If you were a kid who was dying to be a 'Ghostbuster,' the green ghoul pictured above was probably the reason. Don't get me wrong - the movies were fantastic. They had a can't-miss cast, great special effects, and Sigourney Weaver turning into a big alien dog. While the sequel didn't pack half the punch of its predecessor, they still managed to lump in a scene where Dan Akroyd makes the Statue of Liberty dance around using a Nintendo controller. They're just terrific, feel-good flicks that've stood the test of time. Still, if you were a kid back in the Ghostbusters' heyday, it wasn't Bill Murray that kept you interested. No, it was Slimer. The haunt with a heart.
The film's legacy lived on through the animated Real Ghostbusters series on Saturday mornings, but we quickly noticed our more earthly heroes taking a backseat to a gloppy, green ghost who ate lots of junk food. Slimermania was running wild, and before you knew it, the merchandising tie-ins were popping up everywhere. The guy was on the cusp of becoming one of America's pop icons, and while Slimer never quite left his mark in the same way as other luminaries, he did a lot better than any other legless glob of green sludge.
Enjoying royalties garnered from toys, candies, themed shampoos and more, Slimer had an uncanny ability to make people spend money on crap shaped like him. In this article, we'll take a look at some of his more poignant stops along the road up Marketing Mountain, finally covering Slimer's unmatched success in the realm of bubble gum. Really disgusting bubble gum. Many of you will probably remember the products shown here - some fondly, others with a slight tinge of revulsion. No matter where you stand, it's tough to argue that Slimer - a fictional ghost who drips plasmatic snot - has been more successful than all of us combined. Yeah, it's a little depressing, but it couldn't have happened to a nicer blob of Linda Blair puke. Let's celebrate Slimer. He deserves it.
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It all started with his action figure. The one shown above was only the first of many, but it's still my favorite since it's the only edition that came with a bunch of half-eaten rubber food. My sister gave this to me on Christmas Eve in '86, steadfast in her belief that a small kid would love an action figure of a gooey ghost. She was correct. Slimer and his fake food accessories were some of my favorite playthings for a long time to come. I've actually still got the figure somewhere around here. His rubber snacks are gone, likely buried in my old backyard alongside failed science exams and Lando Calrissian trading cards.
But toys? That was easy. Anyone could have an action figure forged with their likeness. Here's some examples that prove my point: Dylan Walsh from Congo, Spider-Man's Aunt May, and anyone from Hook. This was no big accomplishment. If Slimer really wanted to prove his worth, he'd have to branch out. And did he ever...
Like every other big movie that could've conceivably been enjoyed by a six-year-old, Ghostbusters attacked our morning appetites with their very own brand of cereal. Mixing red and orange puffs shaped like the famous 'No Ghosts' logo and white marshmallows shaped like what you would guess, I have to admit, it was one of the better-tasting short run cereals I've eaten. See, I think they tapped into a market that a lot of the other companies missed out on. It was pretty rare to get cereal marshmallows in white, because all of the brands were competing to see how bright and neon-colored they could make all of their food. Now granted, I don't have access to any surveys these companies may have correlated, but I just refuse to believe that any significant amount of kids actually said that they wanted everything targeted at them to come in hot fuschia.
Just because we bought the 64-count box of crayons didn't mean that we wanted 'cherry mahogany' or 'bluish green/blue' more than the primary Great 8. We just liked having the option to color people's faces alien colors. Somehow, all of these companies magically assumed that we'd always prefer eating something that appeared radioactive.
Me? I wanted white marshmallows. Those are the ones I roasted over fires, those are the ones who turned hot cocoa into a cathartic experience. Ralston finally got something right - Ghostbusters Cereal was one of the elite to showcase pure white and unadulterated marshmallows. Sure, they were harder than bull skulls, but they were still white. The cereal wasn't part of a modern-day success story, though. Not yet, anyway.
There was a major error in the design here. No Slimer! Once that stupid cartoon hit the tube, there wasn't a kid in the world who wanted a Ghostbusters cereal that didn't include pieces shaped like Slimer. It just seemed wrong. Ralston finally smartened up, adding a green 'Slimer' marshmallow along with a few other colored spooks. It still wasn't enough.
The box art - that wasn't quite right either. Yes, the anti-ghost logo was the trademark stamp of anything having to with Ghostbusters, buuuuut....that still wasn't quite what we had in mind. Needed a little more Slimer. Ralston tried to get away with including a small picture of our hero off to the side, but we weren't falling for it. We bought this cereal because we loved Slimer, and we knew he deserved the credit for it. We wanted that iconic white ghost done away with. We wanted to have a nearly life-sized Slimer head to stare at while we ate smaller, edible versions of him. It took some time, but Ralston finally gave in...
I could've done without the shot of Egon, but on the whole, this was what we asked for. More Slimer. You know, now that I've had the chance to look at him again - Slimer was one ugly son of a bitch. I can't believe I had posters of this guy up all over my walls. He wasn't exactly conductive to wet dreams, and let's face it, that's what we're aiming for. If you took all the people in the world who can make just claims to having enjoyed a 'great day' at some point, I doubt any of them would recall a poster of Slimer being the first thing they saw on that special morning. It's tough to understand why we liked him so much. I guess none of the other potential role models at the time were able to drip ooze. Slimer was a hero by proxy.
This next one is easily the most famous of Slimer's merchandising links, and was something so popular that people still trade recipes based on it to this day. It was a beverage like no other. A drink that the world hadn't seen and would never truly see again. A juice that had kids giving up Pepsi all across the planet. It was... Ecto Cooler.
