It was inevitable that at this joyous time of year (for about one-third of the planet’s population) we turn our attention to the subject of last-minute Christmas gifts that celebrate a common holiday theme: farts and farting.
Until I initiated an arduous course of exhaustive research this past Wednesday or Thursday (I forget, it might have been Friday), I had no idea that so many of our international resources were devoted to celebrating a single bodily function that creates so much amusement from mere sound and odor, unless you count burping.
That wasn’t always the case.
In the earliest days of the Industrial Revolution fart simulation was limited to sound. It wasn’t until aerosol technology was developed, with the help of European perfumeries, that smell could accompany sound, thereby completing the full effect the scientific community had been seeking and thereby allowing the titans of the gag-gift industry to build large factories and develop modern manufacturing methods. That’s not really how it happened, but the real story is about as interesting as fresh-water sponge reproduction, so there you go.
The latest research (I found this yesterday and it is probably true because it was on the Internet) suggests that 12.5 percent of religious adherents (“he who farts in church, sits in own pew,” was the Buddhist joke) and all of the currently unindicted co-conspirators of the Trump administration are on the record as being officially opposed to farts and farting during either the Holiday or Christmas season (any evangelical can explain the difference).
Despite the risk of accusations of my exhibiting both poor taste and a juvenile obsession with “Blazing Saddles,” I will offer no apology for bringing all of this up because I think it is vital to both our mental well-being and the national economy that we recognize that for about $15 we can celebrate flatulence, also known as sphinctic retortation or “cutting the mustard” in myriad ways.
Have you ever wondered why a person who “can’t cut the mustard” is incompetent but one who does is an embarrassment? Yeah, me neither.
When I was a kid we had Whoopee cushions. They were fun. When sat on, the cushion simulated that sound my family called a “foo-foo,” though I’m sure we never established how to spell it. It was just part of our rich oral tradition.
People improvised fart noises by exhaling with their lips pursed loosely over their tongues, which always got a laugh if it was timed to the teacher’s bending over to pick up a piece of chalk. Some of the more gifted kids could create farts by positioning a hand into an armpit and pumping wildly. Regrettably, I could never get the hang of that. One could also let the air out of an inflated balloon to create high-pitched fart sounds that seemed other-worldly and thereby provided a new level of amusement.
But what exactly does the world of commerce offer consumers this holiday season in the way of fart reproduction? I’m glad you asked.
Let’s start with the Gas Out Game. This is a card game for all ages in which drawn cards instruct the players to molest a green, soft-plastic amoeba-like thing with a face like Harvey Weinstein until it is so full of air that it rolls its beady little eyes and farts. How fun must that be?
Staying within the realm of educational toys, there’s Walter the Farting Dog. It’s a plush-toy that comes with a story book that tells pre-school readers when to squeeze Walter to make him fart. It is difficult to keep the tots interested in the book.
There is no shortage of plush toys in which farting plays a major role. Dogs, cats, deer, pigs, cows, elephants, bears, giraffes and otters fart joyously with no more encouragement than a little squeeze. Bert the Farting Hippo is the only one of these toys that appears uncomfortable in his new role.
Jing Zhou is a plush monkey toy that apparently farts in Chinese. Curiously, at least one web site states that farting is illegal in China. Wait. Maybe it’s North Korea that doesn’t allow farting. It doesn’t really matter. The last time I checked, Americans are still allowed to fart at will. That could change.
In a little area in Northeast Chad, a landlocked state in Central Africa, the native Oknolwgloonkwa men are expected to fart at dinner parties to express their gratitude to the host. The women are encouraged to fart also, but silently. Apparently these people live on a diet of yams, which helps facilitate the whole farting thing. It is taboo to sneeze at these soirees, however, which is why the yams are never seasoned with pepper.
There’s a plush Santa that requires only a slight push on the tush to fart. Another bent-over Santa doesn’t fart but accepts coins where his farts might have once emanated.
It goes without saying that there…
MANY OF OUR MOST NOTED cultural icons have been commemorated by the creation of farting figurines meant to inspire and amuse. Elvis leads the celebrity parade, though his name isn’t used and the likenesses aren’t very good which makes one (me) believe that Elvis’s heirs don’t want the public to think that the King ever tooted because such an admission might tarnish his pristine image.
There are several digital clocks that fart at the exact time you wish to be awakened, which makes one realize that perhaps Folgers is the best part of waking up. There are little statues of bent-over figures whose gaseous emissions will create bubbles. I spent countless minutes looking for one that might shoot flames but was unsuccessful in my quest.
There’s a disturbing little toy called “Fingerling” that is a robotic monkey toy that you place over a finger of your choice. It moves its head and eyes and when you blow on it, it farts. And speaking of fingers, there’s a ballpoint pen in the shape of a finger. When you pull off the cap it farts!
Is there just no end to the fun?
In the world of e-commerce there is a whole category of fart fun that is contained in, well, containers.
Most of the novelty items we’ve discussed so far are limited to sound. Sound, after all, is what we most desire because while we will all acknowledge the inherent humor of a fart, few of us really care much to experience what accompanies the sound.
Remarkably realistic fart aromas are available in cans, bottles and jars, in the forms of powders, liquids and whatever another name for air might be. There are also fart guns (the Despicable Me Fart Blaster being my favorite) and a whistle-like thing called, appropriately, the Fart Whistle, which is currently only available in England for £3.50, which might be in the neighborhood of $75. I’m not sure. Math was never my strong suit.
Liquid Ass is a “highly concentrated, super-horrible” spray whose single ounce ($12) is enough to cause the “evacuation of any size room.” Fart Powder, which is both gluten- and lactose-free, is something you “mix into a friend’s drink and stand back!”
There is the Pooter Tooter which is a can-like object that when squeezed—you guessed it—makes a farting noise and releases an appropriate odor. The French version is Le Tooter which “allows you create realistic farting sounds” with, presumably, an accent.
As if the world’s children weren’t happy enough with Silly Putty, there’s now Fart Putty. These three-ounce jars of stinky putty are “perfect” party favors whose web site features a FAQ section to address consumer concerns. The most frequently asked question is whether Fart Putty is toxic. The company’s answer is a reassuring, “So far, so good.”
Another customer wanted to know if the little jars of Fart Putty would fit inside a plastic Easter egg. They won’t, but because it’s a bit late for on-line Christmas shopping anyway, the information I’ve provided above should help ease the burden of planning for Easter.
Mel’s Five-Bean Campfire Casserole
It’s just way too obvious to say anything about the inclusion of this classic recipe.
1/2 pound bacon, chopped
2 cups onion, coarsely chopped
2-3 cloves garlic, minced
1/2 cup packed brown sugar
1 teaspoon mustard powder
1 teaspoon salt
1/2 cup cider vinegar
1 (15 ounce) can butter beans, drained
1 (15 ounce) can great northern beans, drained
1 (15 ounce) can kidney beans, drained
1 (15 ounce) can pinto beans, drained
1 (15 ounce) can baked beans
Preheat oven to 350°.
Sauté bacon over medium-high heat in a deep saucepan and cook until evenly browned. Drain and set aside.
Sauté onion in bacon fat over medium-low heat until soft (5-6 minutes); add garlic and cook another minute or so. Add the brown sugar, mustard, salt and vinegar. Cook covered on low heat for 20 minutes.
In a four-quart baking dish, combine the bacon, onion mixture and beans. Mix well, and bake covered for 1 hour. Uncover and bake another 10-15 minutes.
Photographic essay by Courtney A. Liska and Michelangelo