Written/Created by: Matt
Originally posted on 10.30.00.

Longtime readers of X-E know that any time I put myself on a schedule, or any time I promise a particular article, I fail. When I get an idea on what I'd like to write an article about, there's usually a window of 24 hours for me to get it on the site before I completely lose interest. Sometimes I make it, sometimes I don't. Sometimes I make the mistake of announcing my intentions too soon, and don't deliver what I promised because I completely stopped caring about the topic. That's kind of what happened here - as much as I wanted to write about Sea Monkeys, I definitely didn't want to do two articles in a week about 'em.

So, this one ends with a (shitty) cliffhanger, and to date, I've never updated the world on how my Sea Monkeys were doing. They didn't hatch. I put them in too soon, or did something else I wasn't supposed to, and all the eggs just sorta floated around before disintegrating. Now you know the awful truth. PS - I still can't pass one of these kits without having the almost irresistible urge to buy it. Sea-Monkeys are timeless.

Sea Monkeys. The only pet you could kill without feeling bad about it. The storied history of these things is older than any of us...and amazingly enough, to this day, little kids still get tricked into believing they'll be the owners of anything other than little swimming dots that are visible only through the power of the Hubble telescope.

Though, if you could get past the whole misleading ad, which features a happy family of royal fish creatures smiling and actually doing stuff, Sea Monkeys were pretty cool. Not as cool as a goldfish, or an ant farm, or a pencil or spoon, but pretty cool nonetheless. What were they? Tiny brine shrimp that looked like...hmm. Fucked if I know, you really can't see the things. If you look hard enough, tiny lines appear to swim across the water, but they're certainly not jumping through hoops or watching television like the ad suggests. Here, take a look...

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Amazing Sea-Monkeys is a triple misnomer. Unless you consider drinking a glass of water drinking a sea, these things ain't 'sea' monkeys. Of course, they're not monkeys either. They are so far from being monkeys, it's incredible. But the biggest misnomer labels them as 'amazing'. I guess you don't really have to do much as a brine shrimp to get that kind of distinction. Being alive is enough.

What kid could resist owning a bowlful of happiness for such a low cost? The interesting part about it is that the price really hasn't gone up all that much in the past decades. Sea-Monkeys are kinda like atomic fireballs, or Juicyfruit. The supply/demand equilibrium has met that perfect circle where the price just doesn't need to shift. Of course, there's other ways for the sea-monkey trainers to turn a profit. We'll get to that in a bit.

The picture above, the really disturbing picture above, shows characters from the early 90s wildly failed children's show - The Amazing Sea-Monkeys! Yes, they had a show. Chevy Chase's television run was more successful, but that isn't to say this wasn't a worthwhile show: it starred Howie Mandel. Yes, the Howie Mandel. The early 90s were pretty harsh on that guy. All he got to do was voice Gizmo and play the lead in a live-adaption tv show about sea-monkeys. And even after all that - he still managed to keep smilin'. Learn a lesson from Howie, kids. Your life could always be worse.

Anyway, throughout the years the set hasn't changed much. You get three little envelopes which contain the food, water purifier, and magic eggs. When mixed together in the stupid plastic terranium, you'd get sea-monkeys! I had a set as a kid. It was one of the biggest dissapointments of my childhood. It's not that the idea of Sea-Monkeys wasn't neat, it's simply that you don't show a kid a picture of a happy mermaid family jumping through hoops and say 'all this will be yours!' and expect complete satisfaction when they're sitting in there room with a magnifying glass trying to explain to their friends how little pieces of fish shit are 'cool' pets. Ultimately, and on par with the other weird animal deaths that went on in my house, my sea-monkeys met their demise when my friend's little brother thought he was supposed to shake the tank. Hey, if I didn't know better, that would've been my guess. At least if it was a snow globe it would've been worth 3.95. My poor brine shrimp fell to the floor, dead on arrival, never again to swim the murky shores of a glass of water I'd certainly never clean.

And that brings us to today's article. A few days back I was at Toys R Us, for a...friend...yeah, a friend, and I decided to skip the usual walk down the action figure aisle...for a friend...so I can see what other types of snake oil they were hocking these days. Lo and behold, Sea-Monkeys are still around! I decided living without brine shrimp for a decade was simply too long...I needed to bring Sea-Monkeys back into my life. And my - how they've grown!


Look at this! Sea-Monkeys aren't just a few envelopes anymore...these things get a more complete abode than most of us do! How could I resist shelling out thirteen bucks for this when the guarantee is clearly marked on the box: if they don't live two years, I get my money back! Now, let's be honest here...there is no chance in Hell that anybody can make their Sea-Monkeys last two years. It just won't happen. Even if they could survive, the chances that you won't knock the tank over or be completely diligent in keeping the water clean are almost nil. So this guarantee means one of two things: either the company is sure that nobody will go through the trouble to get more Sea-Monkeys after realizing they're just lame brine shrimp, or dem monkeys be mad cheap. Either way, I like guarantees, they make me all tingly, so I bought the set.

