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34 Bizarre Things Being Dropped on New Year’s Eve

December 30, 2016

Don’t live anywhere near New York City but still desperate to see something—anything—drop during the countdown to 2017?

We can help. (Well, we can help some of you. Some of you might have to go on a road trip.) Check out these places that have put their own twists on the rather odd tradition of hoisting a giant object up in the air to celebrate the beginning of a new year.

1. A GIANT PEEP // BETHLEHEM, PENNSYLVANIA

Peeps’s parent company, Just Born, calls the eastern Pennsylvania town home, which is why Bethlehem drops a 4.5-foot tall, 85-pound, illuminated Peep to mark the new year. Though Peeps come in shapes to suit every holiday these days, the drop is done with a traditional chick that flashes different colors at midnight.

2. A WOODEN FLEA // EASTOVER, NORTH CAROLINA

Why the town would create a 3-foot-tall, 30-pound wooden flea is a real head scratcher—unless you know that the town was once known as Flea Hill.

3. A MOON PIE // MOBILE, ALABAMA

Why a Moon Pie? According to PR Newswire, the tasty snack cake is the “favored throw” at the Mardi Gras parade (never mind that whole bead thing), which originated in Mobile. Sadly, the 600-pound Moon Pie is electronic, not edible.

4. A REAL (DEAD) CARP // PRAIRIE DU CHIEN, WISCONSIN

Most carp don’t see 15 seconds of fame, let alone 15 minutes. But every year in Prairie du Chien, Lucky the Carp is the center of attention when he’s lowered onto a throne to celebrate the new year. It’s the culmination of a week of activities, including hanging carp ornaments on a pine tree, the Carp Plunge (Prairie du Chien's version of a Polar Bear Plunge) and busting open a carp piñata. As far as we know, the piñata contains candy, not carp.

5. AN OLIVE // BARTLESVILLE, OKLAHOMA

It descends from the top of Price Tower, a Frank Lloyd Wright-designed building, and falls neatly into a martini glass.

6. A BEACH BALL // PANAMA CITY BEACH, FLORIDA

Paying homage to the tourist industry that keeps the town hopping, Panama City Beach drops an 800-pound beach ball at midnight. Those who prefer beach balls of the non-deadly variety can attend the children’s drop at 8:30 p.m., where more than 10,000 inflatable balls are released from overhead nets.

7. A SARDINE // EASTPORT, MAINE

The area has sardine fishing and canning roots, but Eastport also drops a Maple Leaf as a friendly gesture to their Canadian neighbors across the bay.

8. A WRENCH // MECHANICSBURG, PENNSYLVANIA

Get it? Mechanicsburg?

9. A DUCK DECOY // HAVRE DE GRACE, MARYLAND

As home to both a Pat Vincenti Duck Decoy store and the Duck Decoy Museum, it makes perfect sense that Havre de Grace would drop a glowing duck decoy on New Year's Eve.

10. A PEACH // ATLANTA, GEORGIA

Go figure. If you prefer your crowd of revelers to be large on New Year's Eve, Atlanta is the place to be: the Peach Drop is the largest New Year's Eve celebration in the southeast.

11. A PINECONE // FLAGSTAFF, ARIZONA

In case you’re missing the connection, here’s a bit of trivia for you: Flagstaff sits in one of the largest Ponderosa Pine forests in the world. And the town has come a long way from the garbage can with pinecones glued on it that was used during the drop's inaugural year in 1999—see for yourself:

12. AN APPLE // MANHATTAN, KANSAS

Paying homage to their “Little Apple” nickname, nearly 10,000 residents and visitors gather every year to watch the city drop a brightly-lit Red Delicious. 

13. A CHUNK OF CHEESE // PLYMOUTH, WISCONSIN

It's no doubt got some competition, but Plymouth proudly proclaims itself the Cheese Capital of the World, which is why it drops a large chunk of Sartori cheese to welcome the new year. 

14. A DRAG QUEEN IN A RED HIGH HEEL // KEY WEST, FLORIDA

Her name is Sushi (the drag queen, not the stiletto). But Sushi is just one of the many midnight drop options in Key West: They also drop a 6-foot conch shell at Sloppy Joe's and a pirate wench at the Schooner Wharf Bar.

