This is Toys & Stomach Pains, in which we re-visit the toys of yesteryear that came packaged with fast-food, cereal boxes, or other indulgently edible products.
The Year: 1988
The Food: Pizza Hut
The Toy: The Land Before Time
Dinosaurs are like crack to children, so it’s no surprise that Don Bluth’s 1988 animated Dino fable The Land Before Time came with its share of supplemental merchandise for kids in need of a “fix”. The most memorable of which was a line of rubber puppets sold through Pizza Hut.
As seen in the ad above, each puppet was only 99 cents. When the movie came out on video, they released two more puppets, Petrie and Sharptooth.
Petrie still sold for 99 cents, but Sharptooth cost a cool $1.49, presumably because Pizza Hut places a higher value on murderers. The most disturbing element of this cross-promotion is the TV commercial, which feels more like its recruiting your child into some kind of cult than trying to sell them pizza.
The dulcet female voiceover comfortingly assures parents that “now these loveable characters can be your child’s friends too.” See, it doesn’t matter if Timmy or Beth has cripplingly anti-social behavior, for only 99 cents you can buy them friends. And their new friends conveniently rest on top of your child’s hand, thus saving them from having to endure any physical activity (which would be a struggle after all the pizza they’ve just ingested).
The saddest note comes at the end of the ad when a small girl whispers to her Littlefoot puppet: “We’ll always be together,” when in reality her parents probably sold him at a garage sale midway through the ‘90s.
While the puppets themselves are appealing, and appropriately resemble the characters from the movie, the tone of the film is so bleak and harrowing, one wonders how kids even played with the puppets. Did they really play the “I have no family because they were all just killed by fucking Sharptooth” game? At a pizza party? I guess I’ll never know… unless I go on eBay and buy some for myself. But that would be silly. Because I’m an adult.