Briefly Noted: Bubblegum Subversion


Topps, the candy and card company, brightened the dark years of 1973 and 1974 with Wacky Packages, a series of stickers parodying popular household products. Argo cornstarch became "Argh: Coarse Stench." Comet cleanser became "Commie: Gets Rid of Reds, Pinkos, Hippies, Yippies, & Flippies."

The jokes were juvenile—so of course Wacky Packages struck a chord with kids in an America where consumer products and cynicism were equally ubiquitous. For those two glorious years, Wacky Packages were Topps' top-selling product, outpacing the company's famous baseball cards.

Wacky Packages, a new collection from Abrams, reproduces images from the series' glory days. "Wackies," the Pulitzer Prize–winning cartoonist and former Topps employee Art Spiegelman writes in the book, "were a young child's first exposure to subverting adult consumer culture." Thus they may have helped us all become smarter shoppers, whether for ideas or for Blisterine mouthwash.