Image by StockSnap from Pixabay

Back in the day, do you remember where your priorities were? Middle and high school dramas always focus on the dating, the dances, and the real-life hardships of kids, but is that really what our lives were like?


Or did we have some more interesting and hilarious moments of our youth that often get glossed over? Such as, what people were selling in your school at ridiculous prices? Livestrong bracelets were most certainly a hallmark of the black market of those of us who were in middle school between 2002 and 2005. Cheesy bagels became a fixture of the rewards system at high schools around the Boston area.

Your school probably had something similar going on.

Redditor u/Blueish_squid asked:

"What was the weirdest black market in your school?"

Here were some of those answers.

Anything For The Jersey

"Mountain Dew and Pepsi had a contest where college names were printed on the inside of the bottle caps. "

"If that school won the NCAA March madness tournament, you could send it in for the jersey of your choice from any school. Suddenly, a black market for caps with blue chip schools was born."

"I remember selling a Duke cap for $10, then turning around and buying 10 drinks from the vending machine."-UCFandOCSC

The Forger Of West High

"This one girl forged excuse notes if you brought her something one of your parents wrote."

"I never used her services myself, but we were (and still are) good friends, and I gotta say, she's talented as hell."

"I literally can't tell which one is mine after she copied something I wrote. Including signature. It's baffling."-ChaoticMainframe

Any Price For A Fantasy

"Harry Potter books."

"I went to a religious school where books that had magic or fantasy was banned. Parents of these kids were just as religious so kids couldn't get them from their parents."

"Mom didn't care and she let me buy a few for some friends and then more kids started requesting them."

"Charged double for what they were worth and the kids were more than happy to pay."

"Most popular requests were: Harry Potter, Lord of the Rings and Cirque Du Freak series. I should probably mention that this was a Muslim school."-aidan-fox

The black markets that students established ranged from the relatively innocuous to the somewhat dangerous.

Rewarding Preteens Seems Like A Silly Idea

"Our middle school tried to start a reward program. It turned out to be a fail of epic proportion."

"Wolf bucks; names after our mascot. They were mini-sized dollars color-coded by value. Green was $1, red was $5, blue was $10, and a gold wolf buck (only accessible to the principal and assistant principal $50) - Now the school bought erasers, pencil, notebooks. You could only buy with wolf bucks 1 pencil : 1 wolf buck."

"First failure: it was easy to copy. So kids started mass copying them. - okay school got smart and said 'only accepting wolf bucks with your name and have your teachers signature.'"

"Second failure: kept the same color; so kids would earn one legitimately, then the forgery started. Third failure: hyperinflation; during pep rally's. The principal started throwing golden wolf bucks."

"Eventually the school stopped resupplying the store. Everyone had hundreds/ thousands of worthless wolf bucks."-isramobile

Monetizing Hornyness

"My best friend found out that the dumpster behind the video store had a lot of sample porn tapes."

"Basically it was like the best parts of 4 porns clipped down and put into one vhs to try to sell those porn videos to the store, and then it would have 'this is a sample copy' flashing on the screen. Way more than we could handle anyhow."

"We would sneak up there in the middle of the night and steal a bunch of the porn tapes and sell em for like 5-10 a piece. We made several hundred dollars."

"I built a PC and put a CD burner in it with my share of the money. It might have also paid for a bike, but I might have mowed lawns for that, I forget which year that happened in and if they were the same summer."

'"Ring got busted and my friend got his disciplined when he fell asleep with the vhs in his tv that rewinds and plays it automatically."

"His mom came to wake him up and there's porn. He had to unveil his stash space. Guy kept his mouth shut though. Didn't rat me out said it was just for him. Didn't tell her it was a business we were running."

"We had a history of that. One summer when we were like 6, we started freezing soda in ice cube trays cause it was yummy and made our extremely meager soda allowance last MUCH longer while we were playing sega."

"Well, some kids around the neighborhood wanted some but we didn't really want to give em up. We decided to sell them for a quarter, but all our soda-pops got bought up.... but we also had enough money for several 2 liters."

"Well the next day we made a bunch more and kids were rabid for them, did two batches of every ice cube tray we had, upped it to .50 a cube. Next day we went a dollar a cube with special mixes. 1.50 for a SURGE cube (enough to buy an entire 2liter bottle at the time.)"

"Well... by the time parents were getting home from work our racket got shut down, parents were PIIIIIIISED we made bank, certainly over $100 on the 3 day racket. As kindergarten age kids."

"The parents wanted the money back but we said we spent it all... we were liars, I mean, we had plans for all the money sure, and we spent a LOT of it. We had HUGE bags of soda and chips stuffed in a stairwell where our parent's wouldn't find it. Man we had a great summer that summer."-hemorrhagicfever

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Black Market Bus Pass

"This happened in Los Angeles in the mid 80's. Student bus passes had to be purchased by the fifth day of the month or you were stuck having to pay daily."

"The date had passed so I found a guy in my high school willing to trade another student's pass which he had stolen. I traded a tangerine and half a pack of cigarettes for a copy of Penthouse."

"Then I traded that issue with a pizza from the cafeteria for the bus pass."-HankPymp

Still A Collector's Item

"'Diddle' paper. It's colored paper with a mouse drawn on it. But everyone collected them. No matter how old. And there were hundreds of different artworks."

"People had folders with protective covers and depending on the motif and rarity you wanted to trade, you could get 3 to 4 others in exchange. It was wild..."

"I just googled it and there are still collectors buying and selling them on the internet..."-OneMorePotion

And some of these black markets were likely not the only ones of their kind across the world.

This Is Definitely Illegal

"A teacher at my high school that I refuse to rat on would take money from students and buy them lottery tickets/scratch-offs in exchange for a cut of any prize $50 and up."

"I think the dude legit made a few thousand dollars off of this just during my senior year. And it made the students love him."-Feraligreater328

Something Easily Made

"In early elementary school we had a market for mud. Different groups of kids would claim areas around the school as their mud pit and put their brand of mud in ziplock bags to be traded with other groups for different bags of mud."

"We were the clay mud group and I had about 3 kids in the muck scooping it into bags or running to the water fountain to get fresh water to make more mud on dry days. I would be the one to go make the deals with the other groups."

"We traded a lot with the gravel mud group because 'clay mud' and 'cement mud' are both good for building or some sh*t... Who knows? It made so much sense at the time."

"The principal and staff eventually stepped in to end it because all the kids came back to class filthy every day and giant holes littered every field and playground."-LemmeLaroo

Ice Cream, The Young Child's Gold

"Our elementary school utilized 'ice cream tickets.'"

"You got 1 if it was your birthday or if you did something that a teacher decided was 'exemplary.'"

"People would pass them around asking for favors down the line. Some kid found the paper used to make the tickets and xeroxed multiple pages of the tickets. He became our kingpin and ruled for a couple years."-Lucky_Se7enX


The things that kids will really rely on each other to produce and sell are so interesting and are a great look back into the psyche of our youth.

The black market days may be behind us, but the black market life will always leave lasting memories.



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