Tuesday, April 06, 2021

More Stuff From the Box

Oh boy, more Stuff From the Box! It's like Christmas in April.

Let's start with this impressive pin from the 1939 New York World's Fair. What says "New York" better than Lady Liberty, with a skyline full of impossibly-tall buildings behind her? There's even an airplane, because planes were a big deal in the late '30s. I've seen a few other examples of this pin, except that they are a grayish pot metal... this is the only brass (or gold plated?) one I've seen.

Valued employees of Kentucky Fried Chicken were awarded a pin like the one below. Imagine the pride one felt when wearing Colonel Harlan Sander's golden face on a lapel, highlighted with a single synthetic ruby! Maybe this was for 10 years of service.

The next three items are wonderful cereal premiums, often awarded to kids who were willing to eat box after box of a particular cereal so that they could mail in their box tops. This first item is a Tom Mix glowing "tigereye" ring. See, how it looks like the eye of a tiger? Sort of? And it does really glow too. The ring itself is plastic; it dates from 1949 or 1950, the last year of Tom Mix premiums. I believe that this would have been given out by Ralston Purina. The plastic lens over the slitted pupil looks full of air bubbles on this example, I've seen others that were very clear.

Next up is a cool 1948 prize, a Lone Ranger Flashlight Ring, given out by KIX cereal for 15 cents and some box tops. On one side of the ring is the Statue of Liberty's hand holding her torch, while the other side has the scales of justice. 

The original (and very generic) battery was hidden in the wearer's hand; pressing on the metal tab (visible here beneath the bulb) made the light glow. Flash morse code, why don'tcha! Or just annoy people, like I would do.

And finally (for today), another Lone Ranger premium - this time it's the much-loved Atomic Bomb ring, given out in 1947 by, you guessed it, KIX cereal. The brass ring held one of the Ranger's signature silver bullets. But it was more than just classy jewelry - it was actually a spinthariscope. "A what, now?"

From Wikipedia: A spinthariscope is a device for observing individual nuclear disintegrations caused by the interaction of ionizing radiation with a phosphor or scintillator. Remove the red end-cap (which could also hold very small secret messages), and wait until your eyes were well adjusted to the dark, then look through the miniscule lens; radioactive material would cause tiny sparks to appear as the alpha particles struck a zinc sulfide screen . Pretty cool!

The radioactive element was polonium, which had a half-life of about six months, so none of the Atomic Bomb rings work today - though I have seen people selling them on eBay claiming that they still spark; perhaps the seller looked and imagined that they really saw something. Hopeful buyers wind up paying significantly more for a dud, sadly. Still, the Atomic Bomb ring is one of the cooler premium rings ever made.

Stay tuned for more Stuff from the Box!


TokyoMagic! said...

As much as I like that World's Fair pin, I think I have to say that my favorite item today, is the Colonel Sanders pin. His smiling face just reminds me that it's so nice....nice to feel, so good about a meal! It must be those 11 herbs and spices!

Thanks for sharing more of your collection with us, Major!

K. Martinez said...

It's the Atomic Bomb ring for me. Love the details on it. I remember saving cereal box tops when I was a kid and sending them in with money (actual coins) to get a cool item. Of course as was often stated it took 4-6 weeks for delivery. My how times have changed. Thanks, Major. Always enjoy seeing your "stuff from the box".

Budblade said...

I love stuff in the box(s)!

The atomic bomb ring is SO cool. Love the marketing there. Let’s give kids a radioactive toy to play with while they eat their breakfast. How American can you get.

I remember waiting for cereal premiums as a kid. The only place that needed more lead time was the scholastic book fair items. But now that I think about that one they were printing hundreds if not thousands of books.

All the other box stuff is cool too. Thanks for sharing you treasures with us Major!

As always I can’t wait for the next one

Melissa said...

You could use the flashlight ring to temporarily blind your enemy while you punched him in the nose! (They call it KIX-boxing.)

DrGoat said...

They are all very cool. Yeah, it's the Atomic Bomb ring for me too. Love the 6 month life span of the unobtainium.
The other rings are pretty nifty. That Lone Ranger flashlight ring is a hoot. I can imagine that battery, tightly gripped in the sweaty hand of a young cowboy. Must have been pretty awkward dealing with that and playing cowboy at the same time.
I think the best premium I can remember was a coupon to be sent in and you would receive a 12" tall Jolly Green Giant stuffed doll thing. He sat on my bed for the longest time then disappeared, like all the other stuff I didn't have the wisdom to keep.
Good stuff Major. Thanks. Best treasure box ever..

