We’re officially 20! Back in 1998 our CEO Matt Brosious founded FreightCenter, and what better way to commemorate our success than to peek back at what made waves that year—besides us, that is! So snap into your overalls and pull those unironic ski-goggles over your frosted tips: we’re cruisin’ down memory lane to check out what made 1998 so dope.
1998 was the year of nightmares manifest…for shoppers and their children! Furby was released to the public right in time for the holiday season, catapulting parents into a feverish frenzy to get their hands on one of these chatty, Gizmo-like creatures. They flew off the shelves at an alarming rate, within 2 hours of store-open in some areas, and were in such high demand that police were even called to a Walmart in Massachusetts when disputes erupted after they sold out. U-nye-loo-lay-doo? Guess not.
Remember when computers started to look like what we were promised in The Jetsons? The iMac personal computer was unveiled late in 1998, and its colorful, candy-colored and bubble-like exterior was an immediate, irresistible must-have. The brilliant marketing surrounding the release of this PC helped pull Apple back from the brink, and after rebranding themselves as a company of style, minimization, and innovation, they pulled off the kind of comeback dreams are made of.
The 90s birthed the collectible monster craze, but Tamagotchi was baby food compared to Pokémon’s arrival in the U.S. in September of ‘98, both as video game and cartoon, making waves in our pop culture we’re still feeling (Pokémon Go, anyone?). The U.S. market wasn’t sure such cute little monsters would sell, and insisted they be beefed up for Western audiences (do you even lift, Pikachu?). Then-president of Nintendo stood his ground on their designs—and thank goodness for that. I mean, have you seen those little guys? Their adorability is 20 years strong! We clearly can’t get enough of them.
Speaking of cultural cornerstones…what’s your Hogwarts house? Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone was released to North American audiences in 1998, and despite a slow start, we haven’t escaped the pull of J.K. Rowling’s magical new classic (and neither has she!). This series defined a generation of readers, and left an indelible impression on our youth, YA fantasy fiction, film, and theme parks. Miss the magic of Diagon Alley, Hogwarts, and Hogsmeade? Universal Orlando has got your back. Mischief managed.
Have you ever googled Google? Imagine becoming such a fundamental part of web browsing that you’re entered into the Oxford English Dictionary as a verb for information search. Google.com, the pet project of two Stanford U. PhD students, Larry Page and Sergey Brin, formally incorporated their company in 1998. We’re trying to figure out how we can get FreightCenter as a verb for finding the best quotes on freight, but it’s kind of a mouthful. We’re working on it.
Lauryn Hill’s single, Doo Wop (That Thing), premiered in July of ‘98 and was more than an earworm. Her album The Miseducation of Lauryn Hill married hip hop and R&B and made a lasting impression on both the genres. It was the first hip hop album to win a Grammy for best album, and Lauryn Hill punched through the glass ceiling as the first woman to win five Grammys in one night. The song (and album!) just has that thing, don’t it?
Britney Spears is the Princess of Pop, but it was her hit single …Baby One More Time, released late in ‘98 that became her crown jewel and rocketed her to stardom. The highest selling teenage pop star of all time, she defined an era of teeny boppers, as well as paved a way for bubblegum pop well into the aughts.
Unfortunately, 1998 saw Brandy and Monica fighting over the same guy in their popular duet The Boy is Mine. While the feud in the song was a fictional one, rumors about Monica and Brandy butting heads sent the tabloids a-tizzy. The two women re-recorded their vocals separately, and years later Monica revealed that the ego of youth is what kept her and Brandy at arm’s length, and that “instead of embracing that, we used our differences as reasons not to be amongst each other.”
Power ballads also had their place in 1998. In tandem with the release of Armageddon, Aerosmith released the song I Don’t Want to Miss A Thing, which became the most belted car song of the 90s. No? Maybe only in my car. The single reinvigorated Aerosmith’s then-flagging career, launching them back into the limelight when the ballad charted for 4 weeks.
There was a pop idol boom in the 90s, but one of our favorite pop cultural icons cemented her status in the kingdom when she released her dance hit, Believe. You got it, it’s Cher. This bop reached #1 in nearly every country it charted in, and is still considered not only one of the greatest pop songs of the 90s, but one of the greatest dance songs as well. Natch.
