Tag Archives: 80s Ads

The Wonderfully Creepy World of Vintage Strawberry Shortcake Cosplay…

Considering the most recent episode of the Saturday Supercast deals with not only girl’s cartoons from the 1980s, but specifically Strawberry Shortcake, I thought this would be a great time to share this Bettry Crocker branded flatware advertisement from 1982…

I’m not sure exactly what it is about the “real” little Shortcake in the ad, but she freaks me right the hell out.  She’s supposed to be cute right?  I’m guessing it’s partly the fault of the photography that makes her eyes seem like huge black pools of dead soul, but I think it might also be that I’m “hearing” the voice of Russi Taylor in my head when I look at this little girl and it’s just wrong.  These sets are pretty damn fantastic all the same (and thank god there wasn’t a little were-bear boy dressed up like Paddington to send me into further convulsions of horror.)  I’m not sure why, but at least one of these Strawberry Shortcake spoons made it into my household while growing up in the early 80s.  Considering my sister was in her early teens at the time of this ad, I find it strange that we had one.  My mother certainly didn’t buy it for me (though it would have been alright if she had.)  I kind of want a replacement, and checking eBay, they’re not that expensive.  Hmmm, maybe nostalgia and tax refunds are a dangerous mix…

Also, curiously very few eBay listings make note of how well the “smell” of the Peculiar Purple Pie Man of Porcupine Peak has held up over the years.  You think that would matter to more buyers, but oh well, yat a tat a tat tat, a ta ta ta!…

My name is Walter Kellogg, Cereal Detective…

From time to time I find myself flipping through 30 year-old issues of various Mom magazines looking for inspiration and cool ads to scan for the site.  Over the past couple years I kept running across a series of ads for Kellogg’s Honey & Nut Corn Flakes that tugged at my mind, but I wasn’t quite sure why.  There’s nothing all that special about the ads except for a cartoon crow mascot (aptly named the Honey Nut Crow), but even he seemed more like the hillbilly cousin of Sonny the Cocoa Puffs bird and nothing that would really make for an interesting article on Branded.  Then out of the blue this past week I encountered the perfect storm of coincidences that finally led me back to those ads and a weird realization about how insanely complex and difficult the marketing of branded products must really be.

  

Let me back up a bit to 2010 and a free box of the newly launched Kellogg’s Crunchy Nut cereal that I received through Amazon Vine.  For those that don’t know, Amazon Vine is a goofy program where you can get early access to select products in exchange for reviewing them.  It’s mainly ARCs (advanced reading copies) of books, but from time to time there are DVDs, toys, and the occasional newly launched food item.  Basically the companies that publish or produce these products offer them to Amazon customers for free so that they can get product reviews (positive or negative.)  When I see food pop up I tend to grab it because I’m all for saving money on the grocery tab (and it’s hard to pass up free eats.)  I thought it was a little weird when the Crunchy Nut cereal popped up because I couldn’t imagine that cereal reviews on Amazon really make any sort of difference in the grand scheme of things.  Books and DVDs are one thing, but who stops while browsing the cereal aisle to look up reviews on the web, let alone Amazon?  Anyway, it was free, so I ordered it and ended up really loving the Crunchy Nut (it basically tastes like Cracker Jacks in cereal form.)

Though I really dug that cereal, it was way sweeter than the stuff I typically buy so I haven’t actually bought any more in the past two years.  This past week though, I was suckered into picking up another box as there was both an amazing sale on Kellogg’s ($2 a box), and if you bought two boxes of cereal you could get a free branded cereal bowl (from an in-store display), and I really wanted the entire set of four bowls.  Eight boxes of cereal and one embarrassing trip through the checkout line later I was the proud owner of four cheap character bowls and a couple boxes of Crunchy Nut flakes.  Later in the week I found myself inexplicably humming the commercial jingle to the extinct Nut & Honey Crunch cereal (I say inexplicably, but let’s be honest, this is the type of crap that is constantly floating around in my brain.)  Anyway, this all leads up to yesterday when I was flipping through some 1982 issues of McCall’s looking for something (I can’t even remember right now), and I came full circle back to one of those Kellogg’s Honey & Nut Corn Flakes ads featuring the Honey Nut Crow, and then all of a sudden it dawned on me that all three of these incidents were connected.  It was like that moment at the end of the Usual suspects, only I was flipping through a 30 year-old woman’s magazine while stuffing my face full of cereal…

