#7. Publisher’s Clearing House $10 million dollar sweepstakes

“You may soon win $10 million dollars in the American family sweepstakes!”

Ed MacMahon was speaking to me. Really. Like how a cult leader can get you to drink the Kool-Aid.

HeavenshelpersEvery few months, a thick envelope came with an official looking certificate and sheets of magazine stamps asking for you to mail back to enter into the sweepstakes.


I always did… then immediately went into Neighborhood Watch mode, keeping my eye out for any vans, balloons, or suspiciously over sized checks that came around my cul-de-sac.

This went on for YEARS.

My parents would tell me to stop, since it was a waste of money buying stamps, but I would just nod in agreement, and then secretly sneak the envelope into the mailbox and raise the red flag. I dreamed about seeing the expression on their faces the day a giant $10 million check came for me, and I made the family rich!

Still waiting for you Ed… are you even still alive?

OK… Just checked Wikipedia. Yeah, so he died in 2009. Looks like we both lost.

Photo source: 1, 2, 3

#9. The Trade Value of a Single McDonald’s Fry at Lunch.

You’re late for school.

Your mom didn’t have time to pack you a lunch.

But, she totally redeems herself at noon when the secretary interrupts class through the P.A. system to announce that your mom brought your lunch to the office.

You slyly smile to yourself because you know that today will become a Great Moment in School Lunch History.

Continue reading #9. The Trade Value of a Single McDonald’s Fry at Lunch.

#6. Dimetapp: God’s gift to sick children

It tastes like a liquid Japanese grape-chew candy. It’s the only medicine in the history of medicine that compels you to come running for your dose at the exact scheduled time, which is followed by lots of grinning and a small celebratory Yum-Yum Dance, with both fists pumping in the air.

Runner up goes to extra sugar-coated Vitamin Gummy Bears. Continue reading #6. Dimetapp: God’s gift to sick children

#5. Up, Up, Down, Down, Left, Right, Left, Right, B, A, START

The Konami Code:

Up + UP + Down + Down + Left +Right +Left +Right +B + A + Start.



It’s a way to life.

+30 lives to be exact.

It’s also a way to decode life. See for yourself:

–Person with bipolar disorder: “Recently I’ve been feeling so Up, Up :), Down, Down 🙁

–The synchronized eyes of spectators watching Wimbledon from the sideline:

Left, Right, Left, Right

–Even the New York Times is in on the Konami code:

“Obama administration says 2011 pullout will B, A, START, not a finish.”


2013 UPDATE:

My best friend and I went as Contra for Halloween! We went all out, complete with custom-made Contra tattoos, guns with sounds effects, and the Contra Jungle Theme song blasting from external iPhone speakers all night.

image (21)

The Konami Code
The Konami Code


image (22)

The sad part was the realization that 95% of the people at the bar we went to had no idea what Contra is.

I guess 1988 was a while ago…

Photo source: 1, 2

#4. When Alcohol and Cigarette Companies Gave Away Free Shit All the Time

Don’t smoke. Smoking is bad.

Drinking hardcore isn’t good either…

But free t-shirts, beer coolers, hats, playing cards, cool motion sensor dancing Coors Light Cans in oversized sunglasses?!

That’s always going to be welcome.

I got all kinds of cool stuff like this growing up.

Not because my parents were chain-smoking alchies… but because we owned a liquor store.

We’re Korean. I know… how… expected. Continue reading #4. When Alcohol and Cigarette Companies Gave Away Free Shit All the Time

#3. When Weezer Actually Made Music…

We all heard “Say it Ain’t So” on the radio, fell in love with the Blue Album, (Pinkerton was/is awesome too) and with Weezer. They were amazing! The “Buddy Holly” music video even came preloaded on Windows 95…

We loved Weezer soo much growing up that we kept giving them a chance every time they released a new album, only to be left severely disappointed with the crap we just bought for $16.99 + tax at Sam Goody. Yet we still held onto an unwavering optimism that they would go back to their old ways on their next album.

Well, it has been over 15 years and six albums later, but we still pathetically cling to this hope. “Beverly Hills”?! REALLY?

It’s like we’re in a sick, abusive teenage relationship where the QB is consistently a jerk to the hot chick, yet she won’t leave him for the more reliable, awesome bball player in biology class *ahem*…

Why Weezer why? Why do you push us away, when all we want is to love you? Continue reading #3. When Weezer Actually Made Music…

#2. Awesome old school plastic lunchboxes!

