Sale into the 90s--a 1980s/1990s history Tumblr

A tumblr about 1980s and 1990s history, and I use the term "history" very loosely.

The 1980s | The 1990s

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146. Chapais Community Center fire, New Years Day, 1980

On New Years night, about an hour after the clock hit twelve, a jerk playing with a lighter caught dry Christmas greenery on fire during a New Years party at a community center in the small mining town of Chapais in Quebec. When the fire was almost put out by fire extinguishers and pails of water, people escaping from the fire pushed a door open and the fire expanded into a fireball.1  An emergency fire hose was nearby on the wall, nobody thought to grab it. 42 people died escaping from the fire. The flames also maimed many people during the escape. 2  


RDI story about the 30th anniversary of the fire (in French)

1. ”Prankster Blamed After Blaze Kills 42.” The Montreal Gazette, January 2, 1980. Accessed September 26, 2014.

2. Hunter, Jennifer. “Untouched Fire House Might Have Saved Chapais Victims.” The Montreal Gazette, January 3, 1980. Accessed September 26, 2014.,438127.

142. “The Late Show with Joan Rivers” first episode, October 9, 1986

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Here is the first night of Joan’s short lived tenure as a talk show host on Fox back when Fox was just starting. Arsenio Hall was later the permanent host of the talk show until he left to film Coming to America

Does anybody remember Joan’s other talk show, Can We Shop? which was like a talk show plus a shopping channel? Mom and I would watch it sometimes, and one time there was a guy selling a toilet deodorizer that you left in the tank. The guy showed Joan how clean the toilet water was by drinking from the toilet from a ladle. Here is a clip of Joan discussing a Looney Tunes purse in February of 1994. 

139. TV Guide, February 9-15, 1985 


I’ve mentioned before that I have an obsession with Night Court. I was also obsessed with TV Guide when I was a toddler. My mom remembers me trying to hoard all the TV Guides, and putting them in the living room side table when I was three. I also have a memory of smearing my sticky lollypop hands all over a TV Guide with Tubbs & Crockett from Miami Vice on it. As I grew up, I still read TV Guide when I’d come home from school the day it came in the mail. The first thing I always did was peel off the address sticker, and roll that glue around with my fingers. Then I would read all the articles, and find out what Simpsons was going to be about next week. Sometimes mom would point out if a cartoon special was coming on one night — after all, that’s how we were introduced to Simpsons in December of 1989. 

Right, Right, Night Court. Loved watching it a s a child, even if I didn’t remember plot points, obsessed with it as an adult now that Encore shows it every day. I record every episode on my DVR, and right now I’m right when Christine found out she was pregnant by her undercover cop boyfriend who she married in an Italian restaurant. You know who married them? Uncle Phil from Fresh Prince. 


(That week’s episode was “Billie’s Valentine”)

This TV Guide is from the second season of Night Court, when Ellen Foley joined the cast, playing Billie the Defense Attorney. Ellen replaced Paula Kelly, who I adored in the first season. My favorite Billie episode from season two is “The Birthday Visitor" when Billie and Harry were held hostage in her apartment by a neurotic robber. There were so many hot scenes of sexual tension between Harry and Billie. ooo


Okay, secret time unpopular opinion, I like Liz and Billie more than Markie Post’s Christine Sullivan. GASP, I know. I think Liz and Billie’s characters were supposed to be experienced, always looking for a way to move up, but Christine was portrayed as a beginner, like Judge Stone’s courtroom was the second law job she ever had after law school. I think that was clear in her first episode, when she played a temp right at the beginning of season 2, before Billie started. 

TV Guide, February 9-15, 1985

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The article describes Harry Anderson’s beginnings, and the antics on the Night Court Set. He helped Ellen with her driver’s test! 


There’s a short blurb about John Larroquette too, and how the great episode “Dan’s Parents" was inspired by John’s life in New Orleans. In the episode, Dan’s yokel parents from Armpit Swamp, USA, came to NYC to see him, and embarrassed the hell out of Dan. How on earth did they get up to New York? Was it their first plane ride? Did they take the covered wagon and tie up the horses outside of the court building? These people were Grapes of Wrath boonie people. 

There was also a few interesting things in this TV Guide:

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136. BURGESS v. CLAIROL, INC. (1986, 1991)


(I don’t know if this is the Foot Fixer model in question. This is a photo I found online of “internet celebrity” Kailyn Wilcher using a Foot Fixer model.)

Who knew something that most people buy as a thoughtless Christmas Present on December 23rd could make a man lose his legs? 

