Amaze your family! Fool your friends! (#atozchallenge)

Remember X-ray Specs?

(They didn’t work. Trust me on that. Picture from

If you read comic books, they sold these on a page with all sorts of other games, novelties, tricks and pranks. Like onion gum (“It tastes like…ONIONS!”), itching powder, whoopee cushions, black soap (you washed with it, it turned you black), pepper-flavored toothpaste, sneezing powder (probably the same as the itching powder), hand buzzers, fake vomit, fake dog poop, fake mustaches and beards, snakes in a can… All that good stuff.

We had a prank store in our old neighborhood. They sold, in addition to all the stuff listed above, rubber masks. On Hallowe’en 1969, when I was in eighth grade, I bought a really horrible-looking rubber mask from the place. It was meant to be an Indian, but you couldn’t tell, it was so horrible. That was my whole costume. A month or so later, my brother borrowed it and wore it and a derby that we got from somewhere to kiss my mother good night. She was half-asleep on the sofa when he did this. We almost had to peel her off the ceiling.

The one thing I wanted more than anything was the thing sold as “Throw Your Voice!” I wanted to be able to make my voice come out of closed boxes and everything. Turns out, it was a manual on ventriloquism. Which, for $2.95, was actually a pretty good deal. Not that I can do it now. I’m not even sure that I could do it then, either. But, it was fun to learn.

Was the stuff a waste of money? Considering the hours of amusement that these things brought, they were worth every dime.

11 thoughts on “Amaze your family! Fool your friends! (#atozchallenge)

  1. I remember it all and bought many of these myself. As you say, hours of fun and a ton of laughs. Strangely enough, my last job, where I worked for 19 years, was a wholesale distributor that sold many of these same items. I finally got to test the X-ray specs and you’re right–they don’t work.

    An A to Z Co-Host
    Tossing It Out


  2. My siblings and I bought some of this type of stuff when we were young. It never worked quite like they advertised, but you’re right, it wasn’t a waste of money because we had fun messing with it.

    Also, thank you for your supportive words on my ABNA blog post the other day. It helped life my spirits.


  3. I used to love those novelty adverts at the end of comics. Used to pour over them for hours making wishlists of items I would buy.Remember snappy gum and fake blood? I never bought any of them, but they made it sound so good.


    1. It was fun stuff. Parents hated it, which made all that much more fun. And the nuns really hated it. My brother had the snappy gum. The snappy part wasn’t too tightly wound, so all it delivered was a mild surprise, rather than taking fingers with it. And, yeah, bodily fluids (blood, vomit, etc.) were a great source of entertainment to preteen boys. But then, I probably don’t have to tell you that…


  4. I remember seeing adverts like that – I often wondered if they lived up to their hype in reality!

    (btw – I was always fascinated by hydrateable animals – what exactly were/are ‘sea monkeys’?)


    1. They’re dried brine shrimp. Drying them out makes them dormant, and putting them in water wakes them up. They were a response to the popularity of the ant farm. Evidently, the tail makes them look like monkeys. A friend of mine bought some as an adult, and they’re sort of right, they do look like monkeys.


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