There were few childhood pop culture things that truly annoyed and disgusted my parents, but Garbage Pail Kids fit that bill. For some reason that didn’t mean they were completely off limits; I definitely bought some, my mom just turned up her nose at them when I did. I imagine that a lot of other 80s kids had similar experiences. Looking at them now, they’re dumber than we were willing to admit yet cleverer than they really needed to be.
Garbage Pail Kids were developed as an offshoot of Wacky Packages, a long running Topps trading card property featuring parodies of well known products. They were created by Art Spiegelman. Yes, the Art Spiegelman who wrote Maus. I was as surprised when I read that as I presume you are right now, though it explains the cleverness of them. They were originally released in 1985, and became popular immediately, so much so that they spawned one of the worst movies of all time and an unwatchable cartoon.
I got into baseball card collecting in 1987, so naturally I was drawn to all of the other offerings located around the Topps cards in the store, including Wacky Packages and Garbage Pail Kids. Garbage Pail Kids looked like my sisters’ Cabbage Patch dolls, except horribly deformed, and as a typically destructive elementary schooler this ruled. Garbage Pail Kids have been revived several times, and Topps currently does yearly themed sets. Here are some of the classic characters that I was a fan of and one horrifyingly confusing nightmare:
Adam Bomb (not the wrestler) might be the most famous of the Garbage Pail Kids cards. Simple idea, and if you weren’t a dumb 7-year-old like me it provided an opportunity to try to convince your parents that it was actually political commentary.
Sometimes the simplest jokes are the funniest ones. Up Chuck. Vomit. *Chef’s kiss* Bellisima
Ali Gator. This is less a joke than an entirely different species. It looked cool though, and this was one of the characters featured in the movie.
Another one of the main characters in the movie, Nat Nerd was an ideal joke for its time. Given that superhero movies are the biggest properties in the world now and tech bros are our kings, late Millennials may not be aware that nerds were the butt of the joke in the 1980s. It was a different time.
I don’t actually remember this one, but I’m closing this out with Armpit Britt because there’s more going on here than the surface level joke. Armpit hair, fly buzzing around, haha gross, right? But am I mistaken in thinking that they tried to make her sexy? She’s wearing rouge, plus there’s the pose and the bikini. I dunno what the actual message is supposed to be. This is low-key perverted.
Did you collect Garbage Pail Kids or Wacky Packages? What were your favorites? Let us know in the comments or on Twitter.