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Wacky Packs: Still Not Funny

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Lampoons of popular consumer products even lamer than you remember.

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Long ago, before mothers secretly disposed of their children's Garbage Pail Kid collections, there were Wacky Packages. Wacky Packs -- which owed their entire existence to First-Amendment parody protection -- were send-ups of popular products in collectible sticker form that enjoyed a successful run in the 70s and 80s.

The stickers appealed to the Mad Magazine reader in all of us: Like the magazine, their punchlines were firmly rooted in bodily onomatopoeia jokes.

This year the Topps Company, originator of the Wacky Pack, celebrated the 35th anniversary by publishing a hardcover book featuring the first 7 series of the stickers.

The sad fact is, looking at the stickers now, they're nowhere near funny. Granted, 20 years will change the appeal of any treasured childhood item (though Legend of Zelda is still as fun as it was in '86), but some of these ideas might have benefited from another pass.


Scoot

I'm completely lost. What's happening here? How'd you get from Scope to Scoot? Wouldn't "Score" be a better jumping-off point? Why the TNT? Is it a Molotov cocktail? Is that what they mean by "gets rid of your friends?" Okay, the guy on the right is turned off by the awful smell, but is the dynamite supposed to make the odor stronger? So many questions.

Gadzooka

Ah, the crotchety old teacher yelling at the goof-off for chewing gum. The silver hair in a bun, warts on the nose, doily collar. Timeless caricature. Especially if it's 1932. That aside: "Gadzooks?" Her go-to exclamation over a child chewing gum in class is what a knight would yell when he's outnumbered. No wonder the kid doesn't respect her.

Tied

Fellas, has this ever happened to you? It's laundry day. You're down to your last green shirt and jeans. You have on your best eye makeup and rouge. Then suddenly you realize your whole life is a lie. It's time for action! Don't wait for the cycle to end! Grab those sheets, tie them together, and plan your escape out the third floor window! You'll be glad you did.

Mustard Charge

It's the Year of the Burp. The Full Tummy Corporation buys out MasterCard during a national food shortage, having cornered the billion-dollar hamburger and hot dog stand industry. The only way to meet demand is to distribute the MustardCharge Card to customers. The card is later discovered to be a front for a government tracking program, but is susceptible to simple forgery.

Peter Pain

All right, a few things:
1. Was the prospect of injuring the male version of ConAgra's Peter Pan too emasculating? Did the Sandy Duncan or Mary Martin version really need to be involved? 2. Is peanut butter known for shattering teeth? Even the chunky kind goes down smooth.
3. Monkeys? Where did that come from? I'd let elephants slide, given their well-known proclivity for peanuts, but monkeys are right out.

Valveater

The success of a pun lies not only in similar sounds, but in workable alternative meanings. (The bumper sticker "Cops Do It Undercover" is an excellent example of this phenomenon). But consuming car parts has to be regarded as a plausible activity before a pun can be made. I don't care how bipartisan your mohawk is - nobody does this. Not even Kraft.

Nutlee's Quit

Like Richard Kelly's Southland Tales, this is another case of too many ideas. It's booze-flavored! It explodes in milk! It'll make your stomach quit! Ah hell, let's put a hand coming out the top of the tin. Feels like this piece became a catchall for all the brainstorm flotsam that didn't quite fit any other products. And I fail to believe a mug, no matter how fragile, would shatter under that scale of explosion.

Kleenaxe

Children are more emotionally mature than we give them credit for. They'll shrug off the concept of decapitation -- even when accompanied by a comically severed head -- with an expression that implies thirst more than horror. But a tissue specifically branded to wipe pesky blood and sinew off a freshly used blade might be a bit much. And a state-mandated execution involving an axe? Is this Syria? 12th-century London, maybe?

Planet of the Grapes

Arguably the greatest twist ending in the history of cinema is lost with this sloppy Planet of the Apes retread. And what about the social commentary? Will it all revolve around condemning what you can't have, á la "sour grapes?" Does it end with Charlton Heston beating the sand and yelling, "You fermented it! Damn you all to hell!" But I'll reserve judgment until I see the script.

Ghost

Direct marketing at its finest. Even in a parody, you should always know your key demographic. Sure, the ghost of Papa Smurf gets to keep his hat in the afterlife, but what of his oily T-zone? The only thing, you might wanna change the tagline. If it weren't for the ghost, you might have a lawsuit on your hands.

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