I grew up in the mid-'90s and early 2000s. From what I remember, it was a time for boy bands and cool electronic gadgets that were advertised to be even cooler, but always let me down as soon as they were in my hands.

But the toys and the now-terrible music of that cultural era have made me who I am today. We had the best cartoons by far (just try to tell me Nickelodeon is still good) and one of the best White House scandals in all of history (Bill, you dog!)

In an effort to share with you my awesome transition from nerdy child to young adult writer, I thought I'd compile a Top 11 list of my childhood favorites -- from music to movies -- so you can reminisce about the good ol' days of Windows 95 and supersizing items at McDonald's.

(The following are in no particular order. They're from what I remember most of being a kid.)

1. HitClips: For those of who don't know, HitClips were a very successful way to get kids to listen to a whole minute of a song. Thinking it was a song in its entirety, my mom bought me a few, only to realize they were each 60 seconds of low-fi pop music. Balderdash! Those got thrown out quickly.

2. Pogs: I came late to the game, as it were, on Pogs. Those little circular pieces were the bane of playground existence. If you didn't have enough cool ones, no one would play with you. And if you did play and win, your opponent would say "Oh! This game wasn't for keepsies!"


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It was a game of lies, in my opinion.

3. Beanie Babies: Oh my gosh, they're so cute and I have to have them all! No. No I didn't. But I insisted on collecting as many as possible.

My niece now has a laundry basket full and makes them do gymnastics with each other, just as I did. That is one good thing about the expensive, promised-to-make-me-rich-one-day bean-filled toys.

4. Dunkaroos: These were the best snack of all time, and I still buy them when I can to this day. Graham cracker cookies in whimsical shapes that would back-flip into a tray of frosting? So good. Maybe not so good for you? Who cares?

5. Tamagotchi: Aside from the actual living pets my family owned, my Tamagotchi taught me how to take care of another living creature. It had to be fed, it pooped, and it needed exercise. Tamagotchi taught me I'd probably be an unfit mother in the future, as I tried to smash mine with my dad's hammer in the basement one evening. But I didn't have the heart. It's probably at my old Alliance, Ohio, address right now.

6. Jurassic Park: While I wasn't allowed to see it when it came out because i was too young, I eventually did. And it's the best movie of all time.

7. Boy bands: Of course, we all know the late ‘90s music scene to be made up of the *NSYNC and Backstreet Boys and O-Town and 98 Degrees. That was what I grew up on thinking some majestic dude would cry over me and think I was the most beautiful thing in the world. To an extent, I was right, minus the crying part. Now.

8. Goosebumps: R.L. Stein was the first author to terrify me, because I hadn't read Stephen King or Chuck Palahniuk yet. The shows were even creepier. But "Are You Afraid of the Dark" on Nickelodeon was by far the scariest thing to hit children's television.

9. Space Jam: Michael Jordan? Looney Tunes? Newman In an extraordinary feat of movie-making, Space Jam became a stable in my middle-school life, providing some of the best songs for a talent show I've ever danced to.

10. Roald Dahl: I read constantly as a child, and Roald Dahl was one of my favorites. I know he's no ‘90s hunk, but his children's literature was phenomenal, and I still think so today. From "The Witches" to "The BFG" to "James and the Giant Peach," his writing has influenced me more than that of any other author.

11. Spice Girls: I loved them. I couldn't get enough of that girly British pop. Sporty Spice was obviously the coolest. And if you didn't have a group of friends to portray each girl, then I feel a bit bad for your childhood.

Honorable mentions: Yak Baks, Skip Its, Britney Spears, "The Simpsons," Fruit by the Foot, Creepy Crawlers, "Angry Beavers" (show), Nintendo 64 (never had one), Mighty Morphing Power Rangers, All That, "Legends of the Hidden Temple," Alanis Morissette, Hanson, Beastie Boys, "The Matrix," and Surge (beverage).

Laura Lofgren
(twitter) BE_LauraL_