The 1960s were a defining period in our history, with several events, trends, and monumental moments taking place throughout the decade. We saw the hippie movement becoming more prominent across the country, we finally managed to land on the moon, we grieved the gruesome loss of a president, and we witnessed one of the most important cultural shifts in the country’s history. But hand in hand with these staggering moments, this decade also gave space to several trends that were very debatable. From hair helmets to giving babies coffee, these are the weirdest fads that arose in the '60s.
Let’s be honest, we have all probably drank water from the hose at least once or twice in our lifetime, especially during those extra hot summer days. And while drinking from the hose was more convenient back then, it certainly wasn’t safe. After some research was done on its actual safety, reports confirmed that because the hose was exposed to the sun the whole day, the water that passes through it can contain antimony, lead, BPA, and several other dangerous chemicals.
Hitchhiking has been a common way of getting around for years, but the '60s saw a huge rise in hitchhikers trying their luck. While today the action is much less common, it wasn’t surprising to see a person with their thumb out in the middle of nowhere during the '60s. When we think about it carefully though, getting a lift from a complete stranger has often proved to be a terrible and dangerous idea. Today, many more people own cars and refrain from easily trusting strangers.
Believe it or not, there was a time when giving a baby some coffee or tea was actually recommended by some medical practitioners. Even though the habit didn’t become so popular amongst parents, in the 1960s, Dr. Walter Sacket’s shared in his book “Bringing Up Babies”, that giving one-year-olds a cup or two of tea or coffee could be a healthy part of their day-to-day diet. His reason was that sodas had much more sugar than coffee and tea anyway, making it a viable substitute.
Although smoking on a plane is one of the biggest no-nos these days, there was a time when smoking was actually allowed. In the '60s, many airlines still allowed people to smoke, and passengers had to deal with the smell and toxicity of smoke for hours. In fact, smoking continued to be allowed on planes for several years until it was finally officially banned by the federal government in 1990 after many years of lobbying against it.
It’s hard to believe that back in the '60s, many people had nothing less than medical poison in their medicine cabinets at home. One of the most common medicines back then was an antiseptic laced with mercury that was available to everyone over-the-counter. A few years later though, both Mercurochrome and Merhiolate were banned by the FDA due to the terrible ingredients that the medicines were made of, including the life-threatening mercury.
Although straight hair has been pretty trendy for decades, the 1960s saw a rise in both women and men doing everything in their power to achieve that pin-straight hair. But since there weren’t as many devices like straightening brushes, combs, and irons back then, some people would simply resort to the household iron. Yes, the '60s saw several people dangerously flattening their hair with the heat of a clothing iron, which later inspired the actual straighteners people use these days.
Lava lamps were the type of thing that people either really loved or really hated. Although they are not as popular today as they were back then, lava lamps were a huge trend during the '60s, with thousands of households having at least one in the house. The world wasn’t ready for such a colorful decor, which was invented by Edward Craven Walker after he got the idea while watching an egg timer bubble on his stovetop.
In the '60s, American households saw jelly sandwiches blooming at a pace that no one anticipated. The bold snack was usually made of two pieces of white bread, with a generous scoop of grape jelly mixed with a thick slice of very processed melted cheese, eaten grilled or toasted. While it might sound pretty unusual today, kids’ lunchboxes all over the country were filled with these delicious and squished jelly sandwiches back in the 60s.
It’s basically impossible to forget that at some point in time, hair helmets were a thing and could be seen everywhere. Women would spend hours at their neighborhood hairdressers creating the incomparable hair helmet style that barely lasted more than two days intact. In the '60s, the concept of glamorous “big hair” became increasingly prominent, with crazy amounts of hair spray becoming an essential item in the fashion industry.
Before social media and Netflix took over the world, families would often spend entire afternoons playing games with their family and friends outdoors. Some of these games were incredibly dangerous though, with dart related injuries being continuously reported to health authorities throughout the '60s and '70s. The games were so hazardous sometimes, that authorities saw no other option but to ban dart-related games in people’s lawns at the end of the 1980s.