Since 1985, Topps has had a great marketing success with their irreverent parody and satire series of the Cabbage Patch Kids with their own Garbage Pail Kids series. And although the series has had it’s own share of critics, including some parents, kids love the tasteless and outrageous artwork and characters in the series. Interestingly, although the U.S. Supreme Court had later widened the constitutional protections for parody, satire and comedy after the lawsuit by Rev. Jerry Falwell against HUSTLER Magazine failed for their infamous outhouse parody of a liquor ad, Coleco had sued Topps for trademark infringement, but an out of court settlement was reached to change some of the artwork of Garbage Pail Kids to less resemble the Cabbage Patch Kids products. Even MAD Magazine has had it’s own share of lawsuits for some of it’s satire. And although Carol Burnett has done more than her own fair share of satires and comedy based off of other popular culture icons such as GONE WITH THE WIND, where curtain rods were an important part of the costumes, Burnett once sued the producers of FAMILY GUY over an 18second long parody of her cleaning lady character cleaning up a sex shop. A judge dismissed this case.
Without the threat of lawsuits or other legal hassles, Topps has voluntarily rejected some of the artwork that was proposed for the Garbage Pail Kids cards since 1985 that the bubble gum card maker decided were too offensive to publish. In one case, “Baby Abey” was rejected because it was based off of Abraham Lincoln’s Ford Theater assassination. Another rejected card art involved a baby in a bottle called “Pickled Pete” who looked much like an aborted baby in a bottle, much like antiabortion groups like to display at public events like state fairs. Other rejected art cards involved violence or a tasteless racially insensitive take on interracial children.
A number of schools have banned bringing Garbage Pail Kids cards to school, mainly because of classroom disruptions they may cause. And a number of complaints were able to pressure networks not to air THE GARBAGE PAIL KIDS MOVIE when originally scheduled.
In 2012, plans were announced for a new movie based off THE GARBAGE PAIL KIDS as well as a rebooted card series by Topps. The rebooted card series is supposed to have a look more similar to the old card series.