"Nobody Wanted His Popcorn": Five hilariously sad inspirational magazine covers

Categories: Studies in Crap
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Each Thursday, your Crap Archivist brings you the finest in forgotten and bewildering crap culled from basements, thrift stores, estate sales and flea markets. I do this for one reason: Knowledge is power.

A stack of Guideposts and Plus magazines

Date: Late '80s to early '90s
Discovered at: Estate sale
The Cover Promises: "Orville Redenbacher: Nobody wanted his popcorn."

From the deeply depressed to those bored at their aunt's house, each month millions of Americans page glumly through Guideposts, the inspirational leaflet for people who find Parade too hardcore.

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Founded by positive-thinking kingpin Norman Vincent Peale and his wife back in 1945, Guideposts balms its readers' fears of change with gentle reassurance. Are you upset that America today doesn't feel exactly like you thought it did that one night you were sick and your mother rubbed your chest with Vicks Vap-O-Rub? Then lay down with a stack of Guideposts!

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That's from the January, 1990, issue. Note the mopiness ("The whole world except me"), the fear-based over-reaction ("I decided I would quit my job"), and the narcissistic belief that minor changes to our lives will result in apocalpytic horrors ("What if I hooked into the wrong system and sent planes to Russia?") Get Guideposts cranky, and it could be FoxNews.

But like all Guideposts stories, Linda Neukrug's computer piece has a happy ending. The last lines:
"Each day I found it a little less scary and myself a little more wise -- wise enough not to be scared of change. And to show you how I know this is so, I even (eventually) typed this story on my computer."
And that computer grew up to be Paul Harvey!

(Also, chillingly, just as Linda Neukrug came to know computers, computers would one day come to know Linda Neukrug.)

Also in this issue:
  • A six-page spread on the topic of "Honesty." (Next month: Courtesy!)
  • Article "Sauerkraut, Sauerkraut," which opens with "Sauerkraut! Wonderful sauerkraut" and closes with "Thank You, God, for sauerkraut."
  • An invitation to enjoy a holy stone suppository.

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Anyway, here's some deeply sad covers from Guideposts and its sister publication Plus: The Magazine of Positive Thinking.

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So, lonely Americans -- even celebrities -- need to learn to be our own best friends until such time as God consents to fashion a mate for us to luck into at the world's worst restaurant.

It's not hard to imagine that some readers of these magazines might harbor some dark, secret thoughts: should I leave this family? Could painkillers numb me until I stop caring? Should I do whatever I can to take some of these bastards down with me?

The most depressing cover of all addresses these thoughts directly.


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[The Crap Archivist lives in Kansas City, where he originates his on-line Studies for the Voice's sister paper, The Pitch.]


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