Spectravision ‘China Syndrome’ Advertisement, 1982

After a partial nuclear meltdown occurred at the Three Mile Island nuclear power plant only days before the release of a 1979 film discussing just that possibility, the term “China Syndrome”—used by nuclear power experts to describe a hypothetical scenario in which an overheating reactor core melted its way to the other side of the planet—quickly passed into common usage…


Uzi Sales Brochures, 1980 – 1984

Immortalized when one appeared in the hands of U.S. Secret Service Special Agent Robert Wanko during John Hinckley Jr.’s 1981 attempt to assassinate President Reagan, the Uzi—a submachine gun designed by German-born Israeli Uziel Gal, from whom it took its name—was sold to more law enforcement and military markets than any other weapon in its class…


You Dropped a Bomb on Me: Jerry Ahern’s ‘The Survivalist’

By Richard McKenna

In the early 1980s, the spectrum of opinions regarding life after a nuclear exchange ranged from that held by the scientific establishment—at best a severely compromised environment, and at worst the extinction of the human race—to another, less pessimistic view that sensed an opportunity for a mankind neutered by the shackles of modern society to return to the more unambiguous, manly, uncompromised moral certainties of a simpler age…


Kool-Aid Man Television Commercials, 1978

Kool-Aid was invented in Hastings, Nebraska in 1927 in the kitchen of salesman and inventor Edwin Perkins, who took one of his fruit juice patent recipes and dehydrated it. In 1953, Perkins sold the Kool-Aid recipe to food conglomerate General Foods (which had already gobbled up prominent brands Jell-O and Maxwell House in the 1920s), and thus began Kool-Aid’s ascent to nationwide fame…


“It’s Living That’s Treacherous”: Pop Culture Reflections of Jonestown

By Michael Grasso

American society collectively shuddered in November 1978 as news of the Jonestown cult mass death began to filter home from Guyana. Jim Jones, head of the Peoples Temple, commanded the death of over 900 of his followers, as well as the murder of a U.S. Congressman, four journalists, and a defecting Temple member, in a spasm of cult violence never seen before in the modern age…