'D'Oh!' Simpsons Stamps A Flop For Postal Service

Host Scott Simon reflects on the U.S. Postal Service's stamps of characters from the cartoon.

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SCOTT SIMON, HOST:

There's only one way to begin this item.

(SOUNDBITE OF THEME FROM "THE SIMPSONS")

SIMON: This week the inspector general of the U.S. Postal Service said the 44 cent Simpsons stamps - portraits of Homer, Marge, Maggie and Baby Lisa - they rolled out in 2009 to mark the 20th anniversary of the animated and honored television show had been a philatelic flop. The Postal Service printed a billion Simpsons stamps, 682 million are left unbought, unlicked and unloved. The postal service lost $1.2 million on the Simpsons stamps at a time they are deeply in debt.

That's the postal service, not the Simpsons. A citizens panel recommended the Simpsons after stamps of Marilyn Monroe and Elvis Presley had sold a lot better than, say, the Millard Fillmore 13 cent commemorative. The Simpsons were issued the same year as stamps eluding Old Faithful, Alaska statehood, Gary Cooper and sea kelp. And imagine someone leaping to their feet in a meeting to say, that young demographic isn't going to buy stamp of Gary Cooper or kelp, but they love the Simpsons.

So they do. Millions of people watch the Simpsons and buy hundreds of millions of dollars of Simpsons merchandise, but a lot of the young people buying Simpsons swag probably sent email and text messages, not letters, not even condolence letters. Those 682 million stamps will have to be burned. Maybe they should just issue a stamp of Krusty the Clown.

(SOUNDBITE OF THEME FROM "THE SIMPSONS" BY GREEN DAY)

SIMON: And that's Green Day playing "The Simpsons" theme. You're listening to NPR News.

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