Sunday, June 26, 2011

Mr. Potato Head and Pals

I never knew that Mr. Potato Head had a pal named “Pete The Pepper”.


With a name like “Pete The Pepper”, it seems possible that this “friend” may have been one of Mr. Potato Head’s more nefarious associates possibly with ties to organized crime or at least to the shadier aspects of the vegetable import business.

I also was unaware that the first Mr. Potato Head toys were made to actually be inserted into real vegetables.



According to the included instructions, “most any vegetable or fruit” can be used. When I was a small child, the fruits and vegetables in our home were strictly for consumption and not play. It seems to me the act of shoving plastic eyes, mouth, moustache and a pipe into a ripe tomato over and over again would render the fruit unappetizing at least and would most certainly produce a rather macabre doll. I can’t imagine the fun would increase with the use of the more stable fleshed onion once it’s wildly pungent and real-life eye scalding, milky juices would begin to weep from the wounds created by the hard plastic facial prosthetics. It takes no great stretch of the mind to imagine horrified children attempting in vain to comprehend why their new best friend the onion headed doll was lamenting its creation with foul smelling, bitter and burning tears.

According to Wikipedia, “in the 1960s, government regulations forced the Potato Head parts to be less sharp, leaving them unable to puncture vegetables easily. By 1964, the company was therefore forced to include a plastic potato "body" in its kit. Little children were also choking on the small pieces and cutting themselves with the sharp pieces”. Though the date on the box above is clearly listed as 1966 and there seems that there were only “face parts” in that particular box.

Regardless of the math, by the time I was playing with Mr. Potato Head in the late 60’s, there was a plastic potato body included in the box.

And the rest, as they say, is toy history…

Thursday, June 09, 2011

Baby Face Rooney?

To be fair, I’ve never seen this film and chances are I never will. I just have to wonder what was going on in the casting director’s head when the decision was made to cast little and loveable Mickey Rooney in the role of a hardened blood thirsty criminal – “the deadliest killer of all time” - mind you, should you choose to believe the poster hype.

While a talented artist did his/her best to illustrate Mickey Rooney shaking a blazing sub-machine gun at some unfortunate (perhaps they did something as innocent as give him the wrong change), it just doesn’t work here - at least not for me. I just know Rooney so well as a song and dance man that in my mind’s eye he looks like a middle aged star on a shoot break playing with a prop from
Some Like It Hot.

The artist was slipping a bit with his/her portrait of the great actress
Carolyn Jones. In this poster, she looks more like an angry drag queen that has learned how to work a sawed off shotgun in the back parking lot of an Arkansas truck stop. While an angry drag queen with a sawed off shotgun isn’t someone I would want to run into at the SuperFresh, her poster representation just doesn’t instill a sense of intimidation here. After looking more thoroughly at this poster, I wouldn’t be surprised to learn that two different artists may have worked on it each responsible for one of the leads.

The poster suggests that “Baby Face Nelson” not be viewed unless “your nerves are bulletproof”. OK, finding that hard to believe as well, but stranger things have happened. In fact, interestingly enough, this film was
highly praised on

Perhaps I need to bundle up my bulletproof nerves and see if it’s available on Netflix. After all, maybe in 1957, Mickey just needed to kick some ass – gangsta style…

Wednesday, June 08, 2011

Made right in the can…

This morning, I ran across a fab retro magazine ad featuring two things that I’ve not tasted in a very long time – lime Jell-O and canned pineapple. In fact, scanning my memory banks for the last time I may have had the palette envelope pushing experience of having the two distinctive tastes (one an artificial lime infused, eye-crossing uber-sweetness and the other a tinny slab of fruit fleshy sugar loaf) comingled in my mouth would require a mental time travel machine the size of a semi.

Nevertheless, the kitschy joy and the in-your-face “we love chartreuse” art direction of this retro masterpiece of advertising  is simply too much for me to resist.

Feast your eyes upon the culinary magic of the early 1960’s!


My parents were married in the early 60’s. And like so many young people at that time, my mother loved this kind of advertising and was drawn to it like a vampire to a virgin’s neck. If it was instant it was pure perfection. Instant coffee, instant orange juice, instant milk, instant oatmeal, instant rice, instant mac and cheese and much more were quite popular menu items of my childhood. I have little doubt that had this glistening and enticing manna blipped across her radar, it would have been proudly served the next time such a side dish was called for.

Simply open a can of sliced pineapple, pour out the juice, fill it with Jell-O, stick it in the fridge and voilà - instant dessert. Or, should you find the need, smack a slab or two down atop an acid-green leaf of lettuce and add a hefty dollop of pure mayonnaise to the plate party to create a slickened summer side salad from hell.

When Jell-O/Mayo molds were all the rage, I was fortunately young enough to be intimidated by the mix and to this day have yet to experience that questionable concoction. Though, mayonnaise is one of my favorite guilty garnishes. Perhaps I’ve been missing out all these years…

In any event, this ad has loudly plucked a string of culinary interest in my mind and there is a strong possibility that if I end up in the SuperFresh this afternoon, I may have to take a stroll down memory lane and check out the canned pineapple selection which couldn’t possibly be too far from the Jell-O selection…

Stay tuned, there may be photos…