Holy 80s! Remember those blue license plates with the yellow lettering New Jersey used throughout the 80s? To be more precise they were used from 1979 until 1992. From Carter through Clinton.

Some were glad to see them go. They felt they were ugly. Others however miss them and feel nostalgic. That’s where state Sen. Kristin Corrado comes in. She’s reintroduced a bill she first tried in 2020 to bring those blue plates back as a paid-for specialty plate.

She says it would fulfill some New Jersey drivers’ nostalgia while also raising money for transportation projects. Read more on it here.

Photo credit: Holland with Boston.
Photo credit: Holland with Boston.

Hey, if you’re that nostalgic you’d pay the extra then great. But aren’t there things from New Jersey’s past we’re more nostalgic for? For example, I was talking briefly with someone who said she missed Sweet Lou’s Pub in Woodbridge Center Mall.

It was the place owned by Yankees legend Lou Piniella and her mom even arranged a dinner with him for her as a girl. I spent a fun night at Sweet Lou’s one holiday after shopping for presents all over that mall and I still remember some of the bar tricks our group pulled off with strangers.

So what do we miss even more than those blue license plates?


Christa Brunt

It sat on Route 22 in Scotch Plains for decades luring us all in as kids. They had rides, games, mini-golf, you name it. They even filmed a scene with Bruce Willis and Demi Moore for the movie “Mortal Thoughts” right in the parking lot.

It closed in 2018 and now condominiums sit where we all played.

Route 1 Flea Market

Ordinary tourists study the range of flea market
Getty Images/iStockphoto

When you went here you always felt like you were getting away with a little something. Things felt shifty, like maybe some of these goods for sale fell off a truck if you know what I mean. And the popcorn. I remember the popcorn.

1996 was the year it vanished.

Terry Lou Zoo

Black Bear Cubs

This was every animal activist’s nightmare on steroids. One of the last zoos left in the country that didn’t have animals in large natural habitats. They had them in cages with cement floors. We were kids. We didn’t know any better.

Oh, and that obnoxious smelling monkey house. If you weren’t holding your breath after 30 seconds you were some kind of Marvel superhero. It closed in 1995.

Jungle Habitat

Six Flags Changes
(AP Photo/Julio Cortez)

This was only around a few years and the drive-thru animal safari lived on as urban legend longer than it was ever open. It opened in 1972 and shut down in 1976. It had its incidents, like the Israeli tourist who was attacked by a lion and a month later two wolves escaping.

There was also the African elephant that bit a woman. Once it closed rumors persisted for years that animals were left behind to breed and still stalk the West Milford area.


Sears To Close Their Last Store In New York City
Getty Images

Hard to believe this one because they were the biggest retailer in the country. Yet the very last Sears store in New Jersey at Newport Centre Mall in Jersey City is just weeks away from turning out the lights for good.

Remember how you could return anything to a Sears with no questions asked? No receipt, 22 years old, clearly caught on fire? No problem!

Action Park

An ambulance responds to the scene of an emergency.
MattGush GettyImages

The picture says it all. Action Park was a lawless society. Kids in charge of kids. Beer consumed on the job. Injuries galore. How much dna was left on their alpine slide?

This place was so dangerous they cut a deal with the town to supply their own ambulances. Yet people still have the fondest memories of all those bloody gouges and broken bones. It closed in 1996.

Any drive-in movie

Drive-in Movie

We were once the undisputed king of drive-in movies. Now New Jersey has only one permanent drive-in movie theater which is the Delsea in Vineland. A quirky way to watch a movie where you still had the communal experience yet the privacy where you could talk during time film. And you had to love those sweet double features.

It’s too bad they went away before Jurassic Park came out. It would be a perfect drive-in flick.

New Jersey's license plate designs through the years

Gallery Credit: Joe Votruba

These are the long-gone NJ mall stores we miss the most

With so many trends of the 1990's back in style, it's a great time to look back at a strong foundation of 80's and 90's culture — New Jersey mall shopping. Some stores were a highlight, every trip.

Gallery Credit: Erin Vogt

Opinions expressed in the post above are those of New Jersey 101.5 talk show host Jeff Deminski only.

You can now listen to Deminski & Doyle — On Demand! Hear New Jersey’s favorite afternoon radio show any day of the week. Download the Deminski & Doyle show wherever you get podcasts, on our free app, or listen right now.

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