Stuff worse than it used to be

Time to be and old man or old lady and complain about stuff that used to be better. Food, media, maybe just stuff you liked. Please be specific(not just “music” or something). I’ll go first:

Pączki’s - Yes, I get mine at a real bakery. Yes, they suck compared to when I was a kid in the 1980’s. The ratio of filling to pastry has decreased at almost every bakery I’ve visited. We’re getting tricked into eating glorified donuts.
What else has worsened that shouldn’t?

Cracker Jacks prizes.

For the win. They’ve become crappy.

Well, music. When we got CDs a whole world opened up. Then the loudness wars started and everything got compressed to death.

Something similar has happened to TV and movies: they are so dark. I’m not talking about the stories, although those are way darker too and I don’t like that either. But what I really hate is how turning down the brightness is seen as “edgy” and of course you can never have too much of that. Two examples: the later Harry Potter movies and the final (well, I guess not in hindsight) seasons of the X-Files on DVD. Those are so dark that sometimes you literally can’t identify faces.

MTV. Of course “used to be” was a lonnnnnng time ago.
Board game pieces. Games like Clue and Monopoly had pieces made of wood, plastic and metal. There are others that I can’t think of right now because I haven’t played a game in a long while, but I remember noticing it on several.
Movie popcorn. Whatever that yellow oil is, it sucks. Also, they used to mix the butter in when they popped it and had a separate popper for unbuttered. Now you have to drizzle the aforementioned yellow oil on top of the mountain of corn and only the top part gets covered. Ditto the salt.

Duncan Donuts.
Veered from yummy to craptastic.

Dunkin’ Donuts. They used to have donuts. Now that’s only a small part of what they sell, and it’s only the blandest possible flavors. I often go and find nothing appealing (what the hell happened to cherry cake?). Also, they use to bake the donuts fresh in the store (one near me had a glass window so you could actually watch them doing it). Now they bake them at one factory and deliver them to the areas stores, ensuring it’s stale by the time you get it.

Life of me, I can’t think of anything big and significant. Crackerjack prizes, yes, definitely. But…

By and large, the consumer economy is doing its job right. Things are generally better than they were forty years ago. Comic books are great these days. Movies are astounding.

Maybe Science Fiction novels and stories, but only because the giants of the past were so incredibly great. How can anyone hold up his head as a writer after reading Robert Heinlein or Jack Vance?

Maybe “Customer Service” in general terms. Cashiers and clerks seem more surly and sullen these days than they were forty years ago. A really big clue comes in the substitution of “No problem” for “You’re welcome.” Yeah, thanks, I need to be told that my asking for information is “not a problem.” Fuck you too, buddy…

(But this may just be an “old man” problem and not an actual social flaw.)

What were Crackerjack prizes like before the 1980’s, the time I remember?

Caulking guns used to be much better than the stamped tin crap you find in the home centers now.


Here’s a small sample. You’ll note a few are actually tiny “pinball” games.

Previous thread with a number of prizes described.

Funny. The very first thing that also poped into my head was Cracker Jack prizes.

And it’s gotten even worse. Not only do the prizes suck, the actual Cracker Jack itself sucks too. Both in the quantity and the quality.

In another 30 years you’ll just be buying an empty box.

I agree with Trinopus, most things are better now. But, I’ll chime in:

Air Travel (except the price, which has come down)

Chinese food

modern art
There are, thankfully, exceptions to each.

For one thing, the boxes were bigger, so the prizes could be, as well:

Plastic dog with hinged legs; a small ball attached to his nose by a length of thread allowed him to walk across the table when you dropped the ball off the side. He always stopped at the table edge;

Plastic Army man with parachute (need I say more?);

A cellophane (?) fish that I was never certain what it was supposed to do;

I won’t swear in open court there was a strip of paper caps, but my memory says there was;

Temporary tattoos (are they still around?).

That’s all I remember.

In 1978 I got a nice little starter pistol.

Forget Cracker Jack, you used to be able to send in 438,250 empty Kool-aid pkgs and get decent prizes that way (I got a fantastic camera once).

You used to be able to fix your own vehicle if you knew how. Now you can’t or may get sued if you try. How is that progress?

Portable stereo systems have gone waaaay downhill.

The whole tech industry is based on planned obsolescence. Selling things to you over and over by not supporting the product you bought.

I had a laser printer that gave me 10 years (LexmarK) with 1 change of toner. Now the printer takes an 80$ toner cartridge every few hundred pages or so. And this is the absolute kicker: The machine tells you to buy more toner by making stripes across your print. In other words it’s saying; “I have given you all the pages you deserve. I have more toner, plenty in fact to print this doc, but I am going to ruin it and waste your paper, because I was counting your pages”

Comic books. You used to get two or three complete stories with beginnings, middles and ends in an issue. You could safely buy back issues for a discount, with some assurance that you were getting complete stories. Now, it seems as if most comic books, especially those from the major publishers, DC and Marvel, feature an unending soap opera where there are no complete stories. Even the collected trade paperbacks often end on a cliffhanger. The artwork now is sometimes beautiful compared to the sometimes cheesy artwork back then, but then at other times, the modern artwork is so abstract that you can’t figure out what is going on in the story. Give me the “all in color for a dime” stories from the 1950s and 1960s anytime.

Sarah Jessica Parker