You probably remember popsicle stick jokes as a fun, charming, innocent part of your childhood. Jason Kreher and Matt Moore are here to wreck those memories.
The pair of creatives at Wieden + Kennedy in Portland, Ore., have made a fake product called Schadenfreezers—popsicles with the most depressing jokes you can imagine. (For now, at least, they're just animated GIFs.) The tagline is: "The strawberry, blueberry and lemon-flavored joy derived from the suffering of others." When you read them, your sense of happiness drips away much like the sad melting treats themselves.
Kreher and Moore made the first GIFs last year. (Sample jokes: "How many lives does a cat have?" "Only one." "Why did the lifeguard wear pants?" "Because he was ashamed of his body." "Why did the clown go to jail?" "For his collection of child pornography.")
Now they're back with a whole new set. You can check some of them out below, and the rest over at schadenfreezers.com. There are 11 new ones, and more will roll out gradually.
We caught up with Kreher and Moore over email to ask them just what their problem is.
This is Round 2, but take us back a bit. Where did this twisted idea come from? Did neither of you have a happy childhood?
We honestly can't remember how these came about; it was probably just us wanting to visualize the awful things we think are funny. It's kind of like wagging your penis around in public when you're a little kid … it's the wrong kind of attention, but it's attention nonetheless.
Popsicle-stick jokes are generally corny. Why make them existentially bleak?
I don't think either one of us is particularly cynical, but it's fun to take something innocent and make it profane. There's nothing wrong with pondering life's greatest tragedies while enjoying a nice snack.
What's your joke writing process like? How do you know when you have a winner? And how do you know when you've gone too far?
We probably wrote around 200 of these to get to our final ones. I think they work best when the setup feels like it could be an actual popsicle stick joke, but then stabs you in the gut with the punch line. And with these, there's no such thing as too far. If we suspect one has gone too far that means it's probably going to make the cut.
What are your favorite jokes from the new batch, and why?
Jason: The janitor one is my favorite. It's probably the most dehumanizing and bleak thing that's ever occurred to me, which was kind of my bar for these.
Matt: That plane one feels like it's going to be some awful pun and then it ends up as an awful truth. Kids love that.
There was some outcry about the original round of jokes. Do you think people don't want to see innocent popsicle-joke humor messed with?
The only people who got really riled up were the few who thought this was an actual product, and that we'd somehow bribed the press to feature them. I like thinking of us as a corrupt, fat-cat popsicle corporation greasing the palms of the Huffington Post Arts & Culture editors.
The animations seem more sophisticated this time. Was that just a general improvement you wanted to make?
What a nice thing to say! Matt has been wanting to experiment with stop motion for a while now, and this new round was a great opportunity to make these stand out. We host the site on Tumblr for a couple reasons, but a big one is that Tumblr features a lot of funny stuff and a lot of artful stuff, but rarely do the two meet. These feel different because they're something you want to look at and also something you might laugh at.
Have you ever actually produced Schadenfreezers as a product? If not, would you be interested in that?
Sure. If any of your readers are popsicle manufacturers who secretly kind of hate themselves, please have them contact us at your earliest convenience.