Ancient Things That Were Popular The Last Time The Cowboys Won The Super Bowl

Darren - January 18, 2024

Ancient Things That Were Popular The Last Time The Cowboys Won The Super Bowl

Darren - January 18, 2024

The Dallas Cowboys are the most lucrative sports franchise in the U.S. They’ve won five Super Bowls throughout their storied history and are one of the most popular teams in all of sports. But their last victory on the NFL’s grandest stage came in 1996. Over the past three decades, they’ve failed as contenders. It’s been so long that we’re going to look back at the things that were popular the last time the Cowboys won the Super Bowl.

We’ll look at all aspects of life from food and culture to the era’s technology. This is a nostalgia trip for anyone who grew up in the ’90s. Things have greatly changed since Jimmy Johnson, Emmitt Smith, and Troy Aikman carried the franchise to glory. After their embarrassing loss to Green Bay in the Wild Card Round, it looks like it’s going to be a long time before the Cowboys win again.

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Teen Vogue

Tickle Me Elmo

Tyco Preschool released the original Tickle Me Elmo in 1996. The adorable Sesame Street character was the most in-demand toy of the year. Every child in the U.S. wanted one and they sold millions across the following years. Elmo fever was insatiable by Christmas time, with shoppers violently fighting over the toy in many stores’ aisles.

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But the people who fought for the Tickle Me Elmo showed more fight than the Dallas Cowboys did in the Wild Card Round in 2023 against the Green Bay Packers. Elmo would probably have done a better job in defense than the Cowboy’ highly-ranked defense. As for Ticle Me Elmo, the adorable character remains a popular cultural figure now (via Teen Vogue).

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The Atlantic

Kenan & Kel

The 1990s were a golden era for sitcoms, with shows like  The Fresh Prince of Bel-Air, Full House, Family Matters, Roseanne, and Home Improvement all finding success. Kenan & Kel was another shows fans loved. It’s easy to forget that it was a spinoff but it quickly stood on its own feet. Kenan Thompson and Kel Mitchell became two of the decade’s biggest cult stars. Children across the nation watched their antics on Nickelodeon.

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Paramount Plus

This was also the year that The Fresh Prince of Bel-Air finally ended as Will Smith became a Hollywood star. Smith has had a family, made countless movies, and even slapped Chris Rock on national TV since the Cowboys last won a Super Bowl. It’s been a wild few decades but there was something about Kenan & Kel that everybody loved (via Variety).

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Nintendo 64

1996 also saw a new video game console hit the market. The Nintendo 64 became an instant success, unlike Mike McCarthy in Dallas. Fans played the likes of the iconic Goldeneye on this popular platform. Meanwhile, Nintendo started another franchise that would become massive over the following decades.

Best Pokemon Video Games

They also unveiled Pokemon Red, Blue, and a special Yellow edition. It was available on their Game Boy and changed the face of gaming. Pokemon lovers enjoyed catching different critters and battling with other trainers. They could even trade Pokemon across consoles to bring it to the next level (via Nintendo Life).

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The New Yorker

Baggy Jeans

There were many dubious fashion trends in the 1990s. However, one of the strangest was the popularity of big, baggy jeans. They became popular at the start of the decade because of the rise of hip-hop music. But skateboarding also had a massive impact on the style (via Culted).

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Different demographics and subcultures wore them because they were comfortable. But they also made a statement because they didn’t look neat or respectable. Baggy jeans reached their zenith in 1996, like the Dallas Cowboys. They’ve both threatened comebacks since then but haven’t really come close to making a true return to glory.

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NBC News


It’s crazy to imagine now but American Online, or AOL, was once the most popular website on the Internet. Remember, this was before everybody had computers and the Internet was a new technology. Some people didn’t even think that it would last long and that it was a gimmick. They were wrong and eventually AOL changed and diversified.

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Sports Illustrated

It reached its peak in 1996 alongside the Dallas Cowboys. However, the Cowboys didn’t learn to change and remain relevant like AOL which is now part of Yahoo! The Internet changed many times over the following decades as dial-up broadband impacted AOL. Now everybody has instant access through their phones (via The Nation).


Ford Taurus

The 1996 Taurus was the end of an era for Ford. It was the last time that it would seriously compete in the sedan market in the U.S. This makes it the perfect metaphor for the Dallas Cowboys because they also reached the end of their heyday that year. The Taurus was the best-selling car before the Toyota Camry ousted it in 1997.

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Car Gurus

Ford focused its efforts on the F-series of trucks with great success. The Japanese car market overwhelmed the American option with economical and reliable options. Maybe they resemble the Patriots in the 2000s because they were well-oiled, well-functioning machines (via Road And Track).

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Lemons & Zest

Dirt Cake

Food is fascinating because trends drastically change every year. One of the most popular desserts in the U.S. in 1996 was dirt cake. Some people love it but others think it’s disgusting. In short, it involves crushing Oreos on top of cream pudding. Then many people add candy worms to make it look like soil.

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Needless to say, this is one for children and not for adults because it’s a sugar bomb. It’s one of those things that came out of nowhere to suddenly become very popular. The Cowboys were brilliant in the ’90s but then out of nowhere, they became a garbage franchise. Perhaps they’re the dirt cake of the NFL (via Taste of Home).

