World's Strangest Olympic Souvenirs
From food pins to wedding dresses, these odd mementos take the gold.
Olympic fencing team silver-medalist Emily Cross brought back more than just a
medal from her victorious Beijing 2008 competition. Sure, there was the
expectedly odd fortune-cookie message (“You emerge victoriously from the
maze you’ve been traveling in”), but she also found something a little more
offbeat: a pack of Olympic condoms, “wrapped in gold foil, of course,” says
millions of Olympic athletes and enthusiasts have collected all manner of
souvenirs—many of them unusual—as mementos of their time at the Games. Even for
those who didn’t attend in person, Olympic souvenirs can offer a secondhand thrill,
along with a flavor of this ancient tradition and a taste of the destination.
They can also be an investment opportunity: a ticket stub from the 1980 United
States versus Soviet Union ice hockey game can demand upward of $800 among
Few can argue
that Olympic items are hot commodities. Sales for officially licensed
souvenirs for this year’s Olympic Games in Vancouver (Feb. 12–28, 2010) have
already reached more than $10 million, due, in part, to the wildly popular red
Olympic mittens ($10 a pair) that bear the five-ring emblem—and giant maple
mittens are licensed as “official,” most souvenirs are not. And for collectors
of such unendorsed items, one axiom holds true: the more rare and weirder the
souvenir, the more valuable it is. An inexplicably odd green Jell-O food pin
from the 2002 Salt Lake City Winter Olympics that sold for $7 a mere eight
years ago now can fetch as much as $250.
For most people,
however, a souvenir’s worth is in its memories—and kitsch value. Certainly no
one would expect the resale value of a goldfish key chain from the 2008 Beijing
Olympics (complete with dead floating real goldfish) to be particularly
high. Nor do moose-dropping earrings make for a good regifting present around
the holiday times (or maybe they do?). In the end, the most valuable souvenirs
are the ones that forever bring back the glories of the Games.
Read on to see
the strangest souvenirs from Olympics past and present. And keep your eyes
peeled for more odd items to emerge from future Games—Vancouver,
London (Summer 2012), Sochi (Winter 2014), and Rio de
Janeiro (Summer 2016). There are bound to be some
wonderfully weird gems.