In the sixties, there were many TV commercials selling supermarket products of all kinds: cereals, drinks, personal grooming items, and household cleaning aids. Do any of the following scenarios and jingles brings back memories?
“Please, don’t squeeze ….” I know, that’s a real throw-away clue and you’ve probably already added the last two words of the slogan: “... the Charmin.” Do you remember the spokesperson for the ad? Mr. Whipple, of course. In one of the commercial scenarios, Mr. Whipple, a middle-aged supermarket employee with a receding hairline, wearing reading glasses midway down his nose, is in the fruit and vegetable section. He looks askance at the well-stocked bins, sees female hands squeezing the produce, and laments: “First she squeezes the tomatoes. Then she squeezes the melons. And now she’s squeezing the new Charmin bathroom tissues.” His responsibility as an employee (or is he a store, or department, manager?) mobilizes him into action. He rushes over to a stack of Charmin tissues, behind which is a sign anyone can plainly read, which says, Please, Don’t Squeeze the Charmin, except for one woman, Mrs. Logan, who, seemingly unfazed by the directive, continues to squeeze away. Mr. Whipple, now clearly perturbed, grabs the tissues from her and says in an authoritative voice: “P-L-E-A-S-E, don’t squeeze the Charmin.” (As commercial watchers, it was the line we waited for.) Mrs. Logan, still undeterred, counters with: “But, Mr. Whipple, this bathroom tissue is so soft. So squeezably soft..” She rolls her eyes heavenward in angelic fashion, then defends herself further by saying that she just can’t help it, the urge to squeeze the tissues is so irresistible, so much so that she grabs a second package before she departs. Mr. Whipple, all alone now, glances around to see if anyone is watching. He says, “I love to sneak a squeeze on the sly,” then HE squeezes the package of Charmin he’s been holding the entire time. There’s just something about those Charmin tissues! But Mrs. Logan has the last word. Peeking back at him, she says, “Mr. Whipple, please don’t squeeze the Charmin.” Cute! Definitely cute! Mr. Whipple’s irresistible urge (almost sounds like an addiction, doesn’t it) made me want to test the tissues myself, just to see if they really were that soft and squeezable, which is the whole point of the clever selling ploy! I begged my mother to switch from our stiff, scratchy brand until she finally relented. When she did, I couldn’t wait to get home and give the product a test run. In those days, a roll came individually wrapped, not in a package of 12 or more as they do today. Tearing off the outer wrapper, I grabbed a few Charmin tissues and … well … I squeezed. Of course. I just couldn’t help myself. Did I think they were irresistibly soft? Well …. I can say this: I thought they got the job done!
What about the commercials for other supermarket products. Today, you can go down the cereal aisle and find enough brands, boxes, and bags to sustain a small third-world country. Back in the sixties there weren’t as many choices, but there was still enough competition to warrant competing commercials. See if you can finish any of the following jingles (you’ll find the answers at the end of the column, but no peeking beforehand). (1) “Breakfast sweeter than honey … for your home. Tomorrow morning in your home sweet home, join the eatin’ treat called _______ .” (2) “A, B, C, D, E, F G ______ for you and me. The shape is new, a new taste too. So nutritious, good for you. Good for YOU. Try _____ and you will see, they’re A-B-C-Delicious.” (3) “The one and only cereal that comes in the shape of animals.”
How about men and women’s personal grooming products, which generally linked the item and brand with sex appeal. Take the following: A handsome man, looking successful, and macho, wearing a dapper suit, is sitting at a table holding a cigarette. I know, you might be thinking this is a cigarette commercial (and, to be sure, there were a number of them in the sixties, unlike now), however, the voiceover says: “Why do so many men use ________ aftershave lotion? Let’s ask one. Dave, what are your reasons?” With a lascivious, Jack Nicholson expression, Dave says: “Well, let’s see. There’s Julie. And Karen. And Peggy. Joelle.” Each young woman seems more alluring than the previous one. Sandy, a Kim Novak look-alike, rides up on a horse. Dave continues reciting his Don Giovanni conquest list: “Beth. And Bridgett.” The voiceover says, “Thanks. That’s the way it is with ________, if you’re single, or even if you’re not.” (Would that last phrase pass muster today?) Have you guessed the name of the aftershave lotion yet? It’s Old Spice. The trademark bottle that tapers at the top has a picture of a sailing ship, the kind that belonged to pirates and royal navies of olden yore, when tough, adventurous rogues rode the high seas. My father used Old Spice, it was his favorite. I loved to catch a whiff of it after he slapped it against his cheeks. Not knowing the ingredients, I never would have guessed it contained the following (which I found listed online): aldehydes, orange and lemon blended with the spiciness of nutmeg and star anise, floral notes (not the kind of note with little flowers drawn on it that a girl might have sent her boyfriend), carnation, jasmine, aromatic cinnamon, and pimento. I had to look up the definition of aldehydes. Apparently, it can be a sweet but also pungent blend. But pimento? Really?
What about this man’s grooming product: “There’s something about an _________ man,” the sexy, breathy blond whispers into the camera. Next, we see her snuggled next to a handsome, equally as sexy man in a convertible. If they got any closer, they’d be the physical equivalent of the Vulcan Mindmeld. She immediately breaks out into song: “You’re my kind of guy, I want you so.” They’ve now been magically transported to a golf course, where, with his arms wrapped around her, he is giving her a lesson in how to swing her iron.” Ahhh! Once again, as though being whisked through some romance teleporter, they find themselves in more traditional romantic locales, and again the jingo plays: “There’s something about an _________ man.” You’ve probably guessed that the aftershave is Aqua Velva.
How about this very effective jingo: “A little dab'll do ya. Watch out, the gals will all pursue ya.” Brylcreem hair cream. Can you finish this very short jingo: “Yahoo, _____.” Mountain Dew. Or this one featuring Mr. Magoo: “Hey, about a nice ______?” Hawaiian Punch. Or this one showing young people with beautiful sparkling smiles: “Those who think young, think ____, please. They pick the right one, the modern light one. Now it’s _______, for those who think young.” Pepsi-Cola. Or this one: “Things go better with _____ after _____ after _____.” Coca-Cola.
Answers: (1) Post Honeycomb Cereal, (2) Post Alpha-Bits, (3) Post Crispy Critters.