8 Fake Brands Seen in Movies and TV Shows

Miramax
Miramax

From Red Apple Cigarettes to Heisler Beer, Hollywood is full of fictitious "brands" that you've seen pop up in show after show, and movie after movie. Maybe you've never even noticed that they're used across the board, as filmmakers can be pretty sneaky about their placement. Sometimes it's because they truly need a generic brand, while in other cases it's just become a sort of inside joke. How many of these do you recognize?

1. RED APPLE CIGARETTES

There are plenty of directors and writers who create brands and use them across all of their movies and shows, but Red Apple Cigarettes and Big Kahuna Burger (another Quentin Tarantino staple) are some of the most famous.

  • First seen in Pulp Fiction (1994), Red Apple can also be spotted in the Tokyo airport when Uma Thurman walks by an giant advertisement for the brand in Kill Bill.
  • Ted (Tim Roth), the put-upon bellhop, also smokes them in Four Rooms (1995).
  • A pack is tossed in the Gecko brothers' car in From Dusk till Dawn (1996), which Tarantino wrote and Robert Rodriguez directed.
  • The brand makes another appearance in the Rodriguez-directed Planet Terror part of Grindhouse (2007), when the BBQ owner passes a pack to Wray (Freddy Rodríguez).

2. MORLEY CIGARETTES

The Smoking Man from 'The X-Files'
Carin Baer/FOX

Unlike Tarantino's Red Apple cigs, which appear exclusively in his own movies, Morley Cigarettes are prop smokes used across the board. Here are a few places you'll find them:

  • Beverly Hills, 90210: Remember when Brenda comes home from Paris with a newfound smoking habit? The cigarettes her parents catch her with are Morleys.
  • Spike on Buffy the Vampire Slayer was loyal to the Morley brand.
  • On Heroes, Claire Bennet's real mom tries to light a Morley in Sandra Bennet's house—until Sandra puts the kibosh on it.
  • The American soldiers in Platoon smoke Morleys.
  • Christina Ricci's character in Prozac Nation is a Morley smoker.
  • The infamous Smoking Man from The X-Files smokes—you guessed it—Morleys.

3. HEISLER BEER

Heisler Beer is the barley-and-hops version of Morleys. Some notable appearances:

  • In lots of My Name is Earl episodes.
  • When Silas from Weeds celebrates his 18th birthday, the beverage of choice is Heisler.
  • Beerfest by the Broken Lizard guys features both cans and bottles of the fictitious beer.

4. OCEANIC AIRLINES

The cast of 'Lost'
ABC

Anyone who has ever watched an episode of Lost is surely familiar with the fictional Oceanic Airlines. But the survivors of Oceanic Flight 815 aren't the only passengers to fly the friendly skies with the brand, which has been around since long before Jack and co. crashed on the Island. It's usually specifically used to depict ill-fated airlines, so the next time you spot the name at the beginning of a movie, you'll know something that the person sitting next to you doesn't.

  • Part of the 1996 movie Executive Decision takes place on Oceanic Airlines Flight 343.
  • In "The Bridget at Kang So Ri," an episode of JAG that aired in 2000, terrorists hijack an Oceanic Air flight.
  • Oceanic is referenced in other ABC and/or J.J. Abrams project; the name has made appearances in Chuck, Fringe, and Pushing Daisies.

5. GANNON CAR RENTALS

Speaking of Lost: Gannon Car ads were featured in back-to-back episodes of Heroes and Lost, which led to a lot of speculation among fans that the two shows were somehow connected. This would have been pretty unprecedented, since the shows were on two different networks. Reps for both shows denied that the shows tied together.

  • Gannon pamphlets can be found in at least four episodes of Heroes.
  • Lost fans spotted Gannon advertisements on the back of the Oceanic Airlines boarding pass folders—there are also pamphlets, too, and a Gannon advertisement at a soccer game in an episode with Desmond.

6. FINDER-SPYDER

Finder-Spyder is the official choice when writers need a generic search engine. Sometimes the logo looks suspiciously like Google's, and sometimes it looks nothing like it. Here's where you'll spot it:

  • In at least six episodes of Prison Break, including the pilot.
  • On Dexter.
  • In Two Without a Trace episodes: "Baggage," where they look up a website that was left in a journal, and "Cloudy with a Chance of Gettysburg," where they look up info about Civil War reenactments.
  • On Criminal Minds, when Megan Kane "Finder-Spyders" Special Agent Aaron Hotchner in the episode "Pleasure is my Business."

