October 17th, 2007


Rock and Roll McDonald's

I realize that this is totally the wrong time of year for this, but after reading about him on Wikipedia about a year ago, I managed to actually see Uncle O'Grimacey, the official mascot of McDonald's Shamrock Shakes, in all his blobby sorta-Irish glory.

The fact that you can find pages devoted to old advertising campaigns just goes to show how prominent nostalgia is in our culture. We have radio stations devoted to playing music from certain decades, TV stations that refuse to let Full House and The Fresh Prince of Bel Air die, and VH1's "I Love the [insert decade here]" specials. But it's really the Internet that's at the forefront of this wave. No matter how obscure you think an old game, cartoon show, or commercial is, there's likely to be a web page about it. Granted, there isn't always as much information as you might like, but it still serves to show that you're not alone in remembering whatever it is. The thing is, I'm not yet thirty, and isn't being steeped in constant nostalgia supposed to be the territory of much older people? Can we really be that nostalgic about things from twenty or fewer years ago? I don't know.

Speaking of commercials, when I was talking to bethje the other day, the talk somehow turned to Klondike Bars, and I thought of how the advertisements have people doing wacky things to obtain them. You know what I would do for a Klondike Bar? Go to the store and buy one. That is if I particularly LIKED Klondike Bars; I'd really much rather have an ice cream sandwich. But people (and animals) going out of their way to get relatively cheap products is a hallmark of the commercial world. I suppose I can excuse the Trix Rabbit, since he probably doesn't have any money, and lives in a place so dedicated to the proposition that Trix are for kids that he the stores might not sell him any cereal even if he did. On the other hand, Ronald McDonald seems to be always willing to share, so the Hamburglar is apparently just a kleptomaniac. Not to mention that he has trouble saying anything other than "robble robble," which hints at some serious psychological trauma at some point in his past.

Another oddity of food commercials in particular is that of talking versions of what you're supposed to buy and consume. Just look at Mr. Peanut, Twinkie the Kid, that giant talking Hostess Cupcake (who probably has a name, but I can't remember it), the Happy Meal Guys and Chicken McNuggets...hell, I even remember a commercial with a talking Cheerio. At least the Kool-Aid Man is only FILLED with the product he's hawking, so it isn't suicidal for him to serve as its spokesman. (To get somewhat off the topic, though, I do have to wonder about recent commercials that have shown the Kool-Aid Man in pants. What does he have to cover?) The M&M commercials from the past several years have been another example of this phenomenon, although they tend to mock the convention even as they use it, especially when they had that Crispy M&M who went through life utterly terrified of being eaten.

Okay, that's all for now. I think I'm going to try to do a voice post at some point in the next few days, so be on the lookout for that.