Tuesday, July 24, 2007


That would probably be a good name for Chez Elisson, were I to give my home a name. You know: like some Ridiculously Wealthy People do. Shady Grove. Mar-a-Lago. Breaking Winds. That sort of thing.

Yep. Stupid Shit ‘R’ Us. How entirely appropriate...for my surroundings are packed to the rafters with Stupid Shit.

She Who Must Be Obeyed and I were digging around in my nightstand for a flashlight when I espied a pile of these things:

Garbage Pail Kids
Garbage Pail Kids. [Click to embiggen.]

Garbage Pail Kids!

These revolting – yet eminently collectible - sets of stickers came packaged with bubble gum back in the mid-1980’s. Featuring incredibly grotesque caricatures based on the then-popular Cabbage Patch Kids dolls, these were a huge hit with the prepubescent set, thanks largely to their felicitous combination of grossness and cleverness. I amassed quite a pile of ’em, despite my being a generation older than their target audience.

But the Garbage Pail Kids did not spring full-blown and full-grown into the world. They had their antecedents in the form of Wacky Packs, another set of stickers packaged with bubble gum. Wacky Packs lampooned consumer products, and their arrival circa 1973 was greeted with the same frenzy among the Newly-Pubescent that the Garbage Pail Kids were to inspire a decade later. My ice-cream truck was festooned with ’em, thanks to the generosity of the local kidstabulary.

Wacky Pack
A typical Wacky Pack sticker, 1973.

One could make a case for the Garbage Pail Kids being the bastard offspring of Wacky Packs and the Cabbage Patch Kids...but what inspired Wacky Packs?

I have a theory. It was nothing but MAD Magazine. What else?

Buried in the bowels of the basement of Chez Elisson, there is a pile of old MAD magazines, many of which date back to the 1950’s. Among them are several of their earlier anthology-style issues, among which is a confection called “More Trash from MAD.”

More Trash from MAD
More Trash from MAD, Issue #2, circa 1959.

The second issue of “More Trash...” came with a special insert: several pages of MAD Labels, cut-and-paste pre-gummed stickers that were parodies of then-existing consumer products. Things like “Belch-Not Strained Babies, Made In East Africa, By Cannibals For Cannibals.” Or “Roll Las Vegas Pineappl’d Dice.” Or “Tuna Brand Canned Bumble Bees.”

A MAD Label from the Collection d’Elisson.

Stuff that was immensely appealing to the third-grade Elisson...and which was the direct inspiration for the Wacky Packs that would appear about ten years later. Or so it seems to me.

Now: Who else besides Old Uncle Elisson can spin theories like this about the Stupid Shit you probably don’t give a flying fuck about?

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