We weren’t the brightest generation sometimes, denizens. I had a friend who used to eat toothpaste (okay, it wasn’t a friend; it was me), and another friend who once hid under the kitchen sink to drink Tylenol cold medicine straight from the bottle (now that was a friend; I only ever drank Robitussin from the bottle). And, as I’ve confessed here before, I once stuffed bean bag beans into my ear for a still-unknown reason.
Nope, definitely not the brightest crayons in the box.
So to help us along, the Grups came up with this guy: Mr. Yuk. This was a sticker campaign that was started in 1971 by the Children’s Hospital of Pittsburgh. What I didn’t realize until just now was that the hospital started the campaign because of the fact that children in Pittsburgh didn’t fear the standard skull and crossbones icon that usually appears on poisons. Why? Because the Pittsburgh Pirates baseball team used the Jolly Roger as their mascot.
See? I’ve always told people that sports were harmful.
And so Mr. Yuk was born. And, boy, did he spread quickly. I think a Mr. Yuk PSA ran almost every commercial break on the syndicated stations. He was in every friend’s house, on every toxic cocktail in der kinder‘s reach.
He even had his own theme song:
I can still see our Mr. Yuk sticker, putrid chartreuse against the brown touch-tone phone in our kitchen (I mention that it was touch-tone only because we still had rotary dial phones in the house at that time; yes, rotary phones…we used them to order pizzas that we then rode our dinosaurs to retrieve). And, yes, I know that the stickers were supposed to be placed on things that were potentially poisonous and could make you sick. The fact that I stuck it on a phone should tell you a lot about how I feel about phones.
Mr. Yuk still exists and is showing no signs of going away. He even has his own Facebook page. He also shows up in popular culture from time to time, his immediately recognizable grimace and nuclear tan eliciting a giddy squee from those who grew up heeding his warning (or drinking the things he was on anyway because they loved him so very much…again, not bright).
I love that the children’s hospital has a Mr. Yuk online store. I admittedly perused it, looking for something Yukkishly delightful to add to my geekanalia. Didn’t really see anything that fit the bill, but now that I know such things exist, I feel edified in a celestial way…