September 21, 2020

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3 Strange Items We Still Send Through the Mail Stream

Mail Stream

I believe its safe to assume, that we are all familiar mail streams and the United States Postal Service (USPS). Whether it’s a young child patiently awaiting birthday gift from grandma or a teenager excited about receiving a new Amazon iPhone cover, or a parent moaning and groaning about receiving a high utility bill, the USPS has been a staple Institution etched in our minds.

Nonetheless, some things that are sent through the USPS may surprise customers who are used to receiving little more than direct mailshared direct mail, handwritten letters, and small parcels.

Some of the stuff that the USPS receives is downright strange. The reasons behind mailing these strange items range from medical to farming, to monetary, to “because I can”. Yet the fact remains – our hardworking postal employees have been required to deliver some really bizarre items. Let’s take a look at three of these strange items we still send through the mail stream.

Strange Item #1 – Live Baby Chicks

At first, glance, sending live baby chicks might seem like a cruel practice. On the other hand, there are those who agree that the baby chickens have everything that they need to survive the long trip through the mail stream. Who knew, that day-old chicks were full of nutrient-rich yolk that they ingest during the hatching process and are able to survive for several days without eating food or drinking water. The chicks need to be shipped within 24 hours and reach their final destination within 72 hours after hatching. They can only be shipped Priority Mail Express, the fastest delivery service. Live Baby Chicks can only be shipped between April and August. Hundreds of thousands of baby chicks are sent through mail streams each year.

Strange Item #2 – Cremated Human Remains

Just for clarity, you can’t just wrap granny in a rug and leave her next to the blue collection box. For public safety and sanitary reason – that would be unacceptable. By nature, the cremation process is a purification process that removes the possibility of contamination making it legal to send cremated human remains through the mail. The mail system makes it possible to receive the remains of loved ones when you are unable to make the trip cross-country. Domestically or Internationally, USPS offers the only legal method for shipping cremated human remains. Cremated Human Remains must be sent USPS Priority Mail Express International Service.

Strange Item #3 – Animal Feces

Speaking of mailing a lot of crap, this one stinks. There are no postal regulations pertaining to mailing animal feces. Because of this, there are prank related websites that promote sending poop through the mail as a gag gift to someone of your choosing – a lame boss, a dead-beat parent, or a cheating ex-boyfriend. Mailers are required to declare their dung. The reason for it to attaching a stamp to it. Revenge doesn’t pass the USPS smell test. If you send to be harassing or annoying it could be a misdemeanor offense under state and federal law. The intent is inferred from the relationship between the sender and recipient. If you send animal feces to the President, for example, this could be interrupted as political protest or terrorism.  At any rate, packaging needs to be airtight and quadruple-wrapped. Postal Workers already put up with enough crap, as is.

Strange Reminder

The USPS continues to ship live baby chicks, cremated human remains, and animal feces day after day, rain, snow, or shine, uninterrupted. The reasons for mailing these strange items vary. 

I am reminded of one famous story that happened on February 19, 1914. A four-year-old girl named Charlotte May Pierstorff was “mailed” via train from her home in Grangeville, Idaho to her grandparent’s house 73 miles away. This story became so legendary that a children’s book was written, Mailing May.

To close on a more inspirational note, there are no more direct mail options for children, no more pinning them with postage, and no more sending them off with the mailman. What is the strangest item that you have ship through the mail stream?

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