Monday, January 9, 2017



Once upon a time, Xavier Roberts, a guy who barely was in his 20s, decided to take some cloth, cotton stuffing and a needle and thread and create some funny-looking round-headed dolls with beady little eyes. He called them “Little People” and sold them at craft shows.

By the early 1980s, his Little People were so popular, they not only were being mass marketed, they were given an even catchier name…Cabbage Patch Kids.

Cabbage Patch Kids became such a hot commodity, wrestling matches ensued in stores where they were sold. One woman reportedly had her hair ripped out by the roots when she tried to grab the last doll on the shelf. Another woman was trampled by a stampede of desperate doll-buyers, and to this day, her body still bears the deep puncture-wound scars from their high-heeled shoes.

I have been a doll collector ever since I was old enough to say “Betsy Wetsy,” but for some reason, the Cabbage Patch Kids never really appealed to me. I guess it was because they reminded me of Charlie Brown from the Peanuts comics…if he took steroids.

Well, in 1985, Topps Chewing Gum Company, long famous for producing packs of baseball cards with squares of petrified pink gum inside, came up with a unique way to capitalize on the Cabbage Patch craze and put an end to an era of “terminal cuteness.”

Enter the Garbage Pail Kids.

Garbage Pail Kids were characters that looked remarkably like Cabbage Patch Kids, with one exception…they could not be described as cute or cuddly, not by any stretch of the imagination. In fact, Garbage Pail Kids were downright gross and disgusting. Topps put these disgusting characters on trading-card stickers and sold them five to a pack for 25 cents.

Unfortunately, my husband was the first one in line to buy them.

As he sat at the kitchen table and opened each pack of cards one evening, I took my first look at Garbage Pail Kids. I couldn’t believe my eyes. They
featured characters like Corroded Carl, who looked exactly like a Cabbage Patch Kid covered with oozing boils. And there was Jay Decay with his flesh rotting off his bones, who was pictured crawling up out of a grave. Guillotina was shown having her head chopped off.

“These are SO cool!” my husband said. “I have to collect the entire set of 88 cards!”

So there he stood in line at the store, a grown man surrounded a bunch of little kids who also wanted to buy Garbage Pail Kids cards.

He soon became as obsessed with the cards as the hair-yanking women in toy stores had been about the original dolls. In fact, he stopped buying the single 25-cent packs of cards and began buying them by the box, with 36 packs in each.

And Topps, despite a lawsuit from the Cabbage Patch Kids people and a growing number of stores boycotting the cards because they were deemed too disgusting to sell to impressionable young children, continued to crank out new cards for the next three years. This meant there were 1,310 different Garbage Pail Kids cards to collect.

And my husband was determined to collect every one of them.

Our house soon became filled with the likes of Luke Puke, Arlene Latrine, Haley’s Vomit, Russ Pus, Varicose Wayne and Fritzie Zits. There were boxes of the cards stuffed in closets, underneath the beds and out in the shed. There were notebooks filled with plastic pages that held sets of the cards, along with the wrappers from the packages. My husband even built a tower out of the 3,000 pieces of petrified pink bubble-gum that had come with the cards.

When he came home with yet another box of cards one day, I finally drew the line. “If you buy one more Garbage Pail Kids card,” I told him, “you and Snotty Lottie, Oozy Suzy and Bloodshot Scott can go sleep out in your car!”

Alas, after a lot of mumbling and grumbling, he finally stopped buying the cards and started spending his money on more productive things…like groceries.

So over 30 years ago, my husband’s huge collection of Garbage Pail Kids cards, boxes and wrappers was packed away somewhere in the dark catacombs of the basement, and the likes of Vile Kyle and Disgustin’ Justin were long forgotten.

That changed a few weeks ago, however, when I was standing in the checkout line in a department store and happened to spot “All New!” packages of Garbage Pail Kids on a rack near the registers. Had I seen a live tarantula sitting on that rack, it couldn’t have filled me with more fear or revulsion (well, maybe a little more).

I rushed home and looked up Garbage Pail Kids on the Internet to find out what was going on. Sure enough, they were back. But then I read something else that nearly made my heart stop beating. It said that a box of the original series of Garbage Pail Kids cards from 1985 currently was worth $1,300. And the 25-cent packs of cards from the original first series were worth anywhere from $18-$25 each.

I was completely shocked. Those vile and disgusting trading cards I’d nagged my husband to stop buying actually were worth a lot of money?

At that moment, I could have sworn I heard my husband laughing from somewhere up above and saying, “Now I’ll bet you’re sorry you didn't let me buy any more of those cards!”

I definitely am. But I still have all of the boxes of the cards that he DID buy…if I can find their hiding place down in the basement.

And when I do, I have the feeling that Luke Puke and I are going to become very good friends.

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