90's Therapy is term I coined a few years back, when I realized that whenever I got depressed, I turned ot the 90's to cheer me up. I grew up in the 90's and while the world wasn't perfect, it was simpler to me. I miss those times and when bad times arise, just going back to that time period (1987-2003) really brings a smile to my face. I listen to music, watch TV shows, and write about my favorite memories from that era, and now I do some webdesign that takes me back.
Sometimes, I find myself driving to work and just day dreaming about living in the 90’s. I remember those special days when things were simpler and life was fun. I think about staying home sick from school and watching MacGyver and The Price is Right. I think about my afternoons being full of watching The Golden Girls and Designing Women. I think about playing at the Discovery Zone, watching Monday Night Nitro, and throwing a Nerf football around. I think about those simple moments, where I laid in bed with a portable CD player and just listened to music. No multitasking, no cell phone in hand, just me relaxing with some tunes.
Obviously there is no way for me to go back in time and enjoy the carefree days of my youth. That’s a bit extreme, but I do think there are ways to bring the 90’s into modern times that may encourage some happiness.
I’ve given this a lot of thought over the years, and one of the main things about bringing the 90’s into modern day is accepting limitations. A lot of people immediately think about buying vintage electronics, dressing in retro clothes, and using old slang, but none of that truly channels the 90’s the way restriction does. What do I mean by restriction? I mean, putting down your cell phone. Turning off your cell phone while at work or school. Using physical media and not diving into streaming entertainment, but if you don’t have access to physical media , then limiting your choices with streaming. For example: I’ve destroyed all my massive playlists and now only use playlists that are 10-12 songs. This mimics the length of a regular album and helps me link songs together the way that I used to. I’ve also found a lot of joy in building specific playlists that are short and for a purpose the I used to do with mix-tapes.
We are bombarded with choices and when so much is at your fingertips a bit of decision fatigue can kick in. I often tell people how much I miss the days of just having a few movies on DVD. I’d come home and just pick from what I owned or watch the special features. I felt like I got real value out of my purchases and I learned so much about my favorite films in the process.
Disconnecting is another important way of bringing back the 90’s. Not always online 24/7 and not feeling the need to share every single detail is very 90’s. Back then, you just did what you wanted to do to entertain yourself, not others. There was no social media and if you wanted to share your goofy hobbies and interests, then you had to learn how to make a basic website like this to connect with the random three people who might find your website through your AOL Profile.
Another tip I like to utilize is finding videos on Archive.org or YouTube that are complete with commercials. There is just something about watching a 90’s sitcom in VHS quality with familiar commercials that makes me feel warm and fuzzy. I’m also a big fan of supporting 90’s things that have been brought back. Maybe it’s Planter’s Cheeseballs or maybe it’s watching Joe Bob Briggs on Shudder. I also love playing remakes/remasters/sequels of games I loved in the 90’s like Mario, Mortal Kombat, Sonic, and Streets of Rage.
The Grind Aerobic Tapes
From 1992 to 1997, MTV had a dance show called The Grind. It was a simple show which featured lots of pretty people dancing to pop song, club hits, and remixes. It wasn’t the most interesting show to watch, but it made for great background noise while cleaning your room or doing homework.
MTV realized The Grind name had some value so they used it to release a single album called MTV Grind 1 that was similar to the MTV Party To Go series. I’m guessing MTV Grind 1 didn’t sell all that well, because it MTV never released a follow up.
MTV seemed to have more success with releasing their own series of workout tapes under The Grind brand. They released five all together: Hip Hop Aerobics (1995), Fitness with Flava (1995), Strength and Fitness (1996), Fat Burning Grooves (1997), Dance Club Aerobics (1998), and Tai Funk Aerobics (1999).
Eric Nies was a former Real World contestant who found himself hosting quite a few of the workout tapes and by hosting, I mean saying supportive things while the real instructor runs the tape.
Exercise tapes were huge in the 90’s, and MTV decided to take the sterile, monotonous tone of most exercise tapes and infused a lot of fun. The tapes are more laid back, play pulse thumping hip music, and everyone actually seems like they are enjoying themselves. It sure beats the hell out of what you’d get watching Buns of Steel.
