Kids adored them and parents despised them, but few on either side of the aisle will soon forget the collectable sets of stickers known as Wacky Packages. They were funny, maybe even irreverent, certainly adhesive, and very popular throughout the 70s decade.
Wacky Packages made their debut in 1967 to little fanfare. Manufactured by Topps (the baseball card people), they featured illustrated parodies of popular products, drawn by a number of popular cartoonists of the day. They didn’t exactly fly off store shelves, but they did attract the attention of the companies whose products were being skewered.
A few sued but to no avail, as parody has long been afforded 1st Amendment protection. It didn’t really matter either way, the die-cut cards barely made a ripple, thanks in part to the fact that it took considerable effort to successfully peel the stickers from the perforated cardboard backing.
That might have been the last we ever saw of Wacky Packages, but despite their lukewarm reception, Topps realized that concept just needed to be refined a little. They scaled down the size of each card to the size of a common baseball card and did away with the annoying perforations.
When they released the new version in 1973, Topps quickly realized that, this time at bat, they had managed to hit a home run.
No product was safe from the the sarcastic humor of the Wacky Package artists, who drew the stickers in the spirit and style akin to the popular publication, Mad Magazine. Wheaties became “Weakies,” Crest toothpaste became “Crust,” Band-Aid was now “Band-Ache” and Minute Rice morphed into “Minute Lice.” It was all in good fun, even if some companies saw little humor in the parodies.
This time around, kids loved the scathing parodies of the popular products, but what they loved even more was detaching those stickers and pasting them on just about any surface imaginable. The stickers were plastered on everything from school lockers and notebooks to bedroom walls, doors and even furniture.
Parents were less than amused, and many a kid soon learned that they were far easier to stick on something than to remove. Of course, the well-behaved among us never removed the stickers, leaving them affixed so that they were easier to store and protect.
During a three-year run, from 1973-1976, Topps released sixteen different series of Wacky Package stickers. They would reissue a number of them towards the end of the decade, and every few years after that. You can still occasionally find them for sale to this day, although certainly not as abundantly as back in the 70s.
And, if by some miracle, you still have your collection, you might be sitting on a gold mine, as many of the earliest cards have become highly collectable over the years.
Were you a regular purchaser of Wacky Packages in the 70s. Did you store them away for safekeeping, or plaster them everywhere with reckless abandon? I’d love to hear your recollections of these popular collectables from yesteryear in the comments section below.