No one at Nabisco’s corporate headquarters in New York City had any idea why members of the National Organization for Women were lined upoutside. It was the fall of 1971, and the manufacturer best known for their Oreo and Chips Ahoy! snacks had not made any obviously sexist advertisements or taken any particular political stance. They sold cookies.
Then they read the signs: “Sick toys for children make for a sick society.”
That May, Nabisco had attempted to diversify by purchasing Aurora Company, the West Hempstead, New York model kit maker best known for their plastic kits of Frankenstein’s monster, the Wolf Man, and other horror film icons. The cheap plastic toys came in pieces and could be glued together and painted.
Unknown to Nabisco, Aurora had recently branched out and begun offering entire model kit dioramas. Instead of a single figure, consumers could buy detailed “sets” for their monsters to interact with. There was a guillotine, a razor-sharp pendulum, and a laboratory; a female protagonist, referred to in the copy as “the Victim,” was scantily-clad and ready to be dismembered, beheaded, or trapped in a spiked cage. Kids could also opt to have Vampirella, the top-heavy villain licensed from Warren Publishing, operate the winch and pulley while her plastic captive was shackled to a table.
Each kit also contained a comic, which instructed builders on how to assemble the torture scenes for maximum enjoyment. A narrator named Dr. Deadly seemed to opine on the appeal of the Victim once she was fully assembled. “Now that you’ve gotten her all together, I think I like the other way. In pieces … yesssss.”
In addition to Fig Newtons, Nabisco realized it had also been peddling tiny torture racks.