Censorship can affect many facets of life, not just literature. Toys often fall victim to censorship as well. This month, we celebrate the right to read and encourage getting caught reading with a banned book. But we also want to open up the conversation to all censored media and help you understand just how far reaching censorship can be. Over the years, many things ranging from Barbies to chemistry sets to candy have been banned and pulled from the shelves due to public outcry. Today, we highlight five of the most challenged (and strangest) toys ever made.
Here are our selections for the top five banned toys, with a little research help from littletoys.com.
1. Clackers – No surprise here, just look at them! There’s nothing safe about these which were designed to be a simple toy to entertain kids. The heavy acrylic balls were attached to a string and “clacked” together as fast as possible, which lead to reports of numerous injuries after the balls shattered from heavy use, sending shards of shrapnel in many directions, causing injuries. Dramatic? We’re sorry. These seemingly playful toys were banned in 1985.
2. U-238 Atomic Energy Lab – Six years after the first atom bomb was dropped during WWII, the U-238 Atomic Energy Lab was released. This “children’s toy” set included “Uranium-bearing ore samples and other real radioactive materials.” Unsurprisingly, parents didn’t want their children playing with a radioactive toy, as kids tend to swallow things, and it was discontinued a year after its release. We’re going to say good call on this one.
3. Candy cigarettes – I remember these from my own childhood, they were everywhere. Today, while these are still sold at a variety of novelty and gift shops across the country, they still raise plenty of concern over encouraging children to take up smoking, and were banned in North Dakota from 1953 to 1967. Canadian law still prohibits any candy cigarette branding that resembles cigarette company branding. Again, we understand the emphasis on these being “toys” which should encourage imagination, but we can’t encourage gateway toys. (Not funny?)
4. Snacktime Cabbage Patch Kid – Coming off the popularity of its original line, Mattel decided what was missing with their line of dolls was “real chewing action.” Perhaps their thinking was that it would make the dolls a bit more realistic. Red flag. Mattel didn’t foresee however, that the doll, not having an “off” button, tended to have cannibalistic tendencies. The doll’s nonstop chewing often nibbled on little fingers and hair and as a result of the numerous parental complaints, the toy was taken off store shelves in 1997. One word: creepy.
5. Steve The Tramp (From Dick Tracy) – Marketed as an “ignorant bum….you’ll smell him before you see him” his packaging also mentions that he was “stinking up the city sewers.” Obviously, this was not an appropriate portrayal of homelessness. Although much of the offensive content banned is solid reading and listening material, this might be one of those exceptions where play time encourages discrimination.
Censorship is a constant concern for a brand like Bookmans, and across the years we’ve stood up and stood out for your right to read. We love encouraging our customers, friends and family to consume the content they most love but we just had to highlight a few instances that might make you giggle and will lighten the mood on censorship and the never-ending banned battle.
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