15. 200 POUNDS OF BOLOGNA // LEBANON, PENNSYLVANIA

If you're a cured meat connoisseur, you need to know that Lebanon bologna is kind of a big deal. That's why the city of Lebanon deems it important enough to ring in the new year with [PDF].

16. COAL // SHAMOKIN, PENNSYLVANIA

The little town of about 7000 drops a glowing chunk of coal from the community flagpole every year to celebrate its heritage.

17. AN ONION // ST. GEORGE'S, BERMUDA

St. George's is another town that celebrates local industry at the end of the year. They drop a glowing onion as a nod to Bermuda’s large onion export.

18. MARSHALL THE MUSKRAT // PRINCESS ANNE, MARYLAND

As if dropping a giant rodent wasn’t unique enough, Princess Anne has decked the stuffed semiaquatic rodent out in a top hat and bow tie. No, Princess Anne isn’t the hometown of the Captain and Tennille; the humble muskrat has been a target for trappers in the area since humans first inhabited it.

19. A LIVE OPOSSUM // BRASSTOWN, NORTH CAROLINA

In the self-proclaimed "Opossum Capital of the World," one of the little guys is lowered carefully at midnight, protected by a plexiglass cage. Though the critter is fed and released post-drop, PETA has been fighting the state to stop the live drop for several years. Looks like everything is proceeding this year as planned, though.

20. A PICKLE // MT. OLIVE, NORTH CAROLINA

If you love briny cucumbers, you'll appreciate the 3-foot pickle that drops down the flagpole at midnight Greenwich Mean Time. That’s 7 p.m. eastern. 

21. AN ACORN // RALEIGH, NORTH CAROLINA

It would take a Godzilla-like squirrel to carry away this 10-foot-tall nut made of 1250 pounds of copper and steel. Regular-sized squirrels can have a go at it, though: The acorn lives in Moore Square the other 364 days of the year and was created by sculptor David Benson to celebrate the City of Oaks.

22. YELLOW BREECHES // LOWER ALLEN TOWNSHIP, PENNSYLVANIA

Lower Allen Township wins for the quirkiest drop. The 5-foot-tall Bunyan-sized britches honor the local Yellow Breeches Creek—and for the kiddos, a pair of "baby breeches" is dropped at 10 p.m. instead of midnight [PDF].

23. A POTATO // BOISE, IDAHO

This year will be Boise's fourth year dropping a giant spud.

24. THE DEUCE OF CLUBS // SHOW LOW, ARIZONA

The city of Show Low got into the New Year’s object-drop game just a few years ago. According to city legend, the city was named when two feuding men decided to draw cards to decide who had to leave town. “If you show low, you win,” was the game, and the winner turned over the deuce of clubs.

25. A KEY // FREDERICK, MARYLAND

In 2012, the city of Frederick began the tradition of dropping a 5-foot by 2.5-foot wooden key from a suspension bridge. Why a key? To honor one of its most famous sons, of course—The Star-Spangled Banner lyricist Francis Scott Key.

26. A BUNCH OF GRAPES // TEMECULA, CALIFORNIA

There's more than one way to toast the new year. Temecula, which is in the heart of California Wine Country, does it with a 5-foot-by-8-foot bunch of grapes made of 36 illuminated spheres and 48 sequined balls.

27. A MUSIC NOTE // NASHVILLE, TENNESSEE

The Music Note dropped at midnight in Nashville is a nod to the town's "Music City" nickname.

28. A PELICAN // PENSACOLA, FLORIDA

Pensacola pays homage to its city mascot by letting one with a 20-foot wingspan come home to roost at midnight. It's not a real pelican, mind you, but an aluminum one studded with more than 2000 lights. 

29. A HOG // FAYETTEVILLE, ARKANSAS

"Last Night Fayetteville" is considered one of the top 10 New Year's Eve celebrations in the U.S.—and part of that accolade is due to the Hog Drop. Made with 1085 individually controlled LED lights, this oinker took more than 100 hours to create. Wilbur, eat your heart out—this is definitely Some Pig.

