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News of the Week: Gross Toys, Confusing Tennis Balls, and the Original Twizzle

Published: February 23, 2018

This Is Snot Your Father’s Toy Fair

Here’s a memory: Creepy Crawlers.

They were bugs you made in the oven. You put the goop into tray molds and then bake it. Voilà! Wiggly bugs to freak out your mom and older sisters. I thought of those while reading about this week’s New York Toy Fair and some of the new outlandish toys that made their debut.

Toys are now a lot more bodily-function-oriented than when you and I were kids. They’ve come a long way since Creepy Crawlers, Wacky Packages, and Whoopee Cushions. For example, there’s Sticky the Poo from Hog Wild, which is exactly what you think it is, and sticks to your walls and appliances. Hasbro has a game called Don’t Step In It, where blindfolded players have to avoid … actually, you can probably guess the object of the game, so I’m not going to finish that sentence.

Not to be outdone, KD Games has a new game called Snot It, where you put on what at first looks like an ordinary old-fashioned pair of glasses and nose, but actually has something hanging from the nose that you use to pick up game pieces. I’ve tried to explain that as delicately as I can, but you have to see it for yourself.

I hope kids still play Monopoly too.

What Color Is a Tennis Ball?

It’s yellow. Hey, we settled that quickly!

Or is it green? That’s the discussion people are having online as tennis season gets into full swing. A Twitter user put up a poll this week asking followers what color the ball is. 52 percent of respondents say it’s green, while 42 percent say yellow.

Yes, this is turning into another “Is the dress black and blue or white and gold?” debate.

Six percent of the respondents said the color was “other,” which makes me wonder what this “other” color could be.

And the Worst President Is…

Speaking of polls, the American Political Science Association released one this week in which 170 scholars were asked for their list of the best and worst U.S. presidents. The ones you imagine would be near the top are indeed at the top (Lincoln, Washington, both Roosevelts, Jefferson, Truman), and the bottom-dwellers are the ones you’d expect to see there too (Pierce, Harrison, and Buchanan). I think it’s rather unfair for Harrison to be listed as one of the worst. The poor guy died of pneumonia just a month after being sworn in (he refused to wear a jacket on the day of the inauguration because he wanted to look stoic), so maybe there should be an asterisk next to his name.

Our current president came in dead last, though if we’re to be fair, the others are being judged on full four- or eight-year terms, when Trump has only been in office for a little over a year.

But a lot of people have always chosen Andrew Johnson, who came in fifth from the bottom on the poll, as the worst of all time. CBS Sunday Morning correspondent Mo Rocca did a segment on Johnson and the town that is still proud of him.

The Book of the Month Club Is Still Around

Are books here to stay? Random House co-founder and What’s My Line? panelist Bennett Cerf wrote a piece for the Post back in 1958, when television was starting to rule our minds, answering that very question. Post Archive Director Jeff Nilsson asked the same question in 2013, and with the popularity of eBooks and various reading devices rising, it’s a question worth talking about. If my spending habits are any indication, books are never going to go away, and in fact, even if a book is digital and not print, it’s still a “book” (print vs. digital is a different debate).

But as someone who buys a lot of books, I was happy to come across the website for the Book of the Month Club this week. Honestly, I didn’t know they were still around. Looks like they’ve updated things for the age of the internet. The club is a great way to not only encourage reading, but also to find some books you might not find or select for yourself.

Let’s Twizzle!

“Twizzle” sounds like something Snoop Dogg would say, but it’s actually the name of an ice skating move currently being performed and talked about at the Winter Olympics in South Korea. But fans of The Dick Van Dyke Show know what the real dance move is (and I apologize in advance because this song is going to be in your head for the rest of the day):

RIP Billy Graham

The Reverend Billy Graham was known as “America’s pastor.” Besides preaching to millions of people around the world for several decades, he was a counselor to every U.S. president since Harry Truman. He died Wednesday at the age of 99.

