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Dinosaur Dracula

1992 TRU Jurassic Park Treat Box!

If you’ve been around Dino Drac long enough, you’ve probably read my article about the legendary Toys “R” Us Treat Box. Of course, “legendary” may be too strong a word, since I seem to be the only one who remembers them. Thank God for material evidence.

Brother, you missed out. At scattered points during the ‘90s, TRU paired up with various sponsors to give away cardboard “lunchboxes,” filled with samples and coupons. More importantly, every time they ran the promotion, the box had a different and even more awesome theme. (I already told you about the Batman Returns version, which included, among other things, a cutout Catwoman mask.)

Now here’s another, from later that year: The Jurassic Park “R” Treat Box!

Jurassic Park debuted in June of ‘93, but this box is actually from late ’92. That should give you an idea of how long and deep the film’s marketing ran.

These giveaways were promoted in TRU’s Sunday circulars, and whenever they came around, I was always there. I cannot possibly overstate how much I loved the “R” Treat Boxes! They were free with any (literally any) purchase, so it’s not like you had to jump through any major hoop to get one.

I don’t have the original samples that were once tucked inside, but imagine things like a pack of gum and a teensy bit of Crest toothpaste. If you were lucky enough, there’d even be a bag of chips or cookies. I remember treating those things like priceless artifacts that were to be left unmolested for all of time. (For roughly ten minutes. Then I ate everything.)

The free junk made me feel like such a star, but even the empty boxes were worth celebrating. Covered with good reasons to cut them into a million pieces, here are the key features of the Jurassic Park version: Read More…

Vintage Vending #13: Trash Can Tots!

Last night on Dino Drac’s Facebook page, I randomly opened an old pack of Garbage Pail Kids. Doing so stirred many memories of my childhood GPK obsession, which had some incredible highs and lows.

If you were alive at the time, you should remember the highs. Collecting Garbage Pail Kids was something most kids had in common. You could talk about those cards with just about anyone. They were a way to turn the most distant acquaintance into a fast friend. We’d compare collections, trade our doubles, and just be so comfortable in the weirdness of it all. Hey, everyone else was doing the same thing.

The lows, at least around here, happened after word spread that they were “bad luck.” Things changed instantly. If you had GPK stickers on your marble notebooks, it was time to scratch them off. To be seen with them was to basically be a leper via accessory. Garbage Pail Kids were already sliding in popularity, but this was a different kind of peer pressure. Nobody wanted “the curse.”

Opening up that pack also reminded me that I had this. Garbage Pail Kids were popular enough to inspire legions of would-be usurpers. Over the years, there must have been dozens of upstart trading card sets that took more than a little inspiration from them. Very few of those sets caught on in any memorable way, but if you were a kid who liked disgusting trading cards, boy, you had options.

What you see above is the teaser card for Trash Can Tots, a shameless GPK ripoff distributed solely through vending machines in the ‘80s. Sold in uncut strips of three, the set is legendary among GPK diehards for its crude art and uninspired designs. Read More…

Sonic the Hedgehog Life Savers, from 1994!

New video!

Back in 1994, Wrigley teamed up with Sega to bring us SONIC THE HEDGEHOG LIFE SAVERS.

There were two types. “Blue Rad” was a tongue-coloring raspberry flavor, while “Hot Rings” was a spicy beast that I actually still had a pack of.

This is their story, complete with a Hot Rings taste test:

And now I’m once again dying for a pet hedgehog.

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The Popsicle Parade – Part 1!

With summer just over a month away, I’m only a little early in launching Dino Drac’s latest recurring feature. Introducing The Popsicle Parade, a multi-part series celebrating dozens of the wonderful things we used to buy from ice cream trucks!

There’s a certain “artistry” to popsicles that’s easy to admire. The colors! Those weird shapes! The impressive skill with which random cartoon characters’ heads were somehow forged out of quick-melting water ice!

Nearly none of the treats I’ll be featuring are still on the market. They came out at various points in the past 25 years, delighting our eyes and stomachs for a limited time only. Don’t let any of these things make you too specifically hungry, because you just can’t get most of these beauts anymore.

#1: Street Sharks Popsicle!

Street Sharks was a mid ‘90s cartoon about heroic shark-men who battled a bunch of bizarre humanoid sea creatures. You could whittle it down to “Ninja Turtles with sharks,” but the series wouldn’t have such a cult following if the story stopped there. (Of course, the fact that Street Sharks had such amazing toys didn’t hurt.)

This popsicle takes its likeness from Ripster, the “great white” Street Shark who served as team leader. Course, you don’t need to care one bit about the series to appreciate a shark popsicle with tiny bubble gum eyes. The fact that its flesh was made of somewhat unusual strawberry ice made it all the sweeter. Read More…