July 31, 2003 10:51 PM   Subscribe

Talk about holding a grudge. Thirty-six years after its initial publication, the Wacky Pack sticker for "Moron Salt", a toothless parody of Morton Salt, has become perhaps among the more sought after of all non-sports collectible cards. Why? Because to this day, the makers of Morton Salt are vigorously attempting to banish it from the face of the earth, including going so far as to threaten legal action against eBay to get them to delist anyone trying to sell it. Details on the legal battle (as well as much more Wacky Pack goodness) available at MoronSalt.
posted by jonson (18 comments total)
Apparently that little Morton Salt girl plays rough.
I can understand the company moving heaven and earth to halt the production of these things, but the idea that they can control a collectible market is idiotic, the genie is already out of the bottle. It seems like the company will simply call more attention to the issue, increase the price of the collectibles, and look humorless and petty in the process. I hope some of the mefi legal types will post about this - it's an interesting issue, jonson!
posted by madamjujujive at 11:25 PM on July 31, 2003

IANAL, but isn't parody one of the exceptions to a claim of copyright infringement? Haven't Mad Magazine and Weird Al Yankovic already fought and won this battle?

And now I really, really, really wish I'd kept all my Wacky Pack stickers from 30 years ago. I had a ton of them, including Moron Salt.
posted by wdpeck at 11:54 PM on July 31, 2003

Mmmm, Hostage Cupcakes...LaVirus mouthwash...Rolling Stoned.

Wacky Packs, along with *MAD*, did more to cultivate the future debunker-of-consumerism than even being raised the son of a litigator. God bless them.

Do you think Morton's has ANY idea how stoopit this makes them look? From now on, I'm a sel-de-mer man.
posted by adamgreenfield at 12:20 AM on August 1, 2003

And, yes, for the record, this would probably meet fair-use requirements. Depends on the circuit and the judge, I suppose.
posted by adamgreenfield at 12:23 AM on August 1, 2003

Just wait until I make 1000 more prints and hand them out with underground mags.
posted by Keyser Soze at 1:08 AM on August 1, 2003

I was going to say I remember that one, but since it would've come out only two years after I was born, that seems unlikely. Weird how the memory plays tricks on you.

Maybe it was re-released in the 70's sometime?
posted by stavrosthewonderchicken at 1:18 AM on August 1, 2003

This reminds me of garbage pail kids. Did those makers ever get a cease and desist order?
posted by starscream at 1:25 AM on August 1, 2003

the Morton girl should marry the Cerebos boy. match made in the heaven, the dads would love it.

"I had a big salt company, and he had a big salt company"
"Now we have a very big salt company"
posted by Frasermoo at 1:33 AM on August 1, 2003

Funny. :) I'd never head of this. Thanks jonson!
posted by plep at 2:06 AM on August 1, 2003

I'll bet someone important in the Morton Salt Galaxy has cornered the market in Moron Salt Wacky Pack stickers....

It's the only logical explanation.
posted by sic at 4:17 AM on August 1, 2003

here's a great list of wacky package links...i used to love these (also in the 70s, stav)
posted by amberglow at 5:16 AM on August 1, 2003

Whaa? Moron Salt! This parody has made me realize that Morton salt may not be the fine salt product I once thought it to be! I'll sure never Morton again, that's for sure.
posted by BigPicnic at 5:26 AM on August 1, 2003

Great post, Jonson!

I grew up in rural Oregon, and I can remember biking a mile to the nearest store when I was just six year old. Why? Because I wanted to buy WackyPacks. I loved the stickers. Mom hated them. I stuck them all over the freakin' house. I deserved to have my hide tanned, and it probably was.

Even years later, when I was in high school, I'd stumble upon places where, as a kid, I'd stuck a Wacky Packages sticker.

None of them were Moron Salt...
posted by jdroth at 5:43 AM on August 1, 2003

My stack of 200 or so wacky pack stickers sit happily at home. Most of my allowance went toward them, and I have a copy of Tic Toc Tiny Time Bombs and Hurtz Baked Bears pinned up in cubeland to get me through the day. I. Love. Them.

As a MAD mag sidenote, I had the honor of meeting Mort Drucker, one of the original gang of idiots a few years back. He spent several minutes talking with a young aspiring cartoonist. Nice guy.
posted by yoga at 6:06 AM on August 1, 2003

IANAL, but isn't parody one of the exceptions to a claim of copyright infringement?

It's not copyright infringement that's the issue, it's trademark infringement. Trademarks have greater protection under the law than regular copyrigthed works. Essentially, if the company can prove that your work resembles their trademark closely enough that it's confusing people, they can stop you from distributing it. And if you're making money off it, that hurts your case if you claim First Amendment rights.

Would this particular instance stand up in court? I'm not sure. But it's fairly easy for a large company with deep legal pockets to send out a few C&Ds. eBay has little desire to draw their wrath, so they comply, and most people don't have the money to fight Morton if they decide to follow through on their legal threats, so they fold.

Glad I managed to get my Wacky Pack one-sheet before this whole hoopla began. I really shoud get a frame for it.
posted by toothgnip at 6:56 AM on August 1, 2003

I'd never heard of these before. Nifty.
posted by widdershins at 7:38 AM on August 1, 2003

Holy Cow! I have that one... and about 5 others. I'll have to see if they're worth anything.
posted by scalz at 10:32 AM on August 1, 2003

"Swiss Mess Instant Cocoa: Thrills and Spills in Every Cup"

"Kentucky Fried Fingers: They're Chicken-Lickin' Good!"

Oh, those were the days (circa, oh, 1973 or so).
posted by gimonca at 12:00 PM on August 1, 2003

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