How’s this for bizarre Disney merchandise: scratch and sniff Mickey Mouse Popcorn Ears. That’s right, you read it. I’d repeat it if I were speaking aloud so you could hear it again, but in this instance, you can just head back to the previous sentence and reread.
If only I had a picture I could show you here. Instead, I’ll have to describe it: picture the typical Mouseketeer hat, the simple black felt cap with two round black ears on either side.
Instead of the felt cap being black, it displays, the whole way around its base, an image of popcorn in a striped movie theater bag. A sewn badge on the front of the cap displays classic Mickey (think “Steamboat Willie”) brandishing a bag of popcorn and proclaiming it “fresh and hot.”
In addition, a little 3D felt bag of popcorn sits atop the hat. In the corner of one of the ears is a small scratch and sniff patch that one could, presumably, drag one’s fingernails across should one want to inhale the scent of fresh and hot popcorn. From a novelty Disney cap. If that’s the kind of thing one is wont to do.
Disney produces tons of silly merchandise like this, and I could spend a whole article just listing the ones I find the most amusing (including a whole range of car antennae toppers that I wonder might soon be made obsolete by the current slanted antennae on the car roof trend, or as I call it, the unicorn horn antennae). That wouldn’t be fair, however, to serious Disney collectors, for whom some of those pieces might be considered a real find.
After all, I can relate. When I was younger I desperately wanted a certain Disney snow globe. It portrayed Ariel from “The Little Mermaid,” reclining in her secret grotto. A twist of a knob at the side caused it to play my, at the time, favorite Disney song from any of the films: “Part of Your World.”
I think my parents may have even offered to buy it for me. But to my thinking then, an 11-year-old on the cusp of adolescence and desperate for the greater independence that would bring, that wasn’t an option. I wanted to buy it on my own, or not at all.
It didn’t take long for my burning desire for the globe to fade, and that was the end of that. For awhile, though, I pined hard enough for that snow globe that it was blazed so deep in my memory I can recall the feeling even now.
While my collector’s urges are different now from what they were as a child (or really they’ve just narrowed. I’ve always gathered and hoarded books), it’s not really fair for me to judge another’s collecting tendencies when I have my own.
I guess I’m still stubbornly holding on to my naive desire for Disney to behave like an ethical, family-friendly company. I’ve blasted them for encouraging greed in the past, and I can’t seem to let the idea go.
Producing a plethora of silly collectible merchandise isn’t really doing any harm, aside from just contributing to the worrying “must have” aspect of our culture. Since hundreds of other companies do the same, it’s not like Disney’s the only one to blame.
I suppose my bottom-line message is that if you’re susceptible to Disney merchandise mania, you might want to try to curb your impulses, because the House of Mouse is never going to stop creating new pieces, both cool and slightly silly, for you to purchase.
To Disney itself I’d like to say: try to cut down on the production just a little, for the sake of the environment if nothing else. Especially when it comes to those antennae toppers. With current automobile design trends, it looks like they’re soon destined for the landfill.