What Goes Up...

What goes up, stays up ... at least when it comes to these objects that are raised instead of dropped.

30. AN ORANGE WEARING SUNGLASSES // MIAMI, FLORIDA

"Big Orange" is a 35-foot neon orange that climbs 400 feet up the side of the InterContinental Hotel in Miami. And if that's not enough for you, there's also Pitbull.

31. A WATERMELON BALL // VINCENNES, INDIANA

When it gets to the top, the ball opens to release 12 real watermelons, making a mess that would make Gallagher proud in the splash zone below.

32. A GIANT HERSHEY'S KISS // HERSHEY, PENNSYLVANIA

The Kiss weighs 300 pounds and is seven feet tall before the "paper" plume is added. The banner brings the massive candy's height to 12 feet. 

33. THE QUEEN CHARLOTTE CROWN // CHARLOTTE, NORTH CAROLINA

For those of us who aren’t well-schooled in city nicknames, Charlotte is sometimes known as the Queen City because Charlotte of Mecklenburg-Strelitz was Queen consort of Great Britain when the city was incorporated. The crown is raised 25 feet in uptown Charlotte.

34. A TO-GO CUP // SAVANNAH, GEORGIA

This year marks the fourth annual "Up the Cup" celebration in Savannah. The cup is sponsored by Wet Willie's, an establishment that serves frozen alcoholic drinks in—you guessed it—a to-go cup.

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This Week's Best Amazon Deals You Can Still Get
April 30, 2017
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As a recurring feature, we share some amazing Amazon deals we’ve turned up. These items were the ones that were the most popular with our readers this week, and they’re still available.

Mental Floss has affiliate relationships with certain retailers (including Amazon) and may receive a small percentage of any sale. But we only get commission on items you buy and don’t return, so we’re only happy if you’re happy. Good luck deal hunting!

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Portable Chargers RAVPower 16750mAh External Battery Pack 4.5A Dual USB Output External Phone Charger Battery Bank Power Bank (iSmart 2.0 Technology) for Nintendo Switch, iPhone 7, Galaxy S8 - Black for $27.99 (list price $99.99)

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iClever BoostCube 4.8A 24W Dual USB Travel Wall Charger with SmartID Technology, Foldable Plug, White for $10.99 (list price $29.99)

SoundBot SB510 HD Water Proof Bluetooth 3.0 Speaker, Mini Water Resistant Wireless Shower Speaker, Handsfree Portable Speakerphone with Built-in Mic for $14.95 (list price $20.16)

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Anker PowerCore+ mini, 3350mAh Lipstick-Sized Portable Charger (3rd Generation, Premium Aluminum Power Bank), One of the Most Compact External Batteries for $13.99 (list price $39.99)

Bluetooth Headphones, Hussar Magicbuds Best Wireless Sports Earphones with Mic, IPX7 Waterproof, HD Sound for $26.99 (list price $169.99)

iMuto 20000mAh Portable Charger Compact External Battery Power Pack Power Bank with Smart LED Digital Display and Smart Charge (Black) for $23.99 (list price $29.99)

Trianium Armband For iPhone 7/6/6S Plus, LG G6 G5, Galaxy s8 s7 s6 Edge, Note 5 (fits Otterbox Defender / Lifeproof case) ArmTrek Pro Sport Exercise Running Pouch Key Holder for $12.99 (list price $20.97)

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Anker PowerCore 10400 Portable Charger with PowerIQ for iPhone, iPad, Samsung Galaxy and More (Black) for $29.99 (list price $49.99)

Oliasports Fidget Cube Relieves Stress & Anxiety, Black for $2.50 (list price $29.00)

LEGO Classic Creative Supplement 10693 for $13.99 (list price $19.99)

CardNinja Ultra-slim Self Adhesive Credit Card Wallet for Smartphones, Black for $7.44 (list price $12.99)

KITCHEN

Sandwich Cutter Taidea Best Adorable Animals Pocket Bread Cutter, Hand Tools Sandwich Kit for $9.99 (list price $39.99)

Cuisinart DBM-8 Supreme Grind Automatic Burr Mill for $34.99 (list price $44.99)

