Memes of the 1970s: A patch can say it all (or get you beat up)

Here at Comics on the Brain, we’ve constantly told you how much we love comics. We’ll give any comic a try. Just put it in front of us and 20 minutes later, we’ll be happy to tell you what we think about them.

Sometimes we review them. Sometimes we tweet about them. Every once in a while, we want to do something a little different.

After we read “Richie Rich Success Stories” No. 50 from June 1973. We were just about to close the book after seeing Mayda Munny get her comeuppance (morale: no matter how much money you have, it’s not right unless you do it yourself!), when we flipped through the last two pages of the book.

There we found an advertisement that was extremely typical of the 1970s: A mail-order company offering patches for sale. Basically, these were the Internet memes of the day. You can’t forward them to your friends, but you can wear them on your sleeve!

Apparently having patch covered clothes was the thing to do in the 1970s. All the staples of the patch genre are there: The Playboy bunny, a peace sign, a stop sign, a smiley face and the American flag. All yours for 75-cents each or a steal at 3 for $2!

But after those great deals, there’s patches that are quite cringe-worthy.

Take for example, the “Try it, You’ll like it!” patch.

This one is taken from the catch phrase of an Alka-Seltzer advertising campaign. A perfect patch for kids with gastro-intestinal issues, wouldn’t you say? Or maybe its for those kids prepping for work in the illegal narcotics trade. “Come on kid, try it! You’ll like it! I’ll even give you the first one free.”

No wonder things went so bad for us.

Down below the patches are the “matching” t-shirt iron-ons of “Master” and “Slave.” Yep, you read it right — pop culture slavery.

Basically, you bought the transfers as a set, typically for a romantic couple. One of the lucky pair wore the “Master” shirt. The other was dubbed the “Slave.”

Sure, the 1970s weren’t a terribly enlightened time, and things were certainly getting better in the world of race relations. But wearing shirts like this? Say to an amusement park, or maybe on a vacation? You are asking to get your ass beat by the guy that walked out of the matinee showing of “Shaft.”

But even beyond marketing medicines to kids and inviting sidewalk beatings, there’s a patch that’s worse than both of those. A lot worse.

We’re talking Patch No. 36. We’re talking about making “Ex-Lax” cool.

We’d like to know how the Johnson Smith Co. of Clemens, Michigan, could subject its customers to such a horrible fate.

How could they even remotely endorse the idea of “The Chocolated Laxative”? These kids, they must have thought “It’s got two Xs in it and chocolate, so it must be cool!” and then sent in orders.

Not long after, with their red-white-and-blue patches on their shoulders, they were taunted by their wiser playmates: “Poopy patch! Poopy patch!”

Or even worse, they snuck into their mom’s medicine cabinet and tasted that sweet sweet chocolate for themselves. An hour later — disaster.

Johnson Smith Company … You are the devil.


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1 Comment on Memes of the 1970s: A patch can say it all (or get you beat up)

  1. I loved this page! I’m studying a 1970s’ teen magazine from Brazil (called Geração Pop or just Pop) …and this patches were there 🙂 ….it’s soooo cool!

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