5 Vintage TV Commercials Worth a Second Look

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Many of today's TV shows omit an opening theme altogether and then use a credit squeeze over the ending credits just so they can cram in more commercials. (I hate that, by the way.) But quantity doesn't always mean quality. Whatever happened to creative commercials that used catchy, original music that got stuck in your head for days on end? Maybe you remember some of these:

1. You Deserve a Break Today

Do you remember when McDonald's had teams of enthusiastic 30-year-old men scrubbing down every inch of the store? Me neither. But true-to-life or not, this spot launched the trend of featuring elaborate production numbers in commercials. Casual TV viewers might spot a young John Amos (James Evans on Good Times) among the Mickey D crew members. Heavy-duty watchers may recognize Johnny Haymer (Sgt. Zale on M*A*S*H) as well.

DID YOU KNOW? While Barry Manilow wrote many hit jingles, he did not pen the "You Deserve a Break Today" song (although he did occasionally sing it in concert). The tune was written by Kenny Karen.

2. Noodles up in Lights

If you grew up during the golden age of MGM musicals, you're probably wrinkled by now. But you probably also remember Ann Miller as one of the studio's biggest tap-dancing stars. If you spent most of your time in front of the small screen in the 1970s, though, you probably remember her as the pitchwoman for the line of Great American Soups by Heinz.

Click here to see this video.

DID YOU KNOW? This commercial was written and directed by parody song legend Stan Freberg.

3. Wearin' My Levi's

There are catchy commercial jingles, and there are those that are just plain infectious. This one always got my toe tapping, and I bet you won't be able to resist "haw haw-ing" along with this classic Levi's commercial (even if you do it the second time you watch it).

DID YOU KNOW? The song in this commercial is loosely based on The Fendermen's rendition of "Mule Skinner Blues."

4. Wonderfully Orangey

Until the mid-1960s, Nesbitt's Orange was the only orange soda pop sold at Disneyland. The animation in this commercial leans more toward R. Crumb than Uncle Walt, though.

DID YOU KNOW? Marilyn Monroe appeared in print ads for Nesbitt's Orange in 1946.

5. That's Why We Love Faygo

The song in this spot was so popular that Faygo released it on a 45 (that's a small, seven-inch vinyl record, kids) that sold for the princely sum of 25 cents. "Remember When You Were a Kid" appeared briefly on several Detroit-area radio stations' Top 30 playlists.

DID YOU KNOW? This commercial was filmed aboard the Boblo boat, which for 81 years ferried passengers from downtown Detroit to the Boblo Island amusement park near Amherstburg, Ontario, Canada.

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January 24, 2008 - 7:16am
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