5 Vintage TV Commercials Worth a Second Look

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.

John P. Johnson, HBO
Charles Dickens Wrote His Own Version of Westworld in the 1830s
John P. Johnson, HBO
John P. Johnson, HBO

Charles Dickens never fully devoted himself to science fiction, but if he had, his work might have looked something like the present-day HBO series Westworld. As The Conversation reports, the author explored a very similar premise to the show in The Mudfrog Papers, a collection of sketches that originally appeared in the magazine Bentley's Miscellany between 1837 and 1838.

In the story "Full Report of the Second Meeting of the Mudfog Association for the Advancement of Everything," a scientist describes his plan for a park where rich young men can take out their aggression on "automaton figures." In Dickens's story, the opportunity to pursue those cruel urges is the park's main appeal. The theme park in Westworld may have been founded with a slightly less cynical vision, but it has a similar outcome. Guests can live out their heroic fantasies, but if they have darker impulses, they can act on those as well.

Instead of sending guests back in time, Dickens's attraction presents visitors with a place very similar to their own home. According to the scientist's pitch, the idyllic, Victorian scene contains roads, bridges, and small villages in a walled-off space at least 10 miles wide. Each feature is designed for destruction, including cheap gas lamps made of real glass. It's populated with robot cops, cab drivers, and elderly women who, when beaten, produce “groans, mingled with entreaties for mercy, thus rendering the illusion complete, and the enjoyment perfect.”

There are no consequences for harming the hosts in Westworld, but the guests at Dickens's park are at least sent to a mock trial for their crimes. However, rather than paying for their misbehavior, the hooligans always earn the mercy of an automated judge—Dickens's allegory for how the law favors the rich and privileged in the real world.

As for the Victorian-era automatons gaining sentience and overthrowing their tormenters? Dickens never got that far. But who knows where he would have taken it given a two-season HBO deal.

[h/t The Conversation]

LEGO Ideas
This Fresh Prince of Bel-Air LEGO Set Could Become a Reality
LEGO Ideas
LEGO Ideas

One talented LEGO fan wants to make a The Fresh Prince of Bel-Air set, but the Banks family needs your votes to turn it into a reality.

LEGO Ideas user Bricky_Brick has designed a set consisting of the Banks' living room and seven minifigures: Will Smith; Uncle Phil; Aunt Vivian; cousins Carlton, Hilary, and Ashley Banks; and Geoffrey Butler. Appropriately enough, the Will figure is mid-laugh and equipped with a basketball. So far, the set has just 176 supporters. That's a long way to go before it reaches its goal of 10,000, at which point it will be judged by the LEGO Review Board. If selected, it could be turned into a real product. Fans have 409 days remaining to vote.

TV show-themed LEGO Ideas submissions have been successful in the past: Doctor Who and Adventure Time designs have become official sets after they blew up on the internet. Hitting 10,000 by no means guarantees LEGO will approve an idea, however. A set inspired by The Office reached the mark in 2017 but was rejected in the review stage.

See more of Bricky_Brick's Fresh Prince set below—and don't forget to vote.

Fresh Prince LEGOs
LEGO Ideas

Fresh Prince LEGOs
LEGO Ideas


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