In the wake of last week's debunking of the phony iPhone cup holder (left), longtime Buzzblog reader George Grenley wrote to say he recalled a similarly silly tale from the '70s involving a magazine for motorcycle enthusiasts ... and duct tape. Grenley didn't have the magazine - this was a long time ago and pre-Internet -- but thanks to the wondrous resource that is Google Books, I was able to find the goods.
On page 44 of the May 1978 issue of American Motorcyclist, in amongst a bunch of advertisements for genuine motorcycle apparel, we find this one for a "Team Duct Tape" jacket.
It reads: "In response the proliferation of skin-tight, silver race team jackets, the makers of duct tape have introduced an official 'Team Duct Tape' model, available exclusively to people cool enough to wear it. For more info, send SASA to Tape, P.O. Box 141, Westerville, OH, 43081."
And send they did, for in the next issue of American Motorcyclist, we find the letters-to-the-editor and semi-sheepish "confession" of the editorial staff pictured below right. They're hard to read, so here's a transcript, starting with the letters:
"Please send information on the Team Duct Tape jacket (See AM Market, AM, May '78). Include cost and place of purchase. Thank-you. - T.D. McCraney, Vincennes, IN"
"Please send more information on your Team Duct Tape silver race team jacket as shown in May AM. - William Gabor, Milford, NH. P.S. It took me three days to figure out was SASE meant. Does that mean I'm not cool enough to wear the jacket?"
"I would like more info on your Team Duct Tape jacket. Please give me the prices and sizes offered; because, being a long-time racer and user of Duct Tape, I figure I'm the coolest in Southern California. - Davey Dee, Valinda, CA."
And then the editors fess up:
"We got a lot of letters about the TDT jacket, which makes us feel a little guilty! Actually, we were looking for an excuse to run a picture of AMA keypuncher Debbie! But if you really want a jacket like the one shown here, just do what we did ...
"First, we wrapped Office Service Manager Lenny Palma in about 20 yards of duct tape (about two bucks worth from any hardware store!) Then we added zipper, pockets and lettering with a magic marker (69 cents at most drug stores) and we were in business. For $2.69 it's a good deal. But Lenny reports that taking the jacket off is no fun at all! And by the way, anybody who reads AM is cool enough to wear one."
The story doesn't end there, or at least not necessarily. Reader Grenley (doubly cool since he reads AM and Buzzblog) told me via his email that he recalled the volume of interest in the joke jacket was so intense that some entrepreneurial sort stepped up and started selling a real one. Grenley, among others, suggested that such might also be the fate of the phony iPhone cup holder.
Unfortunately, this part of the duct tape tale appears not to be true, according to James Holter, current managing editor of the American Motorcyclist Association.
"Two folks still work at the AMA who were on staff at the time (of the 'Team Duct Tape' episode)," Holter tells me via email. "They both remember the ad and that someone did call the AMA wanting to buy one, only to be told it was a joke. Unfortunately, that's all they can confirm. Neither remembers whether someone actually started selling such a jacket."
As noted earlier, it was a long time ago.
Thirty-five years later, though, just about everything has been made using duct tape - by the MythBusters alone, in fact -- and you can find instructions galore online. Here's a good one for making a duct tape jacket ... and, unlike poor Lenny Palma, you won't have to suffer taking it off.
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