As many promo professionals across the U.S. and Canada move into their fourth week of a new work reality, many are looking for ways to lighten the mood and think back on happier times. Justin Brubaker, account executive at distributor Apex Advertising Inc. in Lancaster, Pennsylvania, posted a request in an industry social media group inviting distributors to share stories of the strangest products they had ever sold to clients, or the strangest requests they received from customers. Read on for five distributors’ favorite recollections of funnier (and brighter) times in business.

“Foot-shaped stress balls. So creepy when we opened the box and it was full of feet.”
Beth Sinclair Crowell, owner of distributor Mayday Group Inc., Fredericton, Nebraska

“Ladies’ panties for a canning company in Intercourse, Pennsylvania, imprinted with a little heart that said, ‘Wish you were here.’”
Jay Shaplin, senior branding manager and vendor relations manager at Sonic Promos, Gaithersburg, Maryland

“One-hundred thousand chicken feathers that had to be large enough to be used as quills for a centennial celebration. Another one was paper ‘pasties’ and a thong-style bottom cover for a plastic surgeon with provocative phrases screen-printed on them. All the pieces had to have medically-approved tape to adhere them in place. The doctor thought there was a certain market for them as a side business. Also, there was an order for lapel pins with tiny pieces of granite glued on them to commemorate the Arkansas River lock and dam project. The client reordered those for many years. I had to go to the local granite quarry to get a bag of tiny rocks, choose those with a flat side for gluing and send them to the manufacturer that applied them to the cloisonné pins. The same quarry gave us larger granite rocks to send to the factory to be inserted in the sealed bottom compartments of acrylic ‘on the rocks’ drink glasses they used to promote the quarry.”
Becky Stone Eden, owner of B.E.E. Inc., North Little Rock, Arkansas

“Back in 1996, an insurance company wanted imprinted jockstraps. In the meeting, I thought they were joking—they weren’t. Another client was ordering lava lamps and wanted the water in them to be a PMS color match—you can’t make this stuff up!”
Karen Daub McKown, account executive at HALO Branded Solutions, Columbus, Ohio

“A friend of one of our clients is a competitive swimmer. He had someone do a silhouette of his face and he wanted it printed on the backside of his Speedo to “intimidate” whoever he raced against. He sent me the file and we used heat-press vinyl to attach his face to the back of the garment.”
Patrick Angello, owner of Summit Specialties, Aurora, Colorado