Mar 17 / Rob

The 5 Things Most Likely to Be Found in 90s Dorms

These are interesting times we’re living in. Like everyone else, we’re adjusting to the temporary norm of social distancing. We need a healthy distraction and figure we’re not alone in that regard. So we’re gonna get back on the blogging horse and crank up the podcast engine. Given that sports are on an indefinite hiatus though, topics might get a little out there. Which brings us to this. Here’s a list of the 5 things you were most likely to find in 90s college dorm rooms.

Cheap Plastic Cups

90s kids loved plastic. Especially when it was formed into screen printed mugs and cups. At JMU, these often took the shape of the insulated mugs with lids. I can’t remember the exact details, but I think they were branded with some sort of “JMU Recycles” tag line and they were supposed to replace disposable cups. The intent was noble, but frankly ahead of its time. Because nobody in the 90s cared about recycling or waste reduction expect for the hippies playing hacky sack at Ped Plaza or the ladies of AST. In any case, these “insulated” mugs kept your drink hot for approximately as long as took for you to fasten the lid. Hydro Flasks they were not.

In addition to insulated mugs, dorms were littered with awful plastic beer stein mugs. They were most likely souvenirs from JM’s. They were also the most deceptive piece of drinkware on the planet. A full 6 inches high, but with a false bottom so that they held approximately 3.5 ounces of cheap adjunct lager. What a bargain.

And if a dorm room didn’t have one of the above, it was sure to contain dozens of cups and mugs adorned with sorority letters lovingly crafted by someone’s big sis. I can’t find the exact numbers, but I swear that at one point, 43% of Harrisonburg’s economy was directly tied to puffy paint and the sorority pledge period.

This Aiwa Stereo

State. Of. The. Art. This thing was boomin. Two tape decks, a disc changer, and detachable speakers. A single machine enabled you to dub your favorite bootleg of a DMB show from the Floodzone, or play the latest CD you grabbed at Town and Campus Records (Midnight Madness for new releases!) downtown. 90s technology at its finest.

A John Belushi “College” Poster

Animal House is a classic. But there’s no reason that this poster should have been as ubiquitous as it was. I swear they must have snuck it in with some acceptance letters or included it pre-hung on dorm room walls. Pretty much every bro who liked to crush beers had it on his walls. Except for stoner bros who had the Bob Marley equivalent. You know the one.

Glow Ball Candles

Prior to moving to JMU, I think my entire candle usage experience fell squarely into one of two categories, Advent and power outages. Yet, I somehow got swept up into the pseudo-psychadelic decor trend and had a bunch of these weird candles all over every dorm room I ever lived in. And I was not alone. You’d kind of expected it with the kids who came to college with a brand new “Skeletons From the Closet” CD and a desire to reinvent themselves as Deadheads. But it wasn’t just them. And I still haven’t figured out why. The candles “glowed.” I think that means they were candles.

Shirts Commemorating Parties With Questionable Themes

We get it. Much of what we considered harmless fun as college students, is exceedingly cringeworthy with the benefit of hindsight. There’s no telling how much more advanced we’d be as a society today, had 90s college guys spent as much time studying as they did attempting to differentiate the exact same playbook of liquor + beer + themed costume + pretzel dancing to Breakfast at Tiffany’s into some massively differentiated party. But we can’t change the past. That’s what they (we) did. And there were receipts, in the form of 90s theme party t-shirts, to prove it. In every dorm you were sure to find drawers full of shirts memorializing such life changing events as the Pimps and Hoes, Dirty Old Men & School Girls, White Trash Wine & Cheese, Heaven and Hell, and Jagermeister Toga parties.


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  1. Jeff Clark / Mar 18 2020

    More to add to your list:

    Poster from reservoir dogs movie
    A tapestry
    Doc Martens
    Lava Lamps

  2. Rob / Mar 21 2020

    Ha. Yeah, pretty much anything Reservoir Dogs was peak 90s.

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