Back in 2001, Beacon Journal Features Editor Lynne Sherwin and her new husband, who were honeymooning in Italy, saw so many cheesy souvenirs they decided to buy the worst one they could find, just for laughs.
They settled on a pope bottle-opener.
A wise choice, indeed.
Bought their gem at a souvenir stand just outside of St. Peter’s Basilica.
It should come as no surprise, then, that Sherwin was highly amused when an advance copy of a new book crossed her desk the other day, Crap Souvenirs: The Ultimate Kitsch Collection.
Sure enough, one of the items pictured in the 158-page paperback was her Popener.
In view of my recent columns on Akron souvenirs (spurred by a tourist from Arkansas who couldn’t find any), Sherwin figured I might enjoy the book.
Who wouldn’t enjoy looking at a photo of a refrigerator magnet consisting of two rats on a Vespa stealing the Leaning Tower of Pisa?
Or a little reproduction of the Arc de Triomphe attached to a giant Tweety Bird?
Or a flyswatter in the shape of Texas?
Or a Chairman Mao alarm clock?
Or, from Sydney, Australia, a cigarette lighter inside a furry sack of kangaroo testicles?
Unfortunately, in all 158 pages, there’s not a single item from Ohio.
We need to rectify that.
What’s the best “worst” Ohio souvenir you’ve ever seen?
Better yet, if you could create a “crap souvenir” for the Akron area, what would it be?
Send me your nominations via the email address at the end of the column. Winners will receive valuable prizes. (“Valuable” being an incredibly subjective term.)
If you’re in need of more inspiration, here are some other gems for sale in various locations around the globe:
• Mussolini underwear, sold in Sicily and featuring a portrait of the former dictator.
• Toenail clippers from Egypt bearing the face of King Tut.
• An Elvis Mars globe, apparently spurred by an old tabloid headline about a statue of Elvis being spotted on Mars.
• A skull wearing a pirate cap and an eye patch with “Tennessee” on it. (Never mind that no part of Tennessee is within 250 miles of an ocean.)
• A key chain from Canada in the shape of an igloo. (An igloo in Canada?)
• A stuffed camel from Egypt embroidered with the name of the country. Except it’s spelled “Egybt.”
• From Libya, a stuffed rabbit smoking a hookah pipe.
• A comb shaped like the Statue of Liberty.
• The Nativity scene “as it was meant to be” — displayed inside of a foam orange.
• A snow globe from Australia featuring kangaroos bouncing through the desert. In the snow.
• From Huntington Beach, Calif., a snow globe with a smiling surfer inside the jaws of a shark.
• A T-shirt of Popeye and Olive Oyl on a scooter, driving by the Leaning Tower of Pisa.
• A reproduction of Mount Rushmore with a lamp sticking out of the presidents’ heads.
• A frog smoking a cigar and wearing a taco as a hat, with the word “Cuba” on the front of the taco.
Turns out the book’s author, Doug Lansky, has a lot in common with the Beacon Journal’s features editor.
“My wife and I often play a game while waiting in airports for our planes to depart,” he writes in the introduction. “We enter a gift shop and try to see who can find the tackiest souvenir. It … makes long layovers a little less painful.”
Let’s make the demise of summer a little less painful.
Bob Dyer can be reached at 330-996-3580 or firstname.lastname@example.org.