Columns, Opinion


If at some point in elementary school you debated who could push the tire swing the coolest, which name will make the class’s gerbil most peer-friendly or why your Meowth totally deserves to be traded for that other guy’s holographic Charizard, you have inadvertently been a part of this week’s ThingFight.

The 1990s was an era of rapidly advancing technology (think the Internet, Razor scooters and Christina Aguilera). But the most prominent new development came from the birth of glow-in-the-dark materials and their less hyphenated rivals, the scratch-and-sniff. Childhood was the golden age of petty arguments and unintelligible persuasion, an era that sculpted the negotiators we are today at ThingFight. And while the subjects of glow-in-the-dark and scratch-and-sniff are often brought up, simple arguments like ‘it glows in the dark’ and ‘it sniffs when you scratch it’ overlooked a deep-rooted, complex rivalry. That’s why today we ask our loyal and attractive readers the age-old question: what if they fought?

In one corner, scratch-and-sniff materials. American consumers have been scratchin’ and sniffin’ the matted postage stamp-sized sticker squares since your parents donned the gaudy vinyl of the as Kenny Loggins. When notorious sticker producer/drug lord Lisa Frank unleashed the first scratch-and-sniff items, the public was less than thrilled. The prototype, a sticker of a cigar-smoking troll that smelled something like a mix of old people and mud, led to the even less successful ‘Dr. Scratchums,’ a dog in a doctor’s outfit that smelled like – you guessed it – dried blood. That’s when the scheming Lisa Frank fine-tuned her formula and found out what Americans of all ages, genders and ethnicities have craved since the dawn of civilization: big-eyed cartoon animals that smelled like a nondescript mix of fruit and flowers. The rest is history: consumers literally went insane, tearing people’s noses off at toy stores to discourage them from buying the high-demand stickers. Many scientists have since speculated that the ‘sniff’ aspect was so appealing because it contained cocaine, while others think the ‘scratch’ aspect contained a new drug know as ‘fingernail crack.’ Since their debut, the smelly frames of faux fragrance have infiltrated every corner of American society, from children’s collections of fruits and veggies to magazine ads of soaps and perfumes to Hugh Hefner’s recent manifesto regarding Playboy’s transition to a completely scratch-and-sniff publication. It’s the Muggle’s answer to Bertie Bott’s Every Flavor Beans. It’s the reward behind all that scratchin’ and rubbin’ for that fix of the sniffin’ friction addiction. It’s the Freudian pacifier for the anal retentive. For whatever reason, by the end of the decade, families decided they ‘probably had enough scratch-and-sniff stickers’ and sales leveled off to a measly $26 billion a year in the greater Boston area.

How can glow-in-the-dark compete? Six words: coolest pajamas at the ThingFight sleepover. Since its creation in the early 1400s, glow-in-the-dark has satisfied many needs that mankind did not even realize it had. That faint, otherworldly, yellow-green glow demanded the attention of all the kids in the theater during ‘Spy Kids 2,’ but once alone it took on that eerie radioactive tinge; those bedroom stars that gave you nightmares and outlined the path to your bed like a runway for all the wild things that waited in your closet. Fact attack: before Galileo plastered the Earth’s atmosphere with glow-in-the-dark bouncy balls, we did not have the stars we now take for granted. Don’t believe us? Look at photographs of the sky, circa 1399. Plenty of mythical beasts flying around (before they were all killed by falling bouncy balls) but no stars. Still don’t believe us? Fine, it wasn’t Galileo; we don’t know who it was. We just wanted to impress you. The power of this Kryptonite-like shade is undeniable. The color of choice for the warrior fish of the deep and the official sponsor of Halloween haunted houses nationwide.

In all fairness, we at ThingFight would not want eyes in a glow-in-the-dark-less world, nor would we want noses or scratching utensils in a scratch-and-sniff-less one. But with our winner, glow-in-the-dark, there are still so many unexplored boundaries. Researchers are calling glow-in-the-dark the new stem cell of modern science. We are on the precipice of a new era where glow-in-the-dark books, shoelaces and doorknobs reign. Glow-in-the-dark is the Holy Grail, the cure for paralysis, food for the hungry, world peace and fingernail crack for everyone on the planet.

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