The Back Of The Book Part II: (Still) More From Seventeen, May 1978

So, a big THANK YOU for eveyone who shared their memories about the fat camps, boarding schools of questionable repute, and get-rich-quick schemes that Seventeen was trying to sell to the impressionable teens of 1978. They were a blast to read! This week…

…We’ll look at the one last category of back-of-the-book advertising: insane personalized merchandise.

“Next to nude” swimwear is pretty racy for an “authentic competition” suit, but I am waaaaaaay more interested in the “Hi Sign”, because a ping-pong paddle that says “Same to you, turkey!” is definitely something I would use EVERY DAY: 

Also, do we need to talk about the Superstar shirt with a sneaker applique with its own shoelace? Or can we let that go? 

So a few things on the next page. First, those photo-reprint ads will run FOREVER, you can never have enough bargain-basement wallet photos to give to your friends and admirers. But seriously, shell out the extra dollar and order directly from Eastman Kodak, Rocheseter, NY. 

The wedding invitations are another indication that Seventeen was courting an older demographic in 1978. 

The “Short People Are Great” shirt/poster seems a little on the nose, but I definitely want a custom shirt with my own dumb face on it! 

Ok, fasten your seatbelts, because everything on the next page is so tacky that I want to build a time machine just to go back in time and buy literally every single thing: 

Starting with that Star Wars charm bracelet that even on the printed page looks like it is going to turn your wrist green in about 5 minutes.

Which I shall wear with the crop top with vulgar sayings printed on it: 

I’m thinking I’d go with “30 Day Guarantee,” but can somebody enlighten me what “Stroft” is slang for? Really I am disappointed there isn’t one that says “Feminist Jerk”. 

And don’t forget to accessorize with glamorous nail decals that spell out EL-VIS: 

But I really feel like you shouldn’t let on which nail is your Bionic Nail. That should remain a surprise. 

Jumping ahead two decades, here are a few select looks at  what Seventeen shilling to teens in 1994: 

I mean, that ad was running verbatim in comic books of the era, and some of that clip art probably hadn’t been updated since the 1940s. Sea Monkeys! Blackhead guns! Spy cameras! Friendship necklaces! Honestly I am kind of digging the “Soho Style” sunglasses, though. I would wear those. 

Sooooo…. how much do you think he spent taking out an ad to promote his obviously self-published book/book on tape? 

LIMITED EDITION!!!! What kind of original music do you think it is? I feel like the expression says “Christian Contemporary” but those sideburns  are giving away a neo-Rockabilly influence. 

Speaking of approachable male gazes, check out baby Brad Pitt:

I would like to point out that in 1994 he blew up with Legends of the Fall, and was sporting a totally different look that included far less visible lipstick.  Was Movie Market an early adopter of Brad and had been running this ad forever? Or do you think they bought a bunch of  Pringles commercial-era Brad headshots and was peddling them cheap? 

And speaking of shady self-publishing…

Anybody want to fess up to entering this? I feel like I should award a prize for anyone willing to admit they shelled out for the handsome leather-bound anthology. 

And finally, I leave you with this: 

OBVIOUSLY I want to hear about these Magical Male Grabbers, but I am kind of distracted by the photo, which appears to show a construction worker holding a satchel full of sandwiches. Is that one of the things guys don’t want me to know?  Is it something about his secret sandwich stash? 

So again, I now ask you Constant Readers, to share in the comments if you ever ordered anything from the back of Seventeen, or any other teen mag or comic book. Did it live up to the promises? Or was it more of a Milo Venus situation? 

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24 Responses to The Back Of The Book Part II: (Still) More From Seventeen, May 1978

  1. Kristina Zubic says:

    I ordered so much crap from those. The “Lennon glasses”: solid black, TINY, couldn’t see through ’em.

  2. Moon says:

    “Stroft” was from a toilet paper commercial plugging their product as “Strong and soft = stroft”. I can’t remember what brand but I sure remember the stupid commercials.

  3. max says:

    I entered the National Poetry Library contest. Realized the scam pretty quickly.

  4. westfan says:

    The main branch of the Multnomah County public library has bound editions of old Seventeens going way back, I know because I did some research for a friend and looked at several from the 80s. The ones I looked at were in excellent condition, 3 or 4 months, or maybe six months, bound together. They keep them down in the basement and you have to request a certain volume and a staff member will fetch them out of the depths. They have an excellent collection of old magazines, nowadays many public libraries are not able to maintain these old collections, usually for space considerations but some large libraries still do. Long may they live!

    • mondomolly says:

      See, they are so smart about it! The 42nd st brancy of the NY Public library (not the one with the lions out front, the seamier one they send you to if you actually want to check out books) has their bound issues on Seventeen in open stacks and they are just ripped to shreads. I understand the impulse, but SERIOUSLY, CITIZENS, other people want to look at those Love’s Baby Soft ads too!!!!!

      • Cee says:

        OMG the Love’s Baby soft ads…it’s like Roman Polanski was the art director. So fantastically inappropriate.

  5. No! The t shirt with the sneaker on it is VERY IMPORTANT because for years I have been trying to convince my daughters that yes, we wore t shirts OVER BLOUSES. I don’t know why, I just know we did it. So right there is PROOF- an over the blouse t shirt. Because everyone burned the actual pictures of themselves wearing this fashion! (Also file under: Yes, I wore t shirts over turtleneck body suits. And the t shirts had puffed sleeves.)

    • Susan says:

      Oh, I had forgotten those, turtleneck body suits! Body suits in general! What the heck! Like a baby’s onesie! (I just googled these and found that they seem to be in style once again …)

    • Moon says:

      Not as lame as the fortunately short fad of wearing jogging shorts over sweatpants!

      • mondomolly says:

        Oh lord, this was propular with dudes at my high school well into the 1990s. In retrospect, I probably spent 4 years walking around staring at guys’ pants with incredulousness 😀

    • Sheesh says:

      Ms Yingling WE DID THAT TOO!! I thought it was something my friend Janet made up. The white blouse with a giant collar and a colored t shirt (mine was usually a “Petticoats and Pantaloons” joint from Sears).

    • mondomolly says:

      Hahahhahaha! I love it! Definitely going to look and see if I have any photos of my cool teen baby-sitters wearing this!

    • Dee says:

      I remember wearing short sleeved sweaters over a long sleeved blouse in the 70’s, and like you, I have no idea why! Going back to the earlier 70’s we all had crocheted vests that we wore over a blouse. I do have pictures of myself wearing that, because it was my favorite thing!

      • mondomolly says:

        Oh those crocheted vests definitely made a comeback in the early 90s! I always joke that like 80% of the photos in my high school yearbook include VESTS. Thanks for commenting!

  6. I ordered The Secret Snack from one of those ads. The claim was that all the coooool people were going to be eating it soon. Waited for it like Calvin waiting for his propeller beanie. Finally it arrived! Tore the box open to find…two jars of BABY FOOD. Must have been overstock that the manufacturer was trying to unload. Gah!

  7. Amity says:

    Just realized that the actor on the far left in the movie ad is River Phoenix. I really don’t know how I missed that before!

  8. Barbara O'Connor Hayes says:

    Has anybody ever actually seen a live sea monkey? How did that ad manage to run for so long?

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