Reebok Step Aerobics
In the late 1980s, a woman named Gin Miller injured her knee. Her orthopedic doctor recommended that she strengthened the muscles supporting the knee by stepping up and down on a milk crate. Ms. Miller decided to take things one step further (no pun intended) and invented step aerobics. Reebok was one of the first large scale producers of the Step (an adjustable plastic block for stepping onto) and in 1992 they released their first step workout video hosted by Gin Miller called Step Reebok The Video. Reebok decided to forego the generic smiling faces and bright neon colors that most workout tapes had and instead went for a dark, gritty look that really stood out on the shelf.
The tape itself was also different in presentation. It still had a supportive instructor leading the way, but the tape featured a live band with lots of drums and was filmed with off center camera angles that 90’s music videos were known for. It was hip and modern, and broke the mold for which workout tapes were made from. Young people weren’t ashamed to pick up Reebok Step and Stepmania seemed to sweep the nation.
Reebok continued to make Step videos for years, and Gin Miller continued to release new Step videos into the 2000’s.
In 1992, Nabisco released Snackwells, a fat-free line of cookies that cashed in on the dietary guidelines of the early 1990s that suggested Americans reduce the amount of fat that they eat. They were immediately a huge hit and thanks to some clever marketing became a household name.
Like most “diet” type cookies, Snackwells were more expensive than your standard cookies, and were known for being quite dry. I think everyone who was a kid in the 90’s got to try Snackwells at an aunt or their grandmother’s house, but despite the enticing looking images on the front of the box, Snackwells didn’t taste all that great. People who bought Snackwells (as well as other low calorie snacks) tend to eat more Snackwells (or low calorie cookies) than regular cookies thus offsetting any potential benefit of consuming the lower calorie snack. This phenomenon was labeled The Snackwell Effect.
With the rise of low carb diets in the late 90’s and early 2000’s, the high carb Snackwells fell out of favor with the diet crowd. Since then the brand has been sold a couple of times, most recently in August 2017 where it is now owned by B&G Foods, Inc.
I didn’t realize that Snackwells were still around, and hadn’t thought about the brand in years. After discovering that Snackwells are still produced, I decided to go out and give them a try.
At my work’s gift shop they sell Snackwell’s Vanilla Crème Cookies. I picked up a pack and actually thought they were quite decent. The cookie itself was a little hard and it's not the most flavorful filling, but for a quick snack it wasn't bad at all.
The most popular product, and that one that is most remembered, are the Snackwell Devil Food Cakes. I went to my local grocery store and was shocked to find them sold out. It took me a few days but I eventually came home with a box and decided to give them a try after dinner.
Similar to the Vanille Creme Cookies, the Devil Food Cake was good, but not great. Actually, after I ate the first cake I was ready to dismiss them completely, but I had a second and found it to be "not bad." Sadly, not only are their rather medicore, but you don't get much bang for your buck. My four dollar box contained a measily twelve cookies.
Obviously fat-free diets are no longer popular and because of this Snackwells suffers. The entire brand was built around being a "fat-free cookie" and no one cares about that anymore. The Devil's Food Cake ran 50 calories with 12g of carbs and 7g of sugar. This very reasonable for a cookie and I feel like the taste matches up well with the nutritional facts.
I won't go out of my way to hunt down any of the other Snackwell products, but I'm glad I can say that I've finally tried them.
I’ve been focusing mostly on 90’s fitness and diet products, but I thought I’d reach back and take a look at Coca-Cola’s first diet drink, Tab.
Tab was created by Coca-Cola in 1963 after Diet Rite was introduced by RC Cola and did extremely well. Tab is named as part of their marketing for people who wanted to “keep tabs” on their weight. At the time Tab and Diet Rite were the only diet sodas on the market.