I grabbed my copy of The Great American Cereal Book to confirm it, but was slightly devastated that there was no entry for Kellogg’s Honey & Nut Cornflakes.  There was an entry for Nut & Honey Crunch though, and listed as a bit of trivia was that the Honey Nut Crow was a former mascot associated with the cereal (though I don’t remember the Nut & Honey boxes ever featuring that character.)  I did a little digging on the internet this morning and sure enough, all of these cereals (Honey & Nut Corn Flakes, Nut & Honey Crunch, and Crunchy Nut cereal) are one and the same.  I’m pretty sure it was also marketed under the name Honey Crunch Corn Flakes (marketed with the Kellogg’s green rooster mascot.)  How could this one cereal keep popping up in my life under so many different circumstances?  And why did I never make the connection before?

It’s kind of hilarious when you look back over the cereal’s sordid merchandising timeline between its introduction in 1979 to today.  Whereas most cereals have stayed pretty consistent for decades, this one seems to be one hell of a hard sell to the public, even though it had a semi-successful ad campaign at one point (the “Nuttin’ Honey” commercials of the late 80s, early 90s for Nut & Honey Crunch.)  Why has the product been in need of re-branding no less than four times?  I mean, it’s nut and honey covered corn flakes?  How much simpler can you get?  I can see how the Honey Nut Crow was a misfire as he resembles Sonny the Cocoa Puffs bird a bit too much perhaps, but outside of that issue the tone of the marketing has been all over the map.  Initially the campaign focused on a “see it, hear it, taste it” motif (as seen in these two commercials from 1980.)  Then there are a series of commercials that tried to sell the cereal as “so good it needs to be stolen” (as seen in these two commercials from 1986 and 1989, as well as this British ad starring Hugh Laurie from 1985.)  In 1987 there seemed to be a pretty major fracturing of the ad campaign as it’s rebranded as both Crunchy Nut Corn Flakes (aimed at adults and placed in a black box, a food packaging no-no if there ever was one), and as the afore mentioned Nut & Honey Crunch (here are a couple more commercials from 1987.)  Then by the mid to late 90s it had been re-branded again, this time as Honey Crunch Corn Flakes (I guessing that nuts weren’t cool in the 90s after grunge rock hit.)  Now we’re back to the Crunchy Nut branding, though they’re dropped the Corn Flakes from the name.  Honestly, judging by their all-over-the-board advertising for the current branding I’m not convinced they know how to handle it even today (I mean, Inception and She-Males?!?)  Also, thank goodness for the archive of cereal commercials on youtube…

All of this leads me to the weird realization that in a way I’ve been able to taste the past.  When I first came across the old ads in the McCall’s magazine I was curious about what that cereal tasted like and was bummed that so many cereals have been retired by companies like Kellogg’s.  This was compounded by reading a tome like The Great American Cereal Book (filled with exciting extinct brands), and all the recent hoopla surrounding the bankruptcy of the Hostess company and thinking about the possibility of a product like the Twinkie disappearing from store shelves.  The idea that I wouldn’t be able to taste these things was sort of sad, but in realizing that some of these cereals still exist, just under different branding is sort of cool.  It’s like having a time machine for my mouth.  Anyway, I’m glad to have finally closed the book (the proverbial cereal book) on this flaky caper.  I’m going to call this one, The Case of the Honey Crow that Couldn’t Sell His Damn Cereal for Nuts…

The most powerful cake pans in the universe!

While cleaning up and organizing Branded HQ I found a handful of loose catalog pages that my good buddy HooveR sent me awhile back.  They were from the 1987 Wilton Yearbook of Cake Decorating, and featured their line of pop culture cartoon figural cake pans.  Since I’ve sort of been on a food-centric nostalgic kick of late I thought this would be the perfect thing to share.

