Tuesday, September 12, 2006

Wacky Packages: Pop Cultural Goodness

Wacky Packages: YicksI was doing a bit of stumblin' around the internet this weekend, and I found a site which brought back a lot of memories for me.

You see, it has been over 20 years since I had a set of Wacky Packages, and in retrospect, I've really missed their irreverent sense of humor. Of course, with the availability of Adobe Photoshop and other graphical packages, well, finding satirical takes on product packaging and advertisements is easier than ever, but there is just something magical about the Wacky Packages series.

Maybe it is the fact that the originals were being produced in the open by a company that was willing to take the risk of litigation to entertain millions of children and adults annually, though granted, the 1970's was probably not as litigious a time as today is, or perhaps it was because at the time I started buying them, there were very few places a child could see material like that... and they are probably one of the reasons I am slightly warped as an adult, but that is ok. And when I read that as recently as 2003 the Morton Salt Company had forced Ebay to restrict auctions of the parody "Moron Salt" sticker, well, that made my love for Wacky Packages grow anew.

They are just pure pop cultural and consumerist goodness. Even if as a kid I didn't get all the references, the artists and conceptualists at Topps didn't dumb things down for us, and in retrospect, I appreciate that. Cleverness is its own virtue after all, and while some of the humor was very low-brow, it did make me ask questions to myself, even if I couldn't yet answer them.

Wacky Packages: Gulp OilThinking back, I got my first set of Wacky Packages back in 1985 was I was about 8 or 9 years old as part of the revival of the product line. (1985 seems to be a seminal year in my development, now doesn't it?), and I had the whole 1985 set and the reprint set of 77 cards in 1986. Of course, I wish I still had them(because I'd be feelthy rich then), but I still got a nice trip down memory lane and some odd product cravings too, mainly for some Hostess Cupcakes, but some other products came up too. And while I was also a fan of the Garbage Pail Kids, the Wacky Packages were always the king of my mid-80's sticker empire, and they were a lot better than anything Mad or Cracked Magazine was coming up with, that's for sure.

Now my question is: was anybody else a fan of these subversively sassy stickers?


Anonymous said...

Oh man, you've hit the nail on the head. I was a huge fan of Wacky Packages too. When I was in public school, my friends and I banded together to make comic books (Yucker Comics, Inc.) and we did this sort of spoof all the time. (The only one I remember was for Onion Gas.)

CBC did a nice bit a year ago on the Wacky Packs creator, Art Spiegelman. I'll have to see if I can find it. There's a nice bit on O-Pee-Chee here:

I remember driving through London, Ont. many times and passing O-Pee-Chee - the factory itself smelled like those pink sticks on cardboard gum.

Like you, I don't have any WPs left - but I still have my Charlie's Angels cards!


Anomie-Atlanta said...

Not a fan of any, but over labor day weekend an acquaintance's six year old showed me her NEW Garbage Pail Kid collection...ah memories...

Mr. Fabulous said...

Now you've got me thinking...I remember wacky packs too, and I think I remember collecting them, but I was of "that age" in the mid 70's, not 80's. Am I misremembering, or do they go back that far?

Jen said...

I still have some of mine!

MC said...

Paul: I had almost forgotten about O-Pee-Chee... though I've been reading that they can't put the gum into cards/stickers now... at least in the states. I don't know how true that is though.

AA: I take it they were reprints?

MC said...

Mr. Fab: There were series in 1967, and a few every year from 1973-1979, so it is entirely possible that you collected them in the golden age of the phenomenon.

Jen: How come I am not surprised ad girl?

Anonymous said...

Good write up. You can check out my Wacky Packages Blog.