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'The Art of the Novelty Item'

As shoppers face the last grim stretch before Christmas, the rush to buy gifts for friends and relatives becomes desperate. But the S.S. Adams Company in Neptune, New Jersey has a few suggestions for presents that can lighten the mood.

One of the last novelty-item factories in the country, S.S. Adams manufactures joy buzzers, whoopee cushions, fake vomit and cans of jumping snakes -- all on the same machines that made these vintage items in the 1930s.

Mark Newgarden is the author of the new book Cheap Laffs: The Art of the Novelty Item. He joins NPR's Petra Mayer for a tour of S.S. Adams.

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Petra Mayer (she/her) is an editor (and the resident nerd) at NPR Books, focusing on fiction, and particularly genre fiction. She brings to the job passion, speed-reading skills, and a truly impressive collection of Doctor Who doodads. You can also hear her on the air and on the occasional episode of Pop Culture Happy Hour.