The Retro Machine Vol. 11

Bop Bags, Underoos, and More!
March 17, 2008

The funny thing about memories is that we don't always remember them. Some of them are easily recalled but others lay dormant in the recesses of our mind. Sometimes we need a little help, be it a certain place, picture, sound, or....smell, to recall them. This time around, a bevy of scratch and sniff stickers make up the name of this article. Insomuch as those stickers can conjure up a scent, I really hope the following items can help you conjure up a memory.

Superman Peanut Butter

We ponder many things as children. Things such as "If Batman and Spiderman fought, who would win?" It's unlikely that any of these questions were "If Peter Pan and Superman made peanut butter, which one would be successful?" Yes, there was a time long ago when the Man of Steel reduced himself to selling peanut butter to kids. As I remember it, this was some good stuff! What does it say about a society where Peter Pan's peanut butter thrives and Superman's peanut butter is lost to the ages?

Back then they sold it in the classic glass jars, you could build your puny little muscles up doing curls with one in each hand. There's no doubt though that the best way to actually build those muscles was to ingest what Superman was giving you. We could eat this and be Superman. That beautiful bright red emblem on the lid would not mislead us! Superman Peanut Butter, we hardly knew ya.

Reebok Pumps

These shoes were supposed to have been revolutionary at the time. The tongue of the shoe had a button you'd press that would pump air into your shoe and make it tighter. When we wore these there was no doubt in our mind that we were wearing the shoe of the future. We were sure that it wouldn't be long before our shoes would propel us around with mini jet engines coming out of the heel.

How much time in a day was spent pumping the shoe up and then pressing the release valve only to pump it back up again? Alas, it was all a gimmick, a fad that passed after we all got used to pumping our shoes up.

Rice Krispies Joke Machine

This is one of the most memorable cereal premiums of my youth. Getting mom and dad to buy you a box of Rice Krispies would mean you could get your very own personal joke machine. And you remember how it went, they give you the box, you open it, you sift it and shake it around hoping to see that wonderful cellophane sticking up from the rice krispies like some exotic buried treasure.

My imagination went wild with ideas of having a portable joke machine. I mean, I could take it anywhere and dial up a joke on the spot. A simple pull of a question and answer card would allow you to deal out a few hokey jokes that only your peers would find funny, while the adults in your life would let out a chuckle and give you a loving pat on the head. It would become just one of the many strange and wonderful trinkets you would carry with you just because you could.

I never could've imagined in my wildest dreams the things I'd be able to carry with me at age 29 in things smaller than the joke machine.

Smurf Vitamins

Now lets be honest, we all know that Flintstones Vitamins ruled (and still rule) the childrens vitamin roost. However, we were also quite prone to gravitate towards any product that used a beloved intellectual property as a ploy to lure us. I remember seeing that giant Smurf head on the top of that bottle and needing to have Smurf vitamins because of it. You could almost see the Flintstones thumbing their noses at the Smurfs for such a cheap tactic. The Flintstones only had a measly lid! How could they compete with a friggin' Smurf head!?

Alas, even though the packaging was captivating and the vitamins were shaped like Smurf heads, they were never quite up to par for me. I can remember the taste to this day and they weren't bad, just not as good as Fred and family.


Chubbles was a "doll" of sorts that mainly was light sensitive and would make little beeping sounds, known as "Chiggles". What I remember about it was that it was just plain creepy. Obviously it was going for the "Ewok rip-off" look. I think Furby, who wouldn't come along until a decade later, ended up accomplishing what this little creep wanted to do. When he was sitting in your room at night, it was like some alien creature with no soul behind its eyes communicating with you in the dark through a series of flashing lights.
Garbage Pail Kids: Cheap Toy With Candy

I know it sounds cliche', but they just don't make candy the way they used to. Take "Cheap Toy With Candy" for instance. Using the wildly popular Garbage Pail Kids license, candy shaped like things you'd find in the garbage were packaged with a plastic Garbage Pail Kids figurine and wrapped in a fairly realistic trash bag. Each one came with a little card outlining the many figures you could collect.

I bought countless bags of this stuff, the candy was so good and the figures were highly collectible for kids of the 80's. I always wanted (but never found) the figure of the guy with the mushroom cloud behind his head. It was just a very fun package all together.


Most normal children aren't too excited about clothing. However, the second you slap one of their favorite superheroes or cartoons on a pair of underwear, all that changes. For some of us, a pair of Underoos wasn't just another pair of underwear, it was a sign of commitment to and devotion to your brand of choice. It was a secret you kept with you through the day, hidden by clothing, the way Clark Kent did with his Superman suit.

For some of us, it was but one piece in a large collection of flair that included He-man belts, He-man suspenders, He-man watches, and He-man shoes.

For all of us, it was better than your average white Fruit of the Looms.

Bop Bag

I always seemed to have a Bop Bag handy when I was a kid. It was almost like they were standard issue. Life didn't seem quite right unless some tall inflatable something was in my room. You know how it was, the bop bag would feature some sort of character or theme, the top part was inflated, and the very bottom part was filled with sand. You'd punch it and it would nearly go horizontal down to the floor (if you punched it really hard, it hit the floor and bounced back at you faster) and then the weighted bottom would cause it to come right back up.

The best was when someone walked by the bop bag, you would punch it and it would in turn bounce off of him or her. Over time though, the air would go out of them, most likely because you made a habit out of sitting on it, tackling it, or laying on it.

Pepsi Dispenser

Yes, this is what it looks like, a Pepsi Dispenser for your very own room! Most normal children like soda and most parents don't give it to them whenever they want it. This means that soda becomes like liquid gold for kids, and it was that way for me. What's better than having a toy that dispenses Pepsi to you ,on demand, in your own room!? I remember having this toy and thinking "this is it, I'm the Pepsi Man, the people of the neighborhood will come here to me to receive Pepsi from now on".

I put the Pepsi into the Pepsi Dispenser and filled my little cups up. For some reason, Pepsi tasted different after being housed in a cheap plastic container. It wasn't quite what I had hoped for. And worst part was that I wasn't great at cleaning it up, so quite quickly my little plastic Pepsi cups became coated with dried up Pepsi residue, as did the large dispenser portion. Everything became quite sticky as that Pepsi syrup attached itself to everything.

The Baseball Bunch

On those long, dreamy Saturdays of yesteryear, when one day seemed to last a whole month, you'd lay in bed at the end of the day thinking about all you had done. If you were a kid in the early to mid 80's that liked baseball, those longest days of all would always have begun with The Baseball Bunch. With its 7am timeslot, it usually really was the first thing you did that day.

The show was hosted by Johnny Bench and was at its best when the San Diego Chicken made an appearance and clowned around. Johnny would teach a group of kids some sort of baseball skill and there were usually all sorts of segments and skits. Good old Tommy Lasorda sort of co-hosted it as "The Dugout Wizard". Little did I know that 20 years in the future I would buy my first house from Tommy's brother. Small world, huh?


That wraps things up for this one, I hope you enjoyed it and if you did, go read the previous ones listed below! Have a Happy Easter.
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