Remembering Crazy Eddie, the electronics store chain that was run like Studio 54

The free market depends on financial crime?


No. I respectfully ask you stop putting words in my mouth.


Thing is, Fudgie the Whale used an actual whale cake mold, so it wasn’t that weird.

That same whale cake mold was also used to make the Santa Claus cake, which we all saw through.

Just like Cookie Puss was an upside down balloon/light bulb mold, they also used for other cakes.



I assume he was also the inspiration for this clip from UHF?


Back then, I shopped at Meshugga Ike’s.


According to the attached article, it wasn’t. I’m no expert on this business or Crazy Eddie so forgive me if I’m incorrect here. However according to the article, he didn’t advertise prices at all. He would price match but knew nobody bothers with that (which they didn’t). According to the article his prices weren’t especially low, but he got people into the store by offering a wide range of electronics at a time when that was less common (in NYC anyway) then making high pressure sales.


Ads like Crazy Eddie’s were a whole genre at the time. Screaming “wacky” pitchmen, often on late at night when air time was cheap. I think that general cultural trend is what UHF was parodying.

Since it hasn’t been said yet, this is still a thing in many regions. In SoCal they still have a mattress chain who’s owner does the old “crazy guy” shtick with intentionally low production value commercials and a terrifying cartoon rendition of himself as the store logo.


Maybe it isn’t the best way to voice a nuanced view. I’m not the original poster, and I’m not going to claim my views match theirs. I do have a nuanced view though.

Crazy Eddie didn’t scam customers. The customers bought products, and the products were the same as any other electronics store’s products. Buy a Sony TV and it is a Sony TV. Buy an Atari VCS and it is an Atari VCS. They aren’t broken models that got haphazardly repaired (or at least no more than any other electronics store of the era ended up with those).

Crazy Eddie did scam investors, they did defraud the IRS, and they may or may not have defrauded wholesalers they bought from. So the jail time, the fines, and the bankrupting of the stores were all justified.

As a customer though, it worked out OK. People that bought from them may fondly recollect them as a 1970s “Frys Electronics” (and Frys as far as I know was not involved with scamming anyone)

FYI, I think my parents bought some stuff from crazy eddies when I was a kid, but I can’t verify if that happened, I literally can’t find out if crazy Eddie’s had stores in Maryland. On the other hand we had relatives in NY, and maybe we actually bought stuff from them on a vacation.


One of my favorite ear-worm commercials from way back in the early 80’s:


I’m sorry, but we need to change this kind of rhetoric. Customers are tax payers, so yes he scammed them all.

Americans have a very weird relationship with taxes and their government that I think goes a long way to explaining attitudes like this. Americans treat the government as some foreign (ironic) far off evil entity stealing their money and thus they probably deserve whatever happens to them. Or at least they are victimless crimes.

Governments are us and taxes provide services. If people forget that, the whole system breaks down quickly (which I think frankly is happening in the States)


he began the policy known as Nail 'em at the Door: Antar would stand guard at the door, demanding to know why departing customers hadn’t bought anything. Antar offered brand-name equipment at discount prices, advertising heavily on local radio.

The company might advertise Sony, Pioneer and other top receivers, he said, “but whenever you came in, you’d get switched to Kenwood.”

Yes, this is what I was pointing out. He committed crimes against the public and later the markets, but those weren’t scams in the common sense of the word. Al Capone was not imprisoned as a scam artist.

Most of the theft, especially the securities fraud, took place during the Reagan era, during which there was wholesale legal market abuse and theft of tax income from the US public. Antar’s crimes were penny-ante by contrast.

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shrug sure the customer list and tax payer list overlap. Given locations in NY some customers may well have been visitors form other countries that don’t pay US taxes, but I imagine that would be a small if non-trivial number.

I guess I see it as being a customer and being a tax payer are distinct roles & customers are frequently both.

As a customer people didn’t get ripped off. People didn’t buy TVs and get a box of rocks. This is a low bar, but for crooks, it is at least a non-trivial bar.

My argument wasn’t that they shouldn’t have been punished as they didn’t rip off customers. If anything “not ripping off customers” is actually a key part in how they ripped off everyone else for non-trivial amounts of money.

As an extremely rough guess I bet they cost each tax payer of the 1970s less than a penny. I still think it was a good idea for the government to go after them a tear them apart. I also expect gathering the evidence and running the trials cost more than the tax fraud did, and I still think it was a good idea to fund all those things. Because letting a low-millions tax fraud go unpunished is the road you start to travel down to get huge tax fraud (I was going to say “real”, but million dollar tax fraud is real, but given the size of the USA it is still less then a penny per tax payer!).

I’m not sure if we particularly agree here or not, but I don’t feel like we are all that far apart.


When NPR’s Planet Money did their story of Crazy Eddie Inside The Mind Of A Financial Criminal : Planet Money : NPR the remark from a guy from the Crazy Eddie family stuck in my mind. “It was a scam from the beginning. At first just skimming sales tax. If New York state suddenly dropped their sales tax, half the mom&pop retailers in would suddenly go bankrupt.”


NPR thinks that half of all small merchants in New York are skimming sales tax? That’s quite a statement.


And on Times Square.

Sofa King Classic. (Check out the uni-brows)


They truly understood the effect of relentless advertising — however creepy the ads. They must have thought, the creepier the better. (Ad gets forever stuck in your brain.)


How cool; I was born there, and went to elementary from 70-72 before we moved. Long shot: if your initials are S.G. then “hey!”


I especially remember the Thanksgivingtime ones on WOR-TV.

Every Thanksgiving Friday the channel did Godzilla movies in the early afternoon. “Crazy Eddy” came on screen wearing a Godzilla mask and making nonsense sounds.


This 80s ad was all over Detroit area tv sets, and will forever live rent free in my head:

“Fifty watts per channel, Babycakes!”

Vine compilations hipped me to this gem:


I agree, we’re not far apart at all. I wanted mostly to springboard off what you said to make a different point about tax fraud not being a victimless crime, yet Americans by and large mostly view it as one- in the sense of it being an abstract thing that doesn’t affect peoples’ lives.