The marketplace economics of eBay state that your trash is somebody else’s treasure. Those holographic Pokemon cards you sold at the garage sale? Big mistake, my friend.
The same logic applies to vintage t-shirts. Online auctions for ’70s stadium rock concert tees, along with other apparel from pop-culture icons like The Simpsons and Peanuts, have long fetched hundreds of dollars. But in an ironic twist, there is now a burgeoning market for dead-stock fast-food restaurant shirts—yes, expensive t-shirts from dollar-menu franchises.
Some promos and one-offs from the likes of Little Caesar’s and Taco Bell (Shaquille O’Neal partnership, anyone?) are on par with boutique prices, skyrocketing in value if owned, for instance, by a former franchisee.
Here are the most expensive throwback tees we’ve found on eBay recently, as well as our two cents on whether they’re worth the hype.
1. Pizza Hut “We Stuff Our Crust”
Cop or nah?: Plain and simple, this is a powerful piece to add to your wardrobe. Notice how there’s no giant logo emblazoned across the front. Restrained, minimal, straightforward—all signs of a classic tee. The originators of the stuffed-crust pizza had the right idea to invoke a slam dunk, because that’s what this t-shirt is.
2. KFC “Chicken Littles”
Cop or nah?: When the fried-chicken franchise launched their mini chicken sandwich campaign back in the ’80s, they also decided to insult our tastes with this abomination. Besides the obvious color faux pas, the shirt screams “New Product!”, and we just can’t stand for that blatant marketing. Plus, the tattooed muscle model gives us real reason to pause. We’ll pass.
3. McDonald’s “I’m A Quarter Pounder Person”
Cop or nah?: We dig the bold red font juxtaposed with the black and white graphic, which gives the burger an almost cinematic quality. But most impressive are the specs: allegedly a “brand new and unwashed 1970s promotional t-shirt purchased from the estate of a former franchisee.” Straight from the source. Seems worth it?
4. Dairy Queen “Curly Top”
Cop or nah?: It doesn’t matter that it’s “VERY RARE!!!”; we want no part of Curly Top (who is described as a Dairy Queen “employee”). This looks like some bullshit you could snag at the nearest Buffalo Exchange on the discount rack. $60? The world is filled with underpaid DQ employees, not butterflies and talking birds, Curly.
5. In-N-Out Tennis Jacket
Cop or nah?: Okay, not a shirt, but still fire. If this were 1994 and you were Master P, then you could maybe pull this off. We respect the blued-out logo, craning Palm trees, and accents along the sleeves and pockets, but the flare on that collar is too much to handle. The description says, “No need in Hawaii.” No need anywhere, TBH.
6. Little Caesars O.G.
Cop or nah?: In a perfect world, Little Caesar’s square pizza slice would be making headlines—not Pizza Hut’s gluten-free monstrosity. The next best thing we can do to honor this fallen pizza empire is rep this classic shirt. The design is clean, as is the inverted pyramid of logos. We fux with Caesar.
7. White Castle “A legend in a bun”
Cop or nah?: This just proves that White Castle was already a dope brand, long before Harold and Kumar got high as fuck on screen to the delight of stoners across the country. The illustration is straight out of a Lucky Peach issue, which leads us to believe that W.C. was way ahead of the game.
8. Chuck E. Cheese Mascot
Cop or nah?: Chuck is a creeper—we have confirmed reports by our EIC’s mom that an inebriated Chuck E. Cheese mascot groped a woman during her son’s birthday party, and that suggestive wink isn’t helping his defense. Our conscious won’t let us endorse such lascivious behavior. If you need any more reason to believe that this franchise is irrelevant, peep its new mascot and motto: “Where Awesome Parents Go.” Disgusting.
9. Taco Bell “Shaq vs. Hakeem”
Cop or nah?: BARGAIN OF THE CENTURY. To fill you in on this epic match: Taco Bell ran an ad campaign back in the 1995, pitting two of basketball’s most dominant centers against one another. The only thing that could unite these hard-top foes? The .79 cent double decker taco, natch. And to think that “Yo Quiero Taco Bell” chihuahua shirts are going for $40…
10. Wendy’s “Where’s the beef?”
Cop or nah: With the all the rumors swirling around fast-food meat production, this question rings loud and clear. A sour looking septuagenarian is an marketing choice for a burger franchise, but the shirt thrives on its own merits—especially since it doesn’t tout any blatant Wendy’s logo.