Tag Archives: packaging

Thrift Store Finds: So Cute It’s Freaking Me Out

19 Nov

Sometimes there are things (living and inanimate) that are cute,  preternaturally so, but which also have some aspect that is perturbing, or to use the popular vernacular,  an aspect that will cause you to, like, freak  out.

One good example of this phenomenon is a little episode which occurred recently, where an initially adorable scene was, upon closer inspection, revealed to be horrifying, in a kind of “Twilight Zone” -esque twist.  I was in my backyard around dusk when I heard the cry of a baby animal.  I knew that it must have been coming from the attic of a small shed that sits in a neighbour’s yard, which backs up right against our fence.  The attic area has a large hole in the back wall that various animals have chewed away, so that the inside of the shed, between a platform and the roof,  is visible, giving us a view into what has become a favored living quarters for different species of  mamas and their new litters.  The heartbreaking cry turned my attention towards the shed where I noticed there was a cute little baby raccoon, probably crying out for its absent mother, dusk being a natural time for raccoons to seek food.  I walked over to the shed to get a closer look at the little guy when the horror suddenly dawned on me; the baby raccoon had no eyes!  Nothing, not even closed eyelids or injured eyes.   Blindy, (as I dubbed him) just had smooth, unblemished fur across his face, with not even a hint of of a mark or indent where the eyes should have been.  The title of the post should give you a good idea what happened next; I kind of freaked out.  I felt so helpless and sad for Blindy.  Fortunately, its mother soon returned and they cooed and chattered happily upon their reunion. I never saw Blindy again.  But I’m still kind of freaked, though.

And so it is with that in mind that I present to you, my dear reader, a few things Ive purchased recently, that have had the same sort of effect.  These darling little objects reveal, upon closer examination, an aspect that is somehow off , like a sweet candy with an aftertaste of..the flavor is…it tastes like freaking out.

The first object is another cute animal that is freaky because of its eyes.  Only in this case, the odd part is not that the eyes are missing, but rather what their presence tells us.  It is a small vintage, ceramic figure of a dog, a dog that takes the expression “puppy eyes” to an  almost uncomfortable level:

What’s behind these puppy eyes?

Its cute, adorable even, but why is this dog so sad?  The look in its eyes is so heartbreaking as to suggest something  terribly wrong, am I right here?  Is this some sort of  a tchotchke of  an abused dog?  What kind of a person would want a figurine around that is this depressing?  Is it cold?  Hungry?  Scared?  Neglected?  Is this pitiful and pathetic expression just a cheap excuse for sentiment, the kind of pull at the old heartstrings, “Precious Memories” , “Hang in there Baby” ploy that guilts you into buying some trifle?  Because if it is,  it worked on me, and this little guy sits joylessly on my shelf, making me sad, every time I look at it.

Keeping with the theme of  freaky eyes, we will turn to another “cutesy” image with a dark side, only this time it involves that other category of little critters that will pee on your rug: children!  This is a sweet little set of  pencil leads I purchased at Value Village:

These pencil leads are freaking me out!

I picked these up because of the great graphics and colours on the package;  I love the peach background bordered by white dots, and the rosy-cheeked children holding a banner that says “pencil leads” is, to me, a marvel of graphic design.  But, look closer at the kids faces.  Was the artist that created these trying to make a comment on the dangers of lead exposure to young children?  Or am I grasping at straws here to try to create some esoteric connection between a bunch of crazy crap I bought?  Only time will tell.  In the meanwhile, lets take a closer look at what I’m blathering on about here:

They’re kind of funny lookin’.

They are pretty sweet, with their little bows at hat, but why are their eyes going lizard-like in two directions? According to the internet, mental retardation is one of the effects of lead poisoning in children.   This package seems to be covertly disseminating anti lead messages.  But this is one piece of propaganda those fat cats over at ” Big Lead” wont be able to suppress…because I’m hanging this little graphic masterpiece on my wall.

That last paragraph is a perfect segue into another item containing a cute representation of a deformed child.  The girl on the package for this  “Bath Glove” seems a rather cruel choice of subject, considering her anatomy would preclude her from even using this particular product.  In fact, the girl illustrated seems to be wearing a modified version of the product in question.  Also, although she is illustrated in a demure pose with her hands across her chest, she still somehow fails to preserve her modesty.  The sophisticated colour scheme and cute illustration will distract you at first from what I’m talking about:

Masterful colour choices!

But, wait for it…

Now really, what the heck is that supposed to be?

The rest of the drawing was going so good, but it seems like whoever made this just gave up when it came time to do the hands, and just put a blob of a mitt on the end of one arm (remember, this is supposed to be a bath glove) and some weird flipper thing on the other.  Now, I don’t mean to be pedantic, and granted, there are five appendages there, but just scribbling them all in there does not make a hand.  But I guess the makers of this cheap “Bath Glove” did something right, considering I bought it, wrote about it, and will probably keep it for the rest of my life.

And so, to bring this post full circle, back to where we started, on the topic of raccoons, I present this last item, a photograph from a Snow White on ice performance, circa 1950s.  This was part of a set of  publicity photos depicting a revue containing a medley of popular stories, performed on ice.  This particular photo shows Snow White, surrounded by some performers in animal costumes, including a raccoon.

