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Where Are They Now

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Where Are They Now

In between the minivan’s decline and the SUV’s surge, one of the century’s most beloved — and despised—cars experienced a brief moment of fame

A black and white photo of a PT Cruiser photoshopped onto a thought bubble.
A black and white photo of a PT Cruiser photoshopped onto a thought bubble.

Do you remember the PT Cruiser? Yeah, you do: Chrysler’s po-mo hot rod with the funny name and the Dick Tracy-esque curves? It’s in the first shot of the new CW series Superman and Lois, because it’s the closest thing on the road to the car on the cover of Action Comics #1, the 1938 comic book in which Superman makes his debut. It’s just right — like the current comic-book universes, the PT Cruiser was designed to be contemporary, entertaining, and a very loud echo of the past.

It was also supposed to be as ubiquitous as the DC…


WHERE ARE THEY NOW

An investigation two decades later

Where Are They Now is a column that revisits once-popular companies and brands that have seemingly disappeared.

The shorthand for the bubbliest startup of the dot-com bubble has long been Kozmo, the turn-of-the-century startup that intended to solve the ultimate logistical problem: What if someone would just bring me that thing I want, now? Imagine Amazon Prime at the speed of pizza delivery but for free. At the time, many people asked “How is that a feasible business model?” — including the founders of Kozmo, though not soon enough to save their IPO in 2000.

And yet today, the world…


Where Are They Now

The untold story of the Velcro binder that taught an entire generation how to organize

A photo illustration of 2 vintage Trapper Keeper binders with a car image, placed within a thought bubble.
A photo illustration of 2 vintage Trapper Keeper binders with a car image, placed within a thought bubble.

Where Are They Now is a column that revisits once-popular companies and brands that have seemingly disappeared.

Before the bullet journal, the pricey Japanese planner Hobonichi Techo, and the pocket-sized, collector-friendly Field Notes, many of today’s self-defined superorganizers had a Trapper Keeper.

You might remember the three-ring, color-coded, Velcroed school binder, whose ubiquity in the 1980s and ’90s makes it a byword for nostalgia. For a whole generation, it was our first information organization system, a child’s garden of productivity.

The Trapper Keeper was itself well planned, the work of market research by a Harvard MBA working at the paper…


Where Are They Now

Last month, Reebok reportedly went up for sale. What even happened to the iconic sneaker brand of the ‘80s?

Several pairs of the Reebok Pump shoe hanging in a display.
Several pairs of the Reebok Pump shoe hanging in a display.

Where Are They Now is a column that revisits once-popular companies and brands that have seemingly disappeared.

I can still remember trying on the Reebok Pump. Emphasis on “trying on”: It was 1989, and I was under no illusions my mother would buy me a $170 shoe (the equivalent of $365 today). But I had to try it, and I had to pump it up. My favorite basketball player, Dominique Wilkins — Michael Jordan’s flashy dunk-contest rival — endorsed them. They inflated to fit your foot! They were the coolest shoes in the world.

Depending on your age, you might…


Where Are They Now

The company may once again be a 24/7 tether to work, but this time it’s invisible

A hand holding a Blackberry phone
A hand holding a Blackberry phone

Where Are They Now is a column that revisits once-popular companies and brands that have seemingly disappeared.

On January 22, 2009, big news from the White House broke: incoming President Barack Obama could keep his BlackBerry. At the time, the manufacturer was slightly more popular than the new president, with 55% of the U.S. mobile phone market, compared to Obama’s 53% of the 2008 vote.

Three years later, to the day, BlackBerry’s co-CEOs resigned. The company had fallen from 20% to 5% of the global cellphone market, with its shipments down 41% year over year.

But its precipitous decline wasn’t…


Where Are They Now

The beloved airline catalog actually beat Amazon to e-commerce, until things fell apart

SkyMall logo
SkyMall logo

Where Are They Now is a column that revisits once-popular companies and brands that have seemingly disappeared.

Weirder than Sharper Image, more upscale than Lillian Vernon, the loopy bazaar of SkyMall once entertained bored airplane travelers with items like pierogi Christmas ornaments, a thousand-dollar flying-saucer “Serenity Cat Pod,” and unexpected lawn statues like an extremely chill gargoyle.

At the turn of the millennium, the catalog reached millions of travelers — with airlines getting either a cut of revenues or a monthly fee to place it in seatback pockets — and totaled annual revenues over $80 million. Its first website went…

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