Tab was Coke’s best-selling diet soft drink until the introduction of Diet Coke in 1982. Some controversy arose in the 1970’s when the artificial sweetener saccharin was shown to cause bladder cancer in mice. The FDA required companies to place a warning label stating that it contained a product known to cause cancer in lab animals, but despite this Tab still remained the best-selling diet drink. At one point Coke decided to use Nutrasweet instead of saccharin but consumers were not happy with the taste change (similar to what happened to Diet Pepsi in 2016 and 2017 when they changed from aspartame to sucralose). Over the years, no further link between saccharin and cancer in humans was found and it was delisted in 2000 and removed from the hazardous substances list. Still, you’ll find people online who swear drinking Tab gave their mother/father/brother/sister cancer.
Over the years Tab was sold in different flavors and even colors. Flavors such as Lemon-Lime, Black Cherry, Root Beer, Ginger Ale, Orange, and Strawberry were all sold in the 70’s. In 1983, a Caffeine Free version of Tab was released. In the 1992, a clear version of Tab was sold (no doubt because of Pepsi Clear).
As recent as 2018, I was still able to buy Tab at Target stores in North Carolina. I purchased it a few times and was surprised by how much I enjoyed it. I’m not a fan of cola’s all that much, and prefer Diet Mountain Dew or Diet Dr Pepper, but Tab exists in this weird realm that is quite flavorful and sweet.
I purchased a twelve pack once I began diving into vintage diet products since I haven’t had Tab in a year or so. I popped the top and instantly remembered how much I enjoyed this drink. I wish they still sold a caffeine free version, because I could see myself drinking this all the time if they did. I’m really glad Tab is still around and there is a reason it’s been around for fifty-five years, it’s actually good!
Update: As of December 2020, Tab is no longer being produced by Coca-Cola. I had my final Tab while visiting Seattle. I found a can at a local grocery store and sucked down the sugar-free goodness. After that last Tab in May 2019, I was unable to find it in Target or anywhere else for that matter. Then, thanks in part to the COVID-19 pandemic, Coca-Cola finally laid Tab to rest in December 2020.
In the early-to-mid 1990's the dietary fad was low-fat. All the latest research pointed that the less fat you took in, the less fat you'd retain. So, you couldn't walk through a grocery store without seeing "NO FAT" or "LOW FAT" printed across a good majority of the products on the aisles. Sadly, these options were usually not better for you, since the manufactures simply replaced the fat with sugar or carbs.
In 1998, Frito-Lay decided to introduce a line of chips called WOW that promised to taste just like the fatty options by using a fat substitute called Olestra. Frito-Lay wasted no time introducing WOW chips under the Ruffles, Doritos, and Tostitos brands, and in the first year they sold over $400 million dollars’ worth of sales. It seemed like Frito-Lay had captured the healthy conscious audience and had a home run on their hands.
Then came the bad news. It turns out that Olestra, the fat substitute, had some side effects like abdominal cramping, diarrhea, and anal leakage in some people. Frito-Lay was forced to label their products with a warning that said, "This product contains olestra. Olestra may cause abdominal cramping and loose stools. Olestra inhibits the absorption of vitamins and other nutrients. Vitamins A, D, E, and K have been added." Sales dropped to $200 million just two short years later.
Eventually the WOW line was dissolved and the chips were labeled light, but even today people still like to make anal leakage jokes when referring to certain brands of chips.
Fen-Phen was a weight loss drug that was huge in the 1990’s. The fen referred to fenfluramine, an appetite depressant and the phen referred to phentermine, an amphetamine. Getting a prescription was as easy as walking into a pop up doctor’s office, watching a five minute video, and having some quick bloodwork. For around $130 you could walk out with a prescription.
Fen-Phen was all the rage. It was effective at stimulating weight loss and it seemed everybody wanted to get their hands on it. The hype that surrounded Fen-Phen is not too unlike the hype behind medical marijuana here in 2018. However, like medical marijuana, no long term studies had been conducted about the possible side effects Fen-Phen could have, and after several years on the market, the FDA pulled the drug because a study was done that showed the Fen-Phen may have caused heart defects in nearly a third of the patients who too it. Over six million people took Fen-Phen almost soley off the results of a single study with 121 participants.
