with real action stars, not today’s weaklings! Horror movies with real special effects, not some obviously fake CGI blood! Atari 2600 and Commodore 65! Dungeons and Dragons! And people being proud of their country and flag, unlike today…

  2. The 80’s was a glorious time!
    Great pop culture including some of the best movies, music, TV shows, and toys of all time. The 80’s were the birthplace of so many things that have become part in our lives: Personal computers, dial up modems, cell phones, but also a lot other things I remember… Bulletin Board Systems, Emoji (as text), walkman, mix tapes, MTV, handwritten notes, Rubik’s Cube, The Joy of Painting by Bob Ross, arcade games like pac-man. I would like to mention two specific days that live on forever in my memories – The Challenger disaster and the fall of Berlin Wall.

    1. I do remember the Berlin Wall coming down; google says it was on 9th Nov 1989. The 80’s had great innovation, but was also a harsh time to live, as social and global conflicts were the backdrop to real visible pollution from big cars, big business, and hair spray 🙂 .

      Thanks for stopping by

  3. If I could choose any year to be born, it’d have to be 1968. Sadly I was born is 2006. When I read your post, I already knew all of that. It reminded me of how privileged I am to have known about those things. When I was younger, I used to go out and rent movies at the local Family Video store every weekend. Until it was shut down. Currently, I so badly want to feel like it’s the 80s, that I use a 1984 model TV, a rotary phone, cassettes in a Walkman or boom box, and I’m getting a car from the 70s soon. I really only use my smart phone to help with my 80s fashion wear, or to find music.

    1. Wow, that’s commitment. I tried to resist the march forward when Smart-Phones arrived. It was a shock to the system, giving up so much freedom for a little convenience. Well, here we are. The future didn’t turn out as expected, so it’s fun to remember the good things about the past. Thanks for stopping by!

    1. Hey Mig-El, you found yourself over here! What country is that? Does that mean if we visit today it’s gonna be like the 2010s? Not so bad I think 😀. From 2000 on tho, everything went downhill. But don’t get me started!

      1. Actually no, thanks to internet and the improvements of modern life, I think we caught up by the beginning of the century.

        Oh, and it is Chle.

        I would say the 90’s were the 80’s + 90’s, but I was a little kid, so do not take it too seriously.

  4. 🤣 This is so true and hilarious!
    Need to add when the street lights came on that was get your butt home! Building forts with
    your friends. Oh and pay phones! 🤣

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