$25 at the Dollar Tree, Part 3.

Tuesdays make me want to throw up on you, but I’m here to finish what you started.

Smack by the registers, Dollar Tree had a ginormous display filled with dozens of mystery bags. I won’t lie: I’ve purchased them before, and while I wasn’t sure which exact treasures would come from this particular batch, I had every reason to suspect that they’d be sucky treasures. And they were.

It’s a time-honored tradition in the dollar store industry. When wares break and when sets are separated, they don’t throw the remnants away. Instead, the stores fill small paper lunch bags with what’s almost literally garbage and sell ’em off to thrillseekers-on-a-budget. Not a single person alive or dead has ever been satisfied with the contents of their $1 mystery bag, but we keep buying them anyway. It’s not that we want what’s inside; we just can’t stomach the idea that we don’t know what’s in them.

Dollar Tree’s mystery bag business has grown so successful that they actually have “themed” bags, with some marked as “boys’ toys,” others as “party goods,” so on and so forth. While perfectly serviceable as a rough barometer, I must remind you that Dollar Tree is pretty casual about which items fit a particular theme.

I picked up five bags, and if we’re going on value, there’s nothing to be offended about. Even trash is worth five bucks if you add enough of it. Take a peek inside the brown paper, and decide for yourselves if I should’ve bought five scratch-off cards instead.

Mystery Bag #1: I was excited about this one, because the bag promised that it’d include “A Surprise For A Boy.” Technically speaking, the bag didn’t lie: I’m a boy, and I’m surprised.

I emptied the rapidly deteriorating sack to find four completely unrelated items, beginning with a tub of green “Magic Dough,” which is a lot like Play-Doh, except that there’s no reassuring “non-toxic” notice on the canister. My inner journalist yearns to know if bootleg Play-Doh purchased from a dollar store is safe to eat, but I’ll leave that experiment for a reviewer who has less to live for.

Next up was a pocket FM radio player, complete with headphones. If it works, that’s not a bad inclusion, but I’m not spending five bucks on batteries to find out. Seems to kinda negate the point.

The big white thing is a touchlight, like the ones from the infomercials, or an inbred distant cousin version of them. It’s another item that needs random batteries. Not “AA” or even “AAA” batteries, but some other form of cylindrical battery that I’ve yet to see or hear about. Maybe that’s the trick? They make it run on batteries that don’t exist, so you’ll never learn that it has no chance of ever working.

Finally, there’s a party toy, and you know it’s a party toy because it says “PARTY” on it. It’s got a little handle in the back. When you hold the handle and spin the green plastic thing around, it makes an unpleasant grinding noise that I’m assuming is a blast at parties.

EDIT: Noisemaker! That’s what they’re called. How am I only remembering this during a proofread?

Mystery Bag #2: The sexes are equal and Dollar Tree knows it; thus, our second mystery bag is marked “A Surprise For A Girl.” Evidently, the person in charge of stocking Dollar Tree’s mystery bags was a bit of a misogynist.

Up first and second, a pair of miniature notebooks with covers no thicker than the pages inside. I’m a fan of tiny notebooks, but I’d never want one handed to me when I’m expecting a “surprise.” You hear “surprise,” and your mind wanders. It wanders to many great and merry things, but “miniature composition books” really isn’t among them.

Because paper is awesome, the third item is more of it. Rounding out the quartet is another can of Magic Dough, but this time, it came with the lid off, so the once-malleable dough is now rock-hard and useless. Interestingly, the crevice seen in the dough could have only been made by a finger. That finger was not mine. Dollar Tree sold me used Magic Dough. I haven’t felt this violated since my sister’s dog broke a lamp over my head and fucked me.

Mystery Bag #3: A helpful employee took the time to scribble “Party Goods” on the otherwise nondescript bag, so I had a bit of an inkling. Nothing wrong (or interesting) here — it’s just a ragtag bunch of bows and ribbons, along with a gift bag that is only large enough to play host to the world’s smallest present.

Mystery Bag #4: Both this and the final bag were total crapshoots. Nothing was printed (or scribbled) on the bags. Free of the burden of choosing items that fell even remotely into some sort of category, Dollar Tree delighted in picking things that were maddeningly disconnected. Here, the items’ only possible “group use” would be for a local theater presentation of Bedknobs and Broomsticks, but with enough of the props changed to get out of paying royalties to some kraut shithead.

It took me a while to figure out that the device in the middle wasn’t a faux video game controller, but rather a cheap set of speakers intended to be used with Walkmans and other music-providing devices that people forgot existed over a decade ago.

There was also a roll of sea-themed paper, but I have absolutely no clue what it’s intended to be used for. Can some crafty person tell me what the practical use is for a small roll of 3″ sea-themed paper? Is it just for kicks?

Finally, we have a six-pack of candles and a pack of cards. No qualms with the candles, but the cards are actually so thin that the natural oil in my fingers renders them translucent. I don’t like cards that make me self-conscious about finger oil.

