If you were a young fan of Mad Magazine's absurdist sometimes controversial humor in the '70s, then no doubt you were also a collector of Wacky Packages, the spoofs of common household products that seemed to live in the same universe.

What Were Wacky Packages?

Wacky Packages were TOPPS collectible cards (actually, stickers—much to the chagrin of our parents) that parodied common products of the day—from pet food to dishwashing gloves—and were originally launched in 1967.

Created by Art Spiegelman, the first run of 44 cards was understandably marred with lawsuits and cease-and-desist notices. Topps notes on their website that 14 of the 44 original cards caused a ruckus. Parodies of Morton Salt ("Moron Salt"), Jolly Green Giant ("Jolly Mean Giant") and Ritz Crackers ("Ratz Crackers") were all pulled.

10 Wacky Packages Cards From the '70s That You Won't Believe Existed
Wacky Packages by TOPPS/Canva

Cultural Evolution Through Collectible Cards

Wacky Packages (although I only recall calling them "Wacky Packs") offer us a pretty fascinating window into the cultural norms and very different sensibilities of the 1970s. This is not about "woke" or "political correctness" and more about a conversation.

What really stands out is that the intended audience—pre-teens—were the intended audience, but one has to wonder if they really got the jokes. I think this is where some of the shock comes from when you look at them through a modern lens.

10 Wacky Packages Cards From the '70s That You Won't Believe Existed
Wacky Packages by TOPPS/Canva

Are Wacky Packages Still Available Today?

They sure are. In fact, a 5-box bundle of new Wacky Packages cards was made available by TOPPS in 2023, although they are currently out of stock. They include parodies of Hot Wheels ("Rot Wheels"), Frosted Flakes ("Frosted Cakes") and Toaster Strudel ("Taser Strudel"). Not as vicious, but still good fun.

The collectors' market for vintage Wacky Packages is thriving on eBay. You can find all the stickers/cards there in good condition, as well as entire die-cut sheets. (I actually have one of these framed and hanging on a bedroom wall!)

Wacky Packages on eBay
Screenshot of eBay Search

Common Wacky Pack Themes

We are going to take a look at 10 of the collectible cards that fall under themes that, in this day and age, would probably unsettle some adults, let alone a more enlightened child. From depictions of violence, smoking and multicultural differences to parodies of the feminist movement, these cards really dug in and put the trendmakers of the day on notice. All of this in a pack of kids' trading cards. Pretty incredible.

LOOK: 10 Wacky Packages Cards From the '70s That You Won't Believe Existed

Wacky Packages were beloved by '70s kids, but revisiting some of the more surprising cards might just leave you amazed that they ever existed.

Gallery Credit: Stephen Lenz

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