The Commercials I Grew Up With In the Early 1990s

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Sometimes I like to look back at the things I lost since my youth. I grew up in the early 1990s and back then we had some seriously weird sometimes funny commercials. To us then they were normal commercials-nothing flashy, just silly sometimes. Here I'll share some of my memories for commercials that I remember that I saw back in the day when cell phones didn't yet exist (or rather, were known as mobile phones and were the size of a hefty brick), when the films we saw in the theaters were films like Dances with wolves, Backdraft and The Fugitive, and when toilet paper still came in a variety of colors (like blue, pink or orange). Let me remember those commercials we lost so long ago..

Submitted: May 13, 2017

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Submitted: May 13, 2017

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There is nothing wrong with commercials now, I mean just look at them.  Some of them use so much computer technology that they appear to be mini-movies.  Sometimes it makes me wonder how many millions it took to produce these projects.  And the thing is sometimes these commercials are so complex and detailed that one is unsure what the product it is that they are selling.

Commercials have changed drastically through time, changing to the times with the technology that is available to them.  The commercials of the 1950s and 1960s are sometimes so flat and simple.  But one thing I like about them is that they were to the point, whether the product was soap or tooghpaste.  There was no guesswork into what the product was or what the product did. 

The commercials I remember in the late 1980s and early 1990s were a little more fun and colorful than those eaerly television commercials from the 1950s and 1960s.  Most of what I saw advertised were toys and candy (maybe because I was a kid, and that was what I paid attention to)-and some of these commercials I still like to look at in YouTube.

Who recalls the Slip and Slide commercials?  Anyone who was a kid back in the 1990s remembers them-and maybe some of us even had it.  It was supposed to be a slippery runway for the kid to run at and jump (stomach first) and sliiiideee all the way down the runway then you hit this bump thing...and what?  I don't even remember if the Slip N Slide came with a tub thing that you were supposed to fill with water and fall inside...or if you slipped into the wet grass on the lawn.  Usually kids simply missed the runway and slid off into pain.  The Slip N Slide was later deemed dangerous because of the accidents that could happen.  Thus at some point this commercial suddenly ceased from TV sets.

Who recalls Skip It?  Here was a commercial about a toy that you are swinging with your leg.  It was fun and you got excercise and the greatest thing of all was the counter on the ball!  I never had one but I recall wondering if in fact it was fun to play with.  Was it better than the standard jump rope or roller-skates of kid-dom? 

One of the commercials I think of when I was a kid were the board game ones and other toys in general.  There were a lot of commercials for games like LIFE, Hungry Hungry Hippo and my fave, Connect 4.  Not that this game was unique or radical or explosive in any way, but the commercial made it seem as if it was.  They show the kids playing it with intensity and at the end, when one actually "connects 4" they always jump up, hands raised with excitement and victory, and usually shout out "I win!"  Somehow Connect 4 didn't seem as exciting as the Battleship game or Operation (which scared the bejesus out of everybody when someone accidentally touched the sides of the board with the clips).

But some of the more memorable commercials were aimed at adults.  Anyone recall the Zest commercials?  In these you usually saw someone coming out of the shower and happily hiding behind a towel as they shook the towel and we heard the song "Zestfully clean!"  Sometimes people told horror stories of trying to recreate this Zest scene and the towel fallling off or of them accidentally flashing the neighbors through the window.  But hey, at least they were "zestfully clean"!

"I Can't Believe it's not Butter"-another 1990s invention.  The commercials usually included the 1990s model Fabio appearing (in dream sequence?) behind a woman who was savoring the delicate yummy taste of the spread.  This was at a time when Fabio was everywhere and you could pick up his steamy romance novels wherever books were sold.  This was around the time that Luna carpet still used a real "Luna man" to do their commercials, as well as Menards, Wendys (still used Dave Thomas), and hey, Dunkin Donuts ran that commercial of the man with the mustache that says"Time to make the Donuts!"  And why not, Dunkin was still mainly just about the doughnuts and hot coffee. 

The 1990s was one of the last times kids got to see the Hamburglar in action and the chicken mcnuggets  and Ronald McDonald and all the other characters of the time.  Look through YouTube and you'll find plenty of McDonalds commercials from the late 1980s and early to mid- 1990s.  As a kid I enjoyed watching these commercials and seeing what new adventure the gang was up to.  One of the first McDonalds slogans I recall was the "Have you had your break today" one (this was back in the day when your coffee came in styrofoam cups).  Later I recall the use of "We love to see you snile"-and how could we not?  We had the new salad shakers (which were hard to eat from because they were narrow and the dressing never distributed evenly on the lettuce)-but hey, we had those salad shakers!

Ah but my favorite 1990s commercials have got to be those Mentos commercials.  The music.  The situation.  The stupid silly solution.  And we were supposed to believe that Mentos always saved the day.  Somehow when you popped one (in a tense or difficult situation), an idea just popped back at you.  I recall the commercial with the guy who sits on a freshly painted white bench and messes up his nice suit.  The solution?  To roll on the bench so that the paint will also leave stripes on the front of his suit, thereby giving him instant pinstripes!  How rad!  And at the end everyone just smiles and the person holds up the package of Mentos (the fresh-maker) and Ta-Da the day is saved! 

There are just too many commercials to recall.  Too many.


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