Tales from the Mall Santas of Reddit

We’re nearing the end of November, so guess what time it is? You’ve got it: Time for people pretending to be Santa Claus to appear in malls across America, spreading joy — and in some cases, terror — in their wake. I’m immensely grateful I’ve never worked a job remotely related to any mall Santa setups — but I’ve definitely wondered what kinds of things kids ask mall Santas for these days. Specifically, what’s the weirdest thing for which a mall Santa has ever been asked?

Happily, I’ve finally managed to find some answers, and I didn’t have to go to the North Pole to do it. Redditor koolcid999 posted a thread titled “Mall Santas of Reddit, what’s the weirdest thing a child has asked for?” in the AskReddit sub yesterday. As is the case in many AskReddit threads soliciting responses from a specific type of person, a good deal of the answers aren’t from actual mall Santas: Some of the respondents are elves; some of them are photographers; some of them merely witnessed the insanity as innocent bystanders; and some dug up memories of the weird things they asked Santa for when they were kids. The thread also ended up veering off in a slightly different direction than I think koolcid999 intended (some of them are absolutely heartbreaking) — but I’ve hand-selected 12 answers that definitely stick with the spirit of the original question. Read on to experience them in all their glory.

For the curious, the tradition of the mall Santa is usually credited to 19th-century entrepreneur James Edgar; he came up with the idea of having an actor play Santa Clause in his department store in Brockton, Massachusetts, during the 1890 holiday season. So if you think it’s an awesome tradition, that’s the man you should applaud — and if you think it’s a terrible one, then that’s who to point the finger at. Your call.

And the top 12 weirdest things kids have ever asked mall Santas for are…

1. A Fax Machine

Speaking as someone who actually was a child in 1989, my theory is this: We didn’t know what fax machines were for — but we did know that they made really cool noises, and that the scraps the adults always ripped off the sides of the paper it spat out could be folded into springs of awesomeness.

2. A Remote-Control Buffalo

Do they even make TC buffalos? And are we talking a miniature buffalo, or a full-size, robotic one?

3. Giant Sea Life

Because of course a giant squid would be easier to get a hold of. Everybody knows that.

4. A Unicorn Starter Kit

TIL unicorns eat pickles.

5. A Box of Condoms

The big question is whether or not the kid actually knew what condoms were…

6. Uranium

Just what was 5-year-old brickmack planning on doing with that uranium, I wonder?

7. Power Tools

I suppose at least these days, you can get play sets of power tools that are safe for children age three and up…

8. Fish and Chips

But what about the fish custard?

9. A Nordstrom Gift Card

That little girl has expensive taste.

10. An 8-Track Player

This one wouldn’t be so odd if it hadn’t happened last year. Do 7-year-olds even know what 8-track players are?

11. A Politically Minded Coloring Book

That little boy is approximately 26 now. I wonder what his political leanings are these days?

12. A “Flamethrower”

This one actually made me laugh out loud. For the curious, I believe the plastic sword in question was something like this toy light saber:

Images: the past tends to disappear/Flickr; Giphy (2)