Friday, April 28, 2006

Wednesday, April 26, 2006

ICEE vs. Slurpee

The 7-11 store in Mission, KS carried ICEE frozen fountain drinks, not Slurpees. ICEE was the brand we drank in various flavors like Cola and Cherry. When I was about nine years old, I found an old 45 single at a garage sale called Dance The Slurp. The flip side had humorous anecdotes from voice-over actors about the strange things that happened to people who drank ICEEs from 7-11. It was a hoot.

I lost that 45 and didn't think much of it until I got to talking with an avid record collector years later. He traded me a copy for something else I had and much to my surprise, when I played it in the production room at the radio station where I worked at the time, all the voice overs mentioned Slurpee, not ICEE.

Yes, it's true. ICEE and Slurpee are one and the same. The original concoction was invented by Omar Knedlik of Coffeyville, Kansas. That sounds like a name out of Mad Magazine. Omar marketed ICEE and ICEE machines in Kansas and a few other Midwestern states and eventually sold the rights to 7-11 in 1965. They rebranded it the Slurpee and sold it coast to coast. There must have been a wrinkle in the contract that kept the ICEE brand (complete with polar bear mascot) in Omar's legacy outlets here in the Midwest. ICEE may be dead, but I saw the logo on an office building at Johnson Drive and I-35 in Merriam, KS the other day. Perhaps the spirit of Omar Knedlik lives on.

Monday, April 24, 2006

Remembering The Purple Crackle

The Purple Crackle was a famous Illinois supper club across the Mississippi River from Cape Girardeau, MO. Here's a great story about the history of the night club scene in Southern Illinois and the Crackle in particular, by TJ Greaney of the Southeast Missourian.

Thursday, April 13, 2006

Remembering Wacky Packages

Wacky Packages, for those of you who missed them, were stickers featuring product parodies. They were the same size as baseball cards and each pack included five (or was it ten?) stickers, one cardboard checklist, and a stick of gum. An example of a Wacky Package parody was "Crust", the toothpaste that gave you cavities. The cartoonish artwork of Wacky Packages, always captured the true packaging and branding elements. I bought my first pack of Wacky cards at TG&Y on Johnson Drive in 1973.

I wasn't a serious collector of Wacky stickers at first. I peeled them and stuck them on my bedroom door. I soon realized they were more fun to collect than to actually stick on stuff. I have a distinct memory of being home from school one day in the 3rd grade. It was one of those elementary holidays for teacher in-service or something. I was bored with daytime television so I rode my bike up to the Quik-Trip in Roeland Park and dropped 30 cents on some Wacky Packages. What a thrill to open a pack of stickers and see what parodies were inside. The Topps folks issued a new round of stickers four times a year and you always knew when the new series was in stores. They changed the color of the wax wrapper to let you know.

I developed this Wacky Package lust that day in 3rd grade. The problem was that I didn't have any money. I looked under couch cushions and in desk drawers at the house. I scrounged up a dime and a nickel and rode up to the store for three more packs. I think I did this two or three times that day. It wasn't good financial planning but it was good exercise.

I began purchasing my stickers by the box. They shipped the cards in little cardboard cases for easy display. Each box contained about 40 packs of stickers. The hidden whammy was that some stickers were more prevalent than others. A typical series had 30 different stickers. Some of those were rare. I found out why. Topps produced each series on a giant contact sheet. During the design phase, they'd occasionally drop an idea. This created a hole in the sheet and they'd fill it with a duplicate. That's why some stickers appeared in the packs more often than others.

I out grew Wacky Packages about the time they stopped producing the original stickers in 1977. I'm not sure why I got tired of them. I think it was a combination of other interests and the fact that the designers had already parodied most of the best known consumers products.

I don't remember what happened to my wacky sticker collection. I may have sold it at a garage sale. I wish I'd kept them.

Check out the stickers at Tom's Wacky Package page.

Sunday, April 09, 2006

Remembering Joe Delassus

Today The Kansas City Star published an essay I wrote about baseball: He bats right, just like Grandpa. Registration may be required over at their website, but it's free.

Friday, April 07, 2006

Recommending Patty Heffley

Some nice photos of punk rock icons from Patty Heffley. Thanks to Bill Goffrier for the tip about this one.