I doubt Hi-C had any idea what kind of effect putting Slimer on a box of their juice would have, but it was successful to the point where former consumers still send in requests for Hi-C to produce more over a decade later. The term 'Ecto Cooler' lives on today as a bar drink with lime juice and vodka, but that's not really connected to Slimer's version. This stuff was a little more like Tang, essentially orange juice mixed with enough lemon to taste not entirely like orange juice. I never got too into it, but everyone else at the lunch table practically lived on the stuff.
I think it had little to do with the actual taste - there was just something cool about having a Hi-C box with a cartoon character on it. It seemed somehow rebellious. We felt like we were privy to the coups of a temporary mishap, like when the colors got switched around in Lucky Charms, or that episode of Three's Company where Jack did a backflip over the couch and the editors missed the fact that his ass crack was in plain view. Ecto Cooler seemed to stick around forever, or at least a lot longer than the Real Ghostbusters show. I still preferred my Ssips iced tea, but I've always been a creature immobilized by habit. If nothing else, 'Ecto Cooler' sounds a hell of a lot more fun than 'Cherry' or 'Grape.' You could probably get away with selling beet juice if you gave it a great name like that.
While Ecto Cooler was a national treasure, Slimer had a few other products that didn't fare quite as well...
'Slimer and The Real Ghostbusters Fruit Snacks.' Now a fruit snack is a fruit snack - it's pretty tough to fuck up the formula. I can't really explain why these didn't do better; I suppose Slimer's reach only extended to foods that were solid or liquid, and not the ones somewhere in between. The snack came in different flavors and shapes, ranging from the heroes' 'Ecto-1' car to the Stay Puft Marshmallow Man, ghost traps, and yes - Slimer.
Buying the fruit snacks came with an added bonus - the back of the box had a cutout Slimer door-hanger. (click here to see it for yourself) I feel that my journalistic integrity is being hurt a bit by not remembering what Slimer's fruit snacks tasted like, so for our final product, I've actually sought out and purchased the real deal so I can give you a firsthand experience. I just wish I was able to do this with the cereal or the fruity candy, or pretty much anything that didn't appear like fifteen-year-old bird shit. With a heavy heart and much disgust, I proudly present X-E's special expose on Slimer's bubble gum...
A toothpaste tube filled with green, chewy, slimy slime. By far, the strangest gum that's ever been offered. A stale pink stick from a 1976 pack of Donruss cards proves less frightening. I'm not exactly sure why someone kept a package of this stuff sealed for all these years only to sell it off for a buck, but there was no way I could turn down the opportunity to chew on edible Slimer flesh.
Now, the tube and the fact that there's a green gooey monster on it are adequate warning signs about what's inside, but nothing could prepare me for the truth. Slimer should've been incarcerated for peddling this crap. I don't care how sweet it tastes - it's still disgusting, and no fits of washing my mouth out with super-soap are gonna make me feel clean again. Friends, I have chewed. I've chewed, and I have regretted.
After I unscrewed the cap, the package ejaculated this almost-liquid green stuff all over the table. It was drippy, sticky, and oh-so-icky. To be perfectly honest, my pants hadn't been at all charmed off. Still, as I found out after licking the gunk off my fingers in a momentary lack of judgment, the slime actually tasted pretty good! Before I could make any lasting testimonials, I'd need the full effect. That was my mistake. I'm pretty sure you're supposed to hold Slimer's gum tube into your mouth as you squeeze it, because the unholy tar that flows forth definitely isn't something meant for the eyes of children.
Wow. Subversive dieting could be achieved by sticking a picture of this on your refrigerator door. It's just awful looking, a combination of intestines and animal shit, covered in leaky green slime. Earlier, we talked about how some companies lived under the disbelief that kids loved everything in neon colors. They were also mistaken about their theory that we wanted to eat things that looked disgusting. Absolute, total myth. Hell, I couldn't eat red Jell-O for weeks after seeing the liver-poking scene from Serial Mom, and that's a pretty broad association to make. With this stuff, the reminders were right there in front of you. You could be thinking about lilies and smiling suns - the second you looked down and saw this string of mushed pig eyes, the last thing you were gonna think about was eating.
I didn't want to fail you, so I went ahead and tried the gum. It wasn't terrible, but the results were mixed at best...
Because of the gum's age, I can't say for sure if the consistency I experienced was correct. If it was, then Slimer's gum was molded a lot looser than what we're used to. It sticks together well enough, but seems to dissolve as you chew it. It tastes like a standard piece of Bubble Yum, but with enough added sugar to send anyone into a frenzy. In fact, it's so sweet that clumps of the sugar have actually crystallized, making Slimer's gum almost crunchy. On the whole, it's a lot like adding clay and sand to a cup of maple syrup and attempting to chew it. It isn't the most pleasant experience in the world, but you still feel somehow accomplished by doing it.
I should also mention that prior to chewing the Slimer Gum, I had a small cavity located on the side of what I considered an inconsequential tooth. I knew it was there, but the thing hadn't presented much of a problem, so I'd been putting off getting it taken care of. Not anymore. Once I put this gum in my mouth, I noticed that the cavity had tripled in size and was now playing host to a bunch of tiny, witty gray monsters not unlike those found on animated Colgate commercials. If you ever come across a package of Slimer Gum, make sure your dental plan is in place before attempting to eat it.
Slimer's done it all - movies, television, toys, cereal, you name it. I'm not sure what he's up to these days. I imagine he retired to the shores of Hawaii, drenched in sunlight and basking in the eternal adoration of a legion of fans who really love green monster ghosts. For some of us, Slimer's 15 minutes never ends.