Kathy! said...

As I was reading about the Atom Bomb ring, I was thinking “Oh Major, you’re such a jokester!” But you kept going and I realized it was real. Wow, what a premium to get! And I thought my plastic submarine that you put baking soda in to see bubbles coming out as it sunk from Frosted Flakes was impressive. My favorite is the Colonel too. I’d like to see one for a 40 year employee, totally gem-encrusted.

Stu29573 said...

I like the flashlight ring because it still (theoretically) works! Now, when it was working, I would have preferred the Atomic Bomb ring. It seems a lot of things that were cool as a kid didn't last; Mexican Jumping Beans, Venus Flytraps, etc...
Great stuff from the box!!!

JG said...

"Here kid, hold this radioactive thing up to your eye, totally ok and everything!" Wow, wow, wow.

Major, I love the stuff from the box, I looked through my box, my Dad's box, and my uncle Hal's box, nothing this much fun in any of them. You know what Hal had in his, and I thank you and Chuck again for your help identifying those pictures.

For me, out of today's mix, it has to be Colonel Sanders disembodied head. If they put the ruby in one of his eyes, he could be on Star Trek, Locutus of Louisville.


Major Pepperidge said...

TokyoMagic!, it’s hard to not love the Colonel. There are versions of that pin that don’t have the “gem”, and I’m glad I have the ruby. It’s funny, I’ve seen people on eBay asking nearly $100 for similar pins, and I got mine for practically nothing. The best price! Just what ARE those 11 herbs and spices anyway? We can subtract salt and pepper, so we’re down to 9.

K.Martinez, it is pretty cool to have a genuine atomic toy as a cereal toy. For a while in the early 90s I would send in box tops because it seemed like, “Why not?”. I already had the box top, and for the price of a stamp I could get a Darkwing Duck bubble gun, or a giant pair of Ren and Stimpy underwear. Such treasures!

Budblade, I kind of wish my items were generally in better condition, but I bought a lot of them before I was so wise in the ways of collecting. Oh well, I love them in spite of their flaws. The wear just means that some kid loved the item. And I loved the Scholastic book fairs! I still have a few of my favorite books from childhood.

Melissa, it’s funny that the Lone Ranger, a cowboy in the “Old West” got such cool premiums like the Atomic Bomb ring and a flashlight ring that required a batter. I’ve wondered if I could find a replacement bulb (the filament is broken on mine) and a similar battery, could I get it to work again?

DrGoat, whenever I see somebody selling an Atomic Bomb ring on eBay, and they say that it “still flashes!”, I want to call Interpol or whatever. “It’s physically impossible for the thing to still be working!”. But then I calm down. Mostly. Imagine how cool the kid with the flashlight ring looked at night as he sent Morse code to his friends (because all kids know Morse code, right?). The Jolly Green Giant doll is cool, I have a whole “Vote For the Jolly Green Giant” kit that includes a big poster, a bumper sticker, and other stuff that I can’t remember.

Kathy!, yeah, it’s pretty amazing that they had an actual radioactive toy as a premium; but I guess the danger was very low thankfully. Those baking soda toys never seemed to work for me, and believe me, I tried them a lot, in my grandmother’s neighbor’s pool.

Stu29573, yeah, that ring stopped working long before I ever owned it (see my comment to Melissa!). Mexican jumping beans, wow; I remember getting those when I was a kid, we’d put them under a warm lightbulb and watch them jiggle around. We owned a Venus flytrap, but as you said, it didn’t last. We tried to feed it bugs, but I guess it was finicky.

JG, I come from a long line of collectors, so holding on to fun and odd little items comes naturally. And small things are easy to store. The thing is, when there are hundreds of them, then it becomes a problem! Ah, if only Colonel Sanders had shown up on TOS, as a capricious and spiteful, Godlike alien! Will the crew of the "Enterprise" pass his test??

Nanook said...

Another vote for the atomic bomb ring. It's just so 'Post-WWII-ish', it just feels right... until the radiation causes 'health issues'. Oh well, you just can't have it all.

Thanks, Major.

DrGoat said...

Melissa, they still sell those small light bulbs.
Also on Amazon of course.
I had to get one a few years back for my 1954 Robert the Robot toy. It's the only toy (with the box) that survived. The only reason being my Mom put it away and kept it safe till about 1975 when she gave it back to me. I've kept it safe ever since.

"Lou and Sue" said...

