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Topps Wacky Packages Sticker Facts
Here are some stories behind a few titles, and some random trivia about a few others. More will be added over time.
Note: In each fact you can click on thumbnails for larger images.

Facts 1-10     Facts 11-20     Facts 21-30     Facts 31-34
Posted: Monday 11:10 am, October 25, 2004
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Fact 11: Hungry Jerk

  • "Probably the first 'moron' piece with blue eye shadow. In '67 or so, Spiegelman and I did a Topps series called FUNNY LITTLE JOKE BOOKS. One of the little cartoon booklets was on the topic of sports. I did the rough, and integrated some characters were black and some white. Somewhere along the way, Topps decided to make all the characters white on the final art. The final art was line drawings by Ralph Reese and Wally Wood. But the color was done mechanically...and they would use the original color roughs that I did to indicate the colors on the final art. So the thing came out with characters all drawn as white guys...but half of them were colored in various shades of brown for flesh tones.

    I think it was on this same series that we did some roughs where we colored the eyelids of female characters blue, to indicate eye shadow (the Maybelline). But whoever did the color put blue eyelids on the male moron characters too. (I think it was the Jokebooks series that this happened on....although it could have been some other mechanically colored Topps series around that time).

    So when we saw the printed item, I said to Artie, "Hey! These moron characters look like they have eye shadow on!" And Artie replies nonchalantly, "Aaah...That's OK. They're MORONS!" So I thought that to be quite funny at the time....and ever since then we would color the moron characters' eyelids blue...kind of as a gag...since nobody at Topps at that time really cared about the subtleties of what we were doing on these things anyway.

    So the early Wackies were drawn by Sutton from Artie's roughs...and then they were painted by Saunders. Saunders, prior to then, never really worked in this Mad magazine type style that the Wackies were painted in....and certainly never colored a male's eyelids blue in his previous paintings. But the roughs by Artie and I all had the moron characters with blue eyelids....or green eyelids, if we couldn't find a blue magic marker. And I am pretty sure that Norm never really knew why...unless Artie explained it to him . And ultimately, even if the eyelids of these goofy character guys WEREN'T blue on the roughs...Saunders would make them blue...and this Morons with Eyeshadow thing ultimately became a Topps cliche."  -Jay

  • "It says 'Spillbury' instead of 'Spillsbury' it probably said on the rough. Most likely because it would have been too hard to fit the extra 'S' into the blue circle and still have it legible. ...and there's no comma between 'Buy It' and 'Stupid'.... Len was probably on vacation." -Jay"


Posted: Wednesday 10:59 am, October 27, 2004
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Fact 12: Rice A Phoni

Rice-A-Phoni is the title Topps staff had the hardest time spelling. So three different spellings, four counting hyphen variations.


Posted: Wednesday 3:22 pm, October 27, 2004
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I love the caption on the rough:  "Looks like rice but it's really insects with the legs removed".


Posted: Thursday 12:06 pm, October 28, 2004
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Fact 13: Quake and Ache

Series 4 Quake and Ache was originally slated as an alternate for series 2.  It appeared on the 2nd series proof sheet.  But on the proof sheet is written on the side of the duck the words "ROTTENFLAVOR".  This was removed by the time this title reached the 4th series.  Why?  Nobody knows.


Posted: Thursday 3:12 pm, October 28, 2004
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That's a strange looking duck!  ;-P


Posted: Thursday 3:21 pm, October 28, 2004
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With regards to "Rotten Flavor" being removed from Quake N Ache,Topps was probably trying to avoid a direct assault on the quality of the food. A recent example of this policy is "Fright Castle" ("Grease Burgers being changed to "Ghoul Burgers").


Posted: Thursday 3:29 pm, October 28, 2004
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Yeah but how much was that a factor in 1973?


Posted: Thursday 6:31 pm, October 28, 2004
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IMO, it was a factor even then. Another example is "Bent" cigarettes. The tagline ("on destroying your lungs") was probably removed for the same reasons as Quake & Ache. Maybe Jay can shed some light on the subject.


Posted: Saturday 6:14 pm, October 30, 2004
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Fact 14: Alpain

The Napoleon as madman image came from Milt Gross' 1930s comic strip COUNT SCREWLOOSE FROM TOULOUSE. It later became a basic cartoon cliche for a crazy guy.


