Today's Paper Season Pass Readers Choice Obits Latest LEARNS Guide Puzzles Newsletters Public Notices Podcast HER Magazine Jobs Circulars Classifieds

GUEST COLUMN | A product of our generation

by John Moore, Guest Columnist | September 17, 2023 at 11:00 p.m.

If we're honest, some products aren't that different from each other. But during the 50s, 60s, and 70s, our moms were extremely loyal to the ones they liked.

And advertising had a lot to do with mom's loyalty, and ours.

Growing up in front of a large, RCA console TV in Ashdown, Arkansas, I learned a lot about the products in the pantry, medicine cabinet, and bathroom.

Companies spent a fortune to send repeated messages designed to educate and convince you why their product was not only superior to their competitors, but also why the competitors product would leave you less nourished, sick longer, or not nearly as clean.

Television advertising was even recognized as an art form, with annual award ceremonies held to recognize companies. This was not for the actual quality of their product, but for how effective their ads were.

The effectiveness included three things: A pitchman, a slogan, and recognizable product design.

Saturday morning targeted kids. My earliest memories for advertising is breakfast cereal. Kellogg's Frosted Flakes' formula included Tony the Tiger and the slogan "They're great!" The cereal featured a bright blue box that included Tony smiling in front of a heaping bowl of sugar-glazed corn flakes.

If your mom was worried about how much sugar you were consuming, you got Kellogg's Corn Flakes. It included a rooster instead of Tony, and a boring ad that tried to convince you that rising and shining with a bowl of sugarless cereal was somehow swell.

Other cereals that came through the TV included Trix Cereal, which had a Daffy Duck-type rabbit as a mascot. He continuously tried to eat all the Trix Cereal, only to be foiled and the cereal given to a kid in the ad.

"Silly rabbit! Trix are for kids!"

Other cereals advertised included Quisp, Cap'n Crunch, Lucky Charms, Cheerios, Cocoa Krispies, Apple Jacks, Honey-Comb, and Rice Krispies.

I was a Cap'n Crunch man. My sister preferred Lucky Charms.

Coffee had many spokespeople. Instant coffee had Ethel Mertz. Actress Vivian Vance assured us that Maxwell House's instant coffee, "Might just be the best instant of your day."

The Wicked Witch of the West, Margaret Hamilton, made sure we knew that brewed Maxwell House was, "Good to the last Drop."

Until I saw it on TV, I had no idea there was a big battle between mayonnaise and spreadable salad dressing. The ads for Miracle Whip assured us that it was a much wiser choice than mayo. During my childhood, Miracle Whip is what my mom used to make our sandwiches.

Another frequent TV message was that your baloney had to have a first name. It's OSCAR. The second name was MAYER.

"My Bologna has a first name,

It's O-S-C-A-R.

My bologna has a second name,

It's M-A-Y-E-R.

Oh I love to eat it everyday,

And if you ask me why I'll say,

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

We must've been poor. Our baloney didn't have a first name.

A talking stork told us that our pickles had to be refrigerated and made by Vlassic. A verbose tuna named Charlie always seemed disappointed that he wasn't good enough to be stuffed into a can of Star-Kist.

"Sorry, Charlie. Only good-tasting tuna get to be Star-Kist."

For the dishes, we had Palmolive. Actress Jan Miner played a manicurist who was so convinced that Palmolive was soft enough for your hands, but strong enough for your dishes that she put her clients hands in it.

"You're soaking in it!"

If you opened the door of our medicine cabinet, you saw most of the bathroom products advertised on television.

Ipana Toothpaste had a spot, but it was replaced by Pepsodent. Cartoon characters Calvin and the Colonel taught kids that the only way to attain fresh breath after chain smoking cigars was by brushing with Pepsodent.

"You'll wonder where the yellow went, when you brush your teeth with Pepsodent!"

Band-Aid strips covered our scratches and gashes.

"I am stuck on Band-Aid, cause Band-Aid's stuck on me."

And Aqua Velva was slapped on by my dad after his shave. Because, "There's something about an Aqua Velva man."

Mr. Whipple guarded the toilet paper aisle at the TV grocery store. His sole purpose seemed to be catching housewives squeezing the Charmin. It seemed to be an unforgivable public infraction.

"Please! Don't squeeze the Charmin."

Advertising is just about everywhere now. Selling us products can't just be concentrated through radio and television.

I think the advertising art form has lost its luster because of that.

But that's OK. We don't have to sweat it. We know which deodorant we need. It's no Secret.

The one that's, "Strong enough for a man, but made for a woman."

John's latest book, "Puns for Groan People," and volumes 1 and 2 of his series "Write of Passage: A Southerner's View of Then and Now" are available on his website,, where you can also send him a message and hear his weekly podcast.

©2022 John Moore

photo Columnist John Moore still uses some of the old products, including Barbasol shaving cream. (Photo courtesy of John Moore)

Print Headline: GUEST COLUMN | A product of our generation


Sponsor Content