The Cheap Pop: The Noid Edition

As human beings, we’re so easily distracted. As I just wrote that, I looked at my kids across the room because they put on the TV instead of getting school work done while simultaneously looking up on IMDB who beat Lorraine Bracco for the Best Supporting Actress Oscar in 1991. See, I can’t even finish this book without getting — “squirrel!” Yep, we’re all the dog Dug in Up. Whether it’s family, work, life in general or this endless digital age that keeps our eyeballs, brain cells and hand muscles working overtime, it’s nearly impossible to get our attention — never mind keeping it. It was Whoopi Goldberg by the way — Ghost over Goodfellas. Anyway, there is one device that always works. It can immediately surprise us. It can provide instant comfort, a quick laugh, or a delightful “WTF” moment. It’s often deployed in the entertainment industry and throughout pop culture history. It’s a “cheap pop” and it’s scientifically proven to work all the time. But, what is a cheap pop? Is it a person? Is it a place? Is it a moment in time? Is it your pants? The answer unequivocally is yes.

“Cheap pops” are used to get a positive reaction from an audience. It’s a Hulk Hogan pose and flex as he enters the ring and exits a match. It’s a well-timed “Woo!” by “The Natural Boy” Ric Flair. World Wrestling Entertainment (WWE) Hall of Famer Mick Foley is arguably the patron saint of the cheap pop. While his “have a nice day” became a huge catchphrase, and ultimately the title of his New York Times Best Seller, there’s no mistaking his “it’s good to be back here in…” (whichever city he actually was in) was the cheapest pop of all. It’s an easy way to get a reaction, and that’s what this new series I’m going to attempt to do here will be. These little nuggets, which I had hoped would be a book (but no one wants to read my proposal), celebrates all the easy ways pop culture got a rise out of us — a cheer, a tear, a self-high five or everything in-between.

Chapter 986: Noid Alert!

The California Raisins. The Energizer Bunny. Spuds Mackenzie. Herb from Burger King. OK, let’s forget that last one. What’s that? You have already? Anyway, in the 1980s and 1990s having a mascot of some kind worked wonders for brands. In 1986, Domino’s Pizza was no different. Already riding high on their 30-minute delivery guarantee — something that eventually went away following a lawsuit in 1989 (we won’t go there) — the popular pizza chain decided making tons of millions of dollars wasn’t enough and they needed more. “Greed is good” right? This was the 1980s.

In the year of Mookie Wilson’s ground ball between Bill Buckner’s legs, a creepy claymation baddy named The Noid was born and had a mighty good run. The Noid was created by Will Vinton Studios — the same firm who brought us those singing sunkin’ grapes. But unlike those dried up fruits of fun, this creation didn’t sing Motown hits and wasn’t really that appealing. The Noid was a weirdo — he had buck teeth, sported a red nut-hugging bodysuit with bunny ears, and had a black “N” emblazoned across his chest like a superhero. His main goal was to stop Domino’s from delivering hot pizza and did everything in his power from freezing it to shooting, um, lasers at it. It never worked, but the character certainly did. A catchphrase — — “avoid the noid” — caught on, and commercially successful spin-offs sprouted out. How many of you had a Noid doll or the Avoid the Noid computer and/or Nintendo video game? A Saturday morning cartoon was reportedly planned but never came into fruition, but The Noid was king for a while — quite easily getting under our skin or making us laugh at his weirdness.

Sadly, The Noid’s regular run came to a tragic end stemming from a Jan. 30, 1989 incident in which a mentally ill man named Kenneth Lamar Noid entered a Georgia-based Domino’s and took two employees hostage at gunpoint for over five hours. Ultimately, the hostages escaped and Noid surrendered. Noid had reportedly thought Domino’s were personally attacking him because of his last name. He committed suicide in 1995.

While The Noid’s demise came somewhat abruptly due to very unfortunate circumstances, he has made a comeback albeit on a short-term, catch-it-or-you’ll-miss it basis. He most recently made a comeback in 2021 — not surprisingly during a pandemic. I mean, if you’re going to bring back The Noid, you might as well bring do so during the worst time ever, right? But seriously this creepy guy is a legend. He’s been immortalized in pop culture history with references or “appearances” on such shows as Family Guy and 30 Rock. One hopes this strange little man might get a major comeback one day. Perhaps Shredder can get a day off in the next Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtle reboot.

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Jon Chattman

He once enjoyed a Reuben sandwich with Randy “Macho Man” Savage, has written eight books, hosts his own music series, and is a proud dad. He can’t ride a bike.