, this oddity is part of Ricky Jay
show Ricky Jay: On the Stem
At the beginning of the second act, Jay enters from the rear of the auditorium with a tray hung 'round his neck. The tray is filled with small cardboard boxes, and Jay is crying out "Who will give me five dollars for a box of Ricky Jay's one hundred dollar sweets?" He goes on to explain that while the sweets themselves are not worth one hundred dollars, they are so named because there just might be a $100 bill in the box. Maybe. Possibly. If not, there are other fabulous trinkets, curiosities, gewgaws and etceterata within. Also, candy.
Hands all throughout the audience shoot up, waving five-dollar bills.
The boxes go quickly. When he's down to the last three, Jay ups the price to ten dollars and claims that while one remaining box contains $100, another contains... a fabulous gold watch.
To no one's surprise, the only box sold holds neither.
The intent of the stunt is to demonstrate vaudevillian hawking techniques, and boy does it work. Jay probably made over $100 just selling boxes of promises.
The box itself is a plain cardboard rectangular solid. Three sides are labelled. The printing is in brown ink, the font is like that used on US currency, and each side's label is bordered with the edge-artwork of a $100 bill. However, where it would read "Federal Reserve Note" on an actual bill, the label reads "Federal Reserve Not". Har.
The front panel reads RICKY JAY'S $100 DOLLAR SWEETS above the portrait of George Washington from the one-dollar bill. However, Jay's face replaces George's. A motto below the portrait reads "Always Wanting what is Not", and the legend "Guaranteed Cash Surprise In Every Box!" is at the foot of the label.
The left label is a paragraph:
Mr. Jay has long been recognized as the man who put 'con' in confection. This world-famous confection is made from a series of secret ingredients and is sold by an exclusive arrangement with Ricky Jay and Bodega Chocolates. Neither Mr. Jay nor the management are responsible for any prizes found, not found, or inferred by the customer, or any disappointments or misunderstandings based upon the purchase of this box and its contents. Ricky Jay's $100 Sweets are intended only as a novelty and are in no way intended to be construed, considered, or treated as a food product.
The right label is another paragraph:
It should be noted that this box may contain any, all or none of the following:
the secret of Adam & Eve,
a hand etched steel engraving,
a measuring device,
one or more pieces of actual U.S. currency,
a One Hundred Dollar Bill,
a paper Ecdysiast,
a little book from Paris, France,
the Mysterious Keyhole,
and Onyx ring,
a pair of "lucky" minature dice, and
Delicious Bodega Chocolate Confections as crafted in Costa Mesa, California.
You are invited to visit www.bodega.com
And, most importantly, the following phrase is printed below the list:
AN EDUCATION IN EVERY BOX
The box I actually purchased contained two chocolates wrapped in tissue paper (possibly edible), portions of a shredded dollar bill, a small card titled "Say it 'The French Way'" and subtitled "Actual Phrases Used By Parisan Men" with french phrases on the back (reproduced below), and a small booklet titled "The Latest Jibes & Jests from Paris, France" which is "recommended for gentlemen only" (contents reproduced below).
As a whole, the entire work is deliciously evocative of the 19teens which was, of course, the heyday of vaudeville.
You cannot be cheated if you want whatever you get.
The Contents Of "SAY IT 'THE FRENCH WAY': ACTUAL PHRASES USED BY PARISIAN MEN"
J'ai perdu un plombage.
J'ai des vertiges.
Jouez-vous aux cartes?
Quel autobus va au chateau?
Je voudrais faire ressembler ces pantalon(s).
The Contents Of "THE LATEST JIBES & JESTS FROM PARIS, FRANCE (RECOMMENDED FOR GENTLEMEN ONLY)"
"Have you a gentleman in that room?"
"Just a minute. I'll ask him."
"He knows her past. She told him everything."
"What a memory!"
"Nice young girls shouldn't hold a man's hands."
"Nice young girls have to hold a man's hands."
"He dresses nattily."
"This little red book is my scrapbook. Every time wife finds it, we have a scrap."
"I'll wear my low cut gown next time and show you a thing or two."
"She was only a preacher's daughter, but I wouldn't put anything pastor."
"She was only the optician's daughter. Two glasses and she made a spectacle of herself."
"She was only the dentist's daughter, but she ran around town with the worst set."
When Rose met a charming old geezer,
he told everyone just how he'd please her.
"A rose she may be,
but an orange to me,
as she'll find when I grab her and sq***** her!"
The honeymoon suite was a dandy,
and the maid offered champagne and candy.
"Have you turned down the bed?"
"Turn it down?," the groom said.
"We wuz thinkin' that it just might be h****."
Many a man in search of the truth
Has squandered a fortune in time;
But many a boy found the meaning of life
in the "Tunnel of Love" for a d***.