Believe it or not, these things are now all 40 years old
The Walkman, DustBuster and Happy Meal revolutionized our lives.
If you are under the age of 40, consider yourself lucky in some regards. You have never known a time without portable music players or tiny vacuums. You have never had to worry about bubblegum sticking to your face, or making written mistakes in ink. As a kid going to McDonald's, you knew exactly what to order — and it came with a toy.
But for those who remember a time before 1979, these things did not exist, because the following products were all introduced that year.
Let's take a look at some beloved brands and items that first hit the market in '79.
Until Sony revolutionized the music with its Walkman, popular songs were primarily consumed via records and radio at home or in the car. Not only did this palm-sized player allow listeners to take music with them into any environment, the Walkman helped popularize mixtapes. Music suddenly became more personal and customizable.
2. Happy Meal
The name itself was brilliant — who wouldn't want a Happy Meal? But the true genius of the Happy Meal was giving picky kids and their parents exactly what they wanted, from burger and fries to cheap, plastic toys. No more would mom and dad have to prod children, "Just pick something."
Roomba are cool and all, but they can't crawl up the cabinets and suck crumbs up from kitchen counters. The DustBuster became a symbolic appliance of the '80s. No yuppie home was complete without one mounted on the kitchen wall like a cordless phone.
Image: Black & Decker
4. Hubba Bubba
As grandfathers like to say, "Back in my day, we had to walk five miles…," etc., etc. But if they really want to tell young'uns how hard their childhoods were, they should stick to gum. Because gum itself used to be hard — rock hard. Bubblicious introduced soft chewing gum in 1977. When Hubba Bubba hit the market two years later, the brand instead focused on its lack of stickiness. It pops all over your face and easily peels away!
5. Mello Yello
Coke needed a competitor to Mountain Dew and thus dropped this soft drink in '79. Originally dubbed "The World's Fastest Soft Drink," Mello Yello proved its point in an early commercial by having dueling cowboys chug cans of the stuff in five seconds.
The Beach Boys made a major comeback in the mid-'70s. The California band had fallen into a career funk until the compilation Endless Summer reintroduced their sunny harmonies to a new generation in 1974. Sunkist rode the wave and used "Good Vibrations" as both its commercial music and slogan when it hit grocery stores in 1979. Is it just us, or did you also just notice that the joined "UN" in the logo reads more like "Sinkist"?
7. Honey Nut Cheerios
Honey Nut was not the first flavor variation of the iconic Cheerios cereal. Cinnamon Nut Cheerios first poured into bowls in 1976. Honey Nut proved to be far more popular, with a little help from that cute cartoon bee. Now there are a bazillion varieties of Cheerios.
Image: General Mills
Erasable ink! Now that made crossword addicts and essay writers happy.
9. Ring Pop
One of the great Halloween treats first slipped onto fingers in '79, a decade after the invention of the Blow Pop. Tart and Sour Raspberry flavors soon followed as the giant gem candy became a kid favorite.
10. The Klingon language
Star Trek: The Motion Picture remains pretty underrated. The movie is knocked for being slow compared to the classic film serial action of Star Wars, but the cinematic debut of Kirk and crew gave the franchise new life. Plus, it also, at last, introduced the Klingon tongue. Actor James Doohan (Scotty) came up with the basic sounds of the language for the film. It was later fleshed out into a full language, which is now taught in apps and used online.
Image: Paramount Pictures
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Sometime in the summer it will be forty years since I last stopped eating meat.
I also met most of the 1979 Greenpeace anti-sealing campaigners that year. And spent time with Bob Cummings, the other one, who was on the first Greenpeace voyage to Amchitka in 1971.
Some guy turned to me and said something, I later realized it was Don Francks, actor and father of Cree Summer. I'd never heard of him, but about a month later I was watching TV and there he was, "oh, that guy". I was in Vancouver the next year and he came over and said something, including "we're all family".
1979 was a good year.