Way back when, in a time when tattoos were dangerous, mysterious and rarely seen,
only the roughest or most nefarious individuals had them, military, convicts, pirates,
circus folk and your Uncle Pete. So, of course,
every right minded kid couldn't wait to get one!
But until that glorious 18th birthday, you had to make due
with something less permanent to look tough.
In those olden days, the smallest of things were life's pleasures, finding a nickel,
a Godzilla movie on tv after school, making a fort, throwing objects off roofs,
playing stickball, reading your friends comics,
and the extra surprises hidden in the wax wrapping of bubble gum packs.
And that would include temporary tattoos.
In my brief Google search for the origin of temporary tattoos, I've found out that it's been a woefully neglected part of historians to-do lists. Would it kill those professors to write one less book on WW2 and work on a manuscript of something important instead?!
At best, the general guess is that they were introduced in
Cracker Jack's around the turn of the century.
Here are a surprise bag full of enjoyable examples I've run across
(if you want to go the extra mile and group them by subject and put them in chronological order, God's speed to you).
They range from the earliest examples to the '80s
(after that, my nostalgia fever wanes a bit).
Some of my favorites include "Scratch and Sniff" tattoos, to one of a flower pot falling on Clark Kent's head (Why Andy Warhol didn't turn this into a painting, I'll never know).
So, I when I would make my way to PS 24 in Flushing NY,
smoking my candy cigerattes, swinging my "Get Smart" lunchbox
and displaying my Banana Split tattoos on my freckled forearm,
you can bet that no one ever dared mess with me!