Posted: Friday 2:53 am, November 19, 2004
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The Screwloose strips usually ended with the Count being dragged away by custodians of a mental hospital.  So sometimes he would wear a napoleon hat with his hand in his shirt...sometimes he would be cutting out paper dolls...sometimes he would finger his lower lip making a "blb,blb,blb" sound...various things like that that evolved into comic cliches for insanity.


Posted: Sunday 11:47 am, October 31, 2004
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Fact 15: Flare

Flare enjoys a copyright variation. The DOUBLE asterisk Flare's all have normal 12th series copyright.

But the SINGLE asterisk Flare Pen's all have an UNDERSCORE "_" just before the "PRTD."

The typesetter was drunk that day or something.


Posted: Monday 1:23 pm, November 1, 2004
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Fact 16: Moron Beef

There was a long running issue with the CEO Arthur Shorin of Topps, who personally gave final approval to all Wackys. He had a relative who had some form of retardation. He knew that the words "moron," "imbecile," and "idiot" were really true medical terms used to describe levels of IQ. Though the use of these terms in the medical community has been discontinued, Shorin was sensitive about it, because of his relative, who he didn't want to offend. So he would periodically tell the artists to either not use the word "idiot" or "moron," or to not make characters look moronic. As you might imagine this dictate was largely ignored, but sometimes it had dramatic effect. For example Moron Beef grew out of this rough, but it was a moment when they were being told to tone down the moronicity - notice the margin note to Saunders, who would do the painting, "Regular looking kid, not moronic". So they tried to do the non-moronic kid and still make it funny, at best a marginal success.

This was still an issue even for the 1991 Series. From the Mark Newgarden interview:  "I remember there being one thing where there was some gag with the word 'idiot' in it and Len telling me you can't use the word 'idiot'. And I said why not? Every issue of Mad Magazine used it. Well, it's actually a medical term that one of the cousins of Arthur was diagnosed with, you know like 'medical idiot,' so they're really sensitive about that. (laughter) So it was like whatever, but he was willing to take chances on stuff that a lot of people weren't at that point."


Posted: Monday 4:04 pm, November 1, 2004
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Wow, the Moron Beef rough is much more appealing and funny.  I really like that character more.  WAY more.


Posted: Monday 4:40 pm, November 1, 2004
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Yeah, the character on the finished sticker doesn't even look like a Saunders character.


Posted: Monday 7:41 pm, November 1, 2004
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Was the Moron Beef Pot Pie originally to be called Moron Beef Hat Pie according to the rough drawing?


Posted: Monday 7:43 pm, November 1, 2004
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Looks like it was originally Moron Chicken, but they changed it to Beef.


Posted: Tuesday 12:05 pm, November 2, 2004
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Fact 17: Super Cigar Crisp

There were two typos on the 6th series checklist that were fixed about half way through the run, ("Goonman's" was "Goodman's" and "Spills Bros." was "Spills Bad"). But amusingly there is a third typo that was not fixed. "Super Cigar Crisp" appears as "Sugar Cigar Crisp" on both checklists.


Posted: Tuesday 12:27 pm, November 2, 2004
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Whoa, dude, did we know this before now??? I don't remember ever reading it!


Posted: Tuesday 12:36 pm, November 2, 2004
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No, it's recent, I first learned it October 7th, 2004:


Date: Thu, 7 Oct 2004 09:54:39
From: Peter Gootos
Subject: Another 6th series checklist error

Hi Greg,
   I've been a fan of your site for months now!  Awesome job!
   I recently began "re-collecting" all the old stickers I collected as a kid.  LIke many of us, my
parents threw out my old collections after moving out of the house years ago!  I was in 5th, 6th, and 7th
grade during the height of series 1-16.  My friends and I hoarded these stickers and stuck them
   Anyway, during my organizing of series #6, I noticed that the sticker "Super Cigar Crisp" is actually
listed as "Sugar Cigar Crisp" on the checklist.  I searched your website for this additional piece of
trivia, but didn't find any info on it.  So I thought as a true fan of Wacky Packages, it was my
responsibility to inform other fans of this!
  I'll keep studying them, as I'm sure there are other typos and errors that have yet to be discovered.
Keep up the great work.
Peter Gootos


Posted: Tuesday 12:43 pm, November 2, 2004
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I guess there's always something new under the wacky pack sun. Congratulations on keeping up with this thread, it will serve as a handy one-place reference for a lot of these interesting facts. Might even be a good idea to post all of the facts together on the web page once you have exhausted all the interesting ones you can think of.