But what you don't know: these aren't normal Sea-Monkeys. I know this is going sound hard to believe - but these Sea-Monkeys are the special Hybrid Color-Changing Monkeys From Space! I'm not kidding - the box really says that these Sea-Monkeys change colors. So now instead of just looking for little clear dots in a cup of water, you can strain your eyes trying to look for red and green dots too! These guys think they're real clever, but I researched the secret: like people whose skin turn orange after eating too many carrots, Sea-Monkeys are so small, anything they eat will change their color. So if you feed them red food, you'll have red Sea-Monkeys. Brilliant, huh?

The box also say that Sea-Monkeys have successfully flown into space on shuttle missions on two seperate occassions, a claim with such magnitude that I don't feel important enough to even field it. But that's not all - this special set also comes with a glow-in-the-dark boat in the tank. Now your monkeys will be hard to see - day or night!

The back of the box features the company's latest way to really cash in: The Sea-Monkey Diploma! Finally, you could have verifiable, documented proof that you can successfully pour water and pour packets of eggs into said water. The kicker? The diploma will only cost you eight bucks! Actually, it will cost you ELEVEN BUCKS, because this piece of paper somehow costs three dollars to ship! For eleven bucks, you could buy an entire new set of Sea Monkeys. I can't imagine anyone besides myself actually shelling out the eleven bucks for a piece of paper which fully enforces the idea that you're stupid enough to spend eleven bucks on a piece of paper stating you know how to raise sea-monkeys. It's the ultimate scam, and I can appreciate that.

Wait a second, scratch that - just read that the diploma comes with ribbons! Ribbons! That's eleven dollars well spent. The clencher that's going to force me to buy this thing is that you have to make all checks payable to 'The Crustacean College'. Now I have to buy it. Just think of the fun I'll have balancing out my checkbook in a few months.

And there's our contents. 15 different pieces of plastic crap ranging from the almighty terranium to a mini-flashlight...and yes, the envelopes. Eggs! Water Purifier! PLASMA! FOOD! All the essentials are covered...let's get started!

Course, none of us are brine shrimp experts. Do we start by putting the food in the tank, then adding water? Do we have to heat up the eggs first? Jesus, the possibilities are endless, and nobody wants to fuck up their Sea-Monkeys before they even get a chance to die on their own in three days. Don't worry - the Sea-Monkey company shant let you down...they've included a nifty instruction manual!

You can't even begin to imagine how important this manual makes your Sea-Monkeys sound. It's incredible. As some of you know, my real computer crashed (thanks to Compaq for being so consistently shitty) so I don't have my usual scanning software at the moment, but all you need to know is that there's more warnings and pictures of happy mermaids in this thing that I can count.

However, I'd be cheating you if I didn't reprint, straight from the manual, the secret origin of the Sea-Monkeys!

"A true MIRACLE of nature, Sea-Monkeys actually exist in SUSPENDED ANIMATION! While inside their tiny eggs - yet unborn, they burn the "spark of life" for many YEARS! The Instant-Life crystals in which the eggs are enclosed, preserve their viability and help to extend still further - their unhatched life span! Sea-Monkeys are real TIME-TRAVELLERS asleep in biological time-capsules for their strange journey into the future!"

Oh my god, what the fuck, and holy shit. Anyways, let's get this ball rollin'. It's time to bring the Sea-Monkeys to life!

Water. I felt like Liu Kang in that ridiculous Mortal Kombat movie when he realized what Kitana's talking about when she says 'use the giver of life, Liu!' It hit me like a ton of bricks. This shit needed water. After that, it'd be smooth sailin', no? I could just throw the eggs in, break out the binoculars and watch my Sea-Monkeys die? Not quite yet...they stick an annoying rule out in front of you first.

The Sea-Monkeys need the Water Purifier! You can't just go throwing their eggs around with reckless abandon...first, the water needs to be rid of any impurities. Of course, after laying out in your room with the top off for five hours, the whole point is mute, but I'm not gonna argue with an instruction manual that manages to use words like 'cryptobiosis' and 'ostracoda'. They're obviously smarter than I am.

In went the contents of the special water purifier packet, and to my horror, I continued reading the directions to realize...I had to let this shit settle for 24-30 hours! I can't hatch my monkeys until late tomorrow! In other words, the directions are already calling for you to devote about ten times the amount of time and effort you want to in the glorious process of making brine shrimp swim. It blows, it really does.

So, this post is only half done. Next week, I'll be back with an UPDATE on my wonderful color-changing hybrid time-travelling space dwelling mermaid monkeys from the future. Who knows what this next week truly holds for my new pets. Will I be able to train them to jump through hoops, or at the very least, be visible? Will these Sea-Monkeys meet the same fate my old ones did and get their entire world turned upside down? Only time will tell...and it'll be reported on here, and only here! Check back next week for the conclusion of this Sea-Monkey extravaganza!


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