Vintage ads for ill-advised pets-by-mail


I remember many years ago hearing an interview with one of these impresarios–I think it was the ant farm guy–in which he described losing a carload of outbound creatures when a boxcar got stuck in a blizzard. Did anyone out there ever send for (and receive) a chameleon, monkey, or raccoon?

I love the looks on the faces of those kids! The girl on the right is trippin’ balls and boy on the left looks like he’s only a few years away from his contemplative stoner phase.


How are seamonkys Ill-advised. They’re just brine shrimp you hatch in salt water. It’s what you feed some fish. Of course they didn’t play the organ or have middle class nuclear family units, but they seem happy as clams.


This rings a bell so I looked around. BoingBoing has an awesome link on a guy who bought a monkey!


People who are into this kind of thing should also check out Gweek 019: Mail Order Mysteries. The interview is with a guy who purchased tons of chintzy stuff out of comics and wrote a book about it.

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My dad’s college roommate sent away for (and received) a flying squirrel from a magazine ad (this would have been the mid 1950s). It actually lived a couple of years.

This is great:
(from wikipedia)

"Sea-Monkeys were intensively marketed in comic books using illustrations by the comic-book illustrator Joe Orlando. These showed humanoid animals that bear no resemblance to the crustaceans. Many purchasers were disappointed by the dissimilarity, and by the short lifespan of the animals. Von Braunhut is quoted as stating: “I think I bought something like 3.2 million pages of comic book advertising a year. It worked beautifully.” "


But they’re arthropods! Clams are mollusks.

Does anyone remember violent Sea-Monkey ads? I mean where the selling point was that you could, torture, kill, ‘squish’, etc. them for your enjoyment. I swear I remember this, along with a cartoon drawing of a boy smashing some Sea-Monkeys with his fist, but I haven’t been able to find any evidence of it yet. I thought it was so distasteful, just what kind of sociopath were they advertising to?

I think that was from Mad Magazine.

I think you’re remembering Sandkings, or one of the adaptions of it (The Outer Limits one was pretty good).

Great book! Some of that mail-order stuff was astonishingly cheesy. The remote control ghost took the cake: A Balloon printed with a scary face, a white cloth, and a string . . .


I didn’t get it through the mail, but I bought a “performing” chameleon at a circus that came to our town once.

It just sat around sunning itself all day instead of doing tricks or anything.

Christ, what an anole.


Showed you it’s true colors, did he?


None of those compares with the “How to raise baby sharks in your toilet tank kit” or “Raising Porcupines for fun and profit”. Both of these kits kindly included complimentary first aid kits.

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Sea Monkeys and Ant Farms are “horrifying?” The monkeys I can understand, but holy hell some people have a low horror threshold. What else is horrifying? Dust bunnies? Paper clips?

FULL DISCLOSURE: I had both Sea Monkeys and an Ant Farm as a kid, and despite the awful possibilities, I escaped with no injuries at all.


Ants aren’t gross. :stuck_out_tongue:


Even with the poor quality of my ghost, I would have gotten away with it if it weren’t for the $13.95 monkey clawing my eyes out. And those meddling kids.


Ah! You found the anole joke I was looking for!