Posted: Tuesday 12:45 pm, November 2, 2004
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That's pretty cool.  I've never noticed it before.

OK - Gootos gets a nomination for 2004 Brain Power award (I don't care what Tom says!).


Posted: Tuesday 1:50 pm, November 2, 2004
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Well I'll be...


Posted: Tuesday 3:07 pm, November 2, 2004
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The copyright is also upside down on this one. There are a couple of wackys like this, when you turn them to read the print, the copyright is on the top, not the bottom.


Posted: Thursday 12:22 pm, November 4, 2004
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Fact 18: Rudens

"The original Ludens gag (see the rough) is that they are Ruden's Coarse drops. You eat them...and they make you Coarse...and uncouth. The original image shows the guy giving an uncouth Bronx cheer...with his tongue out and stuff. This was that eating them does not make you uncouth...but rather, they are for people who are uncouth in the first place, and therefore they are just filling a market need. So, I guess, after many editorial meetings after the painting was done, the tongue was retouched out...and the word 'coarse' was replaced with 'cough'. Too bad they didn't have someone transcribing the editorial meetings wherein such decisions were made. It would make a great book."


Posted: Friday 3:06 pm, November 5, 2004
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Fact 19: Rowdy

> Norm was given the opportunity to come up with the idea for the gags once in a blue moon.
> ROWDY was one such title. The gag for this piece is basically an inside joke for him.
> He owned a dog named ROWDY who had a propensity for fire hydrants.
> Ernie

It is true that Norm didn't write the gags usually ... I never came across any instance of Saunders doing the writing of the main gag...although he improved most of the gags we roughed out by adding little details that were gags in themselves.

So what is the analysis of Rowdy? I don't know who did the original rough...And I forget alot of things about this Wacky Packages stuff...But I think on this one that the original thing was that moulded jello, as depicted on the Royal package at that time kind of looks like a fire hydrant..and from a cartoon cliche standpoint, fire hydrants are what dogs pee on....and so it seems that at one point the idea was a dog peeing on the hydrant shaped jello...and instead of Royal it was "Rover" ...and the dog peeing was just too much for that it became Rowdy...and the dog was deleted. But at what point this happened I do not know. Nor do I know if this actually happened. It is just some vague feeling I have when looking at that particular Wacky. I don't know if it is a memory...or just some kind of retroactive justification of what the gag is supposed to mean...or what.

I went through the photocopies of my old roughs today...and it turns out that I did do the Rowdy rough...and it is pretty much the same as the card, except I spelled gelatin differently.

These are the same batch of photocopies I sent to John Mann to post on his page. It is one of the b&w roughs. It should be up there in John Mann's section on my roughs. So I guess I did the rough...but I still don't know what the gag means. It could still have something to do with Norm's dog. My mind is a blank on it.

> Why would Norm, a great artist himself, use Jay to make a rough for his idea?
> Does that make any sense Jay? Maybe the extent of it is that Norm suggested
> the pun "rowdy" for the product when he ran into Jay in the rest room. It
> doesn't make sense that Norm would have designed the whole thing and then have
> Jay do the rough. But I guess anything is possible.
> Greg

I don't have a vivid recall of any of this...But somehow it may be true that while I was at Topps in Brooklyn on one of my semi-annual sojurns there...I probably did talk to Norm about various things...and possibly originally the gag for Royal jello was what I said in a previous post...something about a dog peeing on the hydrant shaped gelatin mold...and that the actual image of the dog peeing was too much for Topps...and Norm probably said something like "I have a dog who likes to pee on fire hydrants"...Why not call the product "Rowdy". And so when I went back to Chicago I did the Rowdy rough, and that was that. I don't really remember anything except that the original idea, "Rover gelatin" with the peeing dog image was too much for Topps at the time...and it was changed to Rowdy. One thing, though...somehow when I saw the early posts on this, somewhere in the back of my mind I recalled that Norm did have a dog named Rowdy. And Zina confirms this fact.

