These Were the Days

Someday, maybe soon, we’ll look back on the Covid Era with something resembling affection.

Nancy Friedman
The Startup
Published in
6 min readDec 29, 2020


Remember the 1340's? We were doing a dance called the Catapult.
You always wore brown, the color craze of the decade,
and I was draped in one of those capes that were popular,
the ones with unicorns and pomegranates in needlework.
Everyone would pause for beer and onions in the afternoon,
and at night we would play a game called “Find the Cow.”
Everything was hand-lettered then, not like today. …

— Billy Collins, “Nostalgia

Will we ever look back with wistful fondness at 2020, the year of so much loss and loneliness, grief and anguish? I’m willing to bet that we will, strange as it seems. The 21st century so far has been in many ways a backward-yearning era, a period of recycled fashions, movie and television remakes, and political appeals to “again” and “back.” So it stands to reason that no matter how bleak and angry this year has been, many of us will, in five or fifteen years, invent a narrative about 2020 that frames it as “the good old days.” It’s what we do.

Nostalgia is our theme song, but it’s a relatively new one. Our Throwback Thursdays and Facebook Memories stand in stark contrast to the forward thrust of most of the 20th century, with its Streamline Moderne architecture, its space exploration, its emphasis on newness, from the New Deal to the New Frontier, from the New Look in post–World War II fashion to New Coke on supermarket shelves.

Now? Your favorite dress is likely to be a ruffly strawberry-print number in an old-fashioned style known as “cottagecore.” You may favor “nostalgiacore” music and games that evoke your 1990s and early-aughts childhood. Your new waffle-maker may resemble an old one (only nicer!) and be manufactured by a company actually called Nostalgia.

Waffle-maker by Nostalgia Products (established 2008)

Your new refrigerator might be a 1950s-style model made by Big Chill, a company founded in 2001 and named for a 1983 movie about a group of baby boomers reminiscing about their college days in the 1960s. In 2020, three of the most popular…



Nancy Friedman
The Startup

Writer, name developer, brand consultant, idea-ist, ex-journalist. @fritinancy on Mastodon, Instagram, Bluesky, Threads, and elsewhere.