Tales From A Hungry Life

June 26, 2013

Ancient Advertising Secrets

by Maria Schulz

I was watching TV the other night, and thoroughly enjoying the fact that I can use my remote control to zoom right past all of the annoying commercials when this ad came on:




Get in. Get Happy


I realize that this ad caused quite a bruhaha because some people felt it was racist. I just thought it was ridiculous and meant to make you laugh. After watching it, it had me walking around saying things like, “Don’t be no cloud on a sunny day,” and “Turn your frown…the other way around!”

It got me thinking about all of the ads I used to watch when I was a kid. You know, back in the dark ages, when you didn’t have VCRs or DVDs or DVRs. If you were lucky, you had a remote control (we had to get up and change the channel well into the 80s). The result was that I saw lots of commercials that I loved and can recite—word for word—a million years later. Here are some of my favorites.

Ancient Chinese Secret


Ancient Chinese secret, huh?

Ancient Chinese secret, huh?

Yes, this was back in the day when we did not speak in politically correct terms or worry that we would offend an entire ethnic (and very large consumer) group. Did it make me run out and buy Calgon? No. But I know lots of people who did.



He used good and plenty candy, to make his train run

He used good and plenty candy, to make his train run

“Once upon a time there was an engineer./Choo-Choo Charlie was his name we hear./He had an engine and he sure had fun/He used Good-n-Plenty candy, to make his train run.”

I’m still singing this one decades later. Good-n-Plenty, Good-n-Plenty, Good-n-Plenty!



I don’t remember if my dogs ate this. They probably did, if it was on sale and my mother had enough coupons to justify it. But the central message stuck: my dog’s better than your dog and deserves the best. Oh yeah.

Toys R Us


I wanna be a toys r us kid

I wanna be a toys r us kid

“I don’t wanna grow up, I’m a Toys R Us Kid. They’ve got the best for so much less, you’ll really flip your lid!” I used to see this commercial every year, while watching The March of the Wooden Soldiers. It signaled that Christmas was coming, and I was about to get toys. Who wouldn’t want to be a Toys R Us kid?

Almond Joy


When you feel like a nut.

When you feel like a nut.

Hey, this is one of those golden rules of life. Sometimes you feel like a nut, sometimes you don’t.



Calgon, Take Me Away! Or, at least, give me a bath

Yes, Calgon again! “The traffic! The boss! The baby! Calgon, take me away!”

Oscar Mayer


Cause Oscar Mayer has a way with B-O-L-O-G-N-A

Cause Oscar Mayer has a way with B-O-L-O-G-N-A

My baloney had a first name too!!! I haven’t touched baloney in decades, but I still have this song in my head.

Burger King


This 1974 commercial was delusional enough to encourage us to believe that counter girls don’t mind if you come in with 500 different requests about your burger. After all, you HAVE TO HAVE IT YOUR WAY! Trust me, I worked as a counter girl, and while we may have said, “Sure,” we secretly hoped you choked on it.



Two all beef patties, special sauce, lettuce, cheese, pickles, onions on a sesame seed bun. What’s so hard about that? I can recite it in my sleep and often do. By the way, really dig the hair and duds in this commercial. Groovy!




Clara Peller and BFFs

Clara Peller and BFFs

Where’s the beef? Clara Peller gave my grandmother hope that she, too, could be cast as an old lady who asks annoying questions and gets paid lots of money. In between doing the chicken dance and going to Atlantic City, my grandmother would say, “Where’s the beef?” at least a dozen times a day.

Band Aid


“Cause they hold on tight in the bathtub and they cling in soapy suds.” ‘Nuff said.

Life Cereal

He likes it!

He likes it!


If Mikey likes it, who wouldn’t? Yes, this staple of my childhood got me to eat Life cereal and say, “he likes it! He likes it! Hey, Mikey!” for years, until I heard of his unfortunate (and not in the least bit true) demise thanks to mixing Pop Rocks and Coke. His head blew up!!! His last words: “I like it! I like it!”

Keep America Beautiful Ad


Like Wayne says in Wayne's World 2, "Don't cry man. I'll clean it up!"

Like Wayne says in Wayne’s World 2, “Don’t cry man. I’ll clean it up!”

