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Fads Past to Present

Updated on August 8, 2015


Every American generation has had fads; things they owned, wore or did that may seem ridiculous by today’s standards. And they are still around today. There is no known recognized time they began. Perhaps it was when a caveman discovered carrying a big club set him apart from his otherwise unprotected peers. Naturally, that became the thing to do and everyone simply just had to have one.

A fad can be described as a form of behavior followed for a brief period by a large segment of society and usually perceived as a novelty. Once the novelty has worn off it normally fades into obscurity. It can take many forms including slang language, fashionable apparel or even foods and diets. They are generally started by individuals wanting to live outside of the status quo.

As a prime example, the beatnik era during the 1950s, although short lived, was a major fad. Many feel they were a stepping stone to the next decade when Hippies “made the scene.”

It was during the early 1920s fads, or trends, began to be recognized as such. From then to the 40s there were dance marathons, Zoot Suits, Betty Boop, swallowing goldfish and the Slinky. Of course, there were numerous others that left their mark in history. Such as:

· The “Charleston”

· Stickball

· Pea shooters

· Flappers

· Flagpole sitting

· Conk hairdos

· two toned shoes

Moving into the 1950s, countless other fads became all the rage. There were colored streamers flapping in the breeze on youngsters bicycle handlebars and baseball cards stuck into the wheel spokes to imitate engine noise. Everyone was wearing letter sweaters, blue suede loafers, saddle shoes, crew cuts, beehive hairdos and Elvis sideburns. While listening to rock and roll on the jukebox teens did the bunny hop at sock hops. It was a time for Tupperware, carhops on roller skates, 3D movies and stuffing as many people as possible into a telephone booth.

In the early 1960s, adoring teenyboppers religiously watched the American Bandstand TV show hosted by “The Dean of Teens,” Dave Clark, did The Twist and wore hip hugger or bellbottom pants. Rooms were decorated with lava lamps, black lights and psychedelic posters.

The 70s had its own unique trends. The Citizen Band Radio came of age, but not so much on the popular Moped. “The Hustle” was done with flashing strobe lights in platform shoes listening to music played on 8-track tapes. Just about everybody and their dog wore a “Mood Ring” and kids rode Banana seat bicycles. Mr. Whipple was telling the nation not to “…squeeze the Charmin.” The birth of video games with “Pong” was instituted and children were growing “sea monkeys” and drawing with an Etch-a-Sketch. And we can’t forget:

· Matchbox Cars

· Fondue pots

· Shag Rugs

· Magic 8-Ball and waterbeds

Then along came the 1980s with the “California Raisins. And there were holey blue jeans made that way on purpose. Nightmare on Elm Street horror movies and ghost hunting TV shows were popular entertainment fare. Anybody’s bad behavior could be eliminated simply by using the catch phrase, “Just say no” and everything was just “totally awesome.”

The next several decades were ushered in with advances in technology. Cell phones and texting instantly connected everyone to their BFF, “Best Friend Forever.” That’s if they weren’t already communicating in a chat room or visiting their Facebook or Myspace pages. Politicians were making fools of themselves doing The Macarena in public and many were wondering “what would Jesus do?” while cruising in big SUV’s. As some got out of their vehicle they fell and said things like, “I’ve fallen and I can’t get up!” And of course someone made a video of it to put on YouTube. They could then watch it the next time they got into their SUV on TV or DVD screens as an American Flag fluttered in the wind while headed for the next speed dating event.


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    • profile image

      Yuka 3 years ago

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    • aviannovice profile image

      Deb Hirt 5 years ago from Stillwater, OK

      Perfect! The only thing that I don't know about is Conk Hairdos. It's amazing hopw the 50's fads slipped into the 60's, too.

    • JY3502 profile image

      John Young 5 years ago from Florence, South Carolina

      Yeh, in my neighborhood balloons cost more than trashed cardboard, so we used that.

    • Civil War Bob profile image

      Civil War Bob 5 years ago from Glenside, Pennsylvania

      Good hub, JY...voted up and interesting. My grandmother's sister was actually a flapper, long beads and all. We found out in the 50s that partially inflated balloons made waaay superior sound to the baseball cards in my neighborhood in Philly. Thanks for the nostalgia!