When I think of Spencer Gifts I think of lava lamps, strobe lights, Farrah Fawcet posters, cheesy sexual themed games and “gifts”. One think I don’t really think of however is catalogs. But that’s how things all started for Max Spencer Adler when he founded Spencer Gifts in 1947, by selling mail order novelty items via catalog.
I recently happened upon one of these catalogs from 1974 and thought I would share a few of my favorite items, some of which I honestly wish I could still purchase today.
Take this portable flamethrower for example. At just $9.95 I would honestly look forward to going outside and clearing the sidewalks if I had one of these! So light and easy to use you can clear sidewalks one-handed.
Or perhaps these 20/20s? In a day where we put so much strain on our eyes straining at computer screens and cell phones maybe a pair of these could actually help in adjusting to reading fine print. I’m honestly somewhat interested in how these work. I really do want to try a pair.
Here’s one you don’t see anymore and probably for a good reason. The old fuzzy toilet seat. A great idea in theory until Uncle Bob comes over and has a few too many beers and his aim starts to diminish. Then your left with a wet, smelly, stained, but cozy toilet seat. Sure you can wash them, but they’re just never the same after.
After eating 4 sausages, a hearty serving of corn, and crinkle cut carrots with peas you probably wont feel much like doing the dishes. No problem! With this new 3-way skillet you can cook everything in the same pan! And it’s non-stick! I would be stunned if there isn’t still something like this on the market. Seems perfect for one of the “As Seen on TV” stores.
And once you drive down 4 sausages your waistline might take a bit of a hit. No worries, just slap on the midriff belt to control unsightly bulges and “bay windows”. Thankfully they’ve finally done away with that annoying crotch piece.
This is honestly my favorite item in the catalog. A pre-seeded 15 foot carpet of flowers for a buck? How cool is this? I would buy this for myself and as a gift probably even at a significantly higher price.
You’ve just done up your hair and want to go check on your flower carpet. But look, it’s raining outside. No problem. Laugh in the face of those thunderstorms and protect your hair at the same time in this fashionable see-thru bonnet. Surely there must still be a market for this out there. Bring it back!
Amazingly there were no strobe lights or lava lamps in this catalog but there was still this classic. The fiber optic flower globe. I had nearly ever other weird lighting accessory available from Spencer’s growing up except this one. I feel like I owe it to myself to finally find one. eBay here I come…
Nearly 75 years later, Spencer Gifts no longer offers their mail-in catalog. But it’s hard to deny the novelty chains success while so many other retail chains have failed.