Since I was a kid, I have always loved late night television. My parents forced me to bed at 9 pm, but I would sneak to the door and listen to westerns like Cheyenne. I f you remember Cheyenne, you are starting to get a little elderly. It was one of two or three westerns that rotated each week. I don’t remember which network, but there were only CBS, NBC, and ABC. I know one of the others western’s was Sugar Foot. There were other television shows of the old west in the late 1950’s and 1960’s like Lawman and Maverick. I loved them all even if I could only hear the words and gunshots through my bedroom door.
When Johnny Carson took over the Tonight Show, I was a loyal viewer (or listener). Once a year, Johnny would have the best commercials produced world-wide. One of them I will never forget. The first picture you see on your screen is what appears to be a naked rear end. The camera gradually widens out as the commentator describes what the viewer is sure to be a naked person.
This commercial Johnny was showing occurred at a time when you couldn’t even show a married couple in a double bed fully clothed. Now, I was about to see the first naked person on network television. I should have turned away, but this was just too good. The talk was all about a butt, which was surely being shown in all its naked beauty. Then the camera reaches far enough out to see exactly what the viewers had envisioned as a body part.
The problem was the camera was filming a peach. The crease in the peach we had all mistaken for the first naked human on television. The commercial was for a brand of toilet paper. The theme of the commercial was the toilet paper was as soft as the fuzz on a peach. I was busted.
Sunday’s Super Bowl had great commercials, but the imagination for these advertisements had to start somewhere. Back in the late 1950’s, Dizzy Dean, the famous pitcher for the St. Louis Cardinals and Buddy Blattner, commentated the game of the week on Saturday afternoons. I think it ran on CBS.
It was the only game you could see on television. If you wanted to follow baseball, get out your radio and hope a thunderstorm wasn’t approaching. The static from the lightning would kill the broadcast. The Game of the Week was sponsored by Falstaff beer. They had great commercials, or so we thought at the time. The Old Pro was a cartoon character of an aging ball player that made us laugh and want to drink Falstaff beer. At 9 years old, the only Falstaff I was going to drink was if I could sneak a sip from my dad when he was busy barbecuing.
Hamm’s beer had inventive commercials back then, too. They featured a cartoon bear and wildlife. Their theme was “From the Land of Sky Blue Waters.” I always wondered if the water was sky blue, why did the beer always come out yellow. Schlitz offered free fishing lures and it became a favorite of my mom’s. She could fish and have an excuse to have a cold beer at the same time. Who could turn down a free “Dare Devil” fishing lure?
When I hit college in the late 1960’s, a favorite commercial was for Alka Seltzer. You probably know that Alka Seltzer is a remedy for an upset stomach. Most importantly for any normal college student, it was the sure-fire cure for a hangover.
The little Alka Seltzer boy, with the body of the pill, would proudly sing, “Plop, plop, fizz, fizz, oh what a relief it is!” You would see usually men (sexist commercial) looking a little green from too much food and drink from the previous night get instant relief with the “Plop, plop, fizz, fizz” of Alka Seltzer.
I remember very well my first try at relief from this pill that you dissolved in a glass of water. I was working my way through college as a butcher at George’s Market in Kearney, Nebraska. I was a junior in college and couldn’t afford to be late to work even with my discomfort from the night before. All I could think about was “Plop, plop, fizz, fizz.” I purchased a box of Alka Seltzer, dissolved the pill, and tried to swallow the bubbly concoction. I took me about 45 seconds to throw up. I have to admit I felt better, but that was the last time I ever swallowed anything that went “Plop, plop, fizz, fizz.”
Recently, it has been very popular to be a vampire. Those pale individuals with the sharp incisors are popular in books and on the big screen. I personally hate vampire books and movies. I couldn’t stand the old vampire movies of my childhood and my dislike has increased for them now. We even watched a Twilight DVD on the bus on the way to a road game this year. I ignored it.
With that as solid reasoning, my favorite Super Bowl commercial this year was for the LED headlights that vaporized vampires. Remember that commercial break? A vampire pulls up to a party made up entirely of the toothy vampire-type. He shines the LED lights directly on the party and the vampires go poof one at a time. Even the driver walks into the light and vaporizes. What a buzz kill. It might not get a lot of votes from other viewers, but it did my heart good to know something other than a silver bullet or a wooden stake can rid the world of these youth that never seem to age.
You have to admit, though, that the Super Bowl commercials went to the dogs. Did it get any better than the dog that bribed its owner with a bag of Doritos? How about the weight loss dog that eventually chases a Volkswagen? Who wouldn’t like a dog that rescues beer for all the party goers? In my opinion, the best had to be the pudgy dog that beats all the sleek greyhounds and does a moon walk across the finish line. For a second, I thought the Giants running that scored the game winner was trying to imitate that dog commercial.
Going to my past, not all dog commercials bring a smile to my face. I remember Alpo Dog Food commercials where a dog is sent into a room with two bowls of dry dog food. The dog immediately dives into the bowl marked “Alpo.” From my experience, that dry food had to be stacked on a smelly, tasty T-bone steak. No dog I have ever owned would eat dry dog food unless they were on the brink of starvation.
Gravy Train was another dry dog food that promised good results. The commercial showed the dog owner putting hot water on the Gravy Train dry food and presto, you had a mixture of dog food and gravy that looked better than Grandma’s good brown gravy that was served on a Sunday noon meal. The problem was every time I tried to produce gravy, all I got was saturated dog food that my favorite pet wouldn’t even take the time to smell.
The Super Bowl, its commercials and the walk down memory lane has been a good weekend distraction. We are in the “dog days” of the basketball season. The Bearcats need a quick turn-around in fortune or the season will go to the “dogs.” Maybe a bag of Doritos will help bribe the team to a pair of wins this week.