Several folks have asked me to post more retro recipes, especially everyone’s favorite, gelatin molds! Obviously I’m more than happy to oblige! But I find myself wondering, after all these years am I becoming immune to the horrors of the vintage aspic? So, as anytime I have a problem, I look to Project Runway’s Tim Gunn for answers.
Gunn once told a contestant that his design was like living in the monkey house at the zoo. He explained that when you first walk into the monkey house you are overcome with the scent, then after a while in the monkey house, it doesn’t seem so bad. Finally if you were to actually live in the monkey house you wouldn’t think it smells at all.
Sometimes I come across a vintage recipe and think it doesn’t look all that bad…in fact maybe I will try that recipe. Am I living in the monkey house?
In order to test my gelatin mold tolerance, today I bring you an assortment of god’s creatures that swim, fly and amble all encased in a very very shiny gelatin embrace.
Test 1: “Movie Recipe” Chicken and Vegetable Aspic.
Test 2. Jelly Beef Mold
Test 3: Jelly Tongues
Test 4: Mayo and ….Fish…?
The good news is Aunt Mary still maintains some manner of astonishment after the ravages of vintage recipes. The bad news, it seems demonic cults were once a viable target market for at least one condiment company.
School is back in session and so is the Storytime! It’s been a great summer but it is time to get back to the work of perusing ads in all their many forms and glories.
Let’s kick off this season of learnin’ with a bevy of back-so-school ads.
Staples seemed to have it together for a few years there, dominating the school supplies market.
When I ask people about their favorite ads (yes, I do that) this commercial is often brought up. Even if you are totally geeked about your kids going back to school, this just isn’t nice. Funny and relatable, but not nice.
Here’s Darnell from “My Name is Earl” being super cool.
Also, these ads from my copy of Parents Magazine from September, 1950.
I found this ad fascinating because it was advertised to parents during the post WWII building boom. As communities worked to keep up with infrastructure demand, someone thought to nudge the parents. I would love to know if it worked!
Here is the “before” picture leading up to this jelly-Velveeta omelet gaining sentience and destroying a small sea-side town. All it wanted was love! Is that so wrong?
This charming ad hits a lot of my favorite retro ad spots: goofy imagery, claims of superlative benefits, oddball copy. I like to think of mid-century moms making this for their hordes of baby-boomer kids. It makes me happy!
Gather ’round, my children, for as it has been written in the prophesy, the time has come for Aunt Mary to speak the truth.
My philosophy in writing the Ad Storytime is that creative work is hard, marrying the ingenuity and psychology needed for advertising is harder and we should acknowledge this process. I try to praise the great and fun efforts and respectfully inspect the ones that miss the target.
But, Y’all, I can.not.stand those damn Charmin toilet paper bears.
This long running campaign is obviously doing something right because Charmin trots them out time and again, but if it were up to me it would be hunting time and Charmin bears would be in season.
I cannot imagine the hubris it takes to actually answer the smart-ass hypothetical of “Does a bear crap in the woods?” with “Yes! And he uses our product to wipe his butt.” How does an Adman walk into a pitch meeting with this in their wing? Were they drunk? Were the clients drunk? Was everybody just really super crazy drunk?
My loathing is three-fold:
1 It’s twee. Toilet paper is a pretty straight forward and honest product. Everyone needs toilet paper and really there’s not a huge difference from brand to brand, so I get the need to set your product apart, but the cuteness is too much. In a savvy marketplace that loves nothing more than irony, Charmin decided to go the baby talk route. Furthermore, implying the mother bear is checking her family for dingle-berries is gross. One ad even references skid marks. Not cool.
2. It smacks of building brand loyalty with kids. It feels to me that children are the target market here. It is an old trick to engage a population when they are young so they are comfortable with the product when they are adults (Joe Camel anyone?). It certainly is playing the long game here, hoping kids will have the warm fuzzies 20 years hence. I can also see parents buying Charmin while shopping with their kids because Junior thinks the dancing bears are funny. P&G even prints the bears on the Charmin packaging making it easy for kids to pick out and has created stuffed animals of the bears.
I acknowledge this may be a “Bitch eating crackers” point on my part. Building brand loyalty is a respectable strategy if it is done with care. For fun, here is an example of it not being done with care.
3. They replaced Mr. Whipple with this?
Sure, Mr. W. had his issues, including a fanatical need to keep housewives from squeezing his toilet paper selection, but he had heart and the commercial landed where it needed to. This here is some comfy toilet paper and a goofy slogan was born. I like to think he spent a lot of time on those TP pyramids and had witnessed one too many folks tipsy from cooking sherry use it as a soft place to land.
To prove they were once capable of awesome advertising, here is a great Charmin ad. Simple and classy, it’s an elegant appeal to a higher sense. This fine lady would never shake her booty in your face.
With this public reproach I’m sure the Charmin accountants have a better idea of why they are $10 short each month as Aunt Mary refuses to buy this product. You can do better, we have faith in you!
Behold the Mountain Dew! Rested upon the lips and shirts of basement dwelling D&D gamers and Xtreme Sports athletes alike, surely its noble history is filled with delicate and nuanced advertising to a mature and refined audience. Let’s look, shall we?
This Hanna-Barbara looking ad from the 1960’s featured long-time mascot Willy the Hillbilly voiced by Grandpa Jones, a legendary country star and banjo player. Willy was retired in 1969 when the makers of “the Dew” decided to court a younger and more “outdoorsy” market.
If you’re like me you are left with a lot of questions after viewing that ad. Questions like:
Who decided hillbillies were the perfect brand ambassadors?
What does “tickle yore innards” really mean? Is it code for something dirty?
Why is “your” spelled yore?
Did they know Mountain Dew was a euphemism for moonshine?
How many times can I watch this before my tilted head and questioning expression are permanent?
In general, I just don’t get Mountain Dew’s advertising choices. This year’s Super Bowl ad (Puppy Monkey Baby) is still going strong and I seriously don’t get it. I understand the new drink if made of 3 things that go together (juice, Mt. Dew and the tears of mothers whose sons are Mt. Dew drinkers) but it still creeps me out.
Then again, Aunt Mary is neither a young man nor particularly outdoorsy and therefor not in their target market. My innards shall remain untickled.
Detroit had some of the best local ads ever produced and none were as quoted or still as beloved as those from now-defunct Highland Appliance. If you were a TV watcher of any age during the ’80’s in metro Detroit, this commercial is instantly recognizable and drips with nostalgia.
While researching this spot I found many folks calling this the best ad ever. I may not be able to agree with that sentiment, but the concept is fun and the commercial has impressive production quality not often seen in a local ad. It’s silly and goofy while never making light of the store or its products.
Speaking of the products, the size and price of the electronics in this ad seem absolutely bananas to we modern viewers. Makes one wonder what modern amenities will be unfathomable to folks 30 years hence, babycakes.