G.I. Joe, Hulk Hogan, Ghostbusters… whatever the theme, the front sticker was always something cool that you could stare at during the entire lunch period.

The thermos had a cap that could be used as a cup, and featured a built-in plastic staw. You could have only put water in that thing, but for some reason it never failed in damaging a whole generation’s taste buds with its consistent mildewy taste.

Can’t you just smell that nasty straw right now?

Thanks Thermos!

This is a picture of the actual lunchbox that I had in Kindergarten. Here’s a recap of my first lunches at school: Continue reading #2. Awesome old school plastic lunchboxes!

Updating and Reposting

Hey Retro ’80s Kid fans!

It’s been a long time, but I’m back! Sort of. I decided to go through each post and clean them up. Some of the video links are dead, pics need to be upgraded, and posts need to be rewritten.

I’m also planning to redo the website design.

Please enjoy another walk down memory lane as I repost all 61 stories.

I just might write a few more stories too 🙂

Thanks for following and please let me know which stories you enjoy the most and any possible topics you would like me to write about in the future.



#1. Bathroom Panic Attacks in Oshkosh Overalls

You’re three. In preschool. You gotta pee, and mom is not around.

Suddenly life in your overalls doesn’t feel as magical as when you were rolling around getting dirty and feeling invincible. You also most definitely don’t feel like a train conductor, farmer, or Mario when you’re certain you’re gonna piss yourself. Continue reading #1. Bathroom Panic Attacks in Oshkosh Overalls

The Final Post. Check out www.OMbyUM.com next!

Dear Retro 80’s Kid Fans,

It’s been a good run, but I have decided to stop writing for Retro80skid.com in order to focus on more important topics.


In my new blog, www.OMbyUM.com, I tap into my inner health freak/zen master to lay out how to achieve a healthier, happier life.


The blog is broken down into three general categories: MIND, BODY, and SOUL

I will be discussing

  1. How to transform your body with an improved diet.
  2. How to develop a sharper and more positive mind.
  3. How to start listening to your heart’s messages and begin finding greater clarity in your life’s direction.

I hope you will all take the time to check it out. My only goal is to offer you all the knowledge of what I have found to work on myself with the hope that you will be inspired to take control of your own health and well-being.

Thank you for your support over the years.

Be well and be happy!

Matthew Um


#61. Customizing Your New Jansport Backpack


My family always went to Costco, because back then, when it was Price Club, you actually got a great bargain by buying bulk. But this meant I had waayy more school supplies than I ever needed. Need Scotch Tape? How about 20 dispensers? Need a Sharpie to label your hoodie? Now you have 49 too many. Want to start writing a journal in a composition book? Now you have enough paper to write an autobiography. Go!

Like me, you probably spent the rest of your time within the warehouse improving your physical and mental agility. In between making mad dashes from the snack sections to the shopping cart, juking and spinning around the other customers with a gallon of ice cream and beef jerky tucked under your arm like a pro running back, you honed your Jedi negotiation skills by convincing the old ladies who were handing out samples of freshly microwaved hamburgers, that

  1. You absolutely did not need parental supervision to eat the sample
  2. That it was in their best interest financially to let you try it, since at that point you were “very interested” in purchasing a box just based on the smell alone
  3. And that no, that other kid who swiped three servings and ran away a minute ago was NOT you.

Finally came the highlight of every Back-to-School shopping run: getting to pick out a crisp new Jansport backpack!

Whoa whoa whoa, hold on there spaz, you found the color you wanted, but you can’t just wear it out of the box! People will think you’re a freak. You gotta go through the Jansport customization check list: Continue reading #61. Customizing Your New Jansport Backpack

#60. Reaching into the fountain for a quarter

It was always slightly out of reach, but the moment you spotted one, you rolled up your sleeves, had your brother hold your ankles and went for it.

Your dignity?… Gone. Instantly.

You had to do it. Free money.

And back then, 25¢ got you either…

5 Bazooka Joes (rock hard? Absolutely.);

    Continue reading #60. Reaching into the fountain for a quarter

#59. How to be a Baller – by Uncle Scrooge

Let’s be real, even though Launch Pad was probably your favorite character (or maybe Huey, Duey, or Louie: whoever was the one with that really scratchy voice… “But…Uncle Scrooooge!”) you still had to respect Scrooge McDuck.

Starting everyday with a dip into a shimmering pool of gold coins?

