Inset photo in cover image courtesy of Steve Lundeen

Back in the old days (circa 1995), there was no such thing as the selfie as we know it today. When we took our annual family road trips to Luray Caverns or Ruby Falls, we took along our disposable 35-millimeter cameras and had a family member, friend, or passing stranger take a picture of us in front of the attraction. We didn’t instantly post it to our Instagram page or Facebook, because that didn’t exist. After waiting a few days for the local Fotomat to develop our pictures, we went over to our friend’s house, showed the pictures to him or her, and if they liked it they would give a “thumbs-up” right to our face.

Can’t wait to come back and pick them up so I can post them… on my cubicle at work!
Image: Not on display – Own work, CC BY-SA 3.0

So, what did people do if they wanted a selfie back then, but didn’t want to lug around a camera and film in their fanny pack? Many places hired their own photographers who would take pictures of guests. The photographer would take a picture of a happy couple lounging by the pool on their honeymoon, for instance, and then hand them a ticket that could be redeemed a couple of hours later — for the photo, or a kitschy souvenir photo-viewer keychain. 

The photo viewer is a little trapezoidal-shaped box that has a hole in the smaller end that acts as a viewfinder. A piece of white plastic is snapped on the bigger end with a small piece of film. Looking through the viewfinder and holding it up to the light, you can see the photo — maybe it’s your grandparents relaxing by the pool in the Poconos, or your dad kicking it with Hong Kong Phooey at Kings Dominion. Obviously, since it was a small slide in a little plastic keychain, only one person could view it at a time. Think of it as a one-person Instagram.

Grandma and Grandpa chilling by the pool in beautiful Florida.
Image: Public Domain

From the 1950s through the 1990s, the photo-viewer keychain was a popular souvenir among road trippers and world travelers alike. You could find them just about everywhere, from national parks to amusement parks. They were not only great souvenirs but great marketing tools as well, and could often be found at weddings and other big celebrations.

Times have changed since those days. And though we can take several pictures with our smartphones and post them instantly without waiting for them to come back in the mail, today’s photos seem a bit more ephemeral.

Hey! Hey! Hey! It’s Yogi Bear, Scooby Dooby Do, and the fam at Kings Dominion!
Inset Image: Kings Dominion Brochure c. 1980s – Public Domain

However, going through your mom and dad’s box of road trip souvenirs, you’re likely to find a couple of photo viewers still around. If you put one up to your eye, maybe you’ll see a picture of you there with your mom and dad next to the Liberty Bell in Philadelphia. All of a sudden, it’s 1976 again — the thousand memories of that summer road trip come flooding back and are worth more than any one hundred social-media likes. And isn’t that what a great souvenir is supposed to do anyway?

Feeling a little nostalgic about all the great road trips you and your family took when you were younger? Then make a road trip to your nearest Stuckey’s. We still carry all the road trip snacks and souvenirs you remember us for. While you’re there, browse our wide selection of pecan treats and classic candy — like the world famous Stuckey’s Pecan Log Roll, or our tasty Pecan Pralines and mouth-watering Pecan Divinity (Yep, we’re making them ourselves again!).

Image: Stephanie Stuckey

Our Stuckey’s-branded t-shirts, caps and coffee mugs are the perfect road trip souvenirs for those waxing nostalgic about family road trips of yore, so pick up a few for the folks back home.

Remember, you can also make a Stuckey’s stop at our website and have all of our popular pecan treats and other Stuckey’s merchandise delivered right to your home.  Visit today! 

Stuckey’s – We’re Making Road Trips Fun Again!