’90s Middle School Contraband

Children of the ’90s, how permissible was your middle school? Here are 20 items that could result in detention if brought or worn to class. Give your school a point for every banned item and a half point for items likely to be confiscated and report back in the comments.

1. Slap Bracelets

Schools cracked down on the wearing of slap bracelets after hearing reports of children seriously cutting their wrists on the metal interiors.

2. Coed Naked T-Shirts

Some of us were old enough to get the jokes. Some of us weren’t. We all understood the word “naked” though, which was enough to try to hide them underneath button up shirts.

3. Homemade Pen/Pencil Cannons

When we got bored in class, sometimes our thoughts turned to turning the contents of our pencil boxes into projectile weapons. Hacking a retractable pen was the best option — they needed no additional parts to fling something across the room.

4. Pogs

Fights over games or trading could lead to an outright ban for everyone. But some teachers were never big on the idea of tossing heavy metal slammers around in the classroom.

5. Tamagotchis

Tamagotchis were confiscated for being remarkably irritating beeping machines. Anyone who owned one was too busy feeding it to pay attention in class anyway.

6. Temporary Tattoos

Administrators often banned temporary tattoos as part of the dress code, perhaps because they felt they would encourage actual tattooing. Sometimes we were warned about sick individuals who used temporary tattoos to get kids high on lickable PCP.

7. Scary Stories to Tell in the Dark

Parents objected to reading Alvin Schwartz’s terrifying masterpiece in schools when it gave their kids nightmares. If you were lucky, indulgent teachers went ahead and read it aloud anyway.

8. Rubber Poppers

The whole point of these toys was to turn them inside out and watch them “pop.” After the third time you set one off in math class, it was likely to be confiscated and never seen again. Luckily, they were easy to replace. Advanced popper owners discovered that it was more entertaining to use suction to covertly stick them to friends’ bodies.

9. Black Lipstick

While excessive make-up was generally frowned upon in middle school, black lipstick was in a category of its own and had to be washed off immediately. Related item: black nail polish.

10. Slam Books

Slam books were circulating notebooks containing questions or names of individuals for classmates to respond to. A staple of ’80s classroom life, slam books were frowned upon in the ’90s for promoting bullying and inappropriate content.

11. Card Games

Card game bans ranged from Pokemon to Magic the Gathering. Like Pogs, nerd cards were a seen as a distraction that often led to fights over trading or game play.

12. Silly String

Primarily a concern around graduation, Silly String typically was banned to keep the school janitors sane.

13. Big League Chew

Big League Chew was either banned as part of a general bubble gum ban, or because administrators were concerned that it would promote tobacco use. Related item: candy cigarettes.

14. Wacky Packages Stickers

These were banned just for the gross-out factor.

15. Troll Pencil Toppers

Naked dolls mounted atop pencils inevitably led to dirty jokes, but troll toppers were confiscated when more attention was paid to braiding their hair than classwork.

16. Sagging Pants

Usually banned by dress code rules for indecent exposure.

17. Ring Pops

These were banned or confiscated due to sanitary concerns. Kids, don’t let other kids lick your Ring Pop.

18. Kool-Aid Hair Dye

Some schools were more lenient about wacky-colored hair than others.

19. Sticky Hands

I kind of understand this one. Inevitably, Sticky Hands would get covered in unidentifiable detritus. This made it that much more amusing to fling them at your classmates.

20. Ripped Jeans

Some schools had an outright ban on ripped jeans. Others only cared about the position of the holes and dealt with students on a case by case basis.

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