Let's face it, kids are dumb. That's not being mean, that's just the truth. We were all dumb kids once. We thought there was a small fairy who exchanged our teeth for cash, we thought wrestling was real and we believed a wide range of uniquely '90s urban legends.
The school playground has always been a breeding ground of rumors, creepy tales, and urban legends. Usually the stories originated with a friend of your cousin's friend, but you were still adamant it was true. These were those lofty days when we didn't care about facts or skepticism, we just wanted to freak each other the fuck out. To celebrate that fact, here are some distinctly '90s urban legends.
1. Internet Chain Letters Are The Harbingers of Vengeful Dead Children
I first went online back in the late 1990s. I wasn't really sure what the internet was at the time. In fact, there didn't really seem like a whole lot to do on it. Remember, these were those heady days before Youtube and Facebook came along and zombified everyone in front of the computer.
This lack of actual stuff to do online is probably what lead to the creation of bizarre stories which were then spread around in chain letters. I, like everyone else, had an embarrassing email address back in the late 1990s, and since I was a 12-year-old boy, no one actually needed to email me for anything. This meant my email was solely used to communicate creepy chain letters - and there were lots of them. Some of them were short and to the point, others were long and winding tales of murder. Here are some examples:
My name is Alexa Black. I have blue eyes and red hair. Don't ask why. Didn't i tell you? I am dead. My best friend Summer was dating a boy named Jake, who hated my guts because I broke up with him. I was sitting inside while Summer was in the bathroom and Jake cam in and told me that Summer's brother had lost his ball o the roof and wanted me to get it. I got out the ladder and climbed up. I didn't see the ball. I heard Jake say "goodbye Alexa". Then I fell you my death. Jake had pushed the ladder over. Jake liked to Summer and I said that I jumped. That night I appeared by him and said "goodbye, Jake." I pushed him off his bed and he got a concussion. When he told the doctors his story they thought he had hallucinated so they sent him to ICU and tested him. When they found he was healed they sent him to an insane asylum.
If you do not send this to at least one other person. I will appear to you and kill you next week. Don't believe me?
Case 1: Mikey was going down the street when all of a sudden he remembered he forgot too send this death chain to one person. He crossed the street and got shot by four bullets and got hit by a flying chainsaw.
Case 2: George was in his bedroom, looking up death chains. All of a sudden, he saw me standing in the doorway. I started calling his name and then I took an axe and chopped his head off.
You have 4 minutes to send this chain mail to one other person or I will haunt you forever!
In 1999, a girl named Emma Dials got a chain letter saying if she didn't send this to 5 people by midnight she would get her head chopped off! She just clicked delete! BIG MISTAKE! At 12:00, the lights flickered and then she heard the door slam. She ran into the kitchen and saw a man standing there with a knife. he stabbed her 6 times and chopped her head off. She never came out of the house again. he dumped her body and no one ever found her. Protect yourself! Send this to 5 people by midnight or you will end up like Emma.
Of course, nowadays it's ridiculous to think people actually fell for these illogical, terribly written death chains, but they did - in their hundreds. The letters would always include all the email addresses to which it had been forwarded, showing you that pretty much everyone in your school had passed it on to someone else.
I'm not sure if these chain letters still exist with today's youth. I certainly haven't got any in a while. But then again, the only people who email me now are my bank and Amazon.com.
As a ghost story, Candyman goes back decades - perhaps even to the 19th century. However, as a modern urban legend, it is a distinctly 1990s phenomenon.
The release of the 1992 horror movie based on the story, Candyman, led to rumors spreading around playgrounds that the bee covered hooked killer would emerge if you said his name five times into a mirror. I still remember kids congregating in the toilets to try out the experiment, with the less courageous (or perhaps cynical) ones fleeing usually around the time the third 'Candyman' was said.
There is something distinctly eerie about staring directly into a mirror, and it's this feeling that the Candyman urban legend capitalized on. Even today, thinking about it makes my hair stand on end.
In reality, it seems the story of Candyman has some historical basis. According to some sources, Candyman was a slave named Daniel Robitaille. After he fell in love with his owner's daughter, he was chased out of town by a mob and eventually cornered. The story goes on to state they cut off his right hand with a rusty saw, covered him in honey and then threw him into a beehive.
3. Poisoned Halloween Candy
Halloween is of course the perfect time for creepy urban legends to percolate - and poisoned halloween candy is one of the best known.
Once again, there is an element of truth behind the playground rumors. There have been some instances of halloween candy laced with poison, but in almost all situations the plot was actually hatched by the child's own parents. However, the 1990s were the pinnacle of 'stranger danger' - a social shift which local news networks were only too eager to report on. According to a Washington Post poll, 60% of parents in 1985 were fearful that their child would be injured or killed because of Halloween candy sabotage.
This hysteria certainly wasn't helped by kids spreading their own stories around school. Every halloween there were playground tales of an unknown kid (usually from another school) dying because they ate poisoned candy given to them by some creepy old guy down the road. In my hometown, the oldest and most desolate houses quickly became known for handing out candy boobytrapped with pins, needles and razorblades. Some kids even brought in evidence (which I've since realized was fake).
Of course, in reality, this kind of thing almost never happens, and there hasn't been a serious case of tampered candy since 1974 - and in that instance the father killed his own child.
4. Y2K Was Going to End the World
As mentioned above, we still didn't quite trust the internet in the 1990s. In fact, by the end of the decade we were all pretty sure it was going to kill us all.
Y2K, or the Millennium Bug, falls into an odd place between urban legend and actual threat. People to this day still argue about the veracity of the claims often peddled on the sensationalist news media at the time. Basically, the argument went like this: computer software had not been programmed to deal with the change of year from '99 to '00. This would usher in a thousand years of misery as planes fell from the sky and all our money went *poof*.
This was different from playground rumormongering since all your parents seemed to get wrapped up in it too. Even computer shops started selling software which declared itself 'Y2K compatible.'
Of course, when the year 2000 did come around, computers pretty much carried on like they always did. No one died and anyone who had stockpiled canned food and blankets probably felt a bit silly.
5. The Pokémon Lavender Town Music Will Kill You
As you all know, Pokémon was a pretty big deal in the 1990s. This meant it too wasn't safe from the over active imaginations of school kids.
One the most enduring urban legends regarding the original Pokémon games concerns the admittedly creepy Lavender Town - a settlement which features the infamous haunted Pokémon Tower.
Lavender Town is the setting of several 1990s urban legends, but the one most commonly spread around our school involved the eerie, haunting music that loops over and over while exploring the town.
According to some, listening to the Lavender Town music for too long while wearing headphones would slowly drive the player insane. It was claimed the monotonous high pitched tones would cause the listener to vomit, before eventually driving them to suicide.
How did they know this? Well, it happened the friend of a brother of a person they met on vacation. That's how.