Remembering weird and unique comic book ads from when I was a kid

Do you remember sitting in the pharmacy and reading comics when you were a kid? Do you remember being totally engrossed while reading an adventure in which Uncle Scrooge was fighting his arch enemies, the Beagle Boys, in some remote South American jungle?

Or did you prefer to read Superman or Batman? Perhaps your favorite stories were about the caped crusader who ran out of the bat cave (accompanied by Robin, Boy Wonder) to save Gotham City from some wicked and nefarious plan conjured up by the Joker or the Penguin?

Man, I loved reading comics.

Comic book publishers back then weren’t just trying to entertain us, a lot of them were also trying to sell us things. Most of the comic books of the 1950s and early 1960s were full of advertisements, advertisements aimed at children.

I remember one particular ad for a product called White clover ointment. Instead of trying to sell skin ointment to a group of 10-year-olds, however, the ad was designed to solicit children to sell the ointment door-to-door. And instead of paying kids money to do this, they rewarded them with points that could be redeemed for prizes.

Oh, how they made those prizes attractive! The ads featured eye-catching photos of baseballs, bats and gloves, yo-yos, games, dolls, and a wide variety of toys.

Naturally, the more you sell, the greater the rewards. For those who did as well as Tommy B in Buffalo, Cindy R in Phoenix, or Billy S in Peoria, the sky was the limit! Testimonials from kids across the country proclaimed that hundreds of kids had won some really big prizes, including Daisy airguns, Radio Flyer wagons, and the ultimate prize for all the kids: new Schwinn bikes!

Wow, those awards used to dance in my head! The kids at school would talk endlessly about all the cool prizes! The fact of the matter is though, I’ve known several kids who signed up to try and sell ointment, but I never saw one of them riding a brand new Schwinn.

For some reason, I was never tempted to sell that salve. Even then I used to wonder who the hell was going to buy salve for a kid who knocked on his door. Hell, truth be told, I didn’t even know what ointment was.

Still, it’s a nice memory.

Comics as we knew them died out sometime in the ’70s or ’80s, long after I stopped reading them. I think that’s a bit sad. I loved reading comics.

I used to have a huge cardboard box full of comics that I kept in my room when I was a kid. I often wonder how much that box would be worth today.

There are not many family pharmacies anymore. Most have been replaced by big chain stores selling everything from pharmaceuticals to crankcase oil. And truth be told, most of them have huge shelves filled with literally 60 or 70 different magazine titles, even more titles than when we were kids.

Sadly though, none of them are comics.

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