Instant Pot IP-DUO60 7-in-1 Multi-Functional Pressure Cooker, 6Qt/1000W for $99.99 

Plater Fast Defrosting Tray - Defrost Meat or Frozen Food Quickly Without Electricity, Microwave, Hot Water or Any Other Tools for $18.90 (list price $32.90)

Lodge L9OG3 Cast Iron Round Griddle, Pre-Seasoned, 10.5-inch for $14.29 (list price $24.00)

Lifewit Height Adjustable Pan Pot Organizer Rack, 5-Tier Kitchenware Cookware Holder for $24.99 (list price $49.99)

Rubbermaid Easy Find Lid Food Storage Container, BPA-Free Plastic, 6-Piece Set for $6.18

BlenderBottle Classic Loop Top Shaker Bottle, Clear/Green, 28-Ounce Loop Top for $6.99 (list price $7.99)

Modern Innovations 16 Inch Stainless Steel Magnetic Knife Bar for $16.95 (list price $29.99)

Yummy Sam Lid and Spoon Rest, Utensils Lid Holder in Silver for $8.99 (list price $10.19)

6 Reusable K-Cups - Refillable Stainless Mesh Coffee Filter Pod for Keurig 2.0 and 1.0 Machines by STYDDI for $9.99 (list price $16.99)

Meat Tenderizer By Checkered Chef. Best Hammer/Mallet Tool/Pounder For Tenderizing Steak,Beef And Poultry. Solid Metal Construction With Rubber Comfort Grip Handle. 100% Dishwasher Safe. for $10.87 (list price $19.95)

Fat Ninja Extra Large Roll Up Dish Drying Rack (19.8 x 14in) Over the Sink Stainless Steel Tier Drainer including Set of 2 Microfiber Kitchen Towels for $16.77 (list price $28.99)

Rubbermaid 17.3 Cup FreshWorks Produce Saver Food Storage Container, Large, Green for $11.24 (list price $16.99)

ISSIKI JAPAN Professional 8 Inch Chef's Knife, High Carbon Stainless Steel, Sharp Cutlery, Ergonomic Handlefor $29.99 (list price $125.00)

OXO Good Grips Nylon Potato Masher for Non-Stick Cookware for $6.99 (list price $9.59)

Norpro Honey/Syrup Dispenser for $15.99 (list price $34.35)

Corelle Livingware 12-1/4-Inch Serving Platter, Winter Frost White for $7.97 (list price $13.01)

Bellemain Stainless Steel Measuring Cup Set, 6 Piece for $18.95 (list price $24.95)

Cuisinart CIL22-30HR CastLite Non-Stick Cast Iron Fry Pan with Helper, 12-Inch, Red for $49.95 (list price $62.29)

Culina Fine Mesh Stainless Steel Strainers, Silver, Set of 3 for $7.99 (list price $12.99)

Top Rated Bellemain Cooling Rack - Baking Rack , Chef Quality 12 inch x 17 inch - Tight-Grid Design, Oven Safe, Fits Half Sheet Cookie Pan for $11.95 (list price $18.95)

Baker's Secret 1061483 10-by-16-Inch Nonstick Cooling Rack, Set of 2 for $6.00 (list price $19.99)

Prepworks by Progressive Berry Keeper for $7.99 (list price $9.49)

Prepworks by Progressive Fresh Fruit and Vegetable Keeper - 1.9 Quart for $9.96 (list price $11.99)

Oster TSSTTRJBG1 Jelly Bean 2-Slice Toaster, Grey for $29.99 (list price $34.99)

Prepworks by Progressive Lettuce Keeper - 4.7 Quart for $11.99 (list price $12.99)

Norpro Stainless Steel Commercial Potato Ricer for $27.84 (list price $43.99)

Stainless Steel Kitchen Funnel with Removable Strainer/Filter for Essential/Cooking Oils, Flask Funnel for Transferring of Liquid, Fluid, Dry Ingredients & Powder, 5- Inch,Silver - HOXHA for $9.98 (list price $23.68)

POPCO Silicone Microwave Popcorn Popper with Handles for $9.99 (list price $34.99)