A profile of Graham, written by Harold H. Martin, appeared in the April 13, 1963, issue of the Post.

The Best and the Worst

The best: This piece by Tim Wu at The New York Times on the tyranny of convenience. This issue has worried me for the past decade or so, with how we often give up quality just because something is quicker or more convenient.

The worst of the week just might be Fergie’s jazzy, sexy rendition of the National Anthem at the NBA All-Star Game. It’s not often you see players and fans openly laughing at the singer of the national anthem. Is it the worst of all time, though? It’s certainly the most, well, different version of the song that we’ve heard at a national sporting event, though one could argue that Roseanne Barr’s 1990 performance is even worse. At least Roseanne was trying to be funny. And hey, she didn’t have to write the lyrics on her hand.

Quote of the Week

“We really want girls to be cookie entrepreneurs, to find new and creative ways to reach customers.”

—AnneMarie Harper, spokeswoman for the Colorado Girl Scouts, after one of the girls sold 300 boxes of cookies outside of a marijuana shop.

This Week in History

Huckleberry Finn Published (February 18, 1885)

In the September 22, 1900, issue of the Post, reporter Homer Bassford went to Hannibal, Missouri, to speak with the boyhood friends of writer Mark Twain (aka Samuel Clemens).

First Woolworth Opens (February 22, 1878)

One of my fondest memories of childhood was going downtown to Woolworth’s and shopping with my mom. I can still remember where everything was, including the staircase that led down to the toy department. The building is still there. The awning is gone, and it’s now occupied by several small businesses, but you can make out what it once was.

This Week in Saturday Evening Post History: Frosty in the Freezer (February 21, 1959)

Cover

Frosty in the Freezer
John Falter
February 21, 1959

This cover by John Falter has to be one of the oddest the Post has featured. It has always seemed a little like the start of a horror movie to me. The mom finds a snowman in the basement freezer and she assumes it’s dead, but the cold has kept it alive and it attacks her. The movie’s tagline: He’ll be back again some day.

Today Is National Banana Bread Day

I don’t know why people insist on putting walnuts in banana bread, ruining what is otherwise a terrific dessert and/or snack, but here’s Curtis Stone’s recipe, which seems to go out of its way to mention that it features “lots of toasted walnuts,” just to irritate me.

Here’s a recipe that doesn’t have any walnuts at all but does include chocolate chips, and this recipe uses, well, just bananas.

Next Week’s Holidays and Events

National Sword Swallower’s Day (February 24)

It’s great that sword swallowers have a day all to themselves, but I feel the need to say “don’t try this at home.”

National Pig Day (March 1)

How does one celebrate this day without actually eating something made from a pig, which would be a rather cynical thing to do? Maybe by reading this story about Pigcasso, the pig who paints. Right now she only gets food rewards for her work, but I bet they could sell one of the paintings for a lot of money and really bring home the bacon.

(Sorry about that.)

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  • Whether or not some of these new gross-out toys have “come a long way” since Mattel’s Creepy Crawlers, Creeple People and the Fun Flower Thingmaker’s I and my sister (respectively) got for Christmas in 1966 & ’67, remains to be seen.

    No “dangerous” plasti-goop to be cooked and poured into molds, but the new stuff seems more mind molding. Maybe ‘The Garbage Pail Kids’ will be making an even filthier comeback in the 2020’s.

    I’m glad The Book of the Month Club is still around. Huckleberry Finn is 133 this month; how about that. It was 50 years ago this spring, that my 5th grade teacher read the class (after lunch each day) The Adventures of Tom Sawyer first, then Huckleberry Finn. It was a nice escape from a lot of turmoil at the time; especially MLK and RFK’s assassinations.

    I love the 1959 ‘Frosty in the Freezer’ cover too, especially all lit up online. I’m not sure how this lady’s mischievous son got Frosty into the ‘coffin’ but the kid certainly hightailed it upstairs right quick. One of the creepy figures scrawled in red left of the door, saw the whole thing; I know it.