7. MOOBY'S

Jeff Anderson in 'Clerks II' (2006)
The Weinstein Company

Mooby's, a franchise that features a tongue-in-cheek golden cow mascot, is all over Kevin Smith's View Askewniverse. Fans already know this, no doubt, but for the casual viewer, here's a reference guide:

  • In Dogma, you'll see the chain all over the place: Bartleby and Loki visit the Mooby headquarters, they eat at a Mooby restaurant, Silent Bob wears a Mooby hat throughout the movie, and Rufus can be seen wearing Mooby pajamas.
  • In Jay and Silent Bob Strike Back, Silent Bob is still wearing his Mooby hat. A Mooby character gets shot during the backlot chase scene.
  • Clerks II features the clerks relocating to a Mooby location after their Quick Stop burns down.

8. ACME

Acme is obviously associated with Looney Toons, but other shows and movies have picked up on the gag as well. The name originated because when the Yellow Pages were first introduced, tons of businesses started naming themselves "Acme" or "Ace" to get at the top of the listings. The Looney Toons's Acme and other Acme references poke fun at this (and some are referencing the Looney Toons Acme directly).

  • Calvin and Hobbes often referenced Acme on the box when Calvin was making transmogrifiers and other imaginative machines.
  • The Far Side used the company name in various comics, too.
  • Bullwinkle once pretended to sell Acme vacuums on The Rocky and Bullwinkle Show.
  • The Simpsons makes reference on a somewhat regular basis, including during Itchy and Scratchy episodes.
  • The candy factory Lucy and Ethel work at in that famous episode is the Acme Candy Factory.
  • The detective agency in the Carmen Sandiego series is the ACME Detective Agency.
  • The Last Action Hero references Acme products.
  • Wally's Filling Station in The Andy Griffith Show sells Acme fuel.

12 Festive Facts About A Christmas Story

Warner Home Video
Warner Home Video

Which Oscar-winning star wanted to play Ralphie Parker's dad? Which actor went on to have a seedy career in the adult film industry? Can you really get your tongue stuck to a metal pole? On the 35th anniversary of A Christmas Story's debut, here are a few tidbits about the holiday classic to tide you over until TNT's 24-hour Christmas marathon.

1. JACK NICHOLSON WAS INTERESTED IN PLAYING RALPHIE'S DAD.

Though Jack Nicholson was reportedly offered the role of The Old Man Parker, and interested, casting—and paying—him would have meant doubling the budget. But director Bob Clark, who didn't know Nicholson was interested, said Darren McGavin was the perfect choice for the role.

2. IT OWES A DEBT TO PORKY'S.

What does Porky's—a raunchy 1980s teen sex comedy—have to do with a wholesome film like A Christmas Story? Bob Clark directed both: Porky's in 1982 and A Christmas Story in 1983. If Porky's hadn't given him the professional and financial success he needed, he wouldn't have been able to bring A Christmas Story to the big screen.

3. RALPHIE SAYS HE WANTS A RED RYDER BB GUN A LOT.

For anyone keeping count, Ralphie says he wants the Red Ryder BB Gun 28 times throughout the course of the movie. That's approximately once every three minutes and 20 seconds.

4. THESE DAYS, PETER BILLINGSLEY SPENDS HIS TIME BEHIND THE CAMERA.

Peter Billingsley, a.k.a. Ralphie, has been good friends with Vince Vaughn since they both appeared in a CBS Schoolbreak Special together in the early 1990s. He doesn't do much acting these days, though he has popped up in cameos (including one in Elf, another holiday classic). Instead, Billingsley prefers to spend his time behind the camera as a director and producer. He has done a lot of work with Vaughn and Jon Favreau, including serving as an executive producer on Iron Man (in which he also made a cameo).

5. YES, YOU CAN GET YOUR TONGUE STUCK ON A PIECE OF COLD METAL.

Mythbusters tested whether it was possible to get your tongue truly stuck on a piece of cold metal. Guess what? It is. So don't triple dog dare your best friend to try it.

