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Official Article

Dr. Timewarp Returns: 80's Drug Store Shopping


I'M BACK! You've truly proven yourself worthy of being the protege to Dr. Timewarp this time around. Imagine, single handedly plucking me from that divergent time stream where the makers of Back To The Future kept Eric Stoltz as Marty McFly causing a series of events that led to ALF becoming president and the tan M&M never being replaced by blue. I'm just glad you found me before the V.I.C.K.I. from Small Wonder death-bots did.


I've decided to reward your bravery with another trip back to a more familiar time and place. A land where it was possible to get all the necessities of daily life, along with some sweet surprises. Of course I'm talking about Drug Store shopping. So set the T.M.R. (Time Machine Refrigerator) for Thrifty Drug Store circa 1987 and let the adventure begin.


As we enter the space you'll notice that it feels like a miniature department store mixed with a supermarket. While the original purpose of such an establishment was to get medical prescriptions filled, by this point in history shoppers were expecting a place to buy nylons (in eggs), cigarettes and cheap perfume all under one roof. I'm sorry, I should have warned you that the smell of Old Spice can be very overwhelming.


The uniforms on the staff give you the sense that this is more than just a place where high school kids with fake I.D.s could score some booze for their house parties, but a colorful crew like the cast of The Love Boat, looking to serve your needs. You should be thankful I don't make you wear a name tag as part of your training and yes, you have to keep the sweater tied around your neck. How else are we supposed to blend in?  You don't hear me complaining about the argyle sweater vest.


Oh, it looks like we've arrived in time for the Halloween season. Drug Stores were always the best place to find an affordable costume for Trick or Treating. Just look at this wonderful assortment of rubber monster masks. It looks like you have your choice of a Devil, Bozo the Clown or Gene Simmons from KISS, among others. Oddly enough, there's also a Halloween sale on Boom Boxes, so I suppose we better pick up an audio cassette by Oingo Boingo or Ozzy Osbourne so as to not be too conspicuous.


The assortment of outdated or knock-off toy lines at the local drug store were always an interesting diversion, so let's take a look. Now look at these fine specimens, 100% Grade A crap. Golden Girls action dolls were meant to fool young fans of She-Ra, Princess of Power into making a hasty purchase, though these women warriors look like they would be more at home on Gorgeous Ladies of Wrestling. 


Boys who enjoyed He-Man and the Masters of the Universe often found themselves faced with the likes of the lesser known Blackstar. That's not to say this wanna-be barbarian didn't have something unique to offer, the sparking Laser-Light action could provide endless fun as the switch in the back was flicked endlessly to create a momentary spark within the figure's chest. Enough playtime, how about some reading material?


Perusing the magazine rack is always a good way to get a feeling for the decade. TIME and People let us know that Ronald Reagan is on the way out, while Michael Jackson has gone Bad with a new look. The swimsuit issue of Sport Illustrated was always an annual tradition, but not quite as exciting as an issue of Starlog featuring Robocop or Fangoria with everybody's favorite teen terrorizer, Freddy Krueger. We'll just ignore Popular Mechanics and Family Circle, as those magazines are for uncool parent types. Oh, look CANDY!


Just look at the kids with bowl cuts and side pony tails wandering these sugar-coated aisles. Willy Wonka candies seem to get the most attention with their colorful, cartoon covered cartons. 3 varieties of NERDS, each more exciting than the last and the fascinating Dino-Sour Eggs somewhat outshine the Whatchamacallit bar on the shelves. Oh, I see you've selected the "is it gum, is it candy?" goodness of Bonkers, though you must admit that chocolate was an odd flavor choice. As for me, I'm all about grabbing a handful of Now and Later fruit chews that will definitely be for later, since it's time for the main event!


Leaving Thrifty without an ice cream cone is like going to France without sampling the snails. The variety of flavors are delicious and that is only enhanced by the Super Treat! Eat-It-All cones by Keebler.  But it's the ritual of the experience that will endear you to this brand of frozen delight for all time. Just look at the process unfold before you.


Of course you start by selecting the flavor, may I suggest Rainbow Sherbet" It gives you a refreshingly sweet and tart sensation. Then the ice cream specialist grabs their weapon of choice, an actual ice cream gun that is plunged into the tub and pulls out a perfect cylinder of sugary ice milk and releases it onto the flaky golden cone. The final product is nothing short of amazing, a delicious adventure for your tongue. Certainly a fitting celebration for my return.


Well, we'd better get going, I'll just grab a roll of Certs breath mints for the road and...what's this on the check out magazine rack? No, it can't be. Something is not right here.


You fool! You didn't pull me out of the alternate timestream, you got yourself tangled up in this alternate reality with me! Quickly, back to the T.M.R. and leave your ice cream behind. Every lick could be pulling another seam from the fabric of the universe. I only hope we can set things right before Urkel becomes leader of the Soviet Union and launches a nuclear missile with a sheepish, "Did I do that?"




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Lazlo Posted on Feb 21, 2017 at 01:22 AM

My first job in high school was as a cashier/stockperson at Eckerd Drugs. This was back in 1986. Eckerds has since been taken over by CVS, so it too is a relic of an earlier era (before working there, I remember going there with my family as a very young kid in the '70s). Those were the days. I do remember ringing up candy, cosmetics, cigarettes, meds of different sorts. One thing we didn't have was an ice cream counter though . . . interesting cylindrical look to that ice cream scoop!!

massreality Posted on Feb 10, 2017 at 01:02 PM

Drug stores were so much cooler back in the day. I don't think I've ever been in one with an ice cream counter though.

On a side note: I just realized they stop selling hose in those little eggs like a year ago. My grandma would always give my brother and me the eggs to play with once she took the hose out. I got to wondering if kids still played with the eggs and then I discovered they don't sell them like that anymore!

jkatz Posted on Jan 30, 2017 at 01:54 AM

@Vapor I like to think of the crash as a continuity-erasing "Crisis"...and looks like Dr. T is now part of the canon again!

Vaporman87 Posted on Jan 21, 2017 at 07:21 PM

I love Dr. Timewarp articles, and this one was expertly done. Glad to see it make it back to the site after the "crash". Nobody can keep the good doctor down!

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