Wacky Packages are a series of trading cards featuring parodies of North American consumer products. The cards were produced by the Topps Company beginning in 1967, usually in a sticker format.
The original series sold for two years, and the concept proved popular enough that it has been revived every few years since. Per trader legend, at one time they outsold Topps baseball cards.
Relying on the talents of such comics artists as Kim Deitch, George Evans, Drew Friedman, Bill Griffith, Jay Lynch, Norman Saunders, Art Spiegelman, Bob Stewart and Tom Sutton, the cards spoofed well-known brands and packaging, such as “Crust” (instead of Crest) toothpaste, “Blisterine” (instead of Listerine), and “Neveready” batteries (for Eveready Industries batteries). The initial series was followed by a somewhat different Wacky Ads line in 1969, featuring gags and roughs by Lynch and Deitch with finished paintings by Sutton. These cards were designed more like miniature billboards with a die-cut around the parodied product, so it could pop out of the horizontal billboard scene.
Wacky Packages returned in 1973 for a highly successful run. They continued until 1977 through a total of 16 series. Some cards were sold in reprinted editions beginning in 1979 to 1980.
Newly designed series were produced in 1985 and 1991, but these strayed from the original concept and were not as successful. A new series of stickers was released in 2004, and continued into a sixth set in 2007. These series have been very successful with the return of cartoonist Jay Lynch, plus newcomers Dave Gross, Strephon Taylor and Neil Camera. This series also marks a return to the use of underground comix artists including M. Wartella. In 2007, Topps released its series 5 and 6 in the Wacky Package Series.
In February 2008, Topps released a series of Wacky Packages called Flashbacks. This series contained artwork from previously released cards as well as unreleased artwork to make a set of 72 base cards. Moving towards the trend with other types of trading cards, this set also featured a number of rare chase cards.
One unreleased design, by John Pound for the 1985 series, spawned the Garbage Pail Kids trading card series.
In 2009, Topps will release a new series called “Wacky Packages Old School”. Designed and painted by David Gross, the set will feature 33 all new parodies of vintage 1970s products. Many extras will be included in every box, such as a Jay Lynch sketch card, giant 5×7 stickers, a mini promo sticker and more. The stickers, puzzle checklists, packs and display box are all designed to have the original 1970s look and feel.
Sources: Wacky-Packages.com, Wackypackages.org .The Wacky Packages Official Site and Wikipedia.