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.


Ellen Dixon said...

I actually bookmarked your blog page. Every so often I check yours & a old roommates who lives in Taiwan now. I haven't been here for a while, but I check tonight and funny you should bring these up..I was telling my niece about them last year. I actually went on ebay, just to see if they had them & sure enough they were there. thanks for the website, it was a good memory!!!

Anonymous said...

Still have many of my old wacky I am going to have to dig them out.