I remember seeing this ad as a little kid, and feeling so sad. Look at all that garbage! No wonder that man was crying. I never threw my garbage on the street or even dropped gum on the floor because of him. This one ranked right up there with “give a hoot. Don’t pollute. Never be a dirty bird.” Now that’s some powerful advertising.

friends, romans, countrymen

Like Marc Antony (no, not the singer formerly married to JLo) in Julius Ceasar, advertising tries to capture someone’s attention, get them to embrace their point of view, and then act on it. That’s the secret to a great ad – or at least something that burrows into your head and never leaves. Either way, a great commercial makes TV watching more fun. Now pass the remote.


Have it your way – with a lot less fat and a whole lot of good stuff. Here are a bunch of recipes from Eating Well that let you have your burger and eat it too.



Have you ever tired quinoa? It’s a complete protein and it tastes great too. If you’re looking to cut back on red meat and you’re tired of turkey burgers, this quinoa veggie burger recipe might be for you:


And here’s one for my readers who can’t eat gluten:


So what’s your favorite ad? Do you like one of the ones I chose here, or did I miss one? Please leave a comment and let us all know. Thanks!




  1. I like the Dunkin Donuts commercial, where this old man would get up really early and say, “its time to make the donuts”. I still say it to my girls and they think I’m nuts. Also, the please don’t squeeze the Charmin guy. Remember him. I’m not much of football fan, but I love watching the Super Bowl just to watch the commercials. I too fast forward them on my DVR but every now and then its fun to laugh at them. Great Post as usual. It started my day off with a big smile!

    Comment by Kathleen Lagalante — June 26, 2013 @ 8:36 am | Reply

    • How could I have forgotten the time to make the donuts guy! I still say that too. Thanks for making me smile too.

      Comment by talesfromahungrylife — June 26, 2013 @ 8:49 am | Reply

  2. I still think one of the most memorable was the Staples back to school ad when the father is skippingdown the aisle with the song “It’s the Most Wonderful Time of the Year” playing and the kids come trailing up behind looking miserable.


    Loved the ones you had in your article–trip down memory lane!

    Comment by Deborah Hehn Derby — June 26, 2013 @ 9:03 am | Reply

  3. Yes, I too say time to make the donuts much to everyone’s disappointment. All it means is I’m getting up from the chair. Also poking the pillsbury dough boy in the stomach was something my sister liked to do. Yes, I was apparently the pillsbury doughboy. But here is one of my favorites that never took off: thank you Maria!

    Comment by Suzanne Tavel — June 26, 2013 @ 9:18 am | Reply

  4. Sorry that the video got posted and not just the link. I don’t know how to fix it!!!

    Comment by Suzanne Tavel — June 26, 2013 @ 9:19 am | Reply

    • It’s okay. I will see if I can fix it. Thanks for the comment! How did I miss that one?

      Comment by talesfromahungrylife — June 26, 2013 @ 9:33 am | Reply

      • No need to fix it. The video works just as well as the link. Thanks for posting it.

        Comment by talesfromahungrylife — July 5, 2013 @ 9:25 am

  5. I have a favorite one from today and it is about toilet paper. Apparently the message is that only the women know the secret about toilet paper and that is to keep oneself clean. I guess the men don’t give a “spit”. By the way “That was Stupid”posted by Suzanne was really one I wished I would’ve seen but didn’t. Missing it was a real stinker on my part.

    Comment by Bglou — June 26, 2013 @ 9:49 am | Reply

    • Really? That’s your favorite? It makes me wish they’d bring the “Please don’t squeeze the Charmin” guy back.

      Comment by talesfromahungrylife — June 26, 2013 @ 12:01 pm | Reply

  6. And this is how we ended up writing advertising, Maria! Loved all these commercials!

    Comment by wordimprovisor177 — June 27, 2013 @ 12:17 am | Reply

  7. Maria, with all the money they put into commercials you would think people would stop and watch them. That’s why I watch the Super Bowl. If you remember we also watched summer reruns over and over again. There was such a limit to what was on T.V. in those days no wonder we can repeat commercials (as well as the lines from the old television series) word for word. In addition, most of us did not have a remote so we would have to get up to turn the channels. That in itself was too much effort. So even as we dosed off on the couch were heard those ads and were brain washed.

    Comment by Tony Lagalante — July 10, 2013 @ 10:58 am | Reply

  8. […] Ancient Advertising Secrets […]

    Pingback by Let’s Eat, Part V | Tales From A Hungry Life — April 9, 2014 @ 7:02 am | Reply

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