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sea-monkeys and a bowlfull of happiness

I was browsing through the 1970's comics I mentioned yesterday, and was tickled pink to find this advert. I used to see it all the time in American comics and it totally fascinated me.

(click to enlarge)

I'd always loved the idea of little underwater people, but with eight-year-old scepticism, I thought the figures in the ad didn't look anything like monkeys and the company probably wasn't going to send me little people for a dollar. (It'd cost a few thousand dollars to get little people, at least. What a scam!) But the ad ran for years and years, and as a little American kid, I thought, well, they'd be sued if it was false advertising and it's gone on for so long... maybe they're real! Someone once said they thought they were little shrimp, not sea-monkeys, but I instantly wrote that off as unbearably boring, and anyway, the advert said they can even be trained and any ol' silly person knows you can't train shrimp.

I never did send in my dollar, but the question stuck with me for a long time, and sometimes when I went swimming in the sea, I wondered if I might get caught up in a shoal of sea-monkeys. I couldn't decide if this would be a marvellous thing - maybe they'd be cuddly, furry monkeys and be my friends and I could visit their underwater houses (the advert said they're so eager to please) - but maybe it'd be a bit too much and I woulnd't be able to get them off of me.


( 42 comments — Leave a comment )
May. 8th, 2009 07:06 am (UTC)
Ha, that ad was running when I was a kid!
May. 8th, 2009 07:10 am (UTC)
Didn't it make you wonder?!
May. 8th, 2009 08:35 am (UTC)
I think I found it a bit frightening!
May. 8th, 2009 11:32 am (UTC)
Yeah, it's the picture that does it. It was only a dollar, but WHAT was I really taking on if I sent away for them? :-O
May. 8th, 2009 08:00 am (UTC)
I bought sea-monkeys when I was at university. You used to be able to buy them from toy shops. They did become little i guess shrip like, when they got big enough they were fun to watch swimming round as for a while they were too small to see.
I even saw them have sex at some point. I can't remember what happened to them all in the end, I assume they died. I have them at least a year.

I like your picture of sea monkeys better :)

p.s. I never tried to train them, its more tricks in terms of how sea monkeys react to things rather than really training them.
May. 8th, 2009 08:12 am (UTC)
Oh wow, you bought them! I've just been on Google images, trying to figure out what they really look like. Here's one image I just pulled up from Flickr here.

But again, I am thinking this picture may not be entirely accurate.
May. 8th, 2009 11:52 am (UTC)
No I would say that is an adaptation of them. When they are big they are like 1cm long and a couple of mil wide. Best way to know what they are like is to get some :)
May. 8th, 2009 08:07 am (UTC)
Haha I love the bit where it says they can obey your every command.

"Mommy, why aren't the sea monkeys buying me ice cream?"
May. 8th, 2009 08:14 am (UTC)
Imagine all the lawsuits! I can't believe how much the concept of suing was ingrained into me as a kid. British kids didn't get that so much.
May. 8th, 2009 11:34 am (UTC)
There's a copy of that ad here with the disclaimer "Not actual depiction of Artemia." So it looks like they worried about getting sued too!
May. 8th, 2009 01:59 pm (UTC)
That is funny! I wonder if the extra 25 cents was to do with inflation or to cover their rising legal fees...
May. 8th, 2009 08:52 am (UTC)
The one on your ankle! So cute!
May. 8th, 2009 11:26 am (UTC)
Ha ha, thanks! I'm quite fond of the finger-nibbler. :-D
May. 8th, 2009 09:34 am (UTC)
I love the name "transcience corporation". Totally the right name for a company that would breed such creatures.
May. 8th, 2009 11:26 am (UTC)
You are so right! And writing to 'Unicorn House' is kind of appropriate, too.
May. 8th, 2009 09:52 am (UTC)
Sea Monkeys are something of an in joke in Narbonic.

I agree with the above commenters. Yours are awesome.
May. 8th, 2009 11:29 am (UTC)
Cheers, and thanks for the Narbonic tip!
May. 8th, 2009 10:25 am (UTC)
we looked after some for some friends for a while recently. they're kind of fun. trying to remember what they looked like... (not much like monkeys though i don't think -- more shrimp-like)

smashing drawing!
May. 8th, 2009 11:29 am (UTC)
Hmm, I am starting to think that maybe I should get some.
May. 8th, 2009 11:06 am (UTC)
Wow I was only thinking yesterday about sea monkeys. Dan used to have some at work when he did his PhD and I was looking at their giant round bottomed flask we used as a tank (how geeky) thinking we should get some more.

I also had no idea what they were like. Turned out they were shrimpy, but quite fun. Never tried to train them (never noticed they were "so eager to please" either)! One of them had twins I think...