The dude flat out knew how to live it up.

And he also made you dream…

About one day being so rich that you could buy your own Hover Board and flying Delorean.

About being able to buy all the toys at Toys ‘R Us and owning all the Nintendo games in the world (always was my wish while holding my breath through tunnels).

Continue reading #59. How to be a Baller – by Uncle Scrooge

#58. A semi-educational moment: Everyday French with Pierre Escargot

French or Spanish?

It’s a month before your first day of junior high and you’re staring at your elective class request form, which is due tomorrow. With a simple check of a box you’re about to commit yourself to learning one language for the next six years.

It seems like a fairly easy choice, since there doesn’t appear to be any real world application in being able to speak French as an American. Still, the fantasy of being semi-fluent in French has its appeal.

For one, the thought of learning the language makes you fantasize of one day navigating through the country on your own to finally try a croissant that didn’t come in a Costco-sized 12-pack (you always started off strong, but by croissant #3, you were already fuckin’ sick of them), and also to find answers to those burning questions you had about French culture…

Such as:

1) Do students there really dress like Madeline? (Awesome?)

2) What is the official French stance on french fries? Is it similar to how Canadians call Canadian Bacon, ham? And what’s with dipping it in mayo?

3) If there really is no age limit for alcohol, are the streets in Paris filled with extra-wobbly toddlers? And if so, would this scene be funnier than having the kids replaced with drunk, belligerent dwarfs in leprechaun outfits?

That’s a Tuborg bottle on the left, which means these are some Danish babies. Skål!

Yes, these are questions that need to be answered, but what is more important are the skills you will hopefully learn from the classes.

Such as: Continue reading #58. A semi-educational moment: Everyday French with Pierre Escargot

#56. So you were a Cheez Ball addict too…

If you’re like me, Mr. Peanut actually doesn’t remind you of nuts at all, but instead his image still triggers a Pavlovian Response to the greatest snack in the history of snacks… Planter’s CHEEZ BALLS!

Don’t get me wrong. Cheetos were also excellent, but you ate Cheetos like you ate chips, a couple at a time. Eating Cheez Balls was like eating popcorn… nonstop fistfulls rammed into your face until it was all gone.

Five orange fingers after a bag of Cheetos? Pure gluttony. After a tin of Cheez Balls? Socially expected behavior, as long as your palm was also covered in the magical cheese dust. Seriously, only freaks would ever eat popcorn or Cheez Balls one at a time. Continue reading #56. So you were a Cheez Ball addict too…

#54. Magic Grow Dinosaurs Capsules

Once upon a time, you were given brightly colored pills as toys and were expected not to swallow them.

Do Not Eat! Tastes like burning.

Instead, like a Little House on the Prairie midwife, you were instructed to fetch a bowl of warm water to participate in the miraculous birth from pill to dinosaur.

It was the most exciting use of water since Crocodile Mile.

You toss in the pills, then eagerly watch eye level with the bowl, as INSTANTLY… nothing happens.

and so you wait…

Continue reading #54. Magic Grow Dinosaurs Capsules

#53. Recycle, Reduce, Reuse… and Close the Loop!

Along the same lines as how Al Gore created the internet, the Green Movement actually began with a troop of dancing dinosaurs, led by a hip young Recycle Rex.

His lyrics crept its way in and permanently lodged itself in the coolness segment of your brain. He had you screaming the chorus with the rest of your friends while sprinting to secure the best handball court for recess.

Rex’s tune was definitely catchier than Woodsy Owl’s “Give a Hoot, Don’t Pollute” song from the ’70s and ’80s:

and was also a better call to action than a minute’s worth of stereotypes and a single teardrop.

Sadly, with all of his success from having a number one hit single, 20 years later we find Recycle Rex suffering the same fate as other childhood stars from his era: Continue reading #53. Recycle, Reduce, Reuse… and Close the Loop!

#52. Silencing the crowd with a peace sign

The Yo-Yo presentation is about to begin in the multi-purpose room.

Everyone is sitting Indian style, chatting with their neighbors, but not you.

You flash a firm peace sign as high as your right arm will take it while angrily locking eyes with your teacher on stage.

It meant you were ready, and was a silent but expressive SHUT THE HELL UP to everyone else around you.

Just as you begin to discover new shoulder muscles, your classmates take notice and buckle under your sign’s power.

Peace. The original gang sign.

Photo source: 1

A salute to the '80s and '90s childhood experience.