In 1986, George Burgess purchased a Clairol Foot Fixer, an electronic foot bath massager. Naturally, he put his feet in the warm water for about 30 minutes. Oh, George was also a diabetic with poor foot circulation. I’m pre-diabetic, I’m scared to put my feet in any danger, like too tight shoes, or hot showers, because I’m afraid of losing my feet. That’s what happened to George, his feet blistered, and the blood vessels in his toes were burnt to such a degree that there was no hope in saving them. Eventually, George had his legs amputated from the knees down. 

A lawsuit ensued, with Burgess stating that the Foot Fixer heated water to 105 degrees, (which could maim people with poor circulation) instead of the proper 95 degrees, and that Clairol did not put warnings on the box or the instructions.  However, in 1991, George died. The lawsuit was amended to a wrongful death lawsuit—from the research I did, I never found a cause of George’s death though. Due to his death, with the lawsuit being amended to George’s estate as the plaintiff, the claim was put an end to. When he died, so did the lawsuit: 

Punitive damages are not available under Illinois’ Wrongful Death Act, nor does a punitive damage claim pass to the decedent’s estate under Illinois’ Survival Act, the U.S . District Court for the Northern District of Illinois recently held (George Burgess and
Cynthia Burgess v. Clairol Inc. . No. 87 C 8918, N.D. Ill.)


1. “BURGESS v. CLAIROL, INC. |” BURGESS v. CLAIROL, INC. |,%20INC. (accessed August 3, 2014).

2. Mealey’s Litigation Reports 6: 5-7. (accessed August 3, 2014)

134. Korean Airlines Flight 007 (September 1, 1983)


I don’t even know if I should put this here. I feel like I should share though, because of what happened yesterday. 

I wrote this when I was at Mary Baldwin back in 2009, when I took a history of Russia class. The research I used was mostly the New York Times microfilms the library supplied. I wish I could find the actual paper I turned in with my professor’s remarks on it, but its trapped in a box, in my hallway closet right now. 

Do you ever feel like most of your life is trapped in plastic boxes at the bottom of your closet? I do. 

(Sorry for the formatting looking a little wonky, its pasted from Microsoft Word.)

“Red bear, back to the zoo!”
April 7, 2009

Airline travel was handed to the masses in 1978 with the passing of the Airline Deregulation Act. This act took the airlines and their procedures out of the government’s hands, and into the actual airlines. Airfares were suddenly cheaper due to airlines competing for customers, and airliners were finally able to fly to more destinations, hence more people took to the air across America and to foreign lands that they only dreamed of.[1]  On September 1, 1983 269 people, including 30 Americans boarded Korean Airlines Flight 007 [KAL 007] in New York City, on a flight headed for Seoul, Korea.[2] The passengers on the fully booked plane were heading to Korea for many unique reasons, there were people visiting family in Korea, a woman who had lost her husband a few months prior who was visiting her parents, a Julliard student wanting to broaden her studies, family vacations, taking care of sick family members, funerals, a United States Congressman observing the US-Korea Mutual Defense Treaty, and the search for a wife.[3] The plane stopped in Anchorage, Alaska for refueling before taking off for its final destination.[4]


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133. Balloonfest 1986


So, I read about the failure of Dashcon this weekend.  It was supposed to be a convention “for tumblr uses, by tumblr users”. Instead, it was just some unexperienced people not paying convention panelists, so they didn’t show up. Instead of panels, there was just a ballpit, and a gameroom with one computer. 

The failure got me thinking, what large failure do I have sitting around in my research? Oh, I know! Balloons. 1.5 million of them. 

In 1986, the United Way of Cleveland, Ohio thought it would be amazing to set off a million or so ballons downtown. They thought everybody would go “ooh pretty”, and people did … at first.1

imageDoesn’t the balloons look like an explosion of Fruity Pebbles? 

The night before, a bad thunderstom hit the downtown area, and the net that held down the balloons was slightly damaged. 2 The show went on the next morning, even if it was dreary outside. Thousands of volunteers filled up millions of baloons, and sent them up into the net. At 1:50 that afternoon the net was lifted and the balloons went up in the heavens. 

For a little bit.

Then a cold front and some rain came and the balloons came wubbling back down to the ground.The balloons clogged the riverways, and hampered a Coast Guard rescue of two missing boaters. The two boaters died. Understandably, there was a lawsuit filed against the United Way. Another lawsuit was filed by a woman who owned a horse that was spooked permanently due to the balloons landing in his pasture.The balloons also caused enviornmental havoc, even washing up on Canadian shores. 4

So, here’s a tip. Don’t ever launch a million balloons. 

1. "1.5 Million Balloons Unleashed Total Chaos On Cleveland In 1986." Bored Panda RSS. (accessed July 14, 2014).


