Pesky Pants

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The Pesky Pants prank was an ongoing practical joke between 1965 and 1989. Two brothers-in-law took turns giving each other the same pair of trousers as a Christmas present with the packaging become more elaborate each year. The prank ended in 1989 with the accidental destruction of the pants.


The pants, made of moleskin, were originally given to Larry Kunkel by his mother in 1964.[1] Kunkel disliked the pants because the material became uncomfortably stiff in the cold Minnesota winters. Rather than throw them away, he regifted them to his brother-in-law, Roy Collette, the following Christmas. Collette didn't like them either so he waited until the following year and gave them back. For the next couple years, the pants were traded back and forth with traditional wrapping.

Escalation & Gentleman's Agreement

After several years, Collette took the additional step of twisting the pants tightly and stuffing them into a tube to conceal the nature of the present. Kunkel retaliated by compressing them into a small cube approximately seven inches square and wrapping it with wire.

As the packaging became more elaborate, the goal shifted to making the gift harder for the recipient to open and recover the pants.

An informal agreement existed that only “legal and moral” methods of wrapping were permitted and expenses were kept to a minimum by using junk parts and donated supplies. They also agreed to end the tradition if the pants were destroyed or became unwearable.[2]


On two occasions, the men agreed to end the tradition early. In 1984, they planned to mount the trousers in a glass frame and present them back to Kunkel's mother Ethel Kunkel. Collette had the trousers professionally cleaned and pressed and delivered them to Kunkel for framing. Kunkel instead returned the pants to Collette in a 1974 Chevrolet Camaro filled with concrete.[2]

Again, in 1987 they agreed to end the saga, this time by destroying the pants with media present. They arranged an event where the pants would be secured between their vehicles and torn in two. Kunkel managed to sabotage the rope and made off with the trousers intact. They were returned to Collette the following year.

List of Gift Years

Year Description Recipient
1964 Original Gift to Kunkel from his mother Kunkel
1965 Regift Collette
1966-1972 Regifting Continues alternating
1973 Twisted and rolled into three-foot 1-inch tube. Kunkel
1974 Compressed to seven-inch wire-wrapped cube. Collette
1975 2-foot crate full of stones and banded with steel Kunkel
1976 bullet-proof glass frame. Collette
1977 5 gallon bucket of concrete. Kunkel
1978 None
1979 Steel Ash-tray 225lbs[2] Collette
1980 Steel office safe. Welded door. Dial removed[2] Kunkel
1981 1974 AMC Gremlin (crushed)[2] Collette thumb|The pants were contained in a steel cylinder in the glove compartment
1982 Industrial truck tire. Fused rim. Filled internally with 3 tons of concrete[2] Kunkel thumb|Concrete filled tire
1983 Rocket ship. 17.5' tall. 5' diameter. 6 tons of concrete[2] Collette thumb|Six-ton steel and concrete rocket (non-functional)
1984 1974 Camaro filled with concrete[2] Collette thumb|Extracting the pants from a block of concrete poured into a junked car
1985 Rubik’s Cube (non-functional) Kiln-dried, reinforced concrete core surrounded by lumber[2] Kunkel thumb|A four-ton concrete and wood rubiks cube (non-functional)
1986 Station-wagon car. Filled with electric generators welded into steel mass[2][3] Collette thumb|A junk station wagon filled with hundreds of welded generators
1987 Agreement to destroy. The men agreed to destroy the pants and end the tradition. The pants were tied between two SUVs driven by them. Kunkel managed to sabotage Collette's rope and made off with the trousers intact. Kunkel thumb|Moleskin Pants Prepared for Destruction
1988 cement truck mixer drum[4] Collette thumb|Roy Collette and Larry Kunkel pose with a reporter in front of Collette's Christmas present
1989 Pants destroyed (Delivered in brass urn)[5] Kunkel


In 1989 Collette intended to encase the pants in 10,000 pounds of poured molten glass. During the pouring process, the pants were to be protected by an insulated container. However, the container fractured allowing the pants to burn. The ashes were deposited into a brass urn and given to Kunkel ending the tradition.[1]

Name and Media Coverage

The story was first reported in the Owatonna People's Press in a story that used the name 'Pesky Pants'[6][7][8]

In subsequent years, the prank was covered by many newspapers[9][10][11][12][13][14]including New York Times[15] and Chicago Tribune[16], radio programs and TV news.

On 9 October 1988 the two appeared on That's Incredible!|Incredible Sunday.[17]


  1. 1.0 1.1 "Moleskin Pants Destroyed in Fire; Tradition, Too". AP News. December 29, 1989.{{cite news}}: CS1 maint: url-status (link)
  2. 2.0 2.1 2.2 2.3 2.4 2.5 2.6 2.7 2.8 2.9 "A pair of fuzzy brown moleskin pants were traded..." United Press International. 25 December 1986.{{cite news}}: CS1 maint: url-status (link)
  3. Herzog, Kurt (24 December 1986). "Pants welded in station wagon". Owatonna People's Press. p. 1.{{cite news}}: CS1 maint: url-status (link)
  4. O'Rourke, Mike (22 December 1988). "Pants joke continues". Brainerd Daily Dispatch. p. 1.{{cite news}}: CS1 maint: url-status (link)
  5. Ehlers, Jodi (24 December 1989). "Pesky pants meet their maker". Owatonna People's Press. p. 1.{{cite news}}: CS1 maint: url-status (link)
  6. Macalus, Sam (1980-12-18). "Pesky pants caper persists". Owatonna People's Press. p. A1.{{cite news}}: CS1 maint: url-status (link)
  7. Macalus, Sam (21 March 1982). "Hold your pants on, please!". Owatonna People's Press. p. A1.{{cite news}}: CS1 maint: url-status (link)
  8. Pearson, Kelly (18 December 1988). "'Pesky pants' space ship lands at Collette's house". Owatonna People's Press. p. A1.{{cite news}}: CS1 maint: url-status (link)
  9. "Gift Wrapped - Tons of Fun Every Yuletide". United Press International. 22 December 1982.{{cite news}}: CS1 maint: url-status (link)
  10. "Next Year They're Coming in the Space Shuttle". United Press International. 23 December 1983.{{cite news}}: CS1 maint: url-status (link)
  11. "17-foot-tall rocket wears the pants in Owatonna family". Associated Press. 25 December 1983.{{cite news}}: CS1 maint: url-status (link)
  12. Black, Eric (24 December 1984). "Moleskin pants (and heavy wrapper) have arrived". Minneapolis Star and Tribune. p. 9A.{{cite news}}: CS1 maint: url-status (link)
  13. "Christmas Pants Packaged in Rubik's Cube". United Press International. 25 December 1985.{{cite news}}: CS1 maint: url-status (link)
  14. von Sternberg, Bob (29 December 1989). "Will Owatonna pair finally wrap up holiday tradition of giving moleskin pants?". Minneapolis Star-Tribune. p. 1B.{{cite news}}: CS1 maint: url-status (link)
  15. "FOR 13TH YEAR SANTA BRINGS A PAIR OF UNWEARABLE PANTS". The New York Times. December 25, 1983. p. Section 1, Page 33. Retrieved 2 January 2021.{{cite news}}: CS1 maint: url-status (link)
  16. "WHAT`S IN THE CUBE? THAT`S SURE NO PUZZLE". Chicago Tribune. 27 December 1985. Retrieved 2 January 2021.{{cite news}}: CS1 maint: url-status (link)
  17. Gandrud, Marcia (5 October 1988). "Infamous pair on national TV". Owatonna People's Press. p. 1.{{cite news}}: CS1 maint: url-status (link)

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