I’ve curated another batch of ancient Christmas commercials. Keep reading if you enjoy Chicken McNuggets, Chex Mix and copper top battery testers. Don’t if you don’t.
McDonald’s: Scrooge’s Christmas! (1984)
Ebenezer Scrooge is so giddy over Chicken McNuggets that he drops his usual humbuggery to become the host with the most, pushing McNuggets on everyone from Santa Claus to semi-transparent ghosts.
Okay, THAT IS THE GREATEST.
This was just one of several McDonald’s commercials that presented Chicken McNuggets as the go-to appetizers for holiday parties. I’ve not once seen that happen in real life, but as a kid, the idea fascinated me.
Whenever I imagined adults celebrating Christmas, it was basically the office party from Scrooged, but with 20-packs of Chicken McNuggets all over the place. It still sounds like bliss.
Charlie Brown Makes Chex Mix! (1991)
This technically isn’t a Christmas commercial, but it still so is.
Everyone should try homemade Chex Mix at least once. The “junk food” versions just don’t compare. If you make it right, it’s warm and it’s buttery and it tastes vaguely like overcooked steak.
Course, I doubt I would’ve made the effort without Charlie Brown’s encouragement. This commercial was part of a long series in which the Peanuts gang constantly found reasons to prepare big bowls of Chex Mix.
Chuck and Sally painted the process like the midpoint between “easy jigsaw puzzle” and “second grade science fair project.” Could you blame me for wanting in?
Holly Jolly Duracell! (1990s)
In this quick-and-cute commercial, Rudolph’s red nose is powered by a single “C” battery. The whole thing plays out like the Christmas version of Duracell’s more famous “Duracula” ad.
Remember when Duracell batteries came with those “copper top” testers? Lord knows how accurate they were, but they amazed me back then.
I frequently worked batteries into my action figure adventures. They became “energy cells” that my figures used to power their tanks and fortresses. I’d even bring the copper top testers into the fold, with my less-impressive action figures charged with monitoring the “cells.”
It was a boring job, but some off-brand G.I. Joe had to do it.
On the top floor of Grayskull, I’d stage all sorts of palace intrigue with Mumm-Ra and that black-and-red guy from Visionaries. The bottom floor would just be a ragtag bunch of thugs waiting for orders. And then, just outside Grayskull, there’d be a couple of schlubs thanklessly testing batteries.
It sounds silly now, but you try staying busy in a world without Facebook or Pokemon.
Christmas at Toys “R” Us! (1990s)
This is hardly the most impressive of TRU’s Christmas ads, and if I had to guess, it actually didn’t start off as one. Looks like Santa was shoehorned into a summertime commercial.
I’m mainly including it for the shot of that giant Christmas stocking near the end. After Pee-wee Herman showed off a similarly huge stocking during his Xmas special, I became obsessed with them — and eventually got one.
I then demanded “stocking stuffers” from the whole family, thinking that they’d accompany my regular gifts. Instead, everyone just made sure that my regular gifts fit inside the stocking. It was like The Parable of the Rich Fool, but an extra stupid version of it.
Ronald McDonald Goes Ice Skating! (1984)
And here it is. The big one. The one where Ronald McDonald taught that sad boy how to ice skate. If you’re my age or even within ten years of it, you’ve seen this commercial a thousand times.
Watch it again, and when it’s over, remind yourself that it was meant to sell cheeseburgers.
Ads like this are why many of us are so loyal to McDonald’s, even if we recognize that the company’s cradle-to-grave marketing was more than a minor contributor to our terrible eating habits. It wasn’t just comfort food — it was a comfort brand.
This commercial was pulled from the world premiere of The Ewok Adventure, the 1984 TV movie that was seriously great no matter what you’ve heard. For context, I’ve left the intro of that movie in this video.
The timing of the broadcast (11/25/84) meant that it subtly doubled as a holiday special, at least in as far as what commercials aired during the breaks. Between the festive McDonald’s ads and the jingly pitches for toys, even kids who hated Star Wars had every reason to watch Wicket.
If you’d like to read about more old Christmas commercials, Dino Drac has you covered: