With Halloween just passed, it seemed appropriate to bring something truly scary to the JediCole Universe. Welcome then to the long awaited (or at the very least, long promised) first installment of a new monthly feature It Came From the Dollar Store!
For the last eight years Mrs. JediCole and I have hosted an annual Dollar Store Christmas party and as a result have discovered a wealth of oddball products that someone felt compelled to produce. Perhaps it was solely because they could still hit that $1.00 retail price point or the producers and manufacturers just have no clue how bizarre their products would seem to the average person. Regardless of the directives behind these curious objects and foodstuffs, they are certainly worth exploring and always good for a few laughs.
And so it is that once a month I will blow $5.00 (plus tax) on a sampling of curiosities culled from actual dollar stores in my general area. I simply won’t allow myself a larger budget on things I do not plan to keep. However, in some cases the products showcased will be actual gifts that others purchased for Dollar Store Christmas. Perhaps you have seen these products as well, perhaps not. None the less they are carefully selected to raise eyebrows, invoke laugher, and simply beg the question “why?”
First Responding in Style
Army men in olive drab have long been the top stationary pose boys toy produced on the cheap. However, bags of little plastic soldiers have always shared peg space with cowboys and Indians, dinosaurs, and even police or firemen. For those on a tight budget the marketers of dollar store toy aisle seem ever able to field sets of such figurines to fuel young imaginations.
In this case we have a set of firefighters who stand at the ready to battle back the flames and come to the rescue of any hapless children or pets who have become trapped by falling timbers amidst an inferno that was once a happy home. If that plays overly dark, then fear not. Once safely in the clear air it seems these brave firemen have a pair of sweet rides in which they can take those they have rescued for a refreshing high-speed jaunt around the neighborhood. After all, nothing so soothes the blow of watching everything you own go up in smoke like a ride in a kick-ass sports car likely equipped to legally run red lights!
|You have to love the grammar on these things!|
|Okay buddy, where's the fire?|
|Who says a dollar doesn't buy much these days?|
Taste the Tiger
Off brand, oddball, and just plain goofy candies are one of the staples of dollar stores. So it was no surprise that the only place Mallow Pals could seem to find a market was in such an environment. Sharing the shelves and pegs with hoarhound hard candies and the inexplicably still available on the open market Necco Wafers I discovered this particular confectionary trainwreck.
When contemplating how to market a drab and hideously textured species of marshmallow fluff as a confection it seems inevitalbe that some kind of licensed brand would be the best approach. After all, chalky sticks of so-called candy packaged with brightly colored images of Spider-Man or Wolverine at least give some initial appeal before the disappointment provided by the contents. Perhaps finding Marvel Comics characters out of their price range, the makers of Mallow Pals went with the less expensive but equally high profile Animal Planet franchise. After all, the two things kids love most are candy and animals. Just ask Speed Racer's brother, he hung out with one and consumed copious quantities of the other.
|And lions taste like watermelon!|
Note: Sour Green Apple was not the sole flavor of Mallow Pals available at the time of purchase, it seemed the flavor least suited to complement the childhood memory-invoking flavor of marshmallows. Even the Sta-Puft Marshmallow Man is offended by this would be snack treat!
The Down Side of Shelf Presence
Some names become so completely synonymous with their products that they enter the vernacular and often even the dictionary. Classic examples of this are Kleenex, Coke, Xerox, and Band-Aid. Then there are the products that were not fielded by major corporations that spent months and thousands to millions, employ marketing teams, and arrange consumer focus groups all to come up with a catchy name that could possibly become a part of Americana. When your product is developed for the burgeoning dollar store market it is more likely that you just ask everyone from the production line to the mail room to submit a name suggestion and go with the first one you pull out of a hat.
|16% zinc oxide ointment presented in grand style!|
This had to be the case with Baby’s Butt Aid, a diaper rash cream with the most awkward and off-putting moniker in the history of over-the-counter pharmaceuticals. If there was an annual prize handed out for consumer product names, this one would easily have won in the “Most Blatant Name” category. What it lacks in brand name sophistication, like Desetin, it more than makes up for in the painfully obvious depiction of the purpose of the tube of cream housed within the package. And if the name alone were not enough to convey its purpose, the brazen gluteus maximus motif of the letter B in Butt-Aid just adds that extra punch!
|Pictograms for the illeterate parent.|
For the unindoctrinated, stealth is the watchword of practitoners of the ancient and secretive art of Ninjitsu. When hearing the word Ninja, most immediately imagine a silent warrior clad entirely in black, plying his deadly trade under cover of conceling shadows. But in the case of this Action Figure brand set of...action figures, the term takes on an entirely different meaning. To this toy's manufacturer Ninja was more invocative of Rio de Janero during Carnival than warlike fuedal Japan.
|No! You can't see us! We're Ninjas!|
I Want What She's Having!
Consider the humble wire head massager. It is such a simple thing with its exploded whisk-like appearance and inexpensive production costs. It is little wonder that such a devise is an ubiquitous stock item for dollar stores nationwide. It is an impulse buy free of buyer's remorse given its miniscule price tag. If it provides no appreciable stress reduction or scalp health improvement you can always chock it up to being akin to a non-winning lottery scratch-off and move forward with your life.
|New SyFy Original Movie: "Robopus"!|
|My head is up here, mister!|
When you contemplate that someone developed, produced, packaged, and shipped for the consumption of the general public some of the items that grace the shelves and pegs at your local dollar store you are left wondering what compelled anyone to go to that much trouble to hit such a low-ball price point! While I would never deign to make an attempt to understand such business logic, I will drop about $5.00 a month on taking home a few choice items to share with visitors to my website. Check in late in November to see what other horrors half a sawbuck can obtain!