6. ONE OF THE YOUNG ACTORS MOVED ON TO A CAREER IN ADULT FILMS.

Scott Schwartz, who played Flick (the kid who stuck his tongue to the frozen flagpole), spent several years working in the adult film industry. In 2000, he turned his attention back to mainstream films. His most recent role was as "Disco City Hot Dog Vendor" in the 2017 TV movie Vape Warz.

7. RALPHIE'S HOUSE IS NOW A MUSEUM.

Next time you're in Cleveland, you can visit the original house from the movie. It was sold on eBay in 2004 for $150,000. Collector Brian Jones bought the house and restored it to its movie glory and stocked it up with some of the original props from the film, including Randy's snowsuit.

8. THE IDEA FOR THE FILM CAME TO BOB CLARK WHILE HE WAS DRIVING TO PICK UP A DATE.

Peter Billingsley, Melinda Dillon, Darren McGavin, and Ian Petrella in A Christmas Story (1983)
Warner Home Video

Director Bob Clark got the idea for the movie when he was driving to pick up a date. He heard Jean Shepherd on the radio doing a reading of his short story collection, In God We Trust, All Others Pay Cash, which included some bits that eventually ended up in A Christmas Story. Clark said he drove around the block for an hour until the program ended (which his date was not too happy about).

9. IT PARTLY INSPIRED THE WONDER YEARS.

The Wonder Years was inspired in part by A Christmas Story. In fact, toward the very end of the series, Peter Billingsley even played one of Kevin Arnold's roommates.

10. YOU CAN STILL BUY A RED RYDER BB GUN.

The real Red Ryder BB Gun was first made in 1938 and was named after a comic strip cowboy. You can still buy it today for the low, low price of $39.99. But the original wasn't quite the same as the one in the movie; it lacked the compass and sundial that both the Jean Shepherd story and the movie call for. Special versions had to be made just for A Christmas Story.

11. THE LEG LAMP CAN ALSO BE YOURS.

Peter Billingsley and Melinda Dillon in A Christmas Story (1983)
Warner Home Video

While we're talking shopping: you know you want the leg lamp. Put it in your window! Be the envy of your neighbors! It's a Major Award! You can buy it on Amazon (there's a 40-inch version, as well as a 20-inch replica). If you're not feeling quite so flamboyant, they also make a nightlight version.

12. IT SPAWNED A TRIO OF SEQUELS.

A Christmas Story led to two little-talked-about sequels. The first one was a 1988 made-for-TV movie, Ollie Hopnoodle's Haven of Bliss. Jerry O'Connell played 14-year-old Ralphie, who is excited about his first job—as a furniture mover. Of course, it ends up being awful, and it might make him miss the annual family vacation at Mr. Hopnoodle's lakeside cabins.

My Summer Story, a.k.a. It Runs in the Family, debuted on the big screen in 1994. Kieran Culkin plays Ralphie, Mary Steenburgen is his mom, and Charles Grodin is his dad.

And in 2012, the direct-to-video sequel A Christmas Story 2 picked up five years after the original movie left off, with Ralphie attempting to get his parents to buy him a car.

An earlier version of this story appeared in 2008.

10 Timeless Facts About The Land Before Time

Universal Pictures Home Entertainment
Universal Pictures Home Entertainment

Five years before Jurassic Park roared into theaters, a gentler, more meditative dinosaur film endeared itself to audiences of all ages. Initially met with mixed reviews, The Land Before Time is now regarded as an animated classic. Here are 10 things you might not have known about the Steven Spielberg-produced film, which arrived in theaters 30 years ago.

1. IT WAS CONCEIVED AS A DIALOGUE-FREE MOVIE.

Gabriel Damon and Candace Hutson in The Land Before Time (1988)
Universal Pictures Home Entertainment

In the mid-1980s, executive producer Steven Spielberg began toying with the idea of a Bambi-esque dinosaur film. “Basically,” he later said, “I wanted to do a soft picture … about five little dinosaurs and how they grow up and work together as a group.” Inspiration came from the “Rite of Spring” sequence from Disney’s Fantasia (1940)—a scene in which prehistoric beasts wordlessly go about their business. At first, Spielberg wanted his own dinosaur characters to follow suit and remain mum. Ultimately, however, it was feared that a non-verbal approach might bore or confuse the film’s intended audience. As such, the animals were given lines.