3. Livingston, Tom. “Video Vault: Cleveland’s 1986 Balloonfest, the world record that went bust.” newsnet5. (accessed July 14, 2014).

4. Kroll, John. “Balloonfest 1986, the spectacle that became a debacle: Cleveland Remembers .” . (accessed July 15, 2014).

132. Christmas in July: Night Court (December 17, 1987)


Do stores even celebrate Christmas in July anymore? The last time I heard of a Christmas in July sale was nearly 10 years ago, and that was when the Casey car dealership in Newport News would decorate the lot in Christmas decorations in July. Christmas in July is such an antiquated term to me. 

Okay, I’m going to do Christmas in July for one night, because I love this episode of Night Court too much to wait until December. I loved Night Court growing up, I’m obsessed with it as an adult, I have hundreds of episodes on my DVR because Encore (yes, strangely enough the movie channel) shows it every night. 


The episode starts with one of the rare times Harry actually uses his Mac in his office. Mac (the court clerk, not the computer) mentions how nasty the weather is getting outside, and Christine comes in wearing that same cotton ball Santa beard from the old 7up commercials



Of course, Christine’s handmade present for Harry is phallic shaped! ‘Cuz she wants Harry, but of course she’s totally in denial that she wants Harry, but come on that knitted gavel cozy looks more like a Harry cozy. 


Oh. That’s why Harry had his Mac out. It was a way to shut up Art the incompetent handyman. WHY IS IT SO COLD IN THE BUILDING? Art goes downstairs to “be gentle” to Bertha the furnace. 

image(Bull mistakes Christine’s ornament as a cookie)

Bull’s excited that his mom is flying in from whatever planetary garbage boat she comes from. From what I read on Amazon reviews of the Season 8 DVD, we don’t see his mom until then. So right now, we have to imagine her looking something like the lady Ren & Stimpy saved from that burning building that one time:


Bull’s mom

Harry: Your mom hauls … refuse?

Bull: I know it sounds glamourous, sir, but success hasn’t changed mom one bit! She still puts her pants on one leg at a time! … The good one first, then the peg. 

In the courtroom, its too hot now…Art played with Berta too much. 


It’s Mac and Quan Le’s daughter’s first Christmas. Mac pulled all the stops at and shopped at Bloomingdales for her. He even bought her a train set. 

Mac: Quan Le! She’ll hear you! Stop saying t-r-a-i-n!

Bull: You bought her a trombone?

Quan Le: Don’t you think she’s a little young to appreciate one of those?


Mac & Quan Le are my One True Pairing. 

imageRoz is going to Atlantic City to see men beat each other up and hear that noses go squish for her Christmas break. 


"You enjoying that gavel cozy, sir?"

"As much as one human being possibly could!"


Dan’s decided to go to the wonderful isle of Jamaica with some Floozy, and he’s decided to talk like the 7up Guy too. Ah-ha-ha. She sounds like this mean chick who lived on my hall junior year. 


Dan’s so stupid though, he tells her to go to the airport with their tickets and luggage. Dan cozy


There’s this really stupid plot line where Santa and Robert Pastorelli (aka, Eldin from Murphy Brown) are up in court because Santa wanted to pick up a hooker during his lunch break, and Santa and the pimp got in an altercation. I just like seeing Robert. Proceeding on. It’s really convenient that they have to sit around because Mac can’t pull up their records on the computer due to the winter storm outside. Bull can’t call the airport either to look for his peg leg mommy. 

Suddenly, Mac tells Harry the snow plow packed 10 ft of snow outside of the court’s doors. Wait. This happened back in the second season back in 1984 …. yeah because Bull braved the blizzard to try and get food. This time Bull is braving the blizzard to find his mom at the airport. As much as I like Night Court, sometimes they were really guilty of repeating story lines. 

Christine: Wait, even though its 150 degrees right now, we stand a good chance of losing our precious limbs to frostbite?image

See, Harry knew all along it was a Harry cozy.  “Not me!”


So, the heat also gives out in the court building, but yet Art has some oil drums sitting around. Ha, Roz throws away Christine’s Christmas card. 


"Mac, do you think the baby’s warm enough?"




So Art also had a Bull sized oil drum? Good thing Santa knows how to heat water up because he used to blow safes. 

Homeless Lady: How long has his brain been without oxygen?

Roz: I’d say since the early sixties.


"Bull, are you okay?"

"How much is all of this gonna cost me?"

The firemen rescue the crew, and think the group is trying to make Bull Soup. 


"God bless us all!" 


"…what do you mean the tickets were cashed in by a Mrs. Fielding?"


