Top Five Classic ’80s TV Commercials With Anthropomorphic Characters

Thursday, February 23rd, 2012

More than 20 years have passed since the Doublemint twins commercials aired. I still know all the lyrics. I certainly don’t want to have this song committed to memory. I’ve struggled to to memorize state capitals, to understand foreign languages, to learn musical instruments…yet while I fail in those areas, I can easily recite a catchphrase such as two all-beef patties, special sauce, lettuce, cheese, pickles, onions, all on a sesame seed bun — and so can you.

Whether or not you want to admit it, advertisements stay with us, and the more grating, obnoxious, or loud they are, the more effectively they work. Clever advertisements are few and far between, but let’s face it — being creative is usually of little importance.

The 1970s and ’80s saw a slew of commercial featuring bizarre, anthropomorphic characters, often shilling food or beverage products. Though they often did not feature jingles, they did often incorporate memorable catchphrases, and were weird enough to stick in your memory for…well, 25 years and counting.

The Kool-Aid Man

The Kool-Aid Man is the ultimate dare-devil. He’s big, he plays sports, he crashes through walls — all this, despite not having a lid on top of his open pitcher-head. Judging by his voice, he’s already survived a tracheotomy, so it might best to just tone it down, Kool-Aid Man, before you spill yourself.

McDonaldland Burgers and Nuggets

Everything in McDonaldland talked: the burgers. The fries. The funky fresh nuggets. It’s funny that, as food products that were about to be devoured by a clown, a felon, and an obese purple retard, they were cracking jokes and not screaming, “Don’t eat me! Please, fuck, no! Let’s get out of here!

The California Raisins

For a couple years in the mid-’80s, the California Raisins were all the rage, and they sold all kinds of products: toys, dollsMotown compilation CDs, computer games, books, t-shirts, and more. You know what they didn’t make me want to buy? Raisins.

Vince and Larry

Vince and Larry were the crash test dummies that made flying through a windshield cool! Voiced by Lorenzo Music and Jack Burns, this duo appeared alongside several other memorable PSA characters that were prominent in the ’80s, such as Woodsy Owl and McGruff the Crime Dog (thanks to him I’m still scared of strangers as an adult). They rapped, they sang the blues, and years later had a number one hit.

The Fun Fruits Trees

God, I loved Sunkist Fun Fruits. They were delicious,  firm little nuggets of fructose, and I must have eaten thousands of them during the few years they were produced. And they were good for you too, fortified with all the vitamins, nitrous, and tetrahydrocannabinol that made the Tickle Trees in the enchanted Sunkist Forest big and strong and hysterical.

I used to wonder, as these commercials aired during my Saturday morning cartoons, if the little fruit pieces caused everyone to laugh, why didn’t they call these Funny Fruits? It seemed like a shitty marketing decision to seven-year-old me.

I was an odd and lonely child.

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