May 29, 2019
The seventh PROJECT:OBJECT volume is a 25-part series of true stories about fetishes. That is to say: objects with which we are obsessed, to which we are devoted, and from the influence of which we cannot escape.
I rescued this sad box of Ayds from my grandmother’s kitchen cupboard shortly after her passing in 1993. It was trash to be discarded, covered in dust. As a passing curiosity I picked it up and did a quick calculation. Ayds had been off the market for the better part of a decade by that point. Its moniker’s unfortunate similarity to the disease of the same name had sullied the Ayds brand, to put it mildly. The popular “reducing candy” succumbed to the ensuing PR disaster, leading to a decline in sales and the product’s eventual demise sometime in the mid-1980s. And this was an earlier box design than the one I remembered from my days working at the drug store in college in the early ’80s. The smart-looking design aesthetic of the package held some clues to the brand’s eventual identity crisis; made to be sold alongside “diet pills” like Dexatrim, adjacent to Flintstone vitamins and Geritol, but within grabbing distance of the Whitman’s samplers and Haley’s M-O. This old box of science candies was designed to appeal to adults who might be attracted to the word “plan,” applied to weight-loss caramels. (I never really knew what Ayds was: Did Ayds have an appetite suppressant in it? Caffeine?? No. Turns out, Ayds was just a vitamin pill in the form of a piece of candy, a precursor, I suppose, to today’s gummy-bear vitamins. If a person was restricting their diet or skipping meals, they could just eat Ayds and still get some guilt-free nutrition as well as some of those delicious “available calories.” According to the list of ingredients, Ayds was 72.5% corn syrup, 9.9% fat. So, it’s Tootsie Rolls, basically.) There was still product inside this box, wrapped in cellophane, dried out and hardened, along with a few grocery coupons grandma had clipped, stowed in there, and forgotten about… all of it dated 1974, the year Rhoda went on the air. This, I realized, was probably the first and last box of Ayds grandma ever bought, its life spent migrating to the back of her cupboard. She’d hung on to those fossilized caramels for twenty years. Impressive. It was the kind of Depression-era household thrift she was known for and which prevented her from ever throwing anything away. Not even Ayds. This box had come so far, it seemed to me. I couldn’t bear to see it just go into the trash, so I wiped it off and put it in my suitcase. And now these reducing candies are 45 years old and hard as dice — beautiful shiny brown dice. So I keep them around, for old times’ sake, collecting dust in my kitchen.
FETISHES: INTRODUCTION | Josh Foer on DEATH MASK | Beth Lisick on MURDERED-OUT KFC BUCKET | Ramona Lyons on RABBIT BOX | Friederike Paetzold on OLD HANDS | Katya Apekina on MISSISSIPPI WATER | Matthew Daniel on PIPE CLEANER FIGURE | Christina Couch on LEECH ACTION FIGURE | Kenneth Goldsmith on THEWLIS SOCK | Matthew Sharpe on GLASSES | Katrina Brown Hunt on DAY OF THE DEAD FIGURINE | Niela Orr on IVERSON SNEAKERS | Toni Schlesinger on CLOUD ERASE BOARD | Carlo Rotella on TONE BAR | Hilary Greenbaum on FAMILY PHOTO | Mimi Lipson on CLAWFOOT TUB | Wayne Chambliss on MATRYOSHKA CHEST | Chelsea Barabas on SWITCHBLADE | Ciara O’Rourke on MOLLY McINTIRE DOLL | Kelli Anderson on MIURA-ORI FOLD | Shawn Wolfe on BOX OF AYDS | Alyssa Giacobbe on LOVE NOTE | Marc Weidenbaum on DUMMY JACK | Abby Rapoport on MAGNATILES | Bryn Smith on DUCK UMBRELLA | Kerry Lauerman on WALL ORGANIZER.
FOSSILS: INTRODUCTION | Allegra Huston on SKATAWAY JACKET | Kevin Obsatz on HOMEMADE NUNCHUKS | Ian Bogost on DESKTOP TELEPHONE | Jeff Lewonczyk on CHA-CHA JACKET SCRAP | Kelly Horan on VOLVO KEY | & 20 MORE.
FLAIR: INTRODUCTION | Cliff Kuang on ROLEX DATEJUST | Ethan Zuckerman on LAPTOP STICKERS | Ann Shoket on LEATHER JACKET | Kembrew McLeod on KEMBREW MERCH | Paola Antonelli on MERMAID TEARS | & 20 MORE.
LOST OBJECTS (vol. 1): INTRODUCTION | Kate Bernheimer on MULLET WIG (ill. Amy Evans) | Dan Piepenbring on COLOGNE (ill. Josh Neufeld) | Doug Dorst on STRATOCASTER (ill. John Holbo) | Paul Lukas on VANILLA BEAN (ill. Allison Bamcat) | Mimi Lipson on DODGE DART (ill. Mister Reusch) | & 20 MORE.
ILLICIT OBJECTS: INTRODUCTION | Kio Stark on PEEPSHOW TOKEN | Sari Wilson on TOMBSTONE PARTS | Annalee Newitz on CAR-BOMB REMNANT | Tito Bottitta on MOONINITE DEVICE | Eric Bennett on DIRTY MAGAZINE | & 20 MORE.
TALISMANIC OBJECTS: INTRODUCTION | Veda Hille on CROCHET SHEEP | Gary Panter on DINOSAUR BONES | Jami Attenberg on SELENITE CRYSTAL | Annie Nocenti on MINIATURE DICE | Wayne Curtis on CLOCK WINDING KEY | & 20 MORE.
POLITICAL OBJECTS: INTRODUCTION | Luc Sante on CAMPAIGN PAMPHLETS | Lydia Millet on PVC POLAR BEAR | Ben Greenman on MATCHBOX CAR | Rob Baedeker on PRESIDENTS PLACEMAT | L.A. Kauffman on WHEATPASTE POSTER | & 20 MORE.
SIGNIFICANT OBJECTS at HILOBROW: PROJECT:OBJECT homepage | PROJECT:OBJECT newsletter | PROJECT:OBJECT objects (Threadless shop — all profits donated to the ACLU) | POLITICAL OBJECTS series (1Q2017) | TALISMANIC OBJECTS series (2Q2017) | ILLICIT OBJECTS series (3Q2017) | LOST OBJECTS vol. 1 series (4Q2017) | FLAIR series (2Q2018) | FOSSIL series (4Q2018) | FETISHES series (2Q2019) | LOST OBJECTS vol. 2 series (4Q2019) | MOVIE OBJECTS series (2Q2020). ALSO SEE: SIGNIFICANT OBJECTS website | SIGNIFICANT OBJECTS collection, ed. Rob Walker and Josh Glenn (Fantagraphics, 2012) | TAKING THINGS SERIOUSLY, ed. Josh Glenn (Princeton Architectural Press, 2007) | TAKING THINGS SERIOUSLY excerpts.