15 Bizarre Star Wars-Branded Products

Star Wars is one of the most profitable movie franchises in history, partly because of its seemingly endless supply of branded merchandise and movie tie-in products. Lucasfilm is famous for granting product licenses to just about any company that wants to sell Star Wars merchandise, but sometimes it just goes too far. Here are 15 bizarre Star Wars-branded products.

1. STAR WARS EARLY BIRD CERTIFICATE PACKAGE

With the surprise success of the original Star Wars in 1977, demand and excitement for the space opera was so high and rampant that its official toy licensee, Kenner, couldn’t fill demand for the upcoming busy Christmas shopping season. The toy company’s solution? Sell a Star Wars Early Bird Certificate Package, which was simply an empty box ... with a promise. If you bought the package for $7.99 (about $31 in today’s dollars) and sent in the mail-in certificate postcard, Kenner would send you Luke Skywalker, Princess Leia, R2-D2, and Chewbacca action figures six months later. It was extremely successful and proved people will buy just about anything with the words “Star Wars” on it—even an empty box. An unopened and sealed package can go for about $8000 on eBay.

2. REVENGE OF THE SITH AIR SICKNESS BAGS 

In 2005, Virgin Atlantic partnered with LucasArts to promote the then-new Revenge of the Sith video game. Four limited-edition Star Wars air sickness bags were made for all transatlantic flights. One bag included instructions on how to operate a lightsaber, while others featured a diagram of what’s inside of a lightsaber and how a Jedi Knight duels a Sith Lord. Another featured an airplane’s seating chart which highlighted the Light and Dark Sides of the Force. 

3. C-3PO TAPE DISPENSER

 No Star Wars fan’s desk is complete without a C-3PO tape dispenser. After the release of The Empire Strikes Back, Sigma made an all-ceramic tape dispenser featuring C-3PO in a very awkward position. It’s weird to grab a piece of tape from a droid’s crotch, but an original C-3PO tape dispenser goes for about $200 on eBay, so it might be worth it.

4. STAR WARS APPLES

The Bothan Spy

Nothing says Star Wars like ... a bushel of apples? A number of grocery store chains across the country are stocking Star Wars brand apples. The Sage Fruit Company licensed Star Wars for their brand of red delicious apples, which come in a plastic bag with Darth Vader on the front and Yoda and a Stormtrooper on the back. The Sage Fruit Company also sells officially licensed Sesame Street and Disney’s Frozen branded apples. 

5. WAMPA ARM ICE SCRAPER

ThinkGeek

Remember when Luke Skywalker cut off the Wampa’s arm at the beginning of The Empire Strikes Back? In 2012, ThinkGeek had the bright idea to make an ice scraper that looked like a plush severed Wampa arm for your car’s windshield. It’s a good way to scrape ice on your car and keep your arm warm while you’re doing it. 

6. STAR WARS COFFEE CREAMER

Nestle and Lucasfilm teamed up for the release of The Force Awakens with officially licensed Star Wars Coffee-mate creamers. Nestle released five limited-edition Coffee-mate flavors and bottles, including Darth Vader Espresso Chocolate, C-3PO Hazelnut, Chewbacca Spiced Latte, R2-D2 French Vanilla, and Boba Fett Italian Sweet Cream—any one of which pairs well with Darth Vader's Dark Side Roast Coffee

7. CHOP SABERS 

According to Obi-Wan Kenobi in A New Hope, a lightsaber is the “formal weapon of a Jedi Knight. Not as clumsy or random as a blaster. More skill than simple sight was required for its use. An elegant weapon.” But to the people at Samurai Market in Japan, a pair of tiny lightsabers can also be used as chopsticks.

8. DARTH VADER BLACK BURGER AND JEDI BURGER

As part of a promotion for the 3-D re-release of The Phantom Menace in 2012, French fast food chain Quick offered a Darth Vader Dark Burger, which was a double cheeseburger with spicy piquant pepper sauce on a jet-black bun. Quick also offered a less exciting jalapeno Jedi Burger with mayonnaise on a ciabatta bun.

9. STAR WARS FISHING KIT

Fishing gear manufacturer Shakespeare released a line of Star Wars-themed fishing gear, including tackle boxes, backpacks, and lightsaber-shaped fishing rods. The fishing kit came with Star Wars: The Clone Wars decals for the kids.

10. LANDO CALRISSIAN DISGUISE KIT

Dangerous Minds

Available exclusively during Star Wars Celebration V in Orlando in 2010, the Lando Calrissian Disguise Kit was simply a stick-on mustache that made you look like the scoundrel of Cloud City.

