MILFORD, MA — Today is your lucky day. For just $500, you could be the owner of a ruffled potato chip bearing the visage of Jesus Christ.
Serious inquiries only. Price is firm.
If you scan Facebook looking for used items for sale, you might’ve seen this odd listing recently. Milford resident Kyle Wagoner, 35, posted the Jesus chip listing on Tuesday, the latest in a series of joke ads. He’s done a haunted children’s toy (“It keeps appearing in rooms I’m not leaving it”), an offer to ink tattoos of characters from the Netflix series “Tiger King” and an ad for a Jeep featuring enticing photos of a man in pink short-shorts holding a rifle.
Wagoner began posting the joke items in Facebook yard sale groups from Ashland to Upton at the beginning of the coronavirus pandemic as a way to cope with social isolation and darkness.
“Everywhere you turned, there was just doom and gloom on the news,” he said.
Wagoner is originally from Hopkinton, but served in the military for the past 12 years, including two tours in Afghanistan. He moved to Milford a few months before the pandemic began — about 10 minutes from his childhood home — but doesn’t know many people nearby.
He began browsing local yard sale groups on Facebook looking for neighbors and interesting items. One day, he thought it would be fun to make his own ad. He posted a photo of two house numbers purchased at a local hardware store arranged next to each other to make the number “54.”
“House numbers, unopened in the box. I live at No. 45, but I bought 54 by mistake, so I think that’s where my head was at when I was purchasing,” he wrote in the ad, offering to trade if someone had 4 and 5 in the right order.
Wagoner knew he hit a nerve when people started messaging him (seriously) telling him he could just transpose the numbers.
“The joke went over a lot of people’s heads,” he said.
Over the months, he’s built up a bit of a following in Facebook groups in Milford, Upton and Mendon (although he thinks administrators in Mendon and Bellingham booted him after recent posts) with people checking in to see when his next post is coming. And his posts usually get a warm welcome.
The Jesus potato chip, for example, sparked a bidding war that got up to $1,000. Some argued that the chip looked more like Bigfoot or the grim reaper. One person said he would buy the chip only if Wagoner could certify it had been dipped in holy water.
Another ad featured a picture of his Chihuahua in a sling hanging from the ceiling — a solution for dog owners who have a hard time cutting their pet’s nails. That one did offend a few people, he said.
Wagoner’s online activities haven’t all been in jest. He works locally for Power Home Remodeling, which regularly raises money for the cancer charity Alex’s Lemonade Stand. The charity usually raises money with real lemonade stands, but the fundraiser had to move online this year. He helped Power Home raise about $100,000 in the virtual event.
Of course, it’s unclear how long the pandemic will keep us indoors, especially as cases rise across Massachusetts. Wagoner’s 5-year-old entered kindergarten at the beginning of the school year, and he still doesn’t know if Milford will switch to all-remote classes due to rising cases.
But technology will allow Wagoner and his son to stay connected to the community, he said. He’s planning more joke ads for the winter — like miniature snowmen pitched as “authentic” action figures of the character Olaf from the movie “Frozen.”
“If you can’t connect in person, you have to go online,” he said.