VonShef 7- Egg Electric Cooker Stainless Steel with Poacher & Steamer Attachment for $19.94 (list price $34.99)

ChefLand 3-Compartment Microwave Safe Food Container with Lid/Divided Plate/Bento Box/Lunch Tray with Cover, Black, 10-Pack for $6.78 (list price $19.95)

DRAGONN Zester Grater Sharp Stainless Steel Blade with Black Handle, Safety Cover and Rubber Footings for $9.95 (list price $19.95)

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Banana Hook - Ripen Bananas Naturally with Under Cabinet Banana Hanger / Banana Holder. Self-stick and Adheres Under Cabinets. for $6.00 (list price $11.99)

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The Original Hayden Autosoap - Premium Automatic Touchless Soap Dispenser - Fingerprint Resistant Brushed Stainless Steel - Hand Sanitiser compatible - (NEW Waterproof Base!) for $29.00 (list price $69.95)

Organize It All 2-Tier Shelf with Towel Bars (1753W-1) for $14.25 (list price $30.02)

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InnoGear IG-100ml-OD Aromatherapy Essential Oil Diffuser for $29.28 (list price $35.43)

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Adjustable Heavy Duty Bed Sheet Grippers Holders Cover Suspenders (Set of 4) for $8.99 (list price $11.99)

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AmazonBasics Microfiber Sheet Set - Queen, Dark Grey for $16.98 (list price $19.99)

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AcuRite 02081M Weather Station with Jumbo Display & Atomic Clock for $40.01 (list price $49.99)

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Gardinesca Beard Oil for $12.99 (list price $31.99)

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"Touch Me" Dry Skin Body Brush - Natural Bristle for $6.99 (list price $14.99)

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Daily Power Scrub Facial Cleanser For Men - 8 OZ - Face Wash + Energizing Toner + Exfoliating Scrub All-In-One - Natural & Certified Organic Ingredients for $24.95 (list price $39.00)

Arabica Coffee Scrub 15 oz, Anjou Body Scrub with Honey, Sea Salt, VB, VE for $8.99 (list price $35.99)

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Gillette Series 3X Action Shave Gel, Sensitive, 7 Ounce (Pack of 6) for $12.48 (list price $23.94)

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Philips Norelco Bodygroom Series 7100, BG2040 for $59.95 (list price $69.99)

Tweezerman LTD Stainless Steel Mini Slant Tweezer (Colors May Vary) for $9.19 (list price $14.00)

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Real Techniques Miracle Complexion Sponge (2 sponges in each pack) for $8.24 (list price $10.99)

GNC Mega Men Energy & Metabolism Tablets, 90 Count for $9.99 (list price $22.99)

Dial Antibacterial Deodorant Bar Soap, White, 4 Ounce Bars, 10 Count (Pack of 3) for $14.64 (list price $18.93)

Nexcare Absolute Waterproof First Aid Tape, 1-Inch x 5-Yard Roll (Pack of 6) for $20.28 (list price $28.54)

BESTOPE Blackhead Remover Pimple Comedone Extractor Tool Best Acne Removal Kit for $9.99 (list price $19.99)

OFFICE, SCHOOL, AND CRAFTS

Honey-Can-Do TBL-03539 Portable Laptop Lap Desk with Handle, Blue, 23 L x 16 W x 2.5 H for $16.24 (list price $26.99)

MagniViz Magnifying Glass with Light and Stand - Handheld or Hands Free LED Lighted Magnifier (3x) - Bonus Cloth for $8.99 (list price $19.99)

Kate Spade New York "Let's Do Lunch" Business Card Holder for $19.00 (list price $20.00)

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ALEX Toys Little Hands Ready Set Paste for $6.49 (list price $12.00)

Officemate Designer Paper Clip Dispenser with Heavy Duty Magnet, Clear (93695) for $9.45 (list price $12.18)

ALEX Toys DIY Wear So Many Headbands, 10 headbands for $13.54 (list price $29.50)

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History
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When the FBI Went After Mad Magazine
April 29, 2017
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Warner Bros., IStock

In a memo dated November 30, 1957, an agent with the Federal Bureau of Investigation identified as “A. Jones” raised an issue of critical importance: "Several complaints to the Bureau have been made concerning the 'Mad' comic book [sic], which at one time presented the horror of war to readers."

