12 Retro Back-to-School Products For Kids and Grown-Ups

You don’t have to be school-age to indulge in back-to-school shopping season. Retro supplies like Trapper Keepers, gel pens, and Lisa Frank gear look just as great in an office as they do in a locker.

This article contains affiliate links to products selected by our editors. Mental Floss may receive a commission for purchases made through these links.

Even if you don’t miss school, you may miss back-to-school shopping season. Buying office supplies as an adult just doesn’t compare to browsing aisles of rainbow-leopard-print school supplies in the late summers of your childhood. Fortunately, this tradition doesn’t have to end with graduation. If you’re a nostalgic kid-at-heart and or a parent shopping for kids of your own, here are some retro school products from the 1970s, ‘80s, and ‘90s that you can still buy today. 

1. Lisa Frank Unicorn Backpack; $75

Best retro back-to-school products: Lisa Frank Unicorn Backpack
Lisa Frank Unicorn Backpack / Loungefly / Lisa Frank / Amazon

Lisa Frank’s technicolor aesthetic was unavoidable if you were a kid in the 1980s or ‘90s. The artist’s school supplies aren’t as ubiquitous as they once were, but they’re still easy to purchase online. This rainbow unicorn mini backpack from Lisa Frank and Loungefly is available for $75 on Amazon, and if you’re too old to carry around crayons and math homework, the bag still works as an adorable accessory. 

Buy it: Amazon

2. Trapper Keeper Retro Binder; From $11

Best retro back-to-school products: Trapper Keeper Retro Binder
Trapper Keeper Retro Binder / Trapper Keeper / Amazon

Trapper Keepers are just as useful today as they were when they debuted. If you want to keep your folders and papers organized—and do it in style—invest in this innovative three-ring binder. The covers seals shut with Velcro, and it comes in six funky patterns. Whether you go with the retro paint splatter or pastel color block design (the latter of which is pictured above), you’ll think you’ve been transported to a middle school in 1985. 

Buy it: Amazon

3. SAKURA Gelly Roll Moonlight Gel Pens, Pack of 10; $13

Retro back-to-school products: SAKURA Gelly Roll Moonlight Gel Pens, Pack of 10
Gelly Roll Moonlight Gel Pens by SAKURA / SAKURA / Amazon

With gel pens, taking notes in class feels a lot less boring. This pack of Gelly Roll pens from SAKURA features 10 colors, half of which are iridescent. The paint-like ink rolls on smoothly and pops against any shade of paper. They also make a cute supplement to the standard blue- and black-ink pens you likely already have on your desk. 

Buy it: Amazon

4. Colorations Washable Stamper Markers, Pack of 44; $15

Retro back-to-school products: Bucket of Colorations Stamper Markers with paper.
Washable Stamper Markers by Colorations / Colorations / Amazon

Unlike regular markers, stamper markers are only good for printing one design. But what they lack in practicality they make up for in fun. This bucket contains 44 markers capable of stamping everything from tiny stars to smiley faces, hearts, and more in a variety of colors. They’re an easy way to add personality anywhere, whether it’s an art project or the margins of your history notes. 

Buy it: Amazon

5. The Pencil Grip Classic Foam Pencil Grips, Pack of 12; $4

Retro back-to-school products: The Pencil Grip Foam Pencil Grips
Classic Foam Pencil Grips / The Pencil Grip / Amazon

These foam pencil grips do more than keep hands comfortable. The old-school accessories also add a pop of color to an otherwise drab writing implement. The grips in this 12-pack come in five colors, and they’re easy to slip on to any standard pencil.

Buy it: Amazon

6. Spider-Man Lunch Box and Thermos; $25

Retro back-to-school supplies: Surreal Entertainment Marvel Spider-Man Linch Box and Thermos
Surreal Entertainment Marvel Spider-Man Linch Box and Thermos / Surreal Entertainment / Amazon

No matter what you pack for lunch, it’s hard not to feel nostalgic eating out of a tin lunch box. This one comes with a throwback Spider-Man design that harkens back to the original Marvel comics. The set includes a matching thermos so you can pack a balanced meal. 

Buy it: Amazon 

 7. Plastic Pencil Boxes, Pack of 6; $24

Retro back-to-school supplies: Emraw Plastic Pencil Boxes, Pack of 6
Emraw Plastic Pencil Boxes, Pack of 6 / Emraw / Amazon

The bulky Spacemaker pencil boxes from the ‘90s are hard to track down today, but this product from Emraw captures that same vintage feel. The clamshell design consists of clear bottoms and colored plastic tops that come in a variety of bright shades. The bubbles molded into the lid are designed for stackability, so you can keep the six boxes that come in each pack well organized. 

Buy it: Amazon

8. Skoolzy Rainbow Counting Bears, Set of 71; $22

Back-to-school retro products: Rainbow counting bears with cups.
Skoolzy Rainbow Counting Bears, Set of 70 / Skoolzy / Amazon

These multicolored plastic counting bears aren’t typically included in school curriculums past kindergarten. That doesn’t mean you can’t buy this 71-piece set for your workspace. Even if you already know how to count, playing with the eye-catching trinkets will give you something to do with your hands during Zoom meetings

Buy it: Amazon

9. Pencils With Eraser Toppers, Pack of 12; $6

Best retro school supplies: BUSHIBU Pencils With Eraser Toppers
BUSHIBU Pencils With Eraser Toppers / BUSHIBU / Amazon

These pencils are guaranteed to turn heads in any office or classroom. These colorful writing utensils are topped with oversized erasers shaped to look like bunnies, cupcakes, and other twee designs. The erasers pop off, so you can mix and match them with different pencils in the 12-pack, or use them to liven up the plain pencils you already have at home. 

Buy it: Amazon 

10. Marbled Composition Notebooks, Pack of 5; $14

Best retro school supplies: Marbled composition books.
Marbled Composition Notebooks by Unison / Unison / Amazon

These old-school notebooks are still pretty ubiquitous inside the classroom. The composition books in this five-pack come in a variety of marbled colors: red, blue, yellow, green, and classic black and white. The notebooks have more competition today than when they debuted centuries ago, but they’re still popular for a reason.

Buy it: Amazon

11. HORIECHALY Scratch and Sniff Stickers, 85 Sheets; $17

Best retro school supplies: Scratch and Sniff Stickers by HORIECHALY
Scratch and Sniff Stickers by HORIECHALY / HORIECHALY / Amazon

Since their heyday in the 1970s and ‘80s, the scratch and sniff fad has faded like an old strawberry-scented sticker. The simple technology may not be as novel as it once was, but it’s still fun to experience at any age. You can purchase 85 sheets of fragrant stickers for less than $20 on Amazon. The scratch-friendly cartoon pictures of fruit, ice cream, and candy correspond to their appropriate scents. 

Buy it: Amazon

12. Multi-Colored Pens, Pack of 6; $5

Best retro school supplies: Multi-colored pens with paper.
Multi-Colored Pens by EEOYU / EEOYU/Amazon

If your favorite color varies with your mood, you may benefit from owning a multi-colored pen. The instrument allows you to switch between six different colors by flipping a tab. There are six pens in this pack, so you don’t have to worry about conserving ink, either.

Buy it: Amazon