By the late 1950s, William Gaines's groundbreaking parody and satire monthly, Mad Magazine, was the hottest thing since sliced bread. When something becomes that popular there's always going to be its imitators. Perhaps the longest lasting of these imitators was "Cracked".

For many years the magazine followed a formula much liked Mad and even had its own dimwitted mascot, Sylvester P. Smythe. Much like MAD, the articles were parodies of movies, TV, comics, and other aspects of popular culture. Recurring features included strips like "Shut Ups" (two panel strips which always ended with one of the characters yelling "Shut Up!") and Hudd & Dini, two convicts trying to escape a prison.

Cracked was never as popular as MAD, but in the 1980s, they gave a big slap to Alfred E. Neauman's face, when they hired, the popular Mad artist Don Martin, but Martin quit after a few years, due to failing eyesight. In addition to Martin, the magazine also hired several former National Lampoon contributors after that magazine folded in the 1990s.

At the turn of the Millennium, Globe Communications, the publisher of Cracked and the tabloid The Globe was merged with American Media, publishers of Weekly World News and the The National Enquirer. American Media did not show very much support for Cracked and was more interested in publishing tabloids.

Cracked suffered another blow, when in September 2001, an letter containing anthrax was sent to the building where Cracked's offices were located and the film strips containing the magazine's past issues were destroyed due to contamination.

Meanwhile, Cracked was trying to move forward and revamp its image and publish an all-new magazine. Even naming well known names like Cheap Trick's Rick Neilson, MST3K's Mike Nelson, and Michael Ian Black, among the magazine's staff. The new magazine was planned on being a Maxim-esque magazine, with similarities to the late Spy Magazine. Though heavily hyped, the "New" Cracked was not well received.

The magazine's website, Cracked.com, still lives and is quite successful.

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