Wacky Packages

Wacky Packages

In the 70s, there was hardly a store that didn’t have a proud display of Wacky Packages right next to the cash register. Sold in the same packaging as baseball cards (which was no surprise since a company named Topps created them), they were literally irresistible to darn near every little kid with a few extra cents in his or her pocket. And the appeal was very simple – wonderfully demented versions of product art that every kid knew from the grocery story aisles. They were funny, they were completely politically incorrect, and much to the horror of every parent, they were backed with an adhesive – meaning that not only could they be affixed to school folders and lunch boxes, but also every square inch of wall, door or furniture within their path.

The first versions of Wacky Packages were called Die-Cuts and Wacky Ads. Introduced in 1967, they were simply a series of cards, much like their baseball player-adorned cousins, that were randomly packaged. Each card was held in a cardboard frame by perforations and when punched out, contained a sticky back that could be applied to any flat surface. It was quite the chore, however, to remove the cards from their cardboard frame without damaging them and kids eventually grew tired of trying. It was back to the old drawing board for Topps.

Six years later, the trading card company decided to give it another whirl, renaming the product Wacky Packages and hiring legendary artist, Jay Lynch (who had made his name drawing Bazooka Joe cartoons) to design the images. Lynch drew upon the cartoons of The New Yorker and more evidently, Mad Magazine to create a series of product parodies that poked fun at familiar product art. Wheaties were transformed in to Weakies, Lipton became Liptorn, Band-Aid became Band-Ache. Crest toothpaste, Miss Clairol, Ragu, Scope – no product was safe from the witty jabs of Wacky Packages. And this didn’t exactly delight the original product’s manufacturers either. When Tetley Tea Bags got wind of Petley Flea Bags, they didn’t laugh – they sued, claiming irreparable damage to their good name. The lawsuit was thrown out of court.

Each set of Wacky packages could also double as a puzzle, since each package also contained non-adhesive puzzle pieces that had a handy checklist on the back to show you which pieces you still needed to acquire. Of course, you had to complete the entire set to finish the puzzle and that meant buying a heck of a lot of Wacky Packages – funny how that worked, isn’t it? Finally, in 1979, Topps showed a bit of mercy when they issued the reprint series and made the puzzle collecting much easier.

After literally millions of Wacky Packages were sold, their popularity began to ebb in the early 80s. Numerous attempts were made to revive the cards between 1985 and 1991 but it simply wasn’t the same. Kids would soon turn their attention to the allure of Garbage Pail Kids. But those 16 original series of Wacky Packages released between 1973 and 1976 remain highly sought after by collectors, who continue to trade them to this day.

And for anyone lucky enough to live during the WPE (Wacky Package Era), it is impossible to look at just a couple of cards. Waves of nostalgia quickly wash over these adult-sized kids as they smile lovingly at the images of Choke Wagon, Koduck Film, Fright Guard and Fish-Bone Dressing. It’s a trip down memory lane, certain to bring a tear to one’s eye or at least a grin to the face. And somewhere in the attics of America, behind closet doors, or plastered on an old dresser, there are probably a few lingering stickers. And chances are, the placement of each one was followed by a stern lecture at one time – about why it is bad to attach stickers to furniture and other household items. Ah, but to be a kid again.

If you were a loyal collector of Wacky Packages, we welcome your memories in our comments section. Were you a responsible owner or did you plaster your room with them? Do you still have a particular favorite? Share all of this and more as we remember this wonderful collection of pop art from the 70s.

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8 Responses to “Wacky Packages”

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  1. Wishnick59 says:

    I only remember one..it was Logs, instead of Leggs pantiehose, it had an illustration of a pair of legs with logs on the outside.

  2. Kapatsos says:

    My friends and I had a bunch of those and thought those were so cool.

  3. greenhornet says:

    I loved these things. I had a whole box of ‘em. Wacky Packages and Mad and Cracked magazines are responsible for my warped view of the world to this day.

  4. HardyGirl66 says:

    These things ruled back in the day! Only problem was my mom couldn’t stand them. After one pack, I couldn’t buy any more. But…lucky for me, these were also available in the Wonder Bread bags, so I did have these cool things on my notebook, anyway. I did find more in the Betty’s Attic catalog, and I’ve bought several packs of the new ones. But it’s weird…kids definitely do NOT get the cool factor of these anymore. Oh well, I still love ‘em!

  5. john says:

    I remember seeing the Wacky Packages stickers when I was a kid, but I never had any myself until I was about 13, but by then the heyday of Wacky Packages was pretty well over. Oh, wait, I just forgot! I remember I got one Wacky Packages sticker for Jail-O that was inside a package of Wonder Bread when I was six.

  6. Art Tucker says:

    I loved Wackey Packages as a kid. I even had a Poopsi-Cola tee shirt.

  7. richi says:

    wacky packages book is white from 2012…….

    Keggs Draft Brew
    Badzooka Cement Gum
    Trucker’s Strawberry Traffic Jam
    Stupid Moron 2
    Boozco
    Snakes
    Char Boy
    Mentals
    Vlad
    Tragedy Ann
    Yuppie Chow
    Scrawny
    Famished Amish Cookies
    Popps Magazine
    American Distress
    Original Stench Dressing
    Squelch’s Ape Juice
    Prez Broccoli Dispenser
    Reckboks
    Space-Out Time
    Bambo
    Pego Building Set
    Zenergizer
    Barf Wimpson
    Pigtionary
    Tattoo Skins, Barf’s Rot Beer
    Hobo Cop
    Newpork Pig Cigs
    Kitty Zitter
    Saneball
    Little Dead Kitten
    Pit
    Retch A Sketch
    Fatman
    Gross Blisters
    Oldage Mutant Nasty Turkeys
    Nude Kids on the Block
    Cup O’Poodles
    Flea-Wee’s Flop-House
    Duck Bar
    Wheel of Torture
    Old El Gaso
    Scumby
    Dr. Sushi
    Mrs. Blubber Worth’s
    The Rat in the Cat
    Coorpse Light
    Sick Tracy
    Mummorex
    Drunken’ Donuts
    Snot ‘N Blow
    Barfield
    The Baby Splitter’s Club
    Microbe Machine
    Donkey Nose Pizza

    bunes cards……..
    Mr. Clown
    HoboCop
    slipperymurryo 3
    Donkey Nose Pizza

  8. Eddie says:

    my best friend had his bedroom door covered in stickers. wacky packages were part of the assortment — I distinctly recall crust toothpaste – puts a yellow crust on teeth. wynn’s and stp stickers too. I got a full set of fiends and machines which were like odd rods. and I still read mad, 40 years now!

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