Weight loss clinics popped up like marijuana dispensaries in strip malls and anywhere cheap real estate was available. Doctors set up shop in cheaply run offices just to hand the pills out. This was during the rise of HMOs and doctors saw it as a way to supplement their incomes.
One of the biggest issues with Fen-Phen was that it was never tested or approved for long term use. However, doctors were giving refill after refill and unfortunately it was destroying the hearts of many of the patients who took it. The FDA was reluctantly to approve it, but with obesity being a nationwide epidemic, one doctor who supported the drug argued that solving the obesity problem was more important than any possible side effects.
By 1997, Fen-Phen was off the market, but doctors were still working on putting together their own new concoctions that could stimulate weight loss and tap into the very lucrative market that is dietary supplements.
Each show began with a group of teens around a campfire and each week a different teen got to tell a story. The stories ranged in quality like all anthology shows do, but for the most part Are You Afraid of the Dark was a great show. The scares were legit and the atmosphere was wonderful. I honestly think the atmosphere is what truly made the show unique and such a fun watch.
Nickelodeon was a branding machine in the 90’s, and almost all of their shows got all sorts of merchandise tie-ins. Are You Afraid of the Dark had books, VHS tapes, and a board game. They also had three cassette tapes that were released featuring new Are You Afraid of the Dark stories. I recently came across a copy of all three tapes and decided to give these forgotten Are You Afraid of the Dark stories a listen.
The first tape released was Are You Afraid of the Dark Tales from The Midnight Society Virtual Nightmare and Other Scary Stories. According to a reddit post, this tape was given away as part of the Nick or Treat contest. I remember it also being sold in stores. It came packaged with a forty page flipbook and featured the cast (Ross Hull as Gary, Jodie Resther as Kiki, and Joanna Garcia as Sam) from the television series reading the stories.
A Tale of the Virtual Nightmare
Mr. Fernandez knows Jay love scary movies. So he’s saved Jay an especially frightening new one at his video store. But when Jay comes to pick it up, Mr. Fernandez is nowhere to be found. And what are those four deep scratches on the floor?
The Tale of the Lonely Doll
“Hi. I’m Talking Terry and I want to be your friend.” Janine’s little sister Merrie has found a sweet little talking doll. But something in those staring eyes and eerie voices gives Janine the creeps. What is Talking Terry really trying to say?
The Tale of the Locked Door
In the midst of a blizzard, Dad has taken off into town for supplies. Lisa and Shawn are alone in the dusty Vermont cabin. Or they think they are, until those unearthly howls begin to come from the basement.
The Tale of The Mysterious Mall
There’s something weird and spooky bout the eyes of those store mannequins. When Denny and his sister Liz decide to tell the store manager, she offers them no assistance. But she does give them some strangely powerful milk and cookies.
The stories were written by Susan Kim, who also wrote four episodes of the television series in 1994 (The Tale of the Jagged Sign, The Tale of the Quiet Librarian, The tale of the Curious Camera, and The Tale of the Carved Stone.)
My Recaps and Thoughts
Tale of the Virtual Nightmare
This story starts off great and is very nostalgic. Jay, our young protagonist is a huge horror movie fan. He loves renting tapes from his local video store and has even becomes friends with the owner Mr. Fernandez. One day he shows up to the store to pick up a tape that Mr. Rodriguez had pulled especially for him, but when he arrives at the store Mr. Fernandez is nowhere to be found, instead Jay sees four huge scratch marks on the floor. He finds the tape with a note on it saying “For Jay” so he takes the tape and heads home and doesn’t bother calling 9-11 for missing friend. (Some friend Jay is…)
That night, Jay attempts to watch this “ultra-scary” horror movie but all he sees on the tape is a giant dragon flying clutching something in his hands. Bored with the lack of narrative, Jay turns the video off. Before returning the tape, Jay decided to give the film one more shot. He pops the tape back into the VCR and notices the dragon seems to be closer to the screen this time. Suddenly, the dragons eyes notices Jay and the dragon begins flying towards the screen. In a panic, Jay ejects the tape and decided to return it immediately.
