Rich Stroffolino

The Yak Bak Is the Exception to 90s Nostalgia

We’ve reached the point of 90s nostalgia that I’m shocked when there’s something from the era has escaped the capitalistic urge to sell the memory back to me. One random toy/gadget recently popped back into mind and it seemingly will remain in the dustbin of the 90s, the humble Yak Bak. This was a solid state voice recorder that let you play back a short recording. The later models added effects and had build-in sounds. Much like the low end samplers of the era, you were required to put fart sounds on them.

I think the ads at the time tried to play off the novelty of the tape recorder from Home Alone 2. I got one for Christmas as a kid and was both fascinated by it and never quite knew what to do with it. One of those gadgets they can sort of make look cool in the commercials but ends up in a junk drawer.

However I recently had the urge to acquire one for my son. He loves when audio gets cut off when you’re turning off the TV or music. He thinks its hilarious and will repeat it for days on end. So he might actually get some enjoyment out of the short recordings from a vintage Yak Bak.

Sadly I was surprised to see that the Yak Bak revival has never come to pass. There were surprisingly few models on eBay and not even a ghost brand to sell me a Alibaba knock-off could be found online. I can completely see why. Even when I had one in the 90s, I knew the voice recorded in Windows 95 did the same thing much better. When you have a voice memo app on every phone, it’s hard to make a nostalgia case for the Yak Bak.

So Yak Bak, I only sort of mildly liked you back in the 90s, and now you’re a utility phone app. So I guess I should give my son an old tape dictaphone instead.