Though I have plenty of memories seeing this style of cake pans in grocery stores back in the day, I was never treated to a cake baked in one during my childhood.  It’s not for lack of asking mind you, just that my mom wasn’t keen on that level of preparation and patience when it came to birthday cakes.  She always bought something at the store and put some special candles or action figures on my cakes.  There’s still a part of me that kind of wants to track one of these down and do it myself one of these days…

I’m not sure if it’s the date when the catalog was printed, or if Wilton didn’t have a huge licensing department, but I was kind of sad not to see any Transformers or Star Wars cake pans in the pages.  That being said, there are still some pretty cool franchises represented in sugar and flour, not the least of which are He-Man, General Hawk from G.I. Joe, Superman and Batman.  I love how these came with plastic faceplates so that some sort of recognizable figure would emerge from even the sloppiest cake decorator’s piping tip.  I also love that apparently Superman and Batman were more or less interchangeable when it comes to their cake-y bodies…

  

By far, the majority of the pans in this catalog were geared towards girls with Rainbow Brite, The Poppels, Cabbage Patch Kids, Care Bears, Barbie, and the Wuzzles represented.  Makes me feel like there should at least be a Thundercats cake pan in the mix, but again I’m not sure if it was licensing or when this was released.  Can you imagine the fun that would come from piping out Lion-O’s red frosting hair!

   

For all those curious about getting some pointers on just how to go about frosting one of these beauties, here’s a spotlight on the Snoopy and He-Man cakes…

The weirdest thing about these cakes for me is the extremely sharp and spiky nature inherent in this style of frosting a cake.  Granted, it makes it much easier to keep the colors from mixing, but it always seemed weirdly antagonistic to me.  Is it just me?

Is that Kraft Mac and Cheese under that pepperoni, or do you just want to die for dinner?

It’s been awhile since I dipped into my collection of old advertisements I clipped from my collection of 80s era Woman’s Day magazines, so I thought it would be fun to take a look at one of the crazier ads from 1983.  Alright, raise your hand if you’ve been to a Ci-Ci’s or Stevie-B’s pizza buffet.  C’mon, I know we’ve all tried it at least once, I mean quality aside, it’s the best damn pizza value in town.  Seriously though, for anyone who has eaten at one of these pizza buffets in the last 20 years you’ve probably noticed that they have all sorts of weird pizzas to please kids and parents alike.  Whether it’s the taco pizza (replacing the sauce with salsa and adding lettuce and sour cream as toppings) or the baked potato (sour cream sauce, topped with cheddar cheese and slices of baked potato), there’s usually some funky stuff to keep it interesting and as unhealthy as possible.  The craziest buffet pizza in my opinion is the Mac ‘n Cheese pizza which has a cheese-based sauce, pasta, and loads of extra cheese to boot.  Not only is it a little slice of heart-attack, but there’s enough carbohydrates in one slice to make the pickiest vegan into a diabetic.

Well, while flipping through a 1983 issue of Woman’s Day I found an ad that puts the Stevie-B’s pasta pizza to shame. How about a pizza where the crust is entirely made out of Kraft Macaroni & Cheese!?!

That’s right, who needs working arteries when you can taste the awe-inspiring scrumptiousness that must be a slice of pizza made entirely out of Mac ‘n Cheese!  I’m so tempted to make this monstrosity, but I’m not sure my mouth can withstand the insanity.  What were the ad reps at Kraft thinking when they came up with this idea?  I can only assume these are the same geniuses that convinced KFC that fried chicken would made an awesome substitute for bread in a sandwich.

So has anyone out there ever experienced this gastronomical indulgence?

The vacation is almost over, but there’s still more Muppet Magazine!

It’s day five and I think we should be lounging around our resort today.  While I’m away looking for the arcade that was advertises to be at the place we’re staying, why don’t you take a gander at one of the meatier bits from the Fall 1984 issue of Muppet Magazine.  This time we’re taking a look at the cover story, which has reader questions answered by the man, Mr. T!