Major, your box-stuff is always interesting! So many things I've never seen before. That Colonel Sander's pin is a terrific find! I just got done eating some left-over extra-crispy KFC chicken for lunch. I checked the bucket to see if there was any mention of their tasty spices, but no luck. I don't know if you've noticed, but they now call themselves "KFC," as they don't want people to hear the word "fried." Silly. Our KFC is a KFC/TB (Taco-Bell combo store). Strange combo.

Stu, your mention of jumping beans jarred my memory...the first ones I purchased were at a gift shop in the Disneyland Hotel in 1971. I had never seen them before and was fascinated. The cardboard display had all the little clear-cover boxes displayed (with the clicking of all the jumping beans bouncing around), plus an attached pad of paper "bulls-eye targets" - each about 3" square (you pulled one off with your purchase). You could "race" your little beans on it. I didn't realize that real worms lived in those beans (stupid city kid) and was sad to see, weeks later, that my little plastic box had beans with perfect circle holes in them - and dead moths in the box. That made me sad.

DrGoat, I would love to see Robert the Robot. If there's a way you can get a photo to our Major, it would be fun to see it here!

That Atomic Bomb ring is really something! I can imagine the cereal merchandising executives sitting around the boardroom table, discussing what the next promo toy should be...junior welding kit with mini acetylene tank; young-man army cammo-vest with hidden hand grenade; or Atomic Bomb ring... I'm glad they decided on the ring - it's da bomb!

Thanks, Major!

DBenson said...

I'd see the expired polonium as a selling point. I'm already a bit paranoid about WiFi.

I wonder if boomer and post-boomer kids who grew up with cereal premiums became the obsessive collectors of corporate swag, from their employers and/or trade shows.

Some decades ago my own employer, the San Jose Mercury News, would have a booth at tech events to promote our online presence. I worked up a proposal to do a prize drawing for The World's Biggest Free T-Shirt, which would be something like eight feet tall. Yes, it was a gag and event attendees would have laughed. But I know everybody would enter the drawing.

DrGoat said...

I can do that Sue. I'll take some pics tonight and send them to the Major.

Nanook said...

And as long as we're talking about the Colonel... Let's go on a TIJUANA PICNIC, with the colonel, himself-!

Andrew said...

We have a cardboard Colonel Sanders Christmas tree ornament from the top of a KFC bucket (complete with grease stains). We have to hide it on the tree because Mom thinks it's ugly. ;-) But then again, maybe it's time to start taking the tree down...

Love the trinket posts - thanks, Major.

TokyoMagic! said...

Major, I still miss the Colonel's "yellow" gravy. Remember that? It was the color of mustard, but it tasted great. And then at some point (in the late seventies?), some idiot executive probably thought that they should change the recipe and make it more of "country gravy."

Nanook, I love that album cover. Is it called "Tijuana Picnic," because they were trying to cash in on the success of the Tijuana Brass? And is that album in your collection? I still remember your Lenny Dee album, cover with the dog piloting the organ on a lake, alongside a water skier!

Andrew, I love it! Is the ornament the entire round piece/lid, that they insert in the top opening of the bucket?

Chuck said...

Major, the Atomic Bomb ring wins hands down. Nukes and the Lone Ranger - the best of all possible worlds, together at last. "Hi-yo, Silver! Bombs away!"

Sue, I think that's a marketing foul on KFC's part. I know I have no desire to eat at a restaurant with an admitted link to TB. That's not the kind of consumption I'm up for at meal times.

Andrew, since it's already April, you might as well leave it up through Arbor Day.

Nanook said...

@ TM!-
Oh, you bet I have that Tijuana Picnic album in my collection-! And yes, George Garabedian (the producer of this album) and many more 'tie-in' albums, was definitely going after the Herb Alpert and the Tijuana Brass craze. Some of the selections on the album are: A Taste of Honey; Lonely Bull; Spanish Flea; and Tijuana Taxi. (I haven't the vaguest idea who the musicians were, but the 'sound' was very reminiscent of the TJB; but the tempo was just a bit on the slow-side).

Andrew said...

I wish, TokyoMagic!! It's just a few inches tall.

Chuck, :o)

Major Pepperidge said...

Nanook, if the Atomic Bomb ring was running for office, it would be a landslide! Other than the famous Atomic Energy Erector set, I wonder if there were any other “nuclear” toys?

DrGoat, I should buy one of those bulbs. BUT… that battery is another issue. It’s not a AA or AAA; I’m not sure what it would be. There are odd-sized batteries at my local hardware store, I guess I’ll need to go check it out. Is your toy called “Robert the Robot”, or “Robby the Robot”?

