Thursday, October 6, 2022

Whatever Happened to Pudding Pops?: The Lost Toys, Tastes, and Trends of the 70s and 80s by Gael Fashingbauer


I meant to post status updates for this book on Goodreads as I was reading it, but I basically have two modes when it comes to how I devour a book: greedily, all in one chunk; or slowly, with multiple pauses to savor. I can't command the reading mood, either. The reading mood commands me. And with this book, it was chunk.

WHATEVER HAPPENED TO PUDDING POPS? is a fun nostalgic retrospective. It's arranged in alphabetical order, and every nostalgic item on the list gets a paragraph or two describing its role as a phenomenon of '70s and '80s pop culture, whether it's still in existence or actively being produced today, and, in relevant cases, a fun trivia fact about said thing. For example, Kim Basinger did commercials for Maybelline's Kissing Potion lip glosses and Meg Ryan did a commercial for Tickle Deodorant.

Just so you get an idea of what sorts of things are in here, this book covers this like Jell-O 1-2-3, Wacky Packages, Gee, Your Hair Smells Terrific shampoo, Love's Baby Soft, the Osmond family, ugly '70s furniture, Saturday Night Fever, and unsafe playgrounds (remember those rusty metal slides and the swings that had chain links that could pinch your fingers?).

I actually just read this book hot on the heels of another book called INTERIOR DESECRATIONS, which takes shots at bad '70s interior decorating, and while I liked the pictures in that book more (this book had a couple pictures scattered in, but they're few and far between and all in black and white), I liked the tone of this book better. The authors have a wry tongue-in-cheek sort of tone that manages to be both affectionate and teasing. Even if they understand that the things in question have aged badly or were bad ideas, their sense of nostalgia and appreciation still seeps through. I liked that. I think it's okay to enjoy things that are tacky, juvenile, problematic, or stupid, as long as you talk about why.

Anyone who enjoys pop-culture essays will love this book, I think. I gave it to my mom to read after me because I thought she would really enjoy it. I am a bit too young to remember all of the things in here, but the late-80s and early-90s had a lot of holdovers from the '70s and early '80s, so I definitely had access to some of these things. 

4 out of 5 stars

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