When we were doing Wackies back then, none of us really gave it that much thought. And nobody thought that 30 years later people would remember this stuff. Norm was trying to pay his mortgage...and Artie and I were trying to pay the rent...and that's all that this stuff meant to us at the time. It was very casual. Thus---it is very likely that Norm suggested that the parody be called Rowdy, in honor of his pup...and I just figured sure---why not---and did the rough.

The thing was that the ideas came from Woody Gelman's Creative Dept. and the art was assigned through Ben Solomon's Art Dept. on the other side of the building. So Saunders would be in the Art Dept. when he came in, and would deal with Ben, not Woody. And thus, he had little opportunity to present gag ideas. Also...since he was retired at the time...and since Artie and I were youths, I think the Topps wisdom was to let the young guys write for the kids. Actually, the wisest thing Topps ever did was hire Spiegelman when he was 16 or so...and hire Len Brown when he was 18 or devise series. They were closer to the kids in age, so they knew what would go over. But these guys were rare types...child geniuses...You won't easily find kids like these guys were back then now-a-days.


Posted: Friday 3:29 pm, November 5, 2004
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Interesting.  I always wondered about this one.  It seemed to kind of come from out of left field.  I think because the joke wasn't that clear to me that this one never rolled up high on my favorites lists.

I definitely enjoy these back stories.  I'm all for the behind the scenes stuff, and I'm glad Greg is getting this information down and available for future reference by all.


Posted: Friday 6:19 pm, November 5, 2004
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It's really too bad a dog peeing on a hydrant couldn't be done, that would have been classic.  It's a shame that Norm's dog couldn't have appeared on Rowdy though, he could have been just sitting next to the hydrant.  That would have tied things together with the inside joke of the gag.


Posted: Saturday 4:51 am, November 6, 2004
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>>>I definitely enjoy these back stories.  I'm all for the behind the scenes stuff, and I'm glad Greg is getting this information down and available for future reference by all.

My sentiments exactly. Reading all these back stories makes me appreciate Wackys all the more. Thanks, Greg and please keep 'em coming.


Posted: Saturday 11:58 am, November 6, 2004
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I'm glad you guys are enjoying the facts of the day.  Notice how many of them are basically quotes by Jay.  Jay has done so much for the history books of this hobby, and of all people involved in the original hobby, and I count 47 so far, he's really the only who has done anything to help us learn the back stuff.  I wonder if Norm was alive if he would talk to us.  We should all be eternally grateful to Jay for this.  My role was simple, when I saw such posts on delphi, they stood out like gold nuggets, and when you're walking down the street and you see a gold nugget on the ground, obviously you pick it up.


Posted: Sunday 1:13 am, November 7, 2004
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The space taken up by the creative dept. was tiny, compared to the space taken up by the art dept.
Rick Varesi, Len Brown, Woody Gelman, Art Spiegelman, Abe Morgenstern, were all in a very small area each in a tiny office...Varesis office was a few feet away from Len's office and a few feet away from Spiegelman's office.  So they would talk to each other through the walls all day. It would be probable that Varesi had some editorial input into the actual card gags...but mainly he designed the wrappers and boxes.


Posted: Sunday 10:44 am, November 7, 2004
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Fact 20: Gadzooka

As far as I can tell, Gadzooka has appeared on more wackys than any other title. Twenty-four in total:

'67 diecut
Wacky Ads
1st series White-back
1st series Tan-back
1st series Red Ludlow
1st series Black Ludlow
Cloth series
1st Wonder Bread
1973 Posters
1974 Posters
Sew-on Patch
'77 Shedds
1979 Test
1st reissue Topps
1982 Topps
1982 OPC
1st OPC tan
1st OPC white
1st UK
1st reissue OPC
1985 Irish series
1981 Irish test series

Honorable mentions:
1) Appeared as the 1986 Album series puzzle, but not as one of the 1986 titles.
2) Put-ons


Posted: Monday 3:47 am, November 8, 2004
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Would the sticker that appeared the most be different if you didn't count the different backs?


Posted: Monday 3:55 am, November 8, 2004
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No, I believe it is still Gadzooka, good question.



Facts 1-10     Facts 11-20     Facts 21-30     Facts 31-34