The Creepy Commercial Countdown!
October 1st, 2012: “Sunkist Spooky Fruit!” (1989)
If you’re too young to remember the glory years of Sunkist Fun Fruits, its TV commercials were something else. Typically, you’d see a team of hungry kids mess with a group of anthropomorphic trees, which shook and bellowed as they released fruit snacks from their leaves.
It sounds weird, and it was weird.
And if that’s what happened in a “regular” Fun Fruits commercial, it stood to reason that a Halloween version needed to be especially bizarre. This commercial, from 1989, was nothing if not especially bizarre.
Guys, I was there. I grew up during the period when fruit snack makers got funky. Until a certain point, most fruit snacks were “simply shaped,” looking like raisins on a good day and rabbit shit on a bad one. Eventually, companies realized that more interesting shapes would go a longer way in creating brand loyalty.
When the movement began, it was pretty low-key. Cherry fruit snacks looked like cherries; orange fruit snacks looked like small orange slices. But it wasn’t long before everyone took that idea to its limit, and so, we got fruit snacks shaped like monsters and spaceships. Same great taste, but so much more “puppetable.”
With shouting trees, space aliens and noisy safari kids, it isn’t easy to name the commercial’s best character. After much consideration, I’m awarding that honor to Mr. Skeleton.
His eyes sold me. Scroll up and watch the ad again, and picture the skeleton without light-up eyes. Or worse, picture it with no eyes. Totally different feel. We’ve now learned that light-up eyes are the ultimate skeleton accessory. The idea that there was a fruit snack with this thing as its mascot warms my heart like ten cups of hot steaming fire.
It was an uphill battle for Sunkist Space Shapes, since, at base, those snacks really didn’t fit the theme of the commercial. Helping Sunkist circumvent any issues was this horrific space alien, who looked way to “Halloweeny” for anyone to complain about. He’s seven feet tall, he’s purple, he’s awesome.
But is it just me, or did some other company use this exact same alien costume for a different endeavor? He might not have been purple, but I’m sure I’ve seen that guy someplace else.
The safari kids, who not thirty seconds ago were positively terrified of these monsters, ultimately come around and begin dancing with them. In the midst of this, the alien slaps the skeleton “five,” and breaks his frame into forty pieces. Only slightly in the distance, trees with faces shout “oh oh oh.”
I don’t know if there’s been a better moment in anything, but I know there’s never been a better moment in a Sunkist Fun Fruits commercial.