Chances are if you read a comic book from the 60s to the 80s, you saw one of these ads. The “Amazing Live Sea-Monkeys” are children’s first introduction to letdowns. On the package it says “OWN A BOWLFULL OF HAPPINESS” but it really means get a bucket full of disappointment. As a kid, you’re led to believe that there’s magic, Santa Claus and that maybe if you study hard enough you can one day become the President. But the fine folks who make Sea-Monkeys are your first wake up call that none of that stuff is possible.
You see, with the Sea-Monkey ad, you are sold a bill of goods that with just a small fee ($1.25 in our ad, but I recall it being a bit more expensive when I was a wee-tyke) you can unlock an undersea world that would make even Aquaman jealous. Basically you can have Atlantis in a jar, as your Sea-Monkeys will do amazing things, they’ll have a kingdom, they’re wear clothes, they’ll form their own Sea-Monkey parliament.
However when you actually get the Sea-Monkeys, you’ll find out that they’re just tiny little brine shrimp that basically look super sized sperm. At least to the naked eye. Don’t dare put one of those Sea-Monkeys under a microscope, as it’ll give you nightmares!
They don’t wear clothes and aside from swimming around, they do nothing. Hell half the time it’s hard to tell when they’re alive and when they’re dead. What a horrible life it would be if only the poor Sea-Monkeys could realize they’re at the whimsy of a 5 year old God. Not to mention that you only get like one packet of food and I suspect 90% of kids starve their Sea-Monkeys to death.
The ad says they’re “So eager to please, they can even be trained!” which makes me wonder if this ad was trying to sell Sea-Monkeys or underage prostitutes. And what can they be trained to do? Trained to die is about it. They “play” with some sort of crystal rocks that is supposed to be them playing volleyball or something, but I’m not buying it.
I had Sea-Monkeys as a child, naturally. They’re hard to keep alive because the Sea-Monkey container isn’t really air friendly. I bought one of the Sea-Monkey sponge things that supposedly helps give them air. I also recall an ad for a race track. I didn’t own the race track, but I always wanted to. Now I realize how cruel that sort of device is.
Sea-Monkeys do teach children the valuable lesson that life is fragile and that you can murder hundreds of creatures by your own neglect. But doesn’t stomping on ant hills more or less accomplish the same thing? At least the poor ants can fight back… Those big black ones bite!
The ads for the Sea-Monkeys are hilarious, as the big picture of the super cool Sea-Monkeys has a little blurb at the bottom that says, “Caricatures shown not intended to depict Artemia salina.” What the hell is it intended to depict, then?! Good thing this ad is selling SEA-MONKEYS not Artemia salina, right? It’s the ultimate bait and switch for children. You expect Sea-Monkeys, but you get Artemia salina. Buying Sea-Monkeys for your kids is basically just punching them in the gut. I wonder if Sea-Monkeys can grow in tears?
These ads were so notorious for duping children, that it had an effect on comedian Howie Mandel as a youngster. Leading him to create the short lived “Amazing Live Sea-Monkey” TV show, in which he plays a scientist who actually creates giant Sea-Monkeys that look like the ones from the ads. I can’t say for sure that it’s also the cause of Howie’s germ phobia, but I’m going to go ahead and claim it anyway.