Book Review: “Did I Do That? The Best (And Worst) Of The ’90s” by Amber Humphrey
If you were born in the Reagan and Bush 41 years, admit it—you’ve got a soft spot for the ’90s. In fact, a lot of people do. I recently wrote my first article for Buzzfeed (as a contributer) outlining the typical day of a teenage girl in the late ’90s—and within a mere 48 hours, it began going viral, with nearly 1.2 million hits. When you go to Buzzfeed Rewind, you’ll see it’s quite the popular decade.
After the Buzzfeed article made the rounds, I was asked if I wanted to review Amber Humphrey’s Did I Do That? The Best (And Worst) Of The ’90s, which focuses on the kid culture of the ’90s—so don’t expect references to flannel shirts or Kurt Cobain.
In the words of the immortal Michelle Tanner: “You’ve got it, dude.”
The book is broken down into 40 chapters, each highlighting a popular fad in the ’90s, from Super Soakers to Skip-Its and Tamagotchis to TGIF (which you know doesn’t stand for “Thank God it’s Friday”). But the book doesn’t just fleetingly mention a trend: Amber often delves into the history of the fad, peppered with images, sketches, and her personal memories. As I read the book, I found myself constantly nodding in agreement—it’s almost like we lived the same childhood. The book ventures into the obvious—think Spice Girls and Beanie Babies—to things you’ve pushed to the back of your memory bank. (Rollerblade flick Airborne, anyone?)
Amber does warn in the introduction that the toys, games, and show in the book are ones that played a role in her own adolescent years, meaning that all fads weren’t included. Even so, I felt glaring omissions when I finished the book. No Macarena? Windows 95? Men In Black? Body glitter? The Baby-sitters Club? But that’s not necessarily a bad thing—I think Amber can easily pull off a Volume 2 of the book, crowdsourcing trends if she needs to. For one, I would have loved to see more mention of food and beauty products, like Crybabies, Fruitopia, Dunkaroos, and Bonne Bell Lip Smackers (although some did get shout outs, like Shark Bites fruit snacks and Ecto Cooler).
The book is a must for any ’90s kid at heart. It would be an especially good gift for someone experiencing a quarter-life crisis or turning the big 3-0. (On the other hand, it may just make them depressed for the good ol’ days.) The book even comes with a nifty “Did I do that?” iron-on transfer, complete with Steve Urkel, in the back of the book. You know it would look phat on an oversized white t-shirt—tied to the side with a scrunchie, of course—over brightly colored Spandex bike shorts.
My only complaint is that the book cover is slightly low quality, and it’s already looking a bit worn out (more so on the back cover). This book is meant to be passed around at parties, shared with friends, and perused through every time you need that dose of nostalgia. I’d love to see a hardcover edition.
Title: Did I Do That? The Best (And Worst) Of The ’90s
Author: Amber Humphrey
Publisher: Abrams Image
Price: $19.95 (US)/$21.95 (CAN)/£11.99 (UK)
Release Date: March 12, 2013