15 things every 'Stranger Things' fan needs to re-live the 80s
From New Coke to scrunchies, these goods will feed your nostalgia bug.
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Feeling the urge to slam on a slap bracelet, hit the Atari, and heat up some Eggo waffles? If so, there’s a reason for that. Netflix just released a new season of Stranger Things , and, with it, the heady scent of hardcore 1980s nostalgia.
Whether you’re pacing out the season or binging the whole thing from start to finish is something to keep between you and your Netflix account. And, although we’re pretty sure you don’t want the show’s events to occur off the small screen, we’ve found a slew of goods that could fit within Reagan-era Hawkins, Indiana. From Chia Pets to New Coke to, yes, a few waffle-related items, these are the best 1980s-inspired products available to purchase today.
1. A Polaroid camera to capture the moment
The quickest way to get a snapshot of 1985? Take one yourself with a Polaroid OneStep. Technically it won’t initiate time travel, but the square-ish photo the point-and-shoot ejects will make you feel like you’re already there. Plus, you can photograph the pics with a phone and put them on Instagram, which your ‘80s brethren could only ever hope to dream of. You can get the original camera and film, or, if you’re really feeling the Stranger Things love, a special edition version that has the Polaroid logo upside-down.
2. New Coke, so you can decide for yourself if you love it or hate it
In 1985, the Coca-Cola corporation released a new formulation of its famous soda, called “New Coke,” as a replacement for its classic recipe. After years of rigorous testing, the company was certain consumers would instantly love and revere it. They did not—and that’s putting it lightly: According to the History Channel, Coca-Cola stock immediately flopped upon New Coke’s release and, within weeks, the company was fielding so many complaint calls every single day, it had to hire extra operators to deal with them. A little over two months after New Coke’s introduction, Coca Cola re-released the “classic” formula and sold it alongside New Coke, which was then rebranded as “Coke II” before being shelved in 2002.
Because time heals all wounds (even carbonated ones), Coca-Cola released a limited edition set, as part of a partnership with Stranger Things, that includes two 1985-style New Coke cans, plus a classic Coca-Cola bottle and Coke Zero bottle with Stranger Things-inspired labels.
3. A Chia Pet to grow yourself a fuzzy friend
Few things scream “pre-smartphone entertainment” quite like Chia Pets, terracotta figurines upon which you spread chia seeds, which sprout in a few weeks to resemble hair. For a Stranger Things-adjacent conversation piece, you can’t go wrong with this Dustin-inspired plant—the chia fronds grow around the ceramic pot’s hat to mimic actor Gaten Matarazzo’s curly locks. That said, if you want to get a chia plant that better reflects what a teen character from Stranger Things would own in 1985, you’re better served with a Ghostbusters or Gremlins mold (both movies were released in 1984).
4. Stranger Things action figures to collect and display
Whether you’re an action-figure enthusiast—what ‘80s kid wasn’t?—or just have a soft spot for Stranger Things, you’ll be into FunKo’s depictions of Eleven, Lucas, and Mike. They replicate the squad in near-perfect detail and include some great tidbits for fans, like a mini slingshot, a set of walkie talkies, binoculars, and some Eggos for Eleven.
5. An A.V. Club T shirt for the group you’d love to be a part of
Audio-visual clubs aren’t as popular as they might have been a few decades ago, either in middle school or high school. But you can pretend you’re part of one of the more famous (if fictional) ones with this Hawkins Middle School A.V. Club tee. When you wear it, you might feel, for a split second, at one with Will, Dustin, Mike, Lucas, and Mr. Clarke.
6. Dungeons and Dragons to live out your nerdy fantasies
Fictional Dungeons and Dragons squads haven’t had such cultural relevance since Freaks and Geeks. And, at this point, Stranger Things renown has eclipsed the canceled-too-soon Judd Apatow series. As proof, we present the Stranger Things-inspired Dungeons and Dragons starter set, which comes with five ready-to-play character sheets, six polyhedral dice, and two demogorgon figurines. And, even if you’ve never played the roleplaying game before, you won’t be able to resist opening the cool the cool vintage-style box it comes in.
7. 1980s candy that hits the spot
Want to justify your sweet tooth with a theme? If so, this old-school collection of ‘80s-era candy (that is, candy that would have been sold at the Starcourt, not candy that has physically been in existence for four decades) is a great way to get your fill. It includes Pop Rocks, Nerds, and made-famous-to-a-new-generation by 13 Going On 30-Razzles. What more could a kid in the 1980s (or, you know, you) want?
