Tuesday, June 17, 2008

Wacky Packs

When I was six or seven, I loved to collect Wacky Packs. Sure, they were technically called "Wacky Packages," but I don't know a single person who used that formal term. In case you don't remember, Wacky Packs were collectible stickers, sold like baseball cards, that mocked household products.

For example, Spam was rechristened "Cram" on a sticker depicting a maniacal mother shoving some gross meat-like product down her kid's gullet. Similarly, Virgina Slims cigarettes became wack-ified into "Virgina Slums," complete with a depressing shantytown and the slogan, "Inhale the smoke from the factories..." I had no idea about satire back then, but I knew it was cool to see those boring grocery store products transformed into something silly.

For Generation Xers like me, Topps has released a book-length compilation of Wacky Packs from 1973 to 1974, including a brief essay from an unlikely source, Art Spiegelman, the guy who started with this low-rent goofiness before proceeding to produce the Pulitzer Prize-winning Maus.

The book is a dandy addition to anyone's collection of Me-Generation pop culture. Even the dust cover brings back memories, since it was created to look and feel like those old wax coverings. On the hard covers? Surprisingly 3-D-looking images of those awful pieces of gum that came with the packages. Best of all, the book comes with a set of four previously unreleased Wacky stickers, perfect for affixing to a briefcase or the back of your car!

Normally I don't use this blog to shill for products. But I really got a kick out this book. Check out the Amazon listing to see for yourself.

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