Wednesday, October 28, 2015

The Wonder Fears

When I saw these cards in a shoebox at a sale a while ago, I was immediately taken back to a particular summer of my youth in the 1970's.  For more than one reason, you might refer to it as my "Wonder Year".

We were a family of meager means and rarely did my mom buy Wonder Bread.  It was usually "Aunt Hattie's" or some other off brand found at the "box store", so-called for it's lack of grocery bags and the need to pilfer every empty box you could find to slog your groceries home in.

But one summer a Hostess Bakery clearance store opened in our neighborhood. Full of past- or near-past-due baked goods including "Ding Dongs", "Suzy Q's", "Twinkies" and Wonder Bread, the discounted prices allowed me to experience a world, if perhaps a slightly staler version, I'd rarely visited.

Encased in each loaf, slapped right against the bread itself with no sanitary wrapper, were these Universal Horror "You'll Die Laughing" cards.

Some of the scenes are from an actual movie while others, like the one above, are clearly "cut and paste".

I remember, each card was slightly damp upon removing it from its plastic tomb and smelled of yeast. 

The "You'll Die Laughing" banner was done by Mad artist Jack Davis.  When these cards were originally released in 1959 under the name "Funny Monsters", humorous illustrations by Jack Davis rather than photos were used on the front.  In 1973, the cards were re-released as "Creature Feature" cards, replacing Jack's illustrations with the photographic images seen here.  I'm guessing by 1978, around the time I began finding these in my daily bread, the series had run its course and were offered bulk to Wonder as premium prizes. The series would see one last update and resurgence in 1980 when they were re-released with color accents and stickers added along with some new scenes and jokes.

In an interesting note, I read that anywhere an actor's face appeared in a scene (not the monster) was replaced with a Topps employee's face, which would explain those decidedly '70's sideburns above.

I'm not sure if the store closed, or my mother simply stopped going, or maybe we just didn't eat enough bread around my house, but I never did complete my collection.


  1. Nice find! I love those cards.

  2. Groovy! Nowhere near enough weird freebies like this nowadays....all you get free with most bread these days is a ton of preservatives! ;)

  3. wow, i had forgotten all about these cards, but the artwork on the back brought them right back to me. the first joke is actually pretty good for kids -- i may use it this year. i can't believe they spelled Captain KIRK wrong!

    1. > i can't believe they spelled Captain KIRK wrong!
      Yeah, at first I thought it was to avoid trademark infringement, but then they spelled "Spock" right.


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