Four days before FreightCenter was founded, we were giving our VCRs and Blockbuster cards a break to go see the seminal classic, Saving Private Ryan, in theaters. This film was almost universally critically acclaimed for its historical accuracy, especially with regards to the military battles and its opening sequence, even being selected for preservation in the National Film Registry by the Library of Congress.
On television in 1998, MTV fused MTV Live with Total Request Live to create what was to eventually become the station’s flagship program: Total Request Live. TRL’s host, Carson Daly, became a household name, and the interactive countdown allowed for hundreds of viewers to vote for the best celebrity and songs. With celebrity interviews, live music, and premieres, TRL easily gained a cult-like following, and became staplefor 90s teens and music lovers everywhere.
While 1998 saw many new beginnings, it also waved bon voyage to beloved favorites. One of those was Seinfeld, which saw its final episode inMay 14, 1998. It wasn’t just a syndicated favorite amongst home viewers that changed the face of sitcoms, either. Loved as it was, employees of TV Land didn’t air anything while the finale premiered, instead opting to air an image of a closed office door with signs promising their return after the last episode of Seinfeld finished. Soup all around.
Don’t think too much about how it’d be easier to train astronauts how to drill through an asteroid than it would be to train a bunch of oil drillers how to be astronauts. Armageddon was released July 1, 1998, to big box office numbers and scorching reviews, and while it gave us an amazing power ballad from Aerosmith, it was one of Roger Ebert’s most reviled films. Of it he said, “The movie is an assault on the eyes, the ears, the brain, common sense and the human desire to be entertained.” Yikes!
We were all abiding in ‘98 when the Coen brothers gave us the potently quotable cult classic, The Big Lebowski. If we’d voted this one Most Likely to Underachieve, a superlative that suits Jeff Bridges’s The Dude perfectly, we would have all been wrong. This film has an annual festival in Louisville, Kentucky—Lebowski Fest—and its own religion called Dudeism. It doesn’t stop there. In 2014, it was selected for preservation in the National Film Registry by the Library of Congress, and sits alongside movies like Saving Private Ryan. Man, all this makes me want to go bowling.
If you’re not looking at memes are you even on the internet? Before we were all being Rickrolled within an inch of our lives, there was hamsterdance.com, a GeoCities site covered in dancing hamster gifs set to the song “Whistle Stop” by Roger Miller. It lit up prank email chains like wildfire (forward this to 10 friends or your mom will be cursed). It was pretty darn harmless as far as memes go—and adorable, if you’re into animated hamsters.
Before the whirlwind romances between the Kardashians and their beaus, there was the blink-and-you’ll-miss-it marriage between Carmen Electra and Dennis Rodman. Their marriage was the thing of a Katy Perry song: a Vegas wedding that was annulled (with some pressure from publicists, to be fair) within 9 days. Till death do us part.
2017 got to see McDonald’s with their Rick and Morty Szechuan sauce debacle—which wasn’t a joke—and 1998 had Burger King’s April Fool’s Day prank. In order to make the most of the holiday BK took out a full-page ad in USA Today for the Left-Handed Whopper, saying that the condiments would be rotated 180° to suit southpaws. Thousands of people went out to get the left-handed burger, and were stuck behind right-handed folks trying to make sure they got the right Whopper. Guess you can’t always have it your way.
Goodbye is what the Spice Girls were singing come Christmastime after their fifth member and unofficial leader, Ginger Spice, unexpectedly left the group in the Spring, citing mental health and differences between her and the other members. The group went on to complete a North American tour without her, but dedicated three songs from their next album, Forever, to her.
The Walt Disney World Resort opens a new world of wonder: Animal Kingdom in Orlando, Florida in 1998! While originally imagined as a world of beastly creatures, with everything from the real, extinct, and mythological, the idea was eventually scrapped for a more conservation-focused park. You can catch a glimpse of the old concept if you clap your hands and believe—or just pay attention to the parking signs (unicorns, dinosaurs, yetis, oh my!).
It’s undeniable: 1998 produced some of our longest lasting pop cultural moments (and some of our most regrettable fashion faux pas—but hey, overalls are making a comeback). It was a year rife with reinvention and taste-making, so it’s pretty darn awesome that FreightCenter can take its place among them. So, thank you, Matt, and happy twentieth birthday, FreightCenter! Here’s to twenty more.