Retrojunk is a website that largely looks at previous decades from the perspective of the United States. It is obvious that the United States has provided great childhoods for many but this article is an attempt to look at what the nineties was like in another part of the world. In particular, in two countries that have similarities to, but are also different from the United States. Australia and New Zealand. These countries did in fact enjoy a lot of pop culture that the United States did in the 90s such as the Home Alone films, Goosebumps and Pokemon. But they also had their own unique pop culture and this is an opportunity for Retrojunk.com members to see how those “down under” experienced the decade.
Let’s start off with something familiar to many who live in the United States: McDonalds. Yes, the fast food chain. Not only for a long time has McDonalds also been popular in New Zealand like in many countries around the world, but in the mid-late 90s, the giant company contributed in two big ways to the local history books:
Firstly, Georgie Pie was a popular fast food chain in New Zealand that was like New Zealand’s own pie version of McDonalds. People spent their childhoods here having birthday parties or just going in for a meal. It operated for many years, and may have been able to make it in other countries in the world until McDonalds decided to buy and then get rid of the franchise in 1996, seeing Georgie Pie as a threat to their business. Georgie Pie officially closed in 1999 and since then, and as recently as 2012, several petitions, protests and campaigns have been done to ask McDonalds to “BRING BACK THE GEORGE!” Hasn’t happened so far…
Secondly, McDonalds can however be thanked for one of the most popular New Zealand shows of the decade, McDonalds Young Entertainers. Hosted by local celebrity Jason Gunn (who was also involved in other forms of children’s media) many wouldn’t just watch but videotape every episode and it was basically a 90s American Idol-like show for contestants who weren’t adults.
Speaking of television shows, there were quite a few 90s shows that are now considered Australian classics. Some made it to New Zealand such as Ship To Shore or The Wayne Manifesto but one that people from the United States may be more familiar with was…
Bananas In Pyjamas (‘pyjamas’ is spelt differently in other countries) since 1992 have entertained children across the world and spin-offs from the original show have also been made. They are known by people who speak different languages and are still icons twenty years on. Also, pogs anyone? Many remember pogs but also worthy of mention are Australian Tazos which were also very popular in the 90s and eventually were introduced into the United States as well.
Here’s one more thing. When you think of going to the supermarket, singing and dancing characters such as fruits or animals entertaining you throughout the store is not the first thing you think of. But for those who went to Big Fresh in the 90s (a New Zealand supermarket that also had a presence in Australia) this was a reality. The store closed in the mid-2000s and is gone but not forgotten. And there you have it folks, a brief look at how those ‘down under’ experienced the 90s.