The Greg Brady Project

Welcome to the official Barry Williams' blog

My friends call me Barry. From time to time I also hear the name Greg. Yeah, as in Greg Brady. The Brady Bunch represents a fun time in my life. But it’s only part of the story. There’s more to say and that’s what The Greg Brady Project is all about – a place to say it. So, I’ve invited some friends to join me and share their perspectives on the Brady’s, the 70′s and just about everything else. Now, I’m inviting you…

18 Feb
Bob Hunt

Wacky Packages Redux

written by Bob Hunt in Blog | 18 comments

Ajerx Cleanser. Gadzooka Bubble Gum. Crust Toothpaste. Land O’ Quakes Butter. Ring a bell? If so, you probably bought a few packs of Wacky Packages stickers once upon a time. Though introduced to the juvenile public in 1967, the subversive marketing parodies didn’t really catch on until 1973, when the legendary “1st Series” hit groceries, gas stations, and carry-outs everywhere. For a mere nickel, a kid could open the bright red wrapper to find a pair of stickers, a checklist, and a stick of bubble gum. Ironically, I recall these satirical jabs at consumerism as the first collectible items I desired owning.

Words alone cannot do justice to the allure of Wacky Packages. A big part of their appeal was the wonderful graphic artwork, which skillfully mimicked original packaging while adding absurd elements for a surreal send-up. Thus, Windex Window Cleaner became Windaxe Window Breaker, the familiar clear bottle bearing a label inscribed BREAK GLASS TO REMOVE AXE. And naturally, there was a large axe dominating the interior of the bottle. Though the humor was simplistic and mild, the artistic accomplishment could be mesmerizing.

Some of those images are burned on my retinas, and no wonder. Not only did I maintain a small collection of them, I stuck the extras everywhere: on notebooks, on my bedroom door, even gallery-style along strips of spare cardboard. I think they provided for me something that all children desire: a sense, even if illusory, of control in a world that can be confusing and frightening. Kids generally have so little say in what goes on, and once their critical thinking skills kick in and they realize that everything is not necessarily what it appears to be, they are at risk of becoming disillusioned. Wacky Packages took some of the sting out of that bitter truth by ridiculing the presentations that had been carefully crafted by graphic designers in advertising and marketing departments. Who could take consumer come-ons seriously after they had been so mercilessly exposed?

Now comes word that this month will see the release of Wacky Pack Flash Backs, classic sticker images from the 70′s reprinted with groovy, “flower power” backgrounds. Get your nickels ready. Lots of ‘em.

 

18 Comments

    Renee
    on Feb. 19th, 2008

    I will have to watch the stores for those! I remember as a kid playing with this red “goop” that came in a white plastic tub. Do you remember that? I am trying to remember what the name of it was. As a child, that was one of my favorite toys, although, it harkens back to the 60′s, rather than the 70′s I think.

    In OTHER news though, I received my RETURN OF JOHNNY BRAVO cd!!! Listened to it on the way to work, and while I have to say that I am really leaning towards AT THIS MOMENT as my fave on the cd, my loyalties would have to lie with HAPPY TOGETHER, because as a child, that was my favorite song, and as a child, I knew all the words to it. No small feat!

    Kimberly
    on Feb. 19th, 2008

    Thank you for posting! I was trying to remember these cards and asked friends! Finally…a place for nostalgia!

    I’ll write more as I remember the cards I had….

    Bob Hunt
    on Feb. 19th, 2008

    Kimberly – You’re welcome! Go to http://www.wackypackages.org/index.php and you’ll be able to find images of just about every Wacky Packages sticker from the 60′s to today.

    Renee – Can’t say I recall red goop in a white tub (not Silly Putty, surely, which came in an egg?), but I do have fond memories of owning three varieties of Slime (original green, purple with worms, and yellow with eyeballs). Slime had a wonderfully synthetic, plastic aroma that’s just on the tip of my nose as I think about it. AND, glad you’re enjoying The Return of Johnny Bravo, required listening here at the GBP.

    Kimberly
    on Feb. 20th, 2008

    Thank you for the link!

    I was thinking about it today and remembered that my friend sent me some updated ( ? ) versions a few years back…I’ll have to ask her because I’m not sure where they are packed. I was thrilled to see them again. Hours of amusement….

    I remembered a vintage comic book, etc. store that sold
    Happy Days, Grease, Star Wars? The MONKEES! …..trading cards ….and stumbled across Wacky cards in poor conditon. What a blast from the past.

    Will the new series of “Wacky” be sold online only?

    When I get back online I’ll need to check out the link (THANK YOU AGAIN!) and then I can share which ones I remember from the 70s! (thrilling, I know ;) ….how fun!)

    Plus, I need to get info on “Return of Johnny Bravo”.

    Have a Happy Day!

