Childhood Randomness

Odds and Ends of my youth and Gum ball machine treasures.
November 27, 2007


I remember kids thundering down the street with these bad boys. The sound of the plastic wheel grinding against the concrete sidewalk could only be beat by putting a playing card in your bicycle wheel spokes with a clothespin. Either way flip, flip, flip or rumble rumble you announced your presence to the world.

Finger Monsters

You could get these from either the dentist's toy chest (you had to have no cavities to choose a prize) or from gum ball machines. I would put one on every finger and run around the house "scaring" everyone.

M.U.S.C.L.E. toys were already covered by Spencer in his Retro Machine vol.1 but they so were so well loved by me and my brother that I had to include some of my favorites.

M.U.S.C.L.E. knockoffs

These are some of the knock off cheap rubber ones you could get from the gum ball machines.

Penny racers, you stuck a penny in this little slot in the back and they did tricks like spinning around and stuff.

Suction Shuriken was another gum ball machine toy that you could throw and stick to almost nothing except the window.

Sticky hands from gum ball machines were a lot of fun you could whip them and stick them to anything. I went to a carnival recently where my two year old son used one to get loose coins from a bowl beating most of the older kids and getting more money (around $2.00). How proud I was of him as I wondered where they got that cool sticky hand that I remembered from my childhood.


Ah reading was a favorite past time of mine and I still love books to this day. Some of the first ones I remember owning were the Choose Your Own Adventure style books. Remember the empowerment as you flipped the pages anxiously awaiting your fate from your perilous decisions to see what would happen. I remember cheating if I "died" and going back to make another choice. There were Dungeons and Dragons Endless Quest books, Choose Your Own Adventure, Which Way Books, Find Your Fate, and What Do I Do Now books. "You must choose, but choose wisely"!


During the late 70s early 80s there was a wave of sticker craziness washing over all kids, girls or boys. There were stickers for everything, T.V. shows, movies, toys, etc. and endless varieties like puffy or holographic. Every card pack had at least some stickers in it. You either put them in your sticker album or plastered them on every available surface from skateboards to lockers to lunch boxes. You could buy them in sheets or get them from gum ball machines in a roll or on cards. At school your teacher would reward you with a Gold Star or a scratch n' sniff sticker. Scratch n' Sniff stickers had nearly every scent available from cherries to freshly cut grass to stinky tennis shoes.

Scratch N' Sniff

Popcorn and Rootbeer

Chocolate Ice Cream and Pizza

Chocolate Cake, Popsicle and Chocolate Milk

Cherries, Peppermint and Cherry Pie

Skunk, Leather and Pancakes

My favorite scratch n' sniff stickers: the Monster Cereals Booberry, Count Chocula and Frankenberry.

Puffy Stickers

Superheroes, Alf and the A-Team

Masters of the Universe and Dragon's Lair

Sticker Sheets were available with almost any character tie in on them.

Gremlins and Dragon's Lair

Card Pack Stickers

Garbage Pail Kids

I plastered most of my garbage pail kids in my collector's album which eventually got thrown away. I wish I had just left the stickers on the cards and I might have still had them saved along with my other cards.

Activity book stickers

There were Activity books that were combinations of Coloring books, games and puzzles, and stickers that you pasted to complete the picture. The stickers usually came on a sheet attachment in the front or back of the book.


I remember getting little books (about 1 inch square) filled with temporary "lick 'em and stick 'em" tattoos from the gum ball machines. My favorite was a pirate flag type jolly roger skull and crossbones. They came on a small transfer sheet that you would lick the back of then place and hold to your skin trying not to wiggle it to avoid blurring the tattoo. The ink was usually blue and I proudly sported them on my forehead, biceps, and the back of my hands.


Pencil toppers and erasers sure made learning fun but it made it difficult if not impossible to fit all of your pencils into your pencil bag. All of my pencil bags had broken zippers.

Man-At-Arms, He-Man and Skeletor

Promotional glasses

First thing after I got home from school it was straight to the cupboard to grab my favorite cup, for a tall glass of chocolate milk. I remember that movie glasses were available at all types of different places from gas stations to restaurants. My favorites were my Star Wars ones (From Burger King) especially Jabba and the Sarlac Pit and my Goonies ones (from Godfather's Pizza) especially my Bone Organ one. It was a sad day indeed when one of them broke.


This really belongs in my last article Corner Convenience Stores,
In response to some of the comments.

For knuclear200x, yes cherry chan did change names and packaging to cherry clan. Now a days all of the Ferrara Pan fruit candies have changed names: Johnny Apple treats to Appleheads, Alexander the Grape to Grapeheads, Mr. Melon to Melonheads, Cherry Clan to Cherryheads; with the exception of Lemonheads and the new Orangeheads.

For scrymusic, I do remember the Gremlins candy containers and loved them. I definitely would have included them had I remembered. Do you remember the E.T. the Extra Terrestrial containers?

Until next time
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