11. STAR WARS TOILET PAPER

In 2005, German household paper company Zewa partnered with Lucasfilm for the release of Revenge of the Sith. They offered limited edition Yoda action figures with the purchase of officially licensed Star Wars toilet paper combo packs.

12. TAUNTAUN SLEEPING BAGS

ThinkGeek

If you ever wanted to be warm and cozy inside of a Tauntaun just like Luke Skywalker in The Empire Strikes Back, then ThinkGeek has got you covered. Though it started out as a clever April Fool’s joke in 2009, the Tauntaun Sleeping Bag quickly turned into one of the most sought after movie tie-in products on the Internet. Demand was so high for the Star Wars sleeping bag that ThinkGeek acquired a license from Lucasfilm to officially manufacture and sell the item.

13. STAR WARS PORCELAIN CHINA SET

Gearfuse

No special occasion is complete without your limited-edition Star Wars china set. Impress your family and friends with your deep devotion to a galaxy far, far away and fine tableware with this beautifully crafted—and classy—porcelain china featuring such beloved Star Wars characters as Darth Vader, R2-D2, Yoda, and Chewbacca.   

14. AMPLE HILLS ICE CREAM

Ample Hills

Beloved Brooklyn ice cream company Ample Hills is getting in on The Force Awakens action with two limited edition, Star Wars-themed flavors: The Light Side is a marshmallow ice cream with homemade crispie clusters and handmade cocoa crispies (“to represent the dark side still lurking within the light,” according to the company). The Dark Side is an ultra-dark chocolate ice cream, chock full of espresso fudge brownies, cocoa crispies, and white chocolate pearls.

15. JAR JAR BINKS LOLLIPOP

Funny Junk

The infamous Jar Jar Binks lollipop from The Phantom Menace might just be the most bizarre movie tie-in product ever released with any Star Wars film. It was a push-up style lollipop with the Gungan’s hideous reptile-like tongue as the sweet candy inside. Who thought it would be a good idea to make a candy where kids actively French kiss Jar Jar?

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Emojipedia
9 Smiley Facts About Emoji
Emojipedia
Emojipedia

For many people, speaking in emoji is almost as natural as speaking in, well, words. However, less than two decades ago, the collection of symbols was just a blip on the digital horizon. You may be adept at planning dinner with friends using only smileys and food characters, but how much do you really know about emoji?

1. SHIGETAKA KURITA IS CONSIDERED THE FATHER OF EMOJI.

Getty Images

In 1999, the Japanese designer Shigetaka Kurita created the first collection of cell phone emoji for the debut of "the world’s first major mobile internet system," called NTT Docomo's i-mode. The program they were working with "limited users to up to 250 characters in an email," according to Kurita, "so we thought emoji would be a quick and easy way for them to communicate. Plus using only words in such a short message could lead to misunderstandings … It’s difficult to express yourself properly in so few characters." He used a variety of everyday symbols, Chinese characters, street signs, and manga imagery for inspiration, and eventually came up with 176 12-pixel by 12-pixel characters—a much-simplified version of the images we now text on a regular basis.

"At first we were just designing for the Japanese market," Kurita said in 2016. "I didn’t assume that emoji would spread and become so popular internationally. I’m surprised at how widespread they have become. Then again, they are universal, so they are useful communication tools that transcend language."

2. THERE WAS A LOT OF DEBATE ABOUT THE ADDITION OF A HOT DOG.

Seriously. Digital Trends reported on the dispute in 2014, when some users were so incensed over the lack of a hot dog emoji that they even petitioned the White House to make it happen. As it turns out, there is a very good reason that the character wasn’t initially created.

"The problem with the hot dog emoji," Mark Davis, co-founder of the Unicode Consortium, told The Wall Street Journal, "is, what do you then want with the hot dog? Would we do one with ketchup or without?" He makes a valid point—toppings are important. But Kurita wasn’t opposed to adding in the traditional stateside cuisine: "In Japan, we have onigiri [rice ball] emoji, so why not hot dogs? Hot dogs are onigiri for Americans, right?"

(Not to worry—the hot dog won out in 2015, and Apple now has a mustard-covered emoji.)

3. EVEN KURITA IS MYSTIFIED BY THE AMBIGUITY OF THE HEART EMOJI.

"People of all ages understand that a single emoji can say more about their emotions than text," Kurita recently said of his creation. "Emoji have grown because they meet a need among mobile phone users. I accept that it’s difficult to use emoji to express complicated or nuanced feelings, but they are great for getting the general message across." However, even he acknowledges that messages can get mixed when it comes to emoji like the heart, even though he initially designed the heart to mean "love."

"I wouldn’t know if she liked me or not," Kurita told the Verge, when asked what he thinks receiving a heart emoji means, "but I’d think it was a good thing. I wouldn’t think it was a negative."