    Bob Hunt
    on Feb. 20th, 2008

    Kimberly – I believe the new series will be available at various retail stores. I know I’ve seen some of the recent series of the last several years among the trading cards at places like Wal-Mart and Target.
    As for “The Return of Johnny Bravo”, you’ll find it by clicking on the “SHOP” tab at the top of this page and following the “Unforgettable CD Collections” link.

    Kevin
    on Feb. 20th, 2008

    I was a huge fan of Wacky Packages. I remember having them stuck all all over the headboard on my bed. They did start selling new versions a couple years back and I was thrilled to see my kids find them almost as amusing as I did.

    EarlyXer.com

    Bob Hunt
    on Feb. 21st, 2008

    Kevin – Wow!! What a great website you have! Image after image of so many familiar things that I haven’t seen in years. I was born in the Early Xer years, so I really appreciate what you’ve compiled. I’ll certainly be forwarding your site to friends so they can enjoy it, too.

    Renee
    on Feb. 21st, 2008

    Wow, I missed being a Generation X’r by 2 years, as I was born in ’62. But, I enjoyed looking at some of those pics. I also get a catalog from Betty’s Attic http://www.bettysattic.com/website/aspfiles/home.asp and while I have yet to order anything from there (I will be ordering a 1958 calendar for my parents’ 50th wedding anniversary), I can sit and look at that catalog for an hour or so, remembering some of the things we used to have. Just wish I had taken better care of my toys when I was younger, they would be worth a fortune now!

    Bob Hunt
    on Feb. 21st, 2008

    Renee – Thanks for adding another great link. Now, after all these years, I can finally get my hands on a Gnip Gnop!

    Renee
    on Feb. 21st, 2008

    WHAT is a Gnip Gnop??

    Bob Hunt
    on Feb. 21st, 2008

    As described by Betty’s Attic:
    “Gnip Gnop is Ping Pong spelled backwards! Enjoy this classic family game once again, where players try to be the first to get their balls on their opponent’s side of the court by sending them through the holes in the center. It’s ball-flying, button-smashing action! Game includes plastic court and six balls that are sealed inside the court, so you never lose them! For 2 players, ages 5 and up.”
    One of the great lost games of the 70′s. I remember my friend from a couple doors down had one.
    But really, you have to see a photo to understand it:
    http://www.bettysattic.com/website/aspfiles/slide_show.asp?img_id=52192&item_no=47739&img_count=1&item_name=Gnip+Gnop+Game

    Renee
    on Feb. 21st, 2008

    Thank you Bob!! Yes, now that I looked at the link, I remember Gnip Gnop! Just forgot what it was called. And a noisy game too! That, and TROUBLE. We had those little water games too. The ones where you had to push the lever to get the ball in the basket. Tho’ we would always tip the game upside down to try and “cheat”. (who were we cheating?, it was a one-player game)

    I should look and see if they have that red goop that I mentioned earlier. ;)

    Bob Hunt
    on Feb. 22nd, 2008

    Gnip Gnop was indeed a noisy game, as was the domed die enclosure of Trouble! You bring back another fun memory with the water games, which were marketed as Wonderful Waterfuls for the full-size games and Wee Wonderful Waterfuls for the little ones. I had a great two-player basketball Waterful that kept me occupied for many idle childhood hours. It featured two baskets and two water jets aimed in opposite directions, so that competitors were always disrupting their opponent’s aquatic momentum with their own burst for the basket. Somewhere out there, I suppose, is a physicist who was inspired to enter the field after youthful observation of the quirky water dynamics of Wonderful Waterfuls.
    Good luck on your search for the elusive red goop!

    Bryan Irrera
    on Feb. 25th, 2008

    Have you seen this? Hysterical!

    Bryan Irrera
    on Feb. 25th, 2008

    darn…the embed didn’t work. Let me just put in the URL:

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ZOcDZaCeMAA

    STB
    on Mar. 2nd, 2008

    Great site…long live the Brady Bunch. You know, we’re not late Boomers or Early Xers…we finally have our own generational identity…those of us born between 1954 and 1965 are part of Generation Jones…and that incudes all the Brady kid characters as well as all the Brady Bunch kid actors…and Barack Obama is part of Generation Jones as well…

    Renee
    on Mar. 8th, 2008

    Came across this last night at work – thought it would be interesting reading:

    http://www.snopes.com/sports/football/tombrady.asp

    Do people really FALL for these stories?

    Also, a couple blogs on here did not get sent to my email. A computer glitch?

    Robert
    on Apr. 18th, 2008

    Renee -
    I remember the red goop stuff also but can’t remember what it was called either. It did have a very distinct smell as I recall — not unpleasant, but distinct.

    As for Wacky Packages, I collected them as a kid but they have long since disappeard.I started re-collecting them through eBay in 2006.

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