The Boomers who can recall the coonskin cap and Howdy Doody years also remember ads in magazines designed to separate kids from their nickels and dimes. One of these scams, excuse me, opportunities, was tempting kids to get monkeys or dogs that are small enough to fit in a teacup for No Cost! Well, there WAS a tiny “at almost” in front of that statement. So they weren’t TECHNICALLY lying.
But seeing how the ads intended audience was prepubescent youth, it was pretty underhanded nonetheless.
There was no doubt about it, having a monkey small enough to fit in a teacup was a pretty stinkin’ cool concept. The problem lay in the actual product. The monkeys were generally marmosets or capuchins captured and imported when regulations against doing so did not yet exist. And they started out small, but got bigger. And meaner.
I remember once going to the house of a friend of my father’s. He had a capuchin monkey that was supposed to be tame and well-behaved. The nasty little bugger crawled up my back and grabbed two handfuls of my blonde hair and started yanking! I let out a yell and jumped, of course, and that sent it into a rage, jumping all over the living room shrieking! I never wanted to get within a hundred feet of a monkey after that disaster.
But, in actuality, there was practically no chance that you would get a monkey or dog anyway.
The scam began with you sending in a black-and-white photo. The photo could be you, a pet, whatever. They would enlarge it to 5×7 and hand-color it. Then, they would send it back to you along with 20 “get-acquainted” coupons. You handed them out to unfortunate friends and relatives while showing them your bonzer little color photo.
THEN, you got the monkey, right?
Wrong. Read the fine print. You have to actually produce twenty paying customers. Eww, that’s nearly impossible.
In the meantime, the company had charged you COD for your hand-colored picture, and you very well might send them a few customers in the process of passing out coupons. So it was win/win for them, but sadly, many a child wished for and never received a teacup monkey or dog.
Sadly, scams are much more profligate today than the innocent 50’s. Nowadays, you can get “free” flat-panel TV’s, $500 or more gift cards, and other tantalizing goodies. All you have to do is “complete offers.” The fine print shows that completing the offers is nearly impossible to do without shelling out your own cash. And if you are shelling out money, why that’s not exactly “free,” is it? Sometimes, you have to refer a friend who also completes offers.
If there are any Boomers from the 50’s out there who have ever tried to earn a free whatever, they may have flashed back to when they were children, passing out coupons in the elusive hope of getting a teacup monkey.