2. DIRECTOR DON BLUTH WAS AN EX-DISNEY EMPLOYEE.

Don Bluth grew up idolizing Disney’s work, and began working for the studio in 1955. Over the next two decades, he did various odd jobs until he was brought on as a full-time animator in 1971. Once on the inside, Bluth got to peek behind the magician’s curtain—and disliked what he found there. “I think [Walt Disney] would’ve seen that the pictures were losing their luster,” Bluth said. Frustrated by the studio’s cost-cutting measures, he resigned in 1979. Joining him were fellow animators Gary Goldman and John Pomeroy. Together the trio launched their own company, Sullivan Bluth Studios, and began working on The Land Before Time in 1986.

3. OVER 600 BACKGROUND PAINTINGS WERE MADE FOR THE FILM.

Most of these depicted beautiful but barren wastelands, which presented a real challenge for the creative team. As one studio press release put it, “The artists had to create a believable environment in which there was almost no foliage.” Whenever possible, Bluth’s illustrators emphasized vibrant colors. This kept their backdrops from looking too drab or monotonous—despite the desolate setting.

4. LITTLEFOOT’S ORIGINAL NAME WAS “THUNDERFOOT.”

This was changed when the filmmakers learned that there was a triceratops in a popular children’s book called Thunderfoot. Speaking of three-horned dinosaurs: Cera evolved from a pugnacious male character called Bambo.

5. THE FILMMAKERS HAD TO CUT ABOUT 10 MINUTES OF FOOTAGE.

“We compromised a lot with The Land Before Time,” Goldman admitted. Nowhere was this fact more apparent than on the cutting room floor. Spielberg and his fellow executive producer George Lucas deemed 19 individual scenes “too scary.” “We’ll have kids crying in the lobby, and angry parents,” Spielberg warned. “You don’t want that.”

6. “ROOTER” WAS INTRODUCED AT THE URGING OF CHILD PSYCHOLOGISTS.

In Bambi, the title character’s mom dies off-screen. The same cannot be said for Littlefoot’s mother, whose slow demise goes on for several agonizing minutes. Naturally, there was some concern about how children would react to this. “A lot of research went into the mother dying sequence,” Pomeroy said. “Psychologists were approached and shown the film. They gave their professional opinions of how the sequence could be depicted.” Thus, Rooter was born.

One scene after Littlefoot’s mom passes, the wise reptile consoles him, saying “You’ll always miss her, but she’ll always be with you as long as you remember the things she taught you.” Sharp-eared fans might recognize Rooter’s voice as that of Pat Hingle, who also narrates the movie.

7. JAMES HORNER DID THE SOUNDTRACK.

The late, Oscar-winning composer behind Braveheart (1995), Titanic (1997), and Avatar (2009) put together a soaring score. Along with lyricist Will Jennings, he also penned the original song “If We Hold On Together,” which Diana Ross sings as the end credits roll.

8. THE ACTRESS BEHIND DUCKY PASSED AWAY BEFORE THE MOVIE’S RELEASE.

Judith Barsi’s career was off to a great start. By age 10, this daughter of Hungarian immigrants had already appeared in 70 commercials and voiced the leading lady in Don Bluth’s All Dogs Go to Heaven (1989). For The Land Before Time, Barsi voiced the ever-optimistic Ducky, which was reportedly her favorite role. Then tragedy struck: In July of 1988, Barsi’s father József murdered both her and her mother before taking his own life.

9. IT HAD A RECORD-SETTING OPENING WEEKEND.

From the get-go, The Land Before Time had some stiff competition. Universal released it on November 18, 1988—the same day that Disney’s Oliver & Company hit theaters. Yet, for a solid month, Bluth gave Oliver a box office beating. The Land Before Time enjoyed the highest-grossing opening weekend that any animated film had ever seen, pulling in $7.5 million to Oliver & Company’s $4 million. Since then, of course, The Land Before Time has long been dethroned; today, Incredibles 2 (2018) holds this coveted distinction with a $182.7 million first-weekend showing.

10. THERE ONCE WAS TALK OF A LAND BEFORE TIME STAGE MUSICAL.

“The time has come for dinosaurs on Broadway,” the late theatrical producer Irving Welzer told The New York Times in 1997. Emboldened by the recent cinematic success of Spielberg’s The Lost World: Jurassic Park (1996), Welzer expressed an interest helping Littlefoot, Cera, Ducky, and the rest of the gang make their Big Apple debut. Soon, however, the idea faded.

SECTIONS

arrow
LIVE SMARTER