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Sports Illustrated

Chicago Bulls

The Chicago Bulls were at the peak of their powers in the ’90s. They won another championship in 1996 as Michael Jordan became the biggest star in global sports. The basketball icon didn’t do it by himself because he had brilliant support from the likes of Scottie Pippen and Dennis Rodman.

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Their success lasted a couple of years longer than the Cowboys because they won their last title in 1998. But these two great franchises show how success is fleeting. Everybody thought that they would dominate forever but both became fading forces over the next couple of decades (via Bleacher Report).

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The Tech Advocate

Nokia Phones

Few people had cellphones in 1996 and they were mostly bulky devices with long antennae. However, one Finnish communications company came out of nowhere to become a global force. Nokia began developing personal cell phones around this time and became a world leader.

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Nokia Campus

Everyone seemed to have a Nokia in this period because they were compact and reliable. It’s been a while since it was relevant like the Dallas Cowboys but who knows, maybe one day they’ll surprise us. Who will be relevant first: Nokia or the Cowboys? Only time will tell if either can make a comeback (via Slash Gear).

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Mattel introduced Barbie to the world in 1959 and she’s been a mainstay ever since. However, the doll enjoyed massive popularity in the ’90s and most girls wanted one. Barbie saw a dip in sales in the 2000s but she’s enjoying a huge revival because of the 2023 Barbie movie.

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The Dallas Cowboys desperately hoped that they would be Super Bowl contenders in 2023 too. Unfortunately, they didn’t enjoy the same success as the iconic doll. Maybe Jerry Jones should hand the reins to Greta Gerwig because she seems to know what she’s doing. Maybe she’d do a better job than his previous coaches (via NPR).

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Rosie O’Donnell

1996 also saw the dawn of one of the nation’s most popular TV shows. Rose O’Donnell became a fixture on television with her legendary show that saw her earn the nickname The Queen of Nice. The best part about O’Donnell was her authenticity and how she made other celebrities feel relatable.

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Page Six

She always had fun with them on set and put them at ease. It’s amazing how she bantered with Oscar winners like Tom Hanks and made the audience think that they were normal. Gradually, O’Donnell became an increasingly polarising figure but nobody could accuse her of being fake (via CBC).

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Space Jam

We’ve already talked about the Chicago Bulls but Space Jam deserves a special mention. Michael Jordan collaborated with Looney Tunes in one of the wackiest movies ever. Yes, the acting was wooden and critics didn’t like it. But children loved it and it retains an audience today.

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The Hollywood Reporter

It’s one of those movies that many people have seen dozens of times because it’s always on TV. Space Jam was one of the biggest hits of 1996 and has enjoyed more success over the ensuing decades than the Cowboys. However, the less said about the sequel, the better because it was garbage (via Empire).



Here’s another toy that was inexplicably popular the last time the Cowboys won a Super Bowl. This Japanese craze took over the world and everybody wanted one. Owners cared for their handheld pets as they raised them from an egg. However, if they forgot to feed them they would die so there was a dark side.

Hero Image

Nonetheless, they lasted longer than the Cowboys’ average playoff runs. Remember, Dallas only has four postseason wins in the 28 years since their last Super Bowl win. Some Tamagotchis carry thousands of dollars worth of value now which is more than we can say for the Cowboys (via Tamagotchi).

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The Macarena

Macarena by Los Del Rio was one of the biggest songs of 1996. This cheesy hit remains a favorite today because of the iconic dance. Millions of people across the world danced the Macarena and it’s a fixture at many weddings or parties. The song is about a woman happily cheating on her boyfriend with his best friends when he’s out of town.

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Digital Spy

However, most people don’t realize this when they’re dancing along to it. In a way, it’s appropriate because the Cowboys cheated the fans for decades by failing to be competitive. They’re up there with the most disappointing franchises since 1996 including the Bulls and the Knicks (via The U.S. Sun).

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Blockbuster Video

Nowadays we have an endless amount of entertainment available at our fingertips. We stream movies and TV online with Netflix , Amazon Prime Disney+ and YouTube TV. Meanwhile, we can listen to unlimited albums on Spotify and instantly download music from iTunes. However, people didn’t have it so easy in the ’90s.

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Mental Floss

They rented videos from Blockbuster and spent ages pouring over all the different movies (via Harper Lee). There’s only one Blockbuster store left in the world in Bend, Oregon. There was another in Anchorage but it closed in 2018. They’re relics of the past, just like the Dallas Cowboys (via USA Today).

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The Spun

Flannel Shirts

Like we mentioned before, the 1990s were a strange time for fashion because there were many dodgy trends. Flannel shirts were a staple of the decade as people decided that they wanted to look like lumberjacks. There’s nothing wrong with this of course but it’s as inexplicable as the Cowboys’ playoff game against the Packers in 2023.

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One of the reasons why it was popular was because many bands favored a grunge aesthetic. We’re talking about the likes of Nirvana and Pearl Jam. The ’90s was a simpler time for many reasons and the flannel shirt remains an enduring symbol (via Billboard).

