Young guy is cleaning dust from his vinyl records.
Young guy is cleaning dust from his vinyl records.

Sometimes the best way to escape the present ? currently cold, anxiety-inducing and keeping all of us socially distant ? isn?t to look toward the future. Sure, you should keep working to make things better for everyone, but sometimes it?s nice to sink back into the warm bean bag of the past to feel lighter and younger and remember when things were relatively more comfortable for you.

Unfortunately, there?s no time machine that can take you back to 1996 when you could spend your days playing Bop-It and listening to ?Wannabe,? but you can scratch that emotional itch by looking through your old things or wandering the old-book scented halls of eBay. And with the pandemic still in full swing, some retro products are making a comeback out of necessity.

Here?s a list of everything old that?s new again to bring you comfort during a tough time.

Last updated: Nov. 5, 2020

A parked car at a drive-in movie theater.
A parked car at a drive-in movie theater.


Many of us have never been to a drive-in. If we wanted to watch a movie on the big screen, we went to an indoor theater (where the seats sometimes even reclined) or just watched it on the huge TV screens that are becoming cheaper and cheaper to bring into our own homes. But the pandemic has made seeing movies in theaters impossible. And you know what? We?re all already getting plenty of time at home, too.

So what?s the solution? Bring back the drive-in theater. Once a staple of Americana, drive-ins have languished in recent decades. Not anymore. If you want to see a movie where the characters appear 30 feet tall on the screen, your best bet is to watch them from the safety and comfort of your car.

Jigsaw Puzzles

Were we to hazard a guess, we?d make the assumption that the most popular pandemic activity is quietly sitting on one?s phone and anxiously updating election results. But that?s not a sustainable activity. So what do you do to keep your hands and mind occupied while getting the satisfaction of finishing something? Jigsaw puzzles.

Your circle of friends probably has at least one jigsaw fanatic who?s been touting the virtues of puzzling during the pandemic. And that?s not a fluke. Jigsaw puzzles are coming back in such a big way that Puzzle Warehouse, the nation?s largest puzzle distributor, saw a 2,000% increase in purchases between April and the same month a year ago. Maybe all those people who are tuning out their phones and putting pictures of landscapes together have the right idea.

Senior woman working at the sewing machine at home.
Senior woman working at the sewing machine at home.

Sewing Machines

At one point, everyone had a sewing machine. Need something mended or have a couple of curtains to run up? Someone in your family had a sewing machine and 15 minutes to hem some material. But who sews when clothing and home decor can sometimes be so easy to buy and replace online?

The COVID-19 pandemic has changed all of that, with avid crafters (those who still had the machines in their homes) and relative newbies buying up sewing machines to make DIY masks. For some of those people, the mask-making is just a gateway project. Don?t be surprised to see more and more Etsy stores with sewn goods for sale popping up in the next few months.

Instant Pot pressure cooker on kitchen counter with beans and rice.
Instant Pot pressure cooker on kitchen counter with beans and rice.

Pressure Cookers

The Instant Pot, a new-fangled (and safer) version of the pressure cooker and Crock-Pot, has been taking the world by storm in the past several years. But it?s even more popular during the pandemic.

Who has the energy to make big elaborate meals right now? The Instant Pot makes it easy to collect ingredients, dump them into the pot and have some kind of delightful stew just a few hours later. Even faster depending on the setting you use!

No stress, no mess, and best of all, if whatever you made is good, you can tell people it?s your own special recipe.

Find Out: 10 Ways Retailers Trick You Into Spending More During the Holidays

An unrecognisable male customer searches through and selects a second hand vinyl record from a shelf in a record store, hands only, horizontal composition.
An unrecognisable male customer searches through and selects a second hand vinyl record from a shelf in a record store, hands only, horizontal composition.


Remember how much we used to bond over sharing our record collections with others? People would come to our houses and look through our CDs, cassettes and vinyl collections and be very, very impressed with our taste.

Of course, we can now share our Spotify playlists with all of our friends, but it just doesn?t have the same feel. Nor does a 100% smooth audio track hit our ears the same way the classics did, with all the pops and hisses that made each record sound unique. Records were just cool. And they?ve been having a huge renaissance ? even just before the pandemic.

With turntables now cheaper to own than ever and major artists creating special edition vinyl versions of their work (sometimes with bonus tracks), it?s no surprise that everyone?s buying up records faster than before. Plus it?s nice to just sit down and listen to a whole album while doing a jigsaw.

Kneading yeast dough.
Kneading yeast dough.

Homemade Bread

We watch cooking shows and buy cookbooks, but do we ever create what we see on the screen? Do our cookbooks ever come off the shelves to be gently splattered in pasta sauce or are they just decoration? These questions were primarily academic before the pandemic ? who had time to cook and bake? But now, more and more people are turning to the kitchen for comfort.

The beginning of the pandemic saw many making bread (especially sourdough) and sometimes even venturing to other baked goods and pastries. Why? Because creating something delicious with your own two hands is comforting. It might remind some of your childhood. It?s a task that requires full concentration (so you can?t worry about the pandemic). And it?s nice to feel like you?ve accomplished something, too. It?s good to feel in control during out-of-control times.

Mason Jars

OK, so Mason jars didn?t actually go anywhere ? they were just used less often before the pandemic. You saw a Mason jar at a quirky wedding, maybe. Or a restaurant (remember those?) served its drinks in jars for that old-time aesthetic.

But now, people are buying mason jars so quickly that supply can?t meet demand. Why? Because we?re all trying new things during the pandemic. We?re making preserves and kimchi. We?re pickling beets and eggs. And that takes a lot of jars. Plus, food that?s been made and stored in mason jars keeps longer, which is very important at a time when so many things ? including food supply ? can feel uncertain.


Remember those commercials that reminded you that ?the best part of waking up is Folgers in your cup?? (Admit it, you sang along!) Well, the packaged coffee is back ? especially among millennials.

What?s fueling the trend? It?s partly nostalgia ? sorry that jingle is going to be stuck in your head all day ? and partly the need to have access to coffee that can be stored forever and made quickly, cheaply and conveniently. Who knows how much a Keurig will go for in the apocalypse? Better buy a shelf?s worth of Folgers.

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This article originally appeared on Nostalgia Is Back: See 2020’s Top ‘I Remember When’ Products

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