Back when the Internet was still an unknown concept, our only forms of entertainment were trips to the playground, the library, and the mamashop. For the luckier ones, we would own a Nintendo or SEGA gaming consoles that other children could only dream of having. As we grow older, nothing ever seems better than the food, games, and books of our childhood.
Join me as I re-visit the artefacts that were a part of the good old times, when everything was much simpler: all we did was read, binge on snacks, and play with our friends.
Old School Treats
Featured snacks: Iced gem biscuits, ABC biscuits, Apollo wafer biscuits, Pola biscuit snack, spin crackers, round biscuit wafers, and pig ear biscuits.
Since old school snacks are no longer widely available in Singapore, it can be easy to forget the joy and happiness they brought you as a kid. We looked for these in the oldest mamashops we could find to present you some of the best bite-sized nostalgia:
The Pola biscuit snack is definitely my favourite – a cheap yet amazing indulgence to buy in school even with just $1 pocket money. I’m still not sure why it is considered a healthier snack in schools’ canteens, considering the amount of salt in it.
Commonly found in biscuit shops, these old-school tidbits could be easily purchased in bulk – after which, you and your friends would share the haul and proceed to munch on until you were stuffed. Fun times, indeed.
Who else remembers the hottest kid in town? It is none other than the Wang Zai (hot kid), which mainly comes in the form of xiao man tou (literally translated as small buns) and milk.
Old School Books
As a child, the library was definitely one of the places I frequented often. While my love for reading has died down significantly, I still have fond memories of borrowing books to the limit, then spending the rest of the week just reading (happiness is when the limit for borrowing doubles from 6 to 12 books!).
Back when superheroes like Batman and Wolverine were still just drawings, many might remember reading and being fascinated by the endless comic books about the Marvel or DC universe. The colour scheme, drawing style, and fonts simply scream retro, and it is something we may no longer find in magazines or comic books.
Need a dosage of scaaaaaaary horror? As a kid, irresistible books like Mr Midnight and True Singapore Ghost Stories would inevitably make your child self shiver in fear, yet you are unable to pry yourself away from them.
Other lighthearted book series included Geronimo Stilton, The Wimpy Kids, Harry Potter and Nancy Drew, which are few of the must-reads during your morning assembly reading time. We would even exchange books with our friends!
Old School Games and Collectibles
Back when smartphones did not exist, we relied on cards and board games to pass time. This includes games like the Old Maid, Uno, and of course, Snap. These group activities were bound to evoke lots of triumphant screaming and frustrated groans.
These probably fueled the overly-competitive Asian trait in us.
Of course, there are games targeted more for boys, like Pokemon or Yu-Gi-Oh! battles. I cannot relate, but the impressive collection of Yu-Gi-Oh! or Pokemon cards from my colleague, Jeremy, certainly left me in awe.
Apart from card games, we also collected huge amounts of folded stars, origami cranes, and even endless stickers stored in cartoon sticker books. Though they are now collecting dust in the deepest part of our homes, looking at them still brings back many fond memories.
Old School Electronics
Gaming consoles like the Nintendo DS, Gameboy and PSP were the peak of electronic entertainment from the late 90s to the 2000s. The pixel art aesthetic accompanied by iconic sounds like the Gameboy start-up screen and the Mario soundtrack simply screams nostalgia.
While we cannot time travel to the good old days, it is still nice to reminisce the past every now and then. Perhaps you might find hidden gems tucked in the corner of your room or pass by a mamashop in your neighbourhood selling your favourite childhood flavours. For now, we can only relish in the nostalgic memories from the most carefree and innocent part of our lives.
Photos by Goh Jing Wen of the DANAMIC team.