Bull’s mommy had to rescue a ship in the Persian Gulf, but she sent Bull some live bait to cheer him up—but then he spilled it in his pot. (Also, who is that other bailiff behind bull? He’s been in nearly every episode, but so far I’ve watched every episode from seasons 1-4 and I haven’t heard him speak yet.)


Ohhh snap, Harry and Christine kiss at the end. 

128. “Improve image…be seen with ME!” t-shirt, 1985 

Seen in a KMart salespaper from July 30, 1985. Can you imagine the poor sap who wore this on campus the first day of college? 

124. Kitchen of the 1980s and 1990s


(Working Mother, March 1980 source)


(Working Mother, July 1988 source)


Service Merchandise salespaper, February 3, 1989 (source)

I got a vintage Cuisinart food processor for Christmas, and that’s what inspired this post. 

I don’t think the prices have changed that much. Kitchen Aid mixers and Cuisinarts are still crazy expensive. I remember QVC used to sell those roasters all the time.

I’ve never mentioned that when I was 8, I was obsessed with watching QVC every afternoon after school, and on the weekends. I liked watching the kitchen stuff, and of course the toys, but NOT when Bob Boringsox was on selling things. 


Molly McButter, which is this salt-like seasoning that’s supposed to taste like butter, for people who can’t have butter due to health reasons, but yet its totally ok for them to dump Maltodextrin, Salt, Butter Flavor and Butter, Cornstarch, Buttermilk Solids, Tricalcium Phosphate, Partially Hydrogenated Soybean Oil*, and Extract of Annatto (Color) on food.  Over 10,000 people on Facebook like Molly McButter. 

"You’ve got Molly now" amuses me due to the word "Molly" taking a whole other meaning this decade. 



Juice boxes hit the shelves in the United States in the early 1980s


(Working Mother, March 1980 source)

At least 2 in 5 grandmas had Centrum or their prescription vitamins on the windowsill above the sink in their kitchen.


(Working Mother, 1988 source)

Make n shake salad dressing. I remember growing up always seeing the Good Seasonings bottles at the thrift store. 


(Working Mother, July 1988 source)

Food in Zip-Pak packaging, with Hot Dogs being the first packaged. Now everything is packaged like this, and sometimes impossible to close.




Your mom had everything Rubbermaid. 



Softsoap at the sink, with either the cow or the goose on the bottle. Liquid hand soap was a luxury my house didn’t have until the late 90s. We always just used the small widdled down pieces from the bathtub to wash our hands with in the bathroom. I guess we used dishsoap in the kitchen? 




Corningware Visions cookware. Theres always this speculation online that the Visions cookware can explode in times of extreme conditions if the glassware was scratched. Snopes can’t even give a real clear answer, just some common sense tips on how to prevent breakage with glass cookware. 

The Vermont Country Store is selling it now.


Black & Decker Spacemaker appliances So futuristic. 



A little TV. Did anybody in real life have a small TV in their kitchen? I always saw them on sitcoms and in commercials, but never knew anybody who actually had a TV in their kitchen.



I noticed on Bob’s Burgers, the Belchers have a TV in their kitchen, and that’s what reminded me to bring it up here. 


A Wok. Either the Great Wok of China (2), or the one from the infomercial where the guy plugs Kikkoman soy sauce the whole time (which I can’t find on YouTube). If you wanted to throw authenticity totally out the door, you could have an electric wok. For that one tme you tried sir fry. Everybody was stir frying in the early 90s it seems. I think we thought it was healthier, right?  

Did anybody ever use that bamboo cleaning brush? Seems like it would get .. smelly real easily. I forgot the bamboo cleaning brush existed until I watched that commercial on YouTube.


"Convenient ‘Start’ button"


Without a doubt, the hottest appliance in the kitchen in the 1980s and early 1990s was the Microwave. Of course, of course, we flew too close to the sun back then and we thought we could cook whole chickens and the Thanksgiving turkey in the Microwave (more on that later).


Or in Gilbert Gottfried’s case in the .gif above, chicken nuggets that were not soggy. 

(special) The Atari cartridges that were found in the landfill this week

I still can’t believe that one of the biggest legends of the 1980s is actually true. They found the E.T. Atari games in the desert. 


(I can’t believe the man who designed that horrible game had the audacity to show up, ha) 

Hundreds of thousands of copies of the Atari products, included one of the worst games of all time, E.T. were rumored to be be dumped in a landfill in Alamogordo, New Mexico in 1983. The New York Times ran a short blurb about the event in 1983, but reporters and gawkers were kept away from the landfill that day. 

Elementary School Graduation Party June 10 1994

My dad bought me an Atari at the thrift store in the Spring of 1994 when I was 10. I didn’t have E.T. However, I did have the same glasses the boy from The Goldbergs wears.