Vintage ad for cockroach racing set


Early 20th century ad for a cockroach racing kit (complete with roaches) sold by the International Mutoscope Reel Company, makers of arcade machines and dime museums. "Holds the crowd… Gets the money." (via Weird Universe)


    1. You know, I made an appointment with one, but when I went to his Motel to meet him, he never came out.

  1. “Over hurdles or any kind of hazards,” eh?  I dunno, I can imagine quite a bit.  It’s all too easy to envision an arthropod version of Wipeout but with little vats of Raid instead of water, a cage full of hungry iguanas suspended over the track, and strategically-placed Aim-n-Flames.

    To the Roach Community, I am King Bastard of Squashthatsonofabitch Mountain.

    1. I had been envisioning a preliminary round like a turtle race.  All the contestants are piled up in the exact middle of a dark room, then someone hits the light switch.  The first ten to find cover go on to Deathrace.

      “King Bastard of Squashthatsonofabitch Mountain”?  I guess that explains your pointy-toed shoes.

  2. ‘All you need is the track with its PATENTED STARTING DEVICE and a supply of SPECIAL RACING ROACHES, only obtainable through us.  ANYONE CAN OPERATE IT.  Life of average roach is 5 months.  New roaches can be supplied promptly.’

    An American cockroach can live up to two years.  These racing cockroaches with their shortened lifespans must have been the ‘greyhounds’ of the cockroach world.

  3. In college I lived above a restaurant in New York City, and we used to play a very similar game, except with less expensive equipment and more smashing.

  4. By all means, let’s breed faster cockroaches.

    Is it unfair to compete with flying cockroaches?

  5. I have to wonder how much overlap there was between cockroach racing and genteel ladies like the ones pictured in the ad? 

  6. This is the model on which the US Congress is now based. A bunch of cockroaches running in the same direction.

  7. Mutoscopes were what we in the UK called “what-the-butler-saw” machines: mechanical projectors with a little one-person viewing slot.  This might be considered NSFW, particularly if you’re from the 1920s.  Better than roaches, in any case.

  8. Kind of like HO-Gauge horse racing. From Europe, but where… Germany? Who on earth would bring roaches intentionally into a bar, nightclub, or an apartment… unless they were already freely available? Couldn’t they jump the track? Many puzzles here. 

  9. These are the only four women in the world who don’t run hell for leather away from the least hint of a roach. My wife screams like she sees Freddy Kreuger.

  10. C’mon Little Scurry!  C’mon Little Scurry!  Aw, fer the luva. . .

    *tears up betting slips, unfolds racing form stuck in back pocket*

  11. I’m imagining these “SPECIAL RACING ROACHES” with decals on them from their sponsors. Anybody know who makes roach feed, vitamins, and other racing accessories?

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