8. Slap bracelets to decorate your arms without ink
Slap bracelets were invented by a high school shop teacher in the 1980s. Before long, they had become a veritable craze—by 1990, Main Street Toy, the bracelets' distributor, sold a million bracelets over the course of just three months. The fad may have died down today, but the novelty still remains. With these sparkly slap bracelets, you’ll be able to live out the best of the ‘80s in a modern package.
9. A Reading Rainbow shirt to proclaim your love for the written word
Reading Rainbow premiered in 1983 (and ran until 2006!), so it’s likely that the Stranger Things kids or their younger siblings would have caught a few episodes after school—you know, in between battles with the extreme existential terror of the Upside Down. Pay homage to the pre-internet era with this “Take A Look It’s In A Book” t-shirt, whether you’re a diehard reader or simply want to reminisce about the LeVar Burton classic.
10. A Caboodles case to keep your makeup in check
For real 1980s glam, you can’t do much better than a Caboodles case. And, for what it’s worth, a Caboodles is actually great object organizer, for anything from makeup to school and office supplies to first-aid gear. So, if you need a place to put stuff, you’ll probably want one of these cleverly designed, portable catchalls, too. The fact that it’s perfectly retro is just a bonus.
11. A retro phone headset so you can pretend your iPhone’s a landline
Nearly all the action of the first season of Stranger Things revolves around a landline phone with a curly attachment wire. We’re not going to suggest you install a hard-wired phone line just so you can emulate Winona Ryder’s Joyce Byers (though, as always, you do you), but you can do a pretty uncanny approximation with a retro handheld headset that connects to your smartphone, either through the headphone jack (shown) or via Bluetooth. In addition to adding an air of kitschy fun to your day-to-day phone conversations, the headset can help reduce external noise and provide a more comfortable cradle for your ear.
12. A Trapper Keeper so you can be the coolest kid in school
No 1980s back-to-school shopping list would be complete without a Trapper Keeper binder (let Nancy and Barb, may she rest in peace, serve as your proof). Surprisingly, Mead, which distributes the brand, has yet to release a Stranger Things-themed limited edition set (that’s a free idea, Mead). But you can get a modern update with this Trapper Keeper tablet case, which keeps your iPad safely ensconced and free from scratches in a fun, retro shell. You can also get Trapper Keeper folders, which are three-hole punched to use in any binder. If nothing but the original will do, eBay has you covered with many genuine old-school Trapper Keepers (if you’re willing to pay up to $50 for your back-to-school nostalgia fix).
13. A hair scrunchie for a Nancy-approved ‘do
Another 80s mainstay? The humble scrunchie, which, despite a definitive Carrie Bradshaw rebuke in the early aughts, has swung back into vogue (and Vogue). This means you have a lot of options, scrunchie-wise. One great choice is the Lululemon Uplifting Scrunchie Bow, which has a dainty bow atop a surprisingly durable hair tie, making it a cool companion for spin class or a night out. For a less expensive option, go with the Kitsch Pro Satin Scrunchie five pack. Each keeps hair up without creating frizz or breakage at little more than a dollar apiece.
14. A portable Atari for your own personal on-the-go arcade
A rainy summer day in 2019 is a perfect excuse for kids and adults alike to lounge around with some video games—and, in the Stranger Things era, things weren’t so different. An Atari console would have been the pièce de résistance with its capability to play classic games like Pac-Man, Pitfall, and Frogger. Today, you can bring the games wherever you go with the Atari Flashback portable console. You can also get a retro Atari logo tee, if you want to reminisce about playing your favorite games at the arcade but don’t feel the desire to play them.
15. Waffle accessories to keep your Stranger Things appetite sated
What—you didn’t think we’d go through the trouble of making this list and leave out waffle products, did you? You could swing by any grocery store and pick up some Eggos, of course, or you could really show your dedication to the breakfast food by getting some waffle socks, so everyone knows you take breakfast seriously. (It is the most important meal of the day!)
If you’re not much for frozen waffles, another option is a waffle maker—we tested a bunch, and our favorites are the Breville No-Mess Waffle Maker (which makes thin, crispy waffles and catches excess batter to minimize cleanup) and the Cuisinart Round Classic Waffle Maker (which makes thick, fluffy, diner-style waffles).
Prices are accurate at the time this article was published, but may change over time.
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