Lou and Sue, I swear I just saw a commercial for KFC where they actually said, “Kentucky Fried Chicken”; it got my attention because I’d heard the same story that you had - they didn’t want to say the word “fried”. I’ve also heard that they don’t want to say the word “chicken” because it is actually cat. I’ve really heard that! I’ve never heard of racing jumping beans… mine never moved that much. They’d wiggle around a little at best. Then I learned that there was a worm inside that would die, which was kind of a bummer. I don’t know about cereal toys being so crazy, but in the old days, a chemistry set would have things that could potentially harm you. Now I’ve heard that they are safe as milk, and boring!

DBenson, from everything I’ve read, the Polonium was so low-powered that there was nothing to be concerned about. Famous last words! There are quite a lot of neat cereal premiums, though I tend to like the older ones. I do have some later plastic examples from the ‘60s and ’70s, however. Hey, I did some illustrations for the San Jose Mercury News many years ago! I wish I could remember the name of the art director, he was a very nice guy.

DrGoat, for sure, I’ll post them when I get them!

Nanook, why am I afraid to click on a “Tijuana Picnic” link??? This is a family blog! ;-)

Andrew, I have a vintage Colonel Sanders bobblehead, I think it used to be worth a bit, but they seem to have come down in value, like MOST of my collectibles! Your tree ornament sounds hilarious, it would be my favorite every year.

TokyoMagic!, no, I don’t remember the yellow gravy. It sounds gross, ha ha! Isn’t country gravy white? I thought that KFC gravy was traditional brown glop, which is comforting. Just like mom used to make. I like how Colonel Sanders is sitting there so seductively, ha ha.

Chuck, no wonder the Lone Ranger always triumphed, he had nukes in his arsenal. Never bring a six-shooter to an A-bombing. I agree with you, I’m OK with some food poisoning, even botulism, but TB is going too far. But darn, that chicken is so tasty!

DrGoat said...

Major, It's Robert the Robot. You turned a crank in the back and it played a little record inside. "I'm Robert the Robot mechanical man. Drive me and steer me wherever you can". I got it when I was 4. My Mom told me much later that it cost ten dollars. They had already bought me Marvelous Mike, a bump and go robot driving a tractor, plus a couple of other tin vehicles. I still have the little robot, but the cool metal tractor is long gone. They let my godmother buy me Robert.

JG said...

Nanook, if you could post a digital transfer of that album, I would be everlastingly grateful. What a find!

Dbenson, having the worlds largest t-shirt could be a claim to fame, and it could be a patio cover too.

Dr. Goat, I still have some Matt Mason spaceship toys from the 60's and all of the original 12 Hot Wheels, including the VW bus with both surfboards. I thought I was going to pay off the mortgage, but no.

Cool stuff, Major.


Nanook said...

@ JG-
Trust me... you’re much better-off listening to the Herb Alpert versions-!


....... and if you’re looking for “mid nite golfing” or a “Tiajuna Picnic” they can arrange that for you in the back room..... we don’t judge ...... we just charge.

"Lou and Sue" said...

JG, HERE'S a link to that album, on YouTube. Enjoy!

I'm looking forward to seeing Robert the Robot, tomorrow!

Dean Finder said...

I wonder if you could replace the source in the Lone Ranger ring with some other source of alpha particles, like the one in a smoke alarm.

Major Pepperidge said...

Nanook, if it’s not too personal, how big is your collection of vinyl LPs? And do you mostly buy them for the covers, or for the music? Or both, depending on the record?

Andrew, so the item is a real ornament! I thought it might be an actual lid for mashed potatoes or something!

DrGoat, well I waited so long to respond that now I have your photo. It’s an awesome toy! And likely worth some real dough, with the box and everything. I’ll try to share the photo tomorrow.

JG, I wonder if the album is on YouTube? A lot of music is there these days, especially obscure weird stuff. And yes, just how large would the World’s Largest Shirt be? Oh man, you have your Matt Matson spaceship? AND the original 12 Hot Wheels? I thought that the Beach Bomb with the surfboards was worth big money!

Nanook, we are ALWAYS better off listening to Herb Alpert!

Lou and Sue, aha! THANKS for the link!

Dean Finder, that is a very interesting idea! I would just be a little worried, I seem to remember reading about a guy who harvested tons of the radioactive bits from smoke detectors and he was actually suffering from radiation poisoning. Still… intriguing!