May. 8th, 2009 11:31 am (UTC)
Re: seamonkeys!
Yeah, 'eager to please', where did they get that? And do they really LOVE attention? Too funny. That's awesome you're have the REAL SEA-MONKEY EXPERIENCE.
May. 8th, 2009 11:07 am (UTC)
Oooooh I clipped that ad out when I was tiny!!! In German, but it was exactly the same picture! The thing that made me doubt they were real was that they wree naked, I thought "No WAY I'd be allowed to grow naked little people in a jar!"
Oh, I want to meet a shoal of sea-monkeys now. I think...
May. 8th, 2009 11:31 am (UTC)
Naked people in a jar! The picture of them looks pretty scary, what if they escaped?
May. 8th, 2009 11:13 am (UTC)
that looks like an adorable way to drown
May. 8th, 2009 11:32 am (UTC)
Cuddled to death... argh!
(Deleted comment)
May. 8th, 2009 01:53 pm (UTC)
Oh no, I'm sad to hear they don't do tricks and stuff! Growing a frog sounds fun, though.
May. 8th, 2009 11:57 am (UTC)
It was the little crowns that got me! Those ads were the best. Did you ever order the x-ray specs or secret decoder ring?

love from Bridge
May. 8th, 2009 01:56 pm (UTC)
No, but I spent a long time looking at the ads! For some reason (maybe it was the sea monkeys), I was always suspicious of anything advertised in comics. But if it was advertised on the back of a cereal box... then well, that was okay! I got several cereal box goodies.
May. 8th, 2009 12:01 pm (UTC)
Oddly enough, drawn by comics legend Joe Orlando.
May. 8th, 2009 01:56 pm (UTC)
That's nuts! :-D Thanks!
May. 8th, 2009 01:10 pm (UTC)
Like you, I found the distance between the advertised lifeform 'sea-monkey' (including, particularly, its name) and the actual fact of a tiny shrimp incredulous.

How is it that the reaction of thousands of children throughout the world wasn't simply '...they're not monkeys!'?
May. 8th, 2009 01:57 pm (UTC)
Yes, them not being monkeys would've been my biggest complaint!
May. 8th, 2009 03:40 pm (UTC)
I had an ant farm once. They all died, and I felt horrible. Later in life I found out that that's what ants do in an ant farm.
May. 8th, 2009 04:14 pm (UTC)
Oh! That is really rather tragic. I would feel horrible, too. :-(
May. 8th, 2009 07:28 pm (UTC)
Is there a queen in an ant farm ?
May. 9th, 2009 04:56 pm (UTC)
No, which is why they all die.
May. 9th, 2009 01:42 am (UTC)
I always wondered what sea monkeys were. When someone told me they were shrimp then I wondered why shrimp would be such a big deal.

May. 12th, 2009 09:13 pm (UTC)
I agree, VERY weird.
May. 9th, 2009 09:36 am (UTC)
Ads in comic books followed different rules
That ad was one of the greatest disappointments of my childhood. I begged my mother to order this amazing product. I wanted to watch the little humanoid in our home aquarium. My mother SOMEHOW knew that sea monkeys were actually something called "brine shrimp". Other kids verified this for me. But what were brine shrimp anyway? In 5th grade we raised brine shrimp in class (the teacher made no mention of sea monkeys, but I made the connection). They are little white swimming creatures that are interesting to watch, but nowhere near humanoid. They die after a while.

The X-Ray glasses ad was another great promise that (other kids assured me) turned out to be completely disappointing. Naturally I wanted to be able to see what women looked like naked. It was one of those great mysteries of childhood. Without functional X-Ray specs, I had to rely on the magazines my father kept under the bed. I didn't actually see what real women looked like until I took my first life drawing class at age 18.
May. 9th, 2009 05:27 pm (UTC)
I'm taught that these shrimps were also offered with some issues of "Pif Gadget", the famous French kid magazine.

Each issue of the magazine came with a gadget, usually a cheap plastic toy, but the most famous were these shrimps, who were then renamed "Pifises". The bag containing the eggs and the food was called "Poudre de vie" (Powder of life)... They never tried to pretend that the shrimps would be humanoid, though...

Another famous gadget (actually the most famous) was the set of mexican jumping beans.
May. 9th, 2009 05:32 pm (UTC)
Also, here is an amazing story about a comic ad for an actual monkey, and the kid who purchased it without telling his parents.
May. 12th, 2009 09:17 pm (UTC)
Oh man, that is a crazy story!! I can't believe the parents didn't freak out when the monkey was biting the kid, being worried he'd picked up some tropical disease or something. And even more amazing that it'd be legal to ship a live animal in a box like that! Totally nuts.

Mexican jumping beans, I remember the first time I heard about them was in a Beverly Cleary book. Funnily enough, her translated book, 'Ramona la peste', makes me exceedingly happy because it's exactly the level I can read in French without having to look up words in the dictionary. So it makes me feel kind of fluent, even though I'm pretty terrible at French.
( 42 comments — Leave a comment )