Snow White and her animal friends

And perhaps this is just some sort of psychological projection that reveals more about my paranoia than anything, but if you ask me, those animals look pretty sinister:

AHHH!

AHHH!

AHHHHHH!

AHHH! The eyes, they’re so cold, and dead.

It’s no wonder that children are often seen crying in pictures next to costumed characters like this.  And for us adults, I think the movie  Donny Darko has probably ruined us for ever again seeing people dressed in giant animal costumes as cute , especially rabbits.

Well I hope you have enjoyed another episode of picking apart commercial products and old ephemera down to the minutest of detail, Miss Lady Heart style.  Next time you see something cute, take a closer look, and if you think about it too much,  you can probably freak yourself out with it too!

Dog Figurine, Pencil Leads and Bath Glove purchased at Value Village, 6415 Victoria Dr, Vancouver, BC

Random Collections: Pantyhose!

8 Apr

I have many random collections of things, as I mentioned in my introduction.  I like to save things like plastic rosaries, Whitman books ( a series of cheap, cardboard books, published in the 1960s), old clothing tags, baby-doll nightgowns, vintage crackerjack prizes and much more.  It is my desire to share these collections with you, dear reader, in the hopes that we can bond over what might be a shared passion for the mundane.

In this post, I would like to present for your approval a new collection I began recently, a collection of pantyhose packages.  (Three items is a collection, right?)  What links these particular pantyhose packages is that they all have a cut out in the shape of a woman’s leg in the cardboard that allows the pantyhose inside to be seen, giving the customer an idea of just what these hose will look like on themselves, an amazing marketing innovation that elevated these pantyhose from merely an item in a store to item in my heart!

The first pack is of a pantyhose style that every woman covets for it’s chic style and youth bestowing properties: The knee high, semi-opaque beige stocking!

I love the suggestion of pairing these with a short (or no) skirt and black high-heels.  Thanks, Watson”s.

As surprising as it is that someone donated these to charity, I actually found these at  Value Village.

Value Village, 1319 Bloor St. W. Toronto, and others

The next set has a name I find particularly attractive: Lady Rose.   The “Sheer Elegance” of these “One Size Fits All”  pantyhose are also best paired with black heels, according to the package:

This pair I found at my favorite convenient store, Sherwood Variety.  Along with an awesome selection of old stickers and toys, I’ve purchased a few old household and beauty products that, like a fine wine, have become more beautiful and valuable with time (in my opinion).  The actual pantyhose have been lost to time, leaving only the cardboard cover and opened plastic wrapping to carry on the hose’s legacy, a fact that didn’t stop the good people at Sherwood Variety from displaying the item for sale, or selling it to me for $4.99.  Money well spent, if you ask me, especially during these difficult financial times.

Sherwood Variety, 2547 Yonge St., Toronto

And finally, The last item in this small collection is this lovely, pink “Beauty Sheer” pantyhose “The Hosiery of Quality”, if you must know.  The typography and the sensual curve of the legs really caught my fancy when I saw these at Gadabout, a wonderful vintage store on Queen St. East.  This pair was what started my interest in collecting more pantyhose packaging.  Like the others, this company also feesl that their hose should be worn with black heels.  The artistry of this package is not lost on the designer, as they also saw fit to use the colour of the hose, a hue they dubbed “Sundown”, to render a small artist’s pallet in the top right corner:

Perhaps, with the support of this blog, and you, dear reader, collecting pantyhose packages may one day become a popular and legitimate hobby, with conventions, price guides and mounting albums to follow!  Let’s start rallying around this cause today!

Gadabout, 1300 Queen St. E., Toronto

Convenience Store Treasure

2 Apr

There is a wealth of retro, kitschy toy fun to be had at the convenience stores in Toronto.  There are many mom and pop stores that  have been in business for a long time and who have on their shelves old products that have been there probably since they opened.  I love to check these stores out to see what unusual things they have, and I am rarely disappointed.  The first store I scored at was this place, Food Plus Market on Yonge St.

Food Plus Market, 2914 Yonge St

In one corner I was happy to find these babies:

They are small, (approx 6″ long) ‘electric sparklers’. Isn’t it cool that they’ve decided to put an illustration of a tiger jumping through a ring of fire on the packaging?  I don’t know how old they are but these, and other items I will be posting about soon, dear reader, are clear evidence of the superior design of old packaging when compared to today’s.  The use of actual hand made illustrations is part of what makes old packaging so great, but also the absence of extraneous text allow the image and typography to shine through, unencumbered by the philosophy of the company,the health info and so on that usually clutter up modern product wrappers.  I just love these sparklers, and you will too, if you hurry to Food Plus Market, there are still some available.

This next package is available at most Petro Canada Gas Stations, though I got mine at the one at 830 Burnhamthorpe Rd in Etobikoke.

Petro Canada, 830 Burnhamthorpe Rd, and others

They have these candy and toy surprise bags which I must say were very disappointing as there were no toys to be had, just cheap candy.  But the reason I had bought it was because of what the bag led me to believe I had in store:

I mean, is there anything more enticing than this chillin’ looking pig lollipop? But alas there was no pig lollipop to be found, nor green frog nor rocket either, all alluded to on the package.  Thanks a lot Surprise Bag!  Thanks for using this pig lollipop to get me all excited and then not delivering!  But I will keep this to treasure forever.  Get yours today!