By Abe Villarreal

I like those really corny jokes and sayings that you find on little pieces of paper or small objects. For some reason, they are always there when you need them. The jokes are written like they are meant for kids, but you often see the older people chuckling at them the most.

I like them because they are usually paired with other kid-like things like Laffy Taffys. I don't think today's Laffy Taffy eaters even know that the jokes are there or that the candy's name is connected with laughter. The yellow, or banana flavor, kind is my favorite.

The jokes and puns are easy to understand but also clever. Like the one that asks what you would call a cow with a twitch. Isn't it obvious? Beef jerky!

It feels good to laugh about the innocent things in life. Today we call them dad jokes. I don't like the term because it makes them sound dated and suggests that good, clean humor belongs to a past generation.

Before Laffy Taffy candy was Bazooka Joe. You know something is from your grandfather's time when it comes in a simple shape with a simple design. Bazooka Bubble Gum looked plain on the outside, but it always had a fun story to tell once you opened it up. Bazooka Joe and his gang would entertain you with a little comic strip that often included jokes about everyday things like the time Bazooka Joe was sold a one-legged canary. After complaining, the salesman asked him to decide if he wanted a singer or a dancer.

Jokes, no matter how awkwardly funny you may find them, are always a reflection of their time. Open up a college annual from the 1920s, and what made people laugh back then will usually make people laugh today, even if it was written in a style of speech that seems foreign. Like the one where the teacher was asking the student to say her name. The student was embarrassed to say it loudly, so she whispered in the teacher's name: Iona Ford.

Books about jokes have been printed for generations. Titles like Jolly Jokes For Little Kid Folks included comic strips and "rib-ticklers and riddles." One kind of joke book category that has stood the test of time is bathroom comedy. In 1961, Jokes for the John was printed. At least there's one place in the household where one can find time for the humor in life.

I think jokes should be read more often, written on more items, and seen in more places. Life would be better if we could find them between book chapters, on food wrappers, and at the bottom of emptied coffee cups.

Jokes are things we need to read while we are waiting in line, and as we are sitting in public transportation. We could use them in quiet moments when they seemingly show up out of nowhere and in out loud moments when we are sharing good things with people we care about.

The jokes we need are the kind of jokes that you can find on small pieces of paper and in bubble gum packets. Jokes that are not complicated or sophisticated. Jokes that show you the obvious in life.
Kind of like the one that asks: What do you call a happy cowboy? A jolly rancher.

Abe Villarreal writes about the people, culture, and traditions of America. He can be reached at

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