Is Something You Love In the '90s Black Hole?
(Oh. Most Definitely.)
In the late ‘90s, Bath & Body Works made a coconut-scented lotion-cum-fragrance. It came in a small green glue-bottle shaped dispenser. It smelled amaaaazing—like the virgin Pina Colada-fueled vacation of your dreams.
How do we know this? Because Jenna was obsessed with it. Her friend Rachel gave it to her in middle school at their crew’s annual holiday gift exchange. She treasured it for years, and used it down to its last final shimmery orange-hued drop.
Like a lot of beauty products, you can’t get it any more. But it’s not only discontinued—it has completely disappeared.
The fragrance has fallen into what we refer to as the ‘90s black hole. It’s in there alongside Jenna’s favorite childhood snack, video proof of Jayna’s appearance on the short-lived television series Hard Rock Live and a California pre-teen clothing chain store called Friends. All of these things DEFINITELY existed. But there’s no record of them. And in 2018, that’s really fucking weird.
Imagine googling something, and having zero search results. That’s the ‘90s black hole.
Collectively, we have spent hours looking for proof of the Fruit Nibbles Jenna’s mom stocked up on at Gelson’s in LA, of the time Jayna danced so hard on stage with Rusted Root that she gave herself a migraine, of the supercool outfits you could only buy at Friends.
Yes, there are some breadcrumbs, but they lead nowhere. There’s the odd scanned page from a 1997 newspaper mentioning Hard Rock Live in that evening’s TV lineup. There’s an article about the owner of Friends filing for Chapter 11, also from 1997. And as far as Jenna’s beloved Bath & Body works glue bottle—nothin’. Though Jayna did have a breakthrough a few months ago when she unearthed proof of the company’s Art Stuff collection, which consisted of products inspired by art supplies (and currently has a Change.org page petitioning to bring it back). But still, no glue bottle. As for Fruit Nibbles? Well, they might as well be called Ghost Nibbles.
We know this is not a uniquely ‘90s problem. So much ephemera from decades past has long been lost. But it does effect 90s kids in a unique way. Consider this: Google launched in September of 1998. Before that, search meant something totally different. It meant the Dewey decimal system, or back issues of magazines, or asking your parents things.
But then, suddenly, everything was archived. Nothing died. Nothing disappeared. Search meant typing the words of the things you wanted to remember into your computer.
Kids who grew up in the ‘90s had a childhood bisected by the internet. Our formative years—where nostalgia comes from—exist in two camps: pre- and post-world wide web. It’s like half of our most defining memories are backed up on a server, and half are folklore.
Being deeply nostalgic people (obviously), we look things up a lot, and love sharing the weirdest corners of our brains with each other. So there’s nothing more frustrating than a memory gone missing. It’s a haystack story without a needle. And we hate that. And part of why we started this site is to share things like this, and to bring them back to life in some small way. Which is why we end up in the 90s hole a lot, because we’re trying to fight it and we’re trying to find that fucking glue bottle.
What’s in your ‘90s—or ‘80s or 2000s—black hole? We’re dying to google it.
Illustration by Marisa Balmori