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Rotten Tomatoes


Friends became one of the most successful sitcoms of all time. The show made stars of its cast members including Jennifer Aniston, Courteney Cox, and David Schwimmer. It entered its second season in 1996 so it was still growing in popularity. Many Americans favored Seinfeld over Friends but the latter had a wider global audience.

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TV Guide

Meanwhile, it remains as much of a cultural phenomenon in 2023 as it did in the ’90s. Fans mourned the tragic passing of Matthew Perry in 2023. The show represents a purer time before social media and when we valued our relationships. The Cowboys wish that they had its staying power (via Bustle).

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The Spruce Eats


Yes, that’s right, calamari was one of the big trends of 1996. Americans discovered a new love for deep-fried squid and it began to appear frequently on many menus. It was very common as an appetizer and there was even a calamari index that reviewed the dish across the nation.


Most people associate it with Greek cooking but it transcended the cuisine. It is a problematic food because it’s not sustainable. Compare it to the Cowboys’ unique ability to cruise through the regular season and crash out in the playoffs. Calamari is easy to catch but there’s a tendency to overfish (via Insider).


Don’t Speak

It’s always fascinating to look back at the music of past years. Don’t Speak by No Doubt was one of the biggest hits of 1996. Technically, it came out on their 1995 album Tragic Kingdom. However, they released this song as a single and it sailed to the top of the charts and dominated for weeks.


Gwen Stefani’s voice gave the song an emotional power that resonated with fans across the world. Most people agree that it’s a phenomenal song and one that’s extra special because Stefani forged her solo career. It’s had more staying power than the Cowboys’ success because it’s hard to remember that anymore (via Genius).

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Slash Film

Denzel Washington

Washington remains one of the most respected actors on the planet. However, he was arguably in his prime in the ’90s thanks to many outstanding performances. He enjoyed hit after hit throughout the decade and this culminated in an incredible milestone. Washington became the first non-white man to win the People’s Sexiest Man Alive award.

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Showbiz Cheat Sheet

It might not feel like the most prestigious accolade but it was groundbreaking at the time. Washington deserved it too because his smile still melts hearts. Amazingly, he has maintained his success over the past 30 years since then. He could teach the Dallas Cowboys a thing or two about consistency.

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New York Yankees

The Yankees are the baseball equivalent of the Dallas Cowboys. They’re a global commercial juggernaut and one of the most dominant franchises in sports. However, they didn’t win a World Series between 1978 and 1996. Overall, ’96 was an incredible year because both the Cowboys and the Yankees claimed glory.

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Sports Illustrated

Meanwhile, they’ve also been very inconsistent over the following decades. They ended the ’90s with a dynasty as they won four titles in five seasons. But they’ve only won a single World Series since 2009 because they also suffer playoff meltdowns. They’re another franchise that should be doing much better (via The Athletic).

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Gift to Gadget

Action Man

Barbie was for girls but Action Man was for boys. Children loved the hero who fought his evil nemesis Dr. X. The character began life in 1993 but became a cultural zenith in the middle of the decade. That’s because his popularity spawned a franchise of animated movies and comic books.

San Diego Union-Tribune

The Action Man line finally came to an end in 2006 after a dip in sales. Videogame consoles became increasingly popular so children didn’t want to play with real toys. Some people also think that Action Man espoused toxic masculine values. Maybe like Mike McCarthy or Dak Prescott after a playoff defeat (via Collider).

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Bill Clinton

Clinton was one of the most dominant politicians of the ’90s. The former Governor of Arkansas sought to bring the different sides of the U.S. together. He proposed a middle ground and won election in red states despite his Democratic status. Clinton became a two-term President after an election win in 1996.

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Perhaps the Cowboys are more similar to Clinton’s wife Hillary because victory appeared to be inevitable for her but she threw it away. Everybody knows about Clinton’s controversies including the notorious Monica Lewinsky scandal. However, he always retained a Southern charm that made people like him (via The Guardian).

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Every young man had an earring in their left ear in the ’90s. It was the ultimate sign of rebellious youth and being against the system. There was even a bizarre trend that if men had an earring in their right ear it was a sign that they were gay. This didn’t make any sense but that was the 1990s in a nutshell.

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Pop Sugar

Nowadays many elite athletes wear very expensive jewelry. It’s one of the clearest signs that they’re going to have financial problems in the future because they have no self-control. An insane amount of NBA and NFL players end up bankrupt but this doesn’t stop them. People are strange but it makes life interesting (via Shiels).

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Golden Globes

Independence Day

Every year has big movies but Independence Day was one of the decade’s most iconic films. Will Smith became a superstar after his performance in the alien invasion blockbuster. Meanwhile, Bill Pullman and Jeff Goldblum also starred in the giant hit. Only Jurassic Park had more box office success in the 1990s than ID4.


Critics didn’t love it but audiences lapped it up as it made almost $900 million globally. This was a gigantic smash hit despite arguably not being very good. That sounds like the Dallas Cowboys today because they’re a commercial juggernaut whilw the on-field product keeps falling short (via USA Today).