On his way to the video store, he notices a series of TVs in a shop window and one by one they all change to an image of the dragon flying closer and closer to the screen. Jay runs home in a panic and finds his father watching football. The TV is fine for a while, but then suddenly flicks, and the dragon returns flying closer and closer to the TV. Jay screams and his father inquires to why his son is acting like a freak, and when Jay looks back to the TV, it’s just a regular old football game.
Jay runs upstairs to his room hoping to avoid any and all TVs, but forgets he has a small TV in the corner of his room. Once in the room, he notices the dragon is super close to the screen and this is when Jay finally realizes that what the dragon is clutching in his claws is Mr. Fernandez. The sound of the wings flapping is almost deafening and in the midst of all the chaos, Jay hears a voice cry out, “Wake up Jay…. Wake up!” Jay notices a glass of lemonade on his nightstand just as the dragon comes bursting through the TV. He thinks about throwing the lemonade at the dragon, but knows it will do no good. Right as the dragon is about to devour Jay, he takes the lemonade and pours it on his head. He wakes up screaming and covered in sweat. His mother comes running into the room and chastises Jay for falling asleep while watching another horror movie and then asks him why does he smell like lemons.
Jay waits for his mother to leave and that is when he finally pulls his covers down to reveal his t-shirt, which contained four large claw marks through it.
The story started off strong, but I don’t find dragons scary now and didn’t when I was a kid either. Totally skippable.
Tale of the Lonely Doll
Janine’s little sister Merrie was in the backyard playing when she discovered a dirty, torn up doll named Talking Terry. Talking Terry has the unique ability to speak and seemingly understand what is going on around her. She immediately gives Janine the creeps, but she feels bad for Merrie. Merrie doesn’t have any friends, and Janine had spent the day playing video games, so Merrie went out and found a toy to play with.
Throughout the night, Talking Terry continues to give Janine the creeps, and she begs her mom to dispose of the doll. Her mom said the doll was Merries and she was allowed to keep it, and before going to bed, Talking Terry was placed in the toy box. Janine had a nightmare that Talking Terry was cutting up all her other dolls and proclaiming, “I’m your only doll now” and then she woke up and found the toy box in shambles. It looked like a bomb had gone off. When Janine’s mother came into the room, she yelled at Janine, who attempted to play the mess on Talking Terry, only to get a stern talking to in response.
Talking Terry started threatening Janine and Janine took it upon herself to throw Talking Terry out the window. Merrie found Talking Terry and Janine only got into even more trouble, but while being dressed down by her mother, Merrie began to scream. Talking Terry had shoved a toy box over the top of Merrie and had trapped Merrie in the dark.
Terry continue to torment Janine and Janine managed to rip her head off. Fed up with the creepy doll that was terrorizing her family, Janine took Terry outside and hovered around a neighbor’s yard where he was burning leaves. She waited for the neighbor to turn his back before tossing Terry into the fire, finally destroying her once and for all.
Our story ends with a young girl walking down a sidewalk when she stumbles upon a black ball of some sort. She picks it up to throw it away when suddenly, two bright blue eyes open up and Talking Terry asks to be her friend.
Ever seen The Twilight Zone’s Talking Tiny episode? Yep, well, this is it in kids form. The voice of Talking Terry was disturbing, but the story was weak. I don’t see this keeping anyone up at night even if they are a child.
Tale of the Locked Door
Lisa and Shawn are snowed in during a blizzard. Their father had yet to return which had Lisa quite worried. Shawn continued to reassure her, but Lisa was put at ease easily. Her father had told her the story of someone who lived in the house forty years ago who got lost in a blizzard and died, and that had weighed heavily on Lisa’s mind whenever it snowed a lot.
While discussing her fears with Shawn, Lisa noticed a loud banging sound on the cellar door. This door always remained locked and there was nothing in the cellar that should be banging on the door. Shawn dismissed it at first as being her imagination, but the banging and growling grew too loud to ignore for long. After a minute or two, the door finally burst open and a large beast emerged barking and snarling. This epic beast was a St. Bernard.
