Vintage ads for ill-advised pets-by-mail

I found a used ant farm for sale, sans ants, at a yard sale. Lack of ants was easily remedied by digging up a fire ant nest (native, not one of those invasive monsters), finding the queen, and plonking her in. Had my own little fire ant colony in our dorm room. Laying eggs, raising pupae, and so on. It was awesome! Far better than the sterile colony that must have originally lived in it.

Keeping moisture levels was a bear. Got it too damp one time and they all died of some fungus.


I wonder what ridiculous thing we are doing or advertising now will be most amusing to those observing 30 years later

Most everything hawked by Dr Oz?


(Shhhh. Telling old people they’re remembering wrong only upsets them.)

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Aha! That’s the ad that was altered in I believe Image’s 1964 comics to read “Delicious Monkey!” I always wondered what the original said.

The monkey was guaranteed live delivery. Woe to the kid whose monkey arrived dead. That would be horrifying.

Could it be automated using e.g. a modded cigar humidor?

Sea Monkeys were one of the great disappointments of my childhood.

After selling an a** load of shtty greeting cards to our poor neighbors, I managed to “earn” enough points to get my under water family that in the ad looks very mer-person like. Fn sea mosquitoes is what they were.

Does anybody remember the name of that company that exploited kids to sell cards so they could earn crappy prizes?

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Olympic Sales Club. The way to go with Captain “O”!


They also did a stint on Saturday morning TV.

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. . . or an introduction to taxidermy.


Now you can get the sea monkeys for free on Craigslist:

I agree. Ant farms and sea monkeys aren’t ill-advised. They fucking rocked!


Friend in elementary school had a monkey, not sure if that is how they got it or not. Ranked #1 for most disgusting pet, mostly because it liked to throw #2. It bit, it screamed, it was very unhappy. And I don’t blame it.


The guy who invented Sea Monkeys and X-Ray Specs also sold pet hermit crabs. He made a ton of money which he donated to white supremacist causes. He attended Aryan Nation meetings and bought guns for the KKK. Shortly before his death, the Washington Post did a big article on him, and he was proud of the money he’d given to Nazi groups from the money he made on toys.

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I remember pet shops selling squirrel monkeys even though when they hit puberty they turn into the homicidal devil doll from Trilogy Of Terror. One of the few monkeys that make good pets is the Woolly Monkey, but they are a tropical species that can die from a slight chill. But we knew people in southern Florida that had one.

My ant farm experience wasn’t horrifying, but it was sad and poignant. I asked for one for my birthday, which falls in late December. The ants arrived under separate cover in January. (Fun side note: a warning on the package said they could not be shipped to the state where I lived, so it was covered with a brown paper wrapper.) The ants built tunnels and lived happily, but old age started taking them down one by one.

The instructions said to dig up an ants’ nest and find the queen, but in the middle of winter there was no way I could find a nest. The last ant survived until early spring. In the summer I could have dug up a nest and started the ant farm all over again, but I felt I’d learned enough about life and death.


I’m surprised one of the truly horrifying mail offers I remember isn’t featured here: rattlesnake eggs. They came with a warning that you had to keep them refrigerated or else they’d hatch. Because, hey, someone who’d buy rattlesnake

eggs couldn’t possibly want baby rattlesnakes.

Not too long ago I saw them for sale in a Rocket Fizz shop:

nono, rattlesnake eggs were a prank… open the envelope and a rubberband device would release a disc that would rattle… totally oldskool prank rattlesnake eggs