The Beautiful Crappiness of the Swiss Colony Catalog

Serendipitously, a catalog from mailorder gift peddlers, The Swiss Colony arrived in my mailbox. The postman wasn’t paying attention to what block he was on, and getting Pam’s catalog by accident was an early Christmas gift. My family ordered from The Swiss Colony maybe once, but that’s all it takes to be on their mailing list FOR LIFE. Up there next to reading the commemorative plate ads in Parade Magazine, I used to love looking through The Swiss Colony. It’s holiday porn at its finest.


It was now mine. In my excitement, I immediate thought about ordering something from my catalog. With my first purchase, I could get a free tin of chocolate covered macadamia nuts, a 24.95 value. Twenty-five dollar nuts. What a goddamn deal. And then I could be on the mailing list FOR LIFE, creating a holiday tradition–the arrival of Swiss Colony–for the rest of my life, and even few years after my life, until someone tells them I’m dead. But I’m getting waaay ahead of myself. First I had to pick something out.

So I put a French Bread pizza in the oven, cracked open a can of Barq’s, and settled down at the kitchen table to take a look. The gifts are so crappy. The chocolates, so weird. The descriptions, so haiku-like. And so this is Christmas.


“Legend has it that the animals of the forest can talk on Christmas Eve. And on that special night, it’s clear these cute little guys would wish you a very Merry Christmas. Everyone will savor the swirls of cake and vanilla butter creme filling, covered with a milk chocolate blanket (8″ long) — and they’ll delight over the adorable pure milk chocolate raccoons!”

Have you ever heard that legend? That animals can talk on Christmas Eve? I haven’t. I know personally that they can talk all year. Let’s eat a chocolate mold of them to celebrate. It’ll set you back a cool $22.95.

If this log was in our house when we were kids–I can just imagine my sister and I fighting to the bloody, bitter end OVER WHO GETS TO EAT THE BABY RACCOON FACE. Our father would be in the other room drinking a beer. Our mother would try in vain to ignore us. Our grandmother would cheerily say, let’s cut the baby raccoon face in half so you can share! Grandmothers are awesome.


“It will be a very happy holiday with this jolly fellow as the centerpiece of your table! Five layers of moist white cake and four layers of chocolate butter creme filling are covered with Swiss creme icing and hand-decorated features.”

I can hear the woman from the late night Lite FM radio show reading these descriptions in her soothing voice. I just think it’s amusing that this ugly-ass cake is their flagship cake, the cover-boy of cakes. (A basement-bargain at $21.95.) And past the age of, oh say 10, can you imagine eating four fucking layers of butter creme, in chocolate flavor, no less? (Round Two of The Fight: MOM, I WANT TO EAT THE SANTA FACE.)

Then there’s the gifts section of the catalog. It’s your standard selection of stuff you could find at the Walgreen’s for $20 less. There’s the matching PJ sets made in Bangalore. There’s the flask (“a nip here, a bluff there”). There’s the generic colored pencil set. That’ll disappoint your kid. Shitty colored pencils. Do you remember the suckiness of non-Crayola art supplies? The crayons drew dull-colored lines. The pencil snapped. The erasers didn’t erase. The markers ran out after spelling your name.

There’s this blanket —


For sitcom marathons, your favorite soap or the big game, this cozy blanket keeps the remote handy. Plus, it even has a pocket on the back to tuck your feet into!

It’s a personalized TV blanket and it’s only $26.95. See how much Brandon loves the blanket? He doesn’t even have to inconveniently hold the remote in his hand. And he has that has pouch to put his feet into. Yeesh. I really hate this picture. It looks like they let him sit in the visitor chair at the hospital. And what’s he drinking? A Zima?

Or there’s this Fiber Optic Rainbow Trout for a whopping $44.95 —


“With this good looking catch sitting on his desk, your favorite fisherman can get a taste of the lake indoors. Fiber optic illumination perfectly mimics glistening water on this realistically hand-painted trout. Metal with a painted resin and metal stand.”

Actually, I kinda like Fiber Optic Rainbow Trout.

We also have the savory selections from the Swiss Colony, the preservative-packed, no-need-to-refrigerate meats and cheeses. Creepy! I heard a rumor this stuff lives in your stomach for 7 years, alongside bubble gum and Twinkies. Does anyone out there want to defend Hickory Farms vs Swiss Colony?

This is called The Meat Stick Bonanza. Our dog used to love these, when they were known as Pup-peroni’s.


The Internet has largely removed the need for mail order and catalogs, and sure catalogs crimp on the environment, but I have to admit, something has been lost. There was a definite magic to flipping through catalogs. Good to see Swiss Colony is still sending out dead trees.

Finally, I dug deep into the internet and found some pictures from the 1978 Swiss Colony Christmas catalog.

(Images link to the blog, Yard Sale Bloodbath, awesome name.)




12 thoughts on “The Beautiful Crappiness of the Swiss Colony Catalog

  1. Glad you appreciate the dementedness of the Swiss Colony world … both past AND present! (that blanket thing is really freaking me out ….)

  2. I laughed until I pee’d my chamois. Great blog. Sometimes I find reading the drug store mailers relaxes me. I don’t know why, but its kind of like shopping without actually spending any money and so it probably fills some sort of instinctive gathering need. Anyway, now I know I’m not that wierd. Then on the rare occasion I get the Harry and David catalog, I’ll page through that too. But they’re stuff tastes like crap and costs a mint.

  3. When I first read your comment about the french bread pizza and the Barq’s, I thought you were cleverly giving a nod to the type of person who would order from Swiss Colony. Then I read your earlier posts. Oh well, still funny!

  4. Oh I was being half clever. I did open a can of Barq’s, but I did not eat the French Bread Pizza that night. But I thought a FBP would make a good meal to go with the catalog.

  5. OK OK. I took the bait, hook, line & sinker. I felt a warm fuzzy feeling & felt sorry for my apt. mgr. & her maintenance man. They are underfunded & over worked. So what could be better than to mail order before Christmas an assortment of holiday goodies to be given to them & a few things for myself. And my order included a little something for the maintenance man, mixed nuts, because he is diabetic & can’t handle the sweets.
    But I think, now that the dust has settled a bit, that I could have done better at a place like TARGET & saved the shipping & handling which is about one third of the amount charged by Swiss Colony. And don’t get me started on the prices for the goods delivered.
    You might note that TARGET got the nod for future orders, not Walmart. They are ordering everything they can from China & I rebel at the thought that my puny spending is going to come out of somebody’s unemployment check because Walmart wants to remain #8 in the line up of entire countries & someone equaly blind runs Swiss Colony.

    Sincerely, James.

  6. Thanks for that laugh! You need to take this stand-up act on the road!! I used to be OBSESSED with the Swiss Colony catalog, staring at it for hours and man your comments cracked me up!

  7. Im embarrased to say I fall prey to these swiss colony catalogs, as a child my aunt would send us packs each christmas, we were always excited and disappointed by them, the packs have shrunk in size over the years and the quality remains unchanged, not good. I roared at your blog, found it to be very amusing. I still order items, still holding out hope they will be satisfying; if I find the right item, no luck yet.

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