4. THE ENTIRETY OF MOBY-DICK WAS TRANSLATED INTO EMOJI.

In 2009, Fred Benenson—Kickstarter’s second full-time employee—used his company's platform to fund an emoji-translation project, which he titled Emoji Dick. Benenson was an avid fan of emoji and wanted to find a way to push the characters' creativity. He raised more than $3500 to pay a team to help him translate Herman Melville’s saga of man and whale into emoji. While it doesn’t quite translate in each case, Benenson told Smithsonian magazine, "As a conceptual piece, it’s successful."

But why Moby-Dick, besides the translation’s fantastic title? "I needed a public domain book that I could get the plain-text version of easily," Benenson told The New Yorker. "The Bible seemed too obvious."

These days, Emoji Dick has a place in the Library of Congress, who acquired the work in 2014 and notes that it captures the culture in this particular moment in time. "It’s up to the readers of Emoji Dick to decide whether to take it seriously as content," Michael Neubert, a digital projects specialist at the Library of Congress, said.

If you’re looking for some light reading, you can purchase a copy of the 736-page translation here.

5. EARLY ON, BUSINESSES USED EMOJI TO CONNECT WITH CUSTOMERS.

Keeping in mind that emoji launched in 1999, long before cell phones developed into the tech-savvy devices we have today, emoji originally had much different purposes. For example, The New York Times explains that Docomo, the company that developed emoji, used them to deliver weather reports to pager users.

While this explains many of the weather-related emoji, such as the lightning bolt, sun, umbrella, and snowman, Docomo also used the characters to guide users to local businesses. A hamburger represented fast food, while the martini glass stood for a bar.

"Everything was shown by text. Even the weather forecast was displayed as 'fine,'" Kurita told Storify. "When I saw it, I found it difficult to understand. Japanese TV weather forecasts have always included pictures or symbols to describe the weather—for example, a picture of sun meant 'sunny' … I'd rather see a picture of the sun, instead of a text saying 'fine.'"

6. THE MOST POPULAR EMOJI ISN'T THE SLICE OF PIZZA—OR THE THUMBS UP.

The most popular emoji vary from country to country. In July 2016, Metro reported that Twitter ran some analytics and says the "despairing crying face" is the most-used in the United States, Canada, and the U.K. Another popular choice is the musical notes, which is a top pick in Colombia, Brazil, and Argentina.

Additionally, Twitter users tend to favor the beer emoji over the steaming cup of coffee, and that the full heart is tweeted more frequently than the broken heart. When it comes to food, the birthday cake is most-used, followed by the classic slice of pizza, and the strawberry rounds out the top three.

The popularity of emoji is constantly in flux, so Twitter even did a month-by-month breakdown. Unsurprisingly, the skull was most-used in October, while the Christmas tree owned December. Another classic, the "100" symbol, was the most popular in November.

7. THERE'S A REASON THE IOS POOP EMOJI LOOKS SO SIMILAR TO THE ICE CREAM CONE.

In 2012, New York magazine interviewed Willem Van Lancker, who helped create 400 of the original 500 Apple characters. (The conversation took place over text, naturally.) When asked about the similarity between the poop and ice cream emoji, Van Lancker replied, "Some design elements may have been reused between them …"

8. THE FATHER OF EMOTICONS ISN'T A FAN OF EMOJI.

Long before emoji, people communicated with emoticons—representations of facial expressions created with punctuation marks. While emoji are undoubtedly the more detailed, colorful set of characters, Carnegie Mellon computer science professor Scott Fahlman tends to prefer his original form, which he traces to a 1982 message board conversation.

"I propose the following character sequence for joke markers: :-) Read it sideways," Fahlman had told the group, and before long, the expression spread and was soon used at other universities before making its way into casual digital conversations worldwide.

But when it comes to emoji, Fahlman told the Independent, "I think they are ugly, and they ruin the challenge of trying to come up with a clever way to express emotions using standard keyboard characters. But perhaps that's just because I invented the other kind."

9. THE MUSEUM OF MODERN ART OWNS THE ORIGINAL EMOJI COLLECTION.

Getty

Yep, the set of emoji Kurita created back in 1999 is now part of MoMA’s permanent display, starting in December 2016. And they aren't the only digital objects on display: The museum previously acquired the "@" symbol in 2012.

The collection resides in the museum’s lobby and represents a balance between modernity and hieroglyphics, one of the oldest forms of written communication. However, as ancient as the roots of emoji may be, the original collection's influence in modern culture remains strong. "It is hard to overstate it. I mean if you think about it, we cannot live without emojis today," Paola Antonelli, the senior curator in the department of architecture and design, told NPR. "We've become used into condensing our thoughts and our kind of emotions in them."

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