“I don’t like cards that make me self-conscious about finger oil.” Our new Chicken/Doritos gag, maybe?

Mystery Bag #5: See, this one just pisses me off. It’s obviously another “party goods” mix, but the bag totally did not say that. It’s clear that some random Dollar Tree employee realized that they were filling up a non-party goods bag with party goods halfway through, and tossed in a deck of finger oil cards to cover their mistake. Well, I’m here to blow the cover off of the ruse. I am so on to you, random Dollar Tree employee. You fucked up, and I hope it costs you your Dollar Tree-brand matching contributions package.

On the plus side, those tiny gift bows are going to work out great when I make my cats give each other Christmas presents next year.

PS: For those concerned that my plan was to assault you with a modicum of content and then be off for another six months…COULD BE A NO COULD BE A YES. You’ll have to come back every hour to find out. Refresh a lot, too. It makes me hundreds of thousands of dollars.

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196 Responses to $25 at the Dollar Tree, Part 3.

  1. MysteryD8 says:

    Weird html formatting. That’s http://www.sendintheclowns.com.

  2. MysteryD8 says:

    Oh! Frankie the Enforcer? The guy who is in Kevin Smith movies and My Name is Earl?

  3. Chris says:

    Eathan Suplee who played Frankie the gentle hearted bully in Boy Meets World played Ashton’s roommate in Butterfly Effect

  4. Annette says:

    Oh, the sailboat guy!


  5. kb says:

    Ahhh…I was literally picturing you, in my head, with a little red wagon proudly stocking up. In fact, I chose to keep that image in my head.

    I ate too much today. I’m overly full. And I drank too much last night. So I am looking forward to not moving from this spot and waiting for a possible SNT while cruising ebay for vintage Halloween decor. Less than three months ’til September!

  6. ULTRAMAN says:

    Happy SNT ya’ll! :) I haven’t seen the Butterfly effect 2 yet. I’ll have to check it out cause I liked the first one.

  7. I was supposed to go to an 80s Prom at the Ottobar tonight, but here I am, sitting on my couch with a bottle of cheap wine, watching Wipeout. Yay.

  8. mandy_Reeves says:

    “look at the schooner!”

  9. MysteryD8 says:

    @ULTRAMAN: For the love of all that is right with the world, DO NOT WATCH THE BUTTERFLY EFFECT 2!!! You’ll want to stab yourself in the eye, it’s that bad.

    We just finished watching the third one. It was far, far better than the second one. I’d give it a solid 3.5 out of 5. That’s considering that I love bad horror and sci-fi. By that standard, the first would be a 4.5 and the second would be as close to zero as you can get.

    Gonna go see Up or The Hangover tomorrow. I love the weeks where I actually get two days off in a row. Last week was Thursday and Friday, then work today and tomorrow, then Monday and Tuesday off.

    That occasionally leads to ten days without any time off, but I’ll take what I can get right now. Gotta go back to school and get my Master’s. The Bachelor’s is doing no good by itself.

  10. Cameron T. says:


    Go see UP. You won’t regret it!

    Today’s been a productive day and I’m about to pop open a bottle of wine for a good ending. Happy SNT!

  11. Teddy Ray says:

    Look at the Mallrats quotes…you truly are my people.

    “You know what? There is NO Easter Bunny! Over there, that’s just a guy in a suit!”

  12. Mike83 says:

    Great stuff as usual, Matt! The Dollar Tree(s) around here have the same kind of weird stuff. Hell, I was able to round out my Ghostbusters Halloween costume with stuff I found there!

  13. Jeremy says:

    “I haven’t felt this violated since my sister’s dog broke a lamp over my head and fucked me.” Funniest line I have heard all day! Please don’t make us wait six months to read more.

  14. Melissa says:

    I have the speakers! I paid a dollar for them, and feel like if I’d found them in a bag maybe I could have gotten a notepad too. :(

    Or candles. I like candles.

    At any rate, I bought them because the audio from the tv in my van went out, and it’s really not worth fixing as the tv will not work in a few days (not digital… no where to plug in a converter box) so we grabbed the speakers to get a little more life out of it. They actually work pretty well, as long as you don’t wiggle the wires a lot.

  15. Ariel says:

    Thank you for confirming that the contents of Dollar Tree’s surprise bags are complete crap.

  16. David says:


    Add some water to the used dough and mix really well and it will return to life.

  17. LOL I’ve seen those and always figured they were pure crap. Thanks for clarifying it 😀

  18. scottie says:

    I have been looking for those speakers. My local dollar tree doesn’t currently carry those now. I bought one before just to try it out and it sounds okay. I like to take things apart and make something out of it. This speaker is simple to take apart and does not require batteries. So i toke it apart and made a awesome mp3 player stand with the speaker built in to it. So this item was a great deal. I wish i could find so more. My friends want a stand like the one i built.

  19. Stag says:

    When I was a kid I always used to bug my mom to buy me those stupid grab bags, and she never would, because she told me they were crap, but I never believed her. Thank you for proving my mother right.

  20. Dracula says:


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