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BEACON Senior News

Jingles from Yesteryear!

Jul 24, 2023 03:32PM ● By Karen Telleen-Lawton

Ack! I need a break from this surreal era. 

My brain must know this because these last few years I’ve found myself humming tunes from the earliest decades of my life. What lurks in my mind’s deepest recesses are the commercials from 1960s television and radio.

The commercials that stuck with me are the ones with catchy jingles. Short, repetitive, often rhyming: these tunes form memory grooves like worn LPs among the jangled wires of my brain.

Ads in the 1960s were a bizarre juxtaposition of morality lessons with seeds of the next generation’s “no rules” agenda. I recall a radio ad from a financial services firm where a soothing woman’s voice sang, “Never borrow money needlessly but when you must, borrow from the bank in whom you trust—it’s HFC.” 

That ditty highlighted a stark contrast to the decades that followed. In my adulthood, it seems as if we’re always encouraged to borrow, not just for needs but for our every want.

Cigarette ads infiltrated radio and TV waves in those days. Winston ran a successful ad claiming, “Winston tastes good like a cigarette should.” Appealing to audiences, including kids apparently, wasn’t a problem, but correct grammar was. It should read, “Winston tastes good as a cigarette should,” scolded the grammarians. Some months later, an even catchier ad piggybacked on the original: “What do you want? Good grammar or good taste?”

Notwithstanding epidemiological studies as early as the 1940s regarding the dangers of smoking, tobacco companies continued expanding their markets. I recall one directed at women: “You’ve come a long way, baby, to get where you’ve got to today! You’ve got your own cigarette now, baby. You’ve come a long, long way!” 

Eventually, when public health ads drove down the number of American smokers, tobacco companies found greener pastures abroad.

Sixties ads were more open about issues that previously weren’t discussed in polite company. In the days when coloring one’s hair was something of a secret, Clairol assured us, “Only her hairdresser knows for sure.” Now any hair color goes—the more vibrant or eye-catching the better. A young friend recently complimented me on my hair color. When I said it was just my naturally graying blond, she gasped, “I would pay for that color!”

Ads in the old days delved deeper into bathroom routines than hair habits. A pharmaceutical company helped us see how we could achieve more regularity with nightly pills: “Doxidan did it in the PM for a BM in the AM.” This particular ad presented an occasion for me to ask questions of my parents.

I did understand without explanation a hilarious sign at a 1960s dog show. It was the first time I’d been to any kind of convention. I was thrilled with the multitude of products for sale, even if my folks thought our dog didn’t need them. Clever signs were plentiful, but the best sign advertised the Super Dooper Pooper Scooper. Their slogan boasted, “Thick or thin, it pops right in.”

Food ads were dominated in my memory by sugared cereals, which we were forbidden except on road trips. On vacations we were thrilled to choose the little cereal boxes which you could cut open with a knife, pour in milk and spoon up quickly before the waxed paper-lined cardboard got too soggy. Frosted Flakes were “GRRRReat,” according to Tony the Tiger. I preferred “Sugar Pops are Tops.” Their name, though not the sugary formula, changed to Corn Pops in 1984.

One dish for which I’m not nostalgic is Rice-a-Roni, “The San Francisco Treat.” My great-Aunt Elsie was a lifelong San Franciscan; an 8-year-old during the Great Quake. She was incensed by that ad, declaring, “We never eat Rice-a-Roni!”

Aunt Elsie made coffee with a raw egg, so maybe she wasn’t the best judge. But she also made great Swedish meatballs. Thinking of those long ago delectable treats, I’m determined to replace the silly jingles in my head with memories of tangy Swedish meatballs.

What jingles do you remember growing up? Our readers weigh in.

 Chuck Kanagy

“Double your pleasure, double your fun, with double good, double good Doublemint gum.”

“It made me go buy that gum!”

 Diane Salkovich

“Ready when you are and even when you aren’t, that’s Betty Crocker ready-to-spread frosting.” 

 Kevin Wilder

“We didn’t watch much TV when we were growing up, but I remember, ‘Uh-oh, SpaghettiOs!’” 

 George Crago

“Oh, I wish I were an Oscar Meyer wiener, that is what I truly want to be. ’Cause if I were an Oscar Meyer wiener, everyone would be in love with me.” 

 Mike Wetta

“See the USA in your Chevrolet,” sung by Dinah Shore.

 Kristy Frederick

“We’d sing the Alka-Seltzer commercial when we were kids: ‘Plop, plop, fizz, fizz, oh, what a relief it is!’” 

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