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THE BEST...THE BEAUTIFUL...AND THE BIZZARE | THE BEAUTIFUL
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Yeah, Baby! : Feeling groovy? A fresh stash of those psychedelic stickers from the '60s is just a kiss away

January 25, 1998|Mary Melton

A few months after the Summer of Love, Don Kracke, a partner in a Long Beach ad agency, covered the Ford station wagon sitting in his Palos Verdes driveway with psychedelic stick-on daisies, far-out polka dots and purple paisleys he'd designed on a whim. Neighborhood kids started asking for them, so Kracke cranked out 3,000 in magenta, hot pink, ochre and lime and sold them door-to-door and through a local hardware store. "I honestly thought the fad would run out by the end of 1967," Kracke recalls.

Before he knew it, Kracke was "in the middle of a real whoop-de-do." Practically overnight, his Rickie Tickie Stickies became a defining aesthetic of the late '60s. The daisy sticker in particular--a perfect and conveniently self-adhesive physical manifestation of flower power--took off in head shops from the Haight to Peoria. By the end of 1968, 90 million Rickie Tickie Stickies, at about 25 cents each, had been slapped on the LSD-infused landscape--from denim notebooks to flour canisters to VW micro-buses. "There's a picture of a soldier in the World Book Encyclopedia with one on his helmet," Kracke points out.

Rickie Tickie Inc. lasted six years--during which Kracke produced Rickie Tickie spinoffs, including promotional stickers for Eugene McCarthy's 1968 campaign--before he sold the business to a Minnesota company long since bankrupt. Kracke abandoned advertising and designed housewares for the next 25 years, but the lure of Rickie Tickies loomed. Last fall, taking note that the Rolling Stones were still touring successfully and that Volkswagen was about to relaunch its Beetle, Kracke took a booth at a Palos Verdes art fund-raiser and decorated it with Rickie Tickie daisies. When a 5-year-old gazed at them and murmured "cool," Kracke says, "I figured I was home free."

Much wiser and 30 years older, Kracke, 66, has trademarked the Rickie Tickie design, something he failed to do the first time around, when he counted no fewer than 34 knockoffs. He will reintroduce the Rickie Tickies ($5 for a pack of six) this month at Rea's hardware in Palos Verdes, where they debuted. Kracke has no qualms about reacquainting the Rickie Tickie Stickie to a populace more partial to absurdly immaculate sports utility vehicles than beat-up Beetles. And he has again plastered them all over the car in his driveway. Only this time, it's a Jaguar.

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