Scary truth: Christmas is less than a month away, and if you so much as blink, the season will be over. Gobble it up while you still can!
Look at pretty lights and listen to cheesy music. Watch Scrooged, and nod along with Frank’s meaning-of-Christmas speech. Suck the end of a candy cane until it’s all nice and pointy, and then use it to threaten your enemies.
I myself will celebrate the old fashioned way: By writing a thousand words about Christmassy TV commercials from 1985.
Below: The latest edition of Classic Christmas Commercials, back for another season of thrills, chills and YouTube videos with terrrrrible audio quality. Enjoy!
Chicken McNuggets for Christmas! (1980s)
I’ve mentioned this ad on Dino Drac before, but if ever a commercial merited two love letters, it’s the one where sentient Chicken McNuggets argue over how they’d prefer to be eaten.
This was just another of several McDonald’s commercials that pushed Chicken McNuggets as the go-to appetizer for holiday parties. I can’t say that I’ve ever seen McNuggets treated that way “in the wild,” but I still grew up believing that that was how adults lived.
Like you’d have this sitcom cliche office party filled with expensive clothes and box wine, and some magic butler would be walking around with a tray of Chicken McNuggets. That’s what I thought adulthood was about. That and jet skiing.
Side note: On the long list of fictitious pets that I’d kill to own, I’d put a living Chicken McNugget between Gizmo and the Puckmarin. He could be my little pocket buddy, who’d crouch on cue so I wouldn’t have to pay for two movie tickets.
A Kodak Christmas! (1980s)
A commercial for Kodak cameras wouldn’t ordinarily be worth mentioning, but this one includes awesome fake toys!
It’s Christmas morning in Kodakland, and under the tree are all of the presents. None of those toys existed in the real world, because Kodak wasn’t about to foot the bill for advertising Barbie dolls.
Instead we saw playthings that we couldn’t buy, yet in some cases would still be willing to die trying to. I’m specifically referring to that killer stand-in for R2-D2, which was probably meant to be a no-name version of Tomy’s Omnibot.
You have no idea how much I want that thing! Let’s imagine for a second that I owned everything in the world except the Kodalkland T3-F3, and you just happened to have one. I’d trade the whole pot in a heartbeat. Wouldn’t even have to think about it.
A Cinnamon Toast Crunch Christmas! (1980s)
This one’s just lovely. Those old cartoon bakers were a perfect fit for a Christmas commercial, since they were already so Rankin/Bassy. Once you see them tiptoe around that live action Christmas tree, you’ll be begging for a thirty minute special.
The bakers submit that what Santa really wants isn’t cookies, but Cinnamon Toast Crunch. By mid ‘80s standards, I can’t disagree with them. Cinnamon Toast Crunch is still delicious today, but in the wild west days of sugar and additives and FDA-scorned cereal narcotics, that shit was just tremendous. Each piece had so much sugar on it, eating Cinnamon Toast Crunch was in execution akin to sucking oysters.
I’m so down with leaving Cinnamon Toast Crunch out for Santa. It’d be a lot better than what I used to leave out for the poor guy: A glass of milk and a carrot. Just a big old unwashed carrot on a dinner plate. No wonder I never got the Power Glove.
Sprite for Christmas! (1980s)
Wow, Sprite was playing dirty with this commercial, suggesting that no less than Santa himself preferred Sprite to 7UP. It wasn’t illegal, but it should’ve been.
While I’d give Sprite the edge on taste, there’s no doubt that 7UP was and remains ten times as Christmassy. (Thanks largely to the Spot mascot’s frequent adventures on Christmas trees, but also because of those old Santa posters.)
Actually, lemon-lime sodas in general always remind me of the holidays, because that’s when I most often see them. I grew up in a Pepsi/Coke house, and I’m still just a Pepsi/Coke kinda guy. Lemon-lime soda sightings aren’t exclusive to the holiday season, but they do seem pretty exclusive to big parties. (And aside from Thanksgiving and Christmas, I avoid big parties like the plague.) Am I alone on this one? I feel like I might be.
McDonald’s Holiday Huggables! (1980s)
If you’re old enough to remember these dolls, you should. They were a huge deal back in ’88! Jim Henson’s Muppet Babies was super popular, and the idea of getting retail quality Fozzie dolls from McDonald’s was absurdly amazing.
Keep in mind, these weren’t “Happy Meal toys,” meaning that you did have to pay for them separately. Still, the prices were modest, and any “real” toy store would’ve wanted so much more for a Kermit in a Santa hat.
(Needing to buy them separately actually worked out for the best, anyway. It was just your parents’ money, after all. You’d end up with a plush Kermit, plus whatever the normal Happy Meal toy was. And a cheeseburger, too!)
The dolls were small but finely detailed (as far as dolls go, anyway), each wearing an exclusive Christmas outfit. Every kid had these, or at least knew another kid who did. So popular was this promotion that the “Holiday Huggables” are now crazy easy to find on the collectors’ market, which means that they cost a lot less than adorable Muppet Babies dolls from 1988 objectively deserve to.
Thank you for reading about old Christmas commercials. You’ll be seeing many more of them before December’s through!
PS: Big thanks to Jason Week for creating another incredible Dino Drac header! Also, the Christmas Jukebox is now activated — look for the jukebox graphic on the right-side column of every page. And keep checking Dino Drac After Dark, too — I’ll be updating it tonight!
PPS: If you’re still holiday shopping on Amazon, please consider doing so through this link, as it’ll help the site make a little dough!