Attached to the document were pages taken from a recent issue of Mad that featured a tongue-in-cheek game about draft dodging. Players who earned such status were advised to write to FBI Director J. Edgar Hoover and request a membership card certifying themselves as a “full-fledged draft dodger.” At least three readers, the agent reported, did exactly that.

Mad, of course, was the wildly popular satirical magazine that was reaching upwards of a million readers every other month. Published by William Gaines, who had already gotten into some trouble with Congress when he was called to testify about his gruesome horror comics in 1954, Mad lampooned everyone and everything. But in name-checking the notoriously humorless Hoover, Gaines had invited the wrong kind of attention.

The memo got several facts incorrect: Mad had switched from a comic book to a magazine format in 1955, and it was Gaines’ E.C. Comics that had “presented the horror of war” in other titles. Despite getting these crucial pieces of information wrong, Jones didn’t hesitate to editorialize: "It is also of interest to note that…it is rather unfunny.”

The agent recommended the Bureau’s New York offices “make contact” with Mad’s headquarters to “advise them of our displeasure” and to make sure “that there be no repetition of such misuse of the Director’s name.”

Less than a week later, the Feds entered the hallowed hallways patrolled by Alfred E. Neuman. Their New York office would later report to Hoover directly that they had met with John Putnam, the magazine’s art director. (Conveniently, Gaines was not in that day.) Putnam told the agents he regretted the magazine using Hoover’s name and that nothing malicious was intended:

Putnam said that the use of the membership card and the name and address of the Director at the end of the game was referred to in their business as a 'gag' or 'kicker' in the same way that a comedian like Bob Hope or Milton Berle might use it.

Putnam swore that Mad would never again take Hoover’s name in vain; Gaines sent off a letter of sincere apology to the Director.

The Smoking Gun

Just two years later, in January 1960, Agent A. Jones was forced to file a second notice about the shenanigans at Mad. A recent issue had made not one, but two derogatory mentions of Hoover, including one in which he is blatantly and disrespectfully portrayed as being associated with a vacuum cleaner, “The Honorable J. Edgar Electrolux”:  

Obviously, Gaines was insincere in this promise…and has again placed the Director in a position of ridicule…it is felt we should contact Gaines…and firmly and severely admonish them concerning our displeasure…

It was by now clear Mad was not only polluting young minds, but that Gaines had absolutely no regard for the honorable Hoover’s position.

In June 1961, the FBI’s worst fears had been realized. Detailing an investigation into a Seattle-area extortion attempt led to the following:

Investigation … resulted in gaining admissions from the victim’s 12-year-old son and an 11-year-old companion that they had gotten the idea of preparing an extortion letter after reading the June issue of 'Mad' magazine.   

Working in concert with the Buffalo field office, the FBI determined another letter had been sent by a young boy demanding money in the style of a recent issue’s extortion advice. And there was a third under review that was sent to the agent of some professional wrestlers.

Mad was quickly becoming the scourge of the federal government. The FBI suggested the magazine be brought to the attention of the Attorney General for “instructing [readers] to deliberately violate the Federal Law.” They tried reaching out to Gaines, who was on vacation. (Time and again, Gaines simply not being in the office when called upon seemed to confound the FBI.)

Agent A. Jones, having exhausted all attempts to reason with these irresponsible anarchists, filed one last memo:

Despite assurances, they have continued to publish slurring remarks about the Bureau. In view of this situation, it was deemed useless to protest all such irresponsible remarks to a magazine of this poor judgment and capriciousness … we will have to wait and see if our action will result in increased discretion by this publication.

Poor A. Jones was unable to put an end to Mad’s reign of terror. But the magazine redeemed itself somewhat. In the 1970s, when the Bureau was trying to suppress the influence of the Ku Klux Klan, an agent suggested they copy and distribute a sticker from the magazine that read, “Support Mental Illness—Join the Klan!”

Hoover said no.

Additional Sources:
The Smoking Gun.

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