By the by, Mr. T plus the Muppets equals bliss.

Hopefully I didn’t get lost in Disney and will be back next week to catch up on some of the League Assignments as well as some other things I have on the back burner.  See you then!

Day 4 = Mini Halloween fun!

It’s day four.  If everything is going according to schedule I’ll be headed to the Magic Kingdom today and spending the better part of that time trying to convinve my wife that we should ride the Haunted Mansion at least ten times.  We’ll see if I win that argument.  In the meantime, while I’m out, here’s some more fun from the Fall 1984 issue of Muppet Magazine.  Today it’s all about Janice from the Electric Mayhem showing kids how easy it is to transform into your favorite rock superstar for Halloween!

The Michael Jackson and Boy George redos are fun…

     

…but my heart will always belong to Cyndi Lauper!

Vacation, Day 2! More Muppet Magazine!

It’s day two of my day job vacation, and I’m diving back into the Fall 1984 Issue of Muppet Magazine to share a couple more advertisements…

First up is this Advertisement for Unico.  I’ve never heard of this series, but tiny flying Japanese unicorns look pretty darn fun to me.  I love that this ad wasn’t geared towards girls, but instead features a boy and a girl.  Everyone loves unicorns, right?

Next up is this ad for Hallmark stickers.  What I thought was pretty cool about this is that beyond the odd issue of Stickers Magazine, I never tend to see ads for stickers, let alone the more generic Hallmark stickers.  It’s something I love about back issues of Muppet Mag!

Vacation = Muppet Magazine!

I think I’m officially off my yearly hiatus now, but this week I’ll be on vacation from the day job and hopefully hidden deep away from the outside world somewhere on Walt Disney World property.  But I didn’t want to leave the site with no updates for a week.  Therefore, I dug into my magazine archive to pull out one of my favorite issues of Muppet Magazine (the Fall 1984 issue with Mr. T as the main guest) so that I could share it with you all over the coming week or so.  So without further ado, and very slim commentary, I present Mr. T (with an awesome Animal T as well!)

The first thing I wanted to share today was an interior advertisement for the Go Bots that I thought was pretty darn cool.  So many of the Go Bots ads I’ve seen feature photos of the toys, but this one is covered in some very nostalgic artwork…

Last up is another advertisement, this time featuring the bulk (if not all) of the Ideal Alvin and the Chipmunks line of toys…

      

I’d love to have some of those minifigures now.  I wonder how much they’re fetching on ebay…

Halloween Mask Madness, Day 31: Happy Halloween!

Alright Boils and Ghouls!  We’re finally here, Halloween is upon us and tonight lucky kids all over the country will be knocking on doors and stuffing pails, sacks, pillow cases, and bags with all sort of sugary goodness.  Tomorrow is set aside for a million tummy aches, but tonight there will be chocolate!  And fake blood.

For this last post of the season I’ve decided to share the longest single ad in my collection.  It comes from issue #117 of Fangoria which was printed in 1992.  Featuring witch boobies, corpses, devils, skeletons, silly masks, licensed masks, Aliens, Critters, demons, vampires, Frankenstein’s Monsters, gore, and 5, count ‘em, 5 different Jack-o-Lantern masks!  This is a crazy blowout sale ad from the folks at Distortions Unlimited, and I love it!

All told, I’ve shared in the neighborhood of 370 different masks from all sorts of companies, and that’s just a fraction of what was available between the late 70s through the early 90s.  I’ve been wanting to showcase these mask ads for awhile and it feels good to finally have them up on the site.  Now it’s time carve my 7th pumpkin of the season, watch a few more horror films, and kick back and wait for some trick-or-treaters to come by begging for candy.  Hope you all dug the countdown this year, and as always…

…if you’re looking for a ton of Halloween content all through the month of October, make sure to stop on by the official Countdown to Halloween site and check out the list of participating blogs for 2011.  You’ll be glad you did! Have a happy Halloween, and maybe tonight will be the night that the Great Pumpkin finally does show up…