The dog led the kids out into the snow, barking and leading them to some place in the distance. After walking a little ways, the barking stopped and Lisa and Shawn found their father, stranded in the snow with a sprained ankle. Relieved and amazed that he was found by his children, their father asked how they were able to find him in this blinding snowstorm. That’s when Lisa told her father about the dog, which by this point, had magically disappeared.
Lisa managed to find the dog’s footsteps in the snow, but they ended right near where her father was found. It seemed the dog had disappeared.
Her father, despite freezing, decided to take a second to think about a story he had heard about the man who had perished in the snow forty years earlier. Apparently, people had forgotten about his trusty St. Bernard that had been locked in the cellar. The dog had starved to death, but apparently his spirit had never left the home and he was finally able to save someone lost in the snow since he wasn’t able to save his owner.
In the distance, the family heard a tragic howl.
This was the simplest of the stories and the best. It’s a very generic ghost story that actually worked. I felt like this was the type of story you’d see on the show and could invoke some chills. Loved it!
Tale of the Mysterious Mall
Denny and Liz are at the mall shopping when Liz starts getting creeped out by a store mannequin. The mannequin has life-like blue eyes and feels like it’s watching them wherever they go. Infatuated by the mannequins, the two children end up losing their parents and are lost in the department store. So like all resourceful young children, they head to the manager’s office, who is very nice and offers them milk and cookies while they page their parents. Liz eats the delicious milk and cookies, but Denny is bothered by the lack of urgency in the manager’s voice and just eats a couple of the cookies. A few seconds later everything goes black.
Denny wakes up and can’t find Liz. He runs into another room where he sees the store manager fixing up young female mannequin. When the manager turns around, her face looks like that of a witch. He’s startled, but more startled by the mannequin that has a single tear drip from its bright blue eyes. That’s when he realizes that the mannequin is his sister Liz.
Upset, the store manager tells Denny he shouldn’t be awake yet and tries to get him to drink some milk. He decided to throw it onto the witch, who starts screaming as her skin turns milky white like that of the mannequin. She becomes frozen in a pose of pain and agony with fear and anger in her bright blue eyes.
Suddenly Denny is surrounded by children, including Liz, who were all released from the witches spell once the witch was turned into a mannequin.
Ahh…. I don’t know. It was interesting, and felt like one of the bad episodes of Are You Afraid of the Dark. So, I gotta give it credit for feeling like a true Are You Afraid of the Dark story, but it was pretty weak. Definitely skippable.
You can listen to Tales from the Midnight Society on YouTube thanks to uploaded ZakBabyTV.
The second cassette tape released is titled More Tales from the Midnight Society. This tape included a 19 page book of illustrations, and the same cast that returned from first tape. This time Susan Kim wrote some of the stories along with Ross Hull as Gary, Jodie Resther as Kiki, and Joanna Garcia as Sam returning to perform.
The Tale of the New Kid
The Tale of the Strange Storybook
The Tale of the Black Cat
The Tale of the Strange Snowman
Unfortunately, I haven’t been able to locate any images of the back of the packaging, so I don’t have any official descriptions like the first tape.
My Recaps and Thoughts
The Tale of the New Kid:
Hiram is the new kid in school, and he’s a little weird. He carries a small troll with him, which startles Pete, a good young man. Dwayne is the school bully and tires steal Hiram’s doll. Pete interferes and Dwayne insists that he will get his revenge. After school, he drags Pete to Hiram’s house, which they find abandoned all but the lifeless body of Hiram inside. The troll attacks and touches Dwayne and Pete manages to escape. The next day Dwayne shows up with the troll.
This was a pretty solid story to begin with. It’s a classic, with a creepy doll running the show instead of the human like you expect. All I could think about was Puppet Master when I listened to this and that is not a bad thing.
The Tale of the Strange Storybook:
Sherry is babysitting Alex. Alex cries out for Sherry and says that there is something under the bed. She knows this is ridiculous, but when she goes to check she notices a large creepy storybook on the nightstand. She opens it up and discovers a picture of the house that she is in. Then the hallway. The bedroom. And then a little boy under a bed. She finds Alex under the bed, clutching a piece of paper. She puts the paper in her pocket once she hears Alex’s parents coming home. She gets home and the paper opens up on its own and it shows a large, creepy monster under the bed. Suddenly Alex hears a sound under the bed.
