Soupy Sales & the Green Pieces of Paper

I’ve spent the past few days with my baby cousin Angie. The kid is so damn cute it’s not even funny. The only real drawback to spending all day playing with this particular two year-old would have to be the endless barrages of kid shows, and let me tell you, they have become way more annoying over the years. Have you ever seen the Doodlebops? I hadn’t until the other day. I think this DVD should be sent down to Gitmo… why waste the water on torture?

Don’t get me wrong I enjoy the old-school shows like Sesame Street (btw – when did Elmo become the little red ruler of Sesame Street? When I was little, he was a minor character. Did he beat up Big Bird or something?). Either way, I blame the purple dinosaur for all of this. 

OK. Enough with the rant and onto my real point.

In an effort to save my sanity while watching the same episode of the Doodlebops for the fourth time today, my mind drifted to the actions of one of the early pioneers of children’s television Soupy Sales. I only know about this from a history of the media class that I took in college because Soupy Sales was off the air long before I was born, however,  here is the legendary story of Soupy Sales and the New Year’s 1965 incident (the version of the story that I learned is backed up by Snopes)

Soupy Sales was a little annoyed that he had to do a broadcast on New Years morning, so at the end of his show, as a joke, he said something along the lines of:

“Hey kids, last night was New Year’s Eve, and your mother and dad were out having a great time. They are probably still sleeping and what I want you to do is tiptoe in their bedroom and go in your mom’s pocketbook and your dad’s pants, which are probably on the floor. You’ll see a lot of green pieces of paper with pictures of guys in beards. Put them in an envelope and send them to me at Soupy Sales, Channel 5, New York, New York. And you know what I’m going to send you? A post card from Puerto Rico!” (snopes)

Sadly there are no known recordings of the incident, so his exact words are unknown.

What is known is that it wasn’t serious, and contrary to popular belief, he didn’t receive much money in the mail. He didn’t include a full address in the gag, and his target demographic was far too young to do all of the tasks involved with sending him a letter without parental help in the first place. Soupy later explained that he only received a few dollars and some green monopoly money in the mail. He certainly didn’t get rich.

So the next time this comes up in conversation and someone says, “O yeah. I remember sending him $20.00!” Look that person in the eye and say, “No you didn’t.” Or you can sit there quietly and know that the person sitting across from you is, as my friend Samantha would say, “a lie-face.” 

Also contrary to popular belief, Soupy was not fired for the incident, he was suspended for two weeks.

In many ways, this was a precursor to all of the micro scandals found on Twitter and in the blogosphere. Parents went bat-shit-crazy over the “attempted exploitation of children.”

Isn’t it nice to know that some things will never change? Obtuse parents will always find stupid reasons to get bent out of shape.

That’s right scandal-makers just copy and paste this onto Twitter:

#thegeekwhispererinsult (Insert rage here)

4 thoughts on “Soupy Sales & the Green Pieces of Paper

  1. I will now dedicate myself to finding that clip. That’s great. Soup wasn’t as happy on the inside as he appeared on the outside.

    And yes, Elmo holds the power. Having a 20 month old that worships at the alter of the E, I’ve seen it. Compounding the fact that she just received a new Elmo doll this Christmas that, when he falls over, says “I seem to have fallen over. Can someone help me up?” and when you do, he says “Awwww, thanks. You’re my best friend.”


  2. I hope you find the clip. I spent quite a bit of time searching and all I found was the Snopes article that explicitly said that there is no known recording. I really would love to see what he actually said.

    The bright side of the Elmo doll is that it will eventually run out of batteries.

  3. I’m sorry, but young kids wouldn’t know it was a joke, and in that way, Soupy encouraged children to do something wrong (steal). I’m sorry but I have to take the side of the parents who got upset

  4. Sparkina, I agree that it wasn’t the best judgment call on his part, but the parents response was still a bit much. Personally I think that if a parent was dismayed by the joke, they could take a couple of minutes and explain to their child that it was a joke. Unless one is raising their children in a utterly humorless home, the kid will get it. I think that a parents time is better spent with their children as opposed to fighting crusades over issues that do not really impact the world. That goes for 1965 and 2009.

    There are plenty of real issues for parents to get upset about that really impact children. How about genocide or failed inner-city school systems. When these issues blow up on the Internet what good do they actually do? So a TV host gets the boot, or a marketing campaign gets changed. The real problems are still out there.

    What Soupy did was poor judgment but a rash response was a waste of time and effort.

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