14 Garbage Pail Kids We Totally Didn’t Understand as Kids

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by Howie Decker @HowardTheDeck

in The 80s, Trending

If little girls are made of “sugar and spice and everything nice”, then boys are certainly comprised of boogers and mice and everything, well, nasty. It is this precisely opposite composition that made Garbage Pail Kids such a popular gross-out alternative to the 80s iconoclast Cabbage Patch Kids.

When the first series of collectible stickers (with gum, of course) hit stores in 1985, we snatched up those 5 packs as fast as they hit retail shelves. Kids everywhere began trading their George Bretts and Tony Gwynns for Dead Teds and New Wave Daves. But while the art and theme of Garbage Pail Kids were clearly geared toward children, the specific message of some GPKs was simply over our heads.

Here are 14 Garbage Pail Kids we totally didn’t understand as kids:

Swell MEL (Series 1) – While the concept of cross-dressing in its simplest form wouldn’t have been totally foreign, we had little to no knowledge of the cultural stigma attached to it, and why the adjective ‘swell’ would be applied to this guy named Mel who just thought it would be a hoot to throw on a dress and some fishnets.

garbage pail kids swell mel

GuilloTINA (Series 1) – Kids who hadn’t yet been through 4th grade World History might not have had the base knowledge of execution devices (two of which appear in Series 1 – Fryin’ Brian/Electric Bill being the other) necessary to fully comprehend GuilloTINA. Sure, they can surmise that poor Tina is about to have her head relocated to a wicker basket, but until their teacher covered the French Revolution, they likely understood her twin CINDY Lopper a little better.

grabage pail kids guillotina

BONNIE Bunny (Series 2) – Well, we shouldn’t have understood this one, but we probably did.

bonnie bunny

Ventilated VINNIE (Series 2) – I remember taking this one to my mom and asking something like “What does ‘ventilated’ mean?” and seeing her expression turn from pride regarding my inquiring young mind to horror when I showed her why I was asking.

Mom: “Um, it means something has holes in it, so air can get in.”

Me: “Why is this blindfolded man being shot repeatedly?”

Mom: “It probably has something to do with an oppressive government and JUST GO PLAY WITH YOUR STICKERS”

ventilated vinnie

DIDI T. (Series 3) – DIDI T. was just a spider on a web, which made her twin CHARLOTTE Web one of the most basic-themed GPKs of the early series. But Charlotte’s other half was a bit of a mystery for many kids. Most didn’t have a working knowledge of agricultural insecticides. Furthermore, the name ‘Didi’ was one of the less common first names used by GPK at that point, so some of us didn’t even know which part of ‘DIDI T.’ was the joke.

gpk didi t

Glandular ANGELA (Series 3) – “Hey, that’s funny! This GPK is half boy/half girl!” thought 8 year old kids everywhere, having no idea what ‘glands’ have to do with it.

glandular angela gpk

Hip KIP (Series 3) – What 9 year-old understands hipster culture? Let me rephrase: What 9 year-old pre-Reddit era kid understands hipster culture?

hip kip

ROCK E. Horror (Series 4) – See Swell MEL, but with underwear.

rock e horror gpk

Delicate TESS (Series 5) – Too young to grasp the subtlety of the play on the word ‘delicatessen’, especially since we were at least 13 before we realized ‘deli’ was short for something.

delicate tess gpk

Dangling DOLLY (Series 5) – If your school’s curriculum hadn’t covered Spanish surrealist painters by this point, you had no idea why Dolly’s face was melting onto a faceless fish with an eyelash beard. And the Dolly/Dali thing was WAY over your head.

dangling dolly gpk

CONNIE Sewer (Series 5) – As a kid, this one seemed pretty cut and dry: Her name is Connie, sewers are nasty, she’s nasty. Case closed. Years later I realized her name was a play on ‘connoisseur’, and she’s an authority on snot spaghetti.

connie sewer gpk

Death NELL (Series 8) – At 9 years old, we had no idea what a ‘death knell’ was. I remember reconciling it by saying something like “Nell rhymes with ‘bell’, close enough!”

death nell gpk

MAC The Knife (Series 9) – Seriously, what kid was familiar with the 1959 Bobby Darin hit of the same name, let alone the German opera the song was originally featured in? I just thought ‘Mac’ was a cool name for a pocket knife, or that it was a play on the then-current McDonald’s spokesman.

mac the knife gpk garbage pail kids

images via geepeekay.com

top image via From My Hearth To Yours

{ 8 comments… read them below or add one }

bmorin54 January 3, 2014 at 11:42 am

I wish I’d kept all my GPK cards. And I’ll admit that I didn’t notice the joke in Connie Sewer until I read your explanation. Great article.

Reply

HowardTheDeck January 4, 2014 at 5:47 pm

thanks Brian!

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Nerd Out With Me January 3, 2014 at 9:36 pm

I still have most of my GPK collection – which includes most of these. I remember asking my Dad what the Didi T spider card meant. He told me he used to run behind the poison truck as a kid – which explains a lot. Anyhow it was always one of my favorite cards. Something about it being white. Rarely were GPK cards white.

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The Sewer Den January 3, 2014 at 10:32 pm

Got a double of Delicate TESS? I wanna hang that babe in my kitchen.

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Nerd Out With Me January 4, 2014 at 8:53 am

Ya know what – I think I do!

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HowardTheDeck January 4, 2014 at 5:47 pm

that’s awesome- glad someone else has specific memories of asking their folks what certain GPKs meant!

Reply

The Sewer Den January 3, 2014 at 10:33 pm

This is GREAT.

Reply

Henry April 6, 2017 at 10:19 pm

I Still have a collection of Garbage pail kids. The post reactive the memories.

Reply

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