Mad Smoker: A Look at the Ads of My Youth
July 23, 2010 in Mad Smoker
Because Mad Men’s season premiere is this Sunday, and also because I really want to inspire you to achieve greatness in this week’s Micro-Fiction Roundup, I decided to post a piece about vintage ads. However, as I was born approximately three years after the current point in the Mad Men, which I place at approximately 1964, I have no direct recollection of the ads of that time. Instead, I decided to showcase a collection of television ads from my childhood.
When I was a kid, I was the advertiser’s favorite mark. I would bug my parents to buy anything that was well sold. In fact, 0ver time, I mail ordered every piece of crap from the advertising pages of comic books, disregarding any disclaimers in the ads or admonitions from my parents:
In no particular order, here are the television ads of my youth. You may notice, a slight juvenile theme in the types of products I paid attention to at the time:
I really only needed a robot that circled or proceeded forward. Tobor’s command module collecting capabilities were just a bonus. I’m sure I may have also been persuaded by the gravitas in the announcer’s strong, confident voice.
Tom Carvel, upon discovering that people didn’t want his signature light bulb shaped cakes, found a new use for that mold and reinvented the way that we all enjoyed his confections, which was apparently by having us cannibalize superior life forms in effigy. Interestingly, these aliens also have their own cake Irishmen, who are also edible.
I have to credit Gianna and Logan for tipping me off to this one. I don’t have any independent recollection of anything this creepy being associated with the IHOP of my youth. However, if I missed this it was not for lack of awareness about the chain. As a child I consumed enough pigs in the blanket to feed and warm the population of Iceland. (Although, personally I would just as soon let the Cubes starve and freeze.)
In fairness, I wasn’t a kid when this commercial was running, but at twenty-years-old, I desperately wanted to be perceived as sophisticated. While I don’t recall ever ordering a Harvey’s Bristol Cream, I could frequently be observed sipping cognac, smoking a cheroot, while wearing sunglasses indoors and a coat rakishly draped over my shoulders. I probably didn’t order it because I didn’t think that I could afford anything as fancy as Bristol Cream, whatever it is.
I know that this commercial or some resurgence of it must have occurred after 1971 because I wouldn’t have remembered it when I was a four-year-old. However, what I learned was that manual laborers—like the stevedore—were cool, and nerdy engineer guys—like the guy in the bushes and my dad—were not. The solution? Cover all bases by getting an education and dousing myself with copious amounts of Old Spice. The new Old Spice commercials are great, but I’ve moved on from the product.
Do not play the preceding commercial more than once. The “We Are the Freakies” song will play in your head all day. Like all cereals of its time, Freakies could be included as
a part an addition to a nutritious breakfast. The cereal itself was one part corn meal to eighty parts sugar. Its shape was supposed to be small rings, but the occurrence of an actual pristine circle in this brittle, grainy cereal was rare. For me, it was really more about collecting the poorly molded, nebulous plastic toys. My favorite was Grumble, who is the ill-tempered old man with the New York Jewish accent. His bio said that he enjoyed long walks through garden hoses.
I liked this commercial because the child actors were so weak that I felt was tough—which I wasn’t. Stretch Armstrong and his evil counter-part, Stretch Monster, had twelve-foot stretching capabilities. Those kids may have doubled the length of their toys at best. Of course, to take advantage of the full range, the two youths would have had to establish détente and each grab limbs from both toys. However, after seeing the homoerotic nature of the dolls’ embraces, I don’t think that cooperation would have been a problem. Note: If you over-stretched the doll, his stomach would tear oven and a viscous red goo would ooze out—just like people.
THIS IS YOUR MICRO-FICTION ROUNDUP REMINDER!