Babysitter stories are often found in children/teenage horror because its something that kids can relate to. Many young girls end up doing some sort of babysitting so the thought of something going horribly wrong is something they can relate to. This story feels like a story I’ve heard before, but that’s okay. It was solid and I loved the twist ending that I saw coming from a mile away.
The Tale of the Black Cat:
Jane was not a fan of her family cat Sooty. She always had a bad feeling and she attempted to avoid the cat. She didn’t feed the cat and would shut it out whenever possible. Then she found books, tapes, and dresses torn up. Then one morning, she woke up feeling suffocated and found Footy on her chest. Then Sooty spoke. Sooty said, you’ve kicked me, forgotten to feed me, and locked me out of the house and it was time to get even. Suddenly Jane shrunk down and fell to the floor. She was the size of a mouse, and Sooty slapped her and threatened to eat her if she tried to run. Just as Sooty was about to eat her, she woke up. Her little brother Gordon walked in and Jane noticed Sooty was sitting on her chest. Just as Jane convinced herself it was an nightmare, she watched Sooty stare her down, pull out her claws, and destroyed the rag doll she had stolen from Jane’s room.
Probably my least favorite story of the group, this was just weak.
The Tale of the Strange Snowman:
Something was chasing Ben… and then he woke up to find his brother Eli jumping on his bed. Overnight, it had snowed and the world was white, but school was still on. Ben and Eli began to shovel the driveway, which turned into a snowball fight. In the midst of the snowball fight, Eli noticed something watching them. Eli ran after it, and Ben caught up and noticed a six foot tall snowman standing in the middle of the road. It was odd that it was built in the middle of the road, and even more odd that no disturbed snow was found around it. It was if it just appeared.
Eli had a little ESP and felt that the snowman wanted something or someone. Eli snapped and began smashing the snowman with the shovel but Ben stopped him and then their mother called out. Eli felt ill, and when their mother took his temperature it was four degrees lower than normal. Eli crawled into bed under covers, while Ben went to school.
When Ben got home, the snowman was gone and Eli had gotten sicker. Their mother decided to go borrow a heater and Ben thought it would be a good idea to run Eli a hot bath. Suddenly, he began to hear the sound that he heard in his dreams again. This slushing sound that was coming down the hall.
When Ben opened the door, he noticed a trail of water going to Eli’s room. Ben opened the door and found a cruel wind blowing and the huge snowman heading towards Eli. Ben hit it and ran to the bathroom. He was trapped, but just as the snowman almost got him, he pulled the bathmat and the snowman fell into the bathtub and began screaming and melting. Eli walked into the bathroom and asked what was happening. He was no longer sick. The only thing in the tub that remained was two black stones, a carrot, and an old hat.
This was a fun story and a snow story as well! I love winter horror! I wrote the longest recap for this particular story because it seemed to have the most depth and was quite entertaining.
You can listen to More Tales from the Midnight Society on YouTube thanks to uploaded ZakBabyTV.
The final Are You Afraid of the Dark cassette was different. It wasn’t a collection of stories like the previous two, but instead was a choose your own adventure style story for the Tiger 2XL Robot. The 2XL was an educational robot released in the late 70’s by the Mego Corporation and then re-released in the 90’s by Tiger Electronics. You could play trivia games with it, it told jokes, and it had a slew of pop-culture tie in cassette tapes to interact with. You’d simply pop in the cassette tape into the front of the robot, press play, and then interact by pressing one of the four buttons on the front. There were buttons labeled “Yes” “No” “True” “False” “A” “B” “C” “1” “2” “3”. You gotta give Mego/Tiger credit, they got a ton of mileage out of four buttons.
The story told in this release was called The Tale of the Phantom Manor and was released in 1994. Unfortunately, unless you have a 2XL Robot and a copy of the cassette, it’s quite difficult to listen to the story and all the different paths it takes. Luckily for us, one YouTuber has constructed one complete story and uploaded it for our listening pleasure.