Five Retro TV Commercials, Part 21!

Today is my birthday. I thought I’d celebrate by writing about Regis Philbin’s old Harvest Crisps commercial. You do you, I do me.

Burger King’s Burger Bundles! (1987)

I’ve never been wild about Burger King. As a kid, I’d only eat there out of geographical convenience or because they were giving away Ninja Turtles garbage. “Gloppy” is the first word I think of when Burger King is mentioned, and gloppy is close to my least favorite word.

There were exceptions, of course. Back in ‘87, I became singularly focused on trying Burger King’s Burger Bundles, which were these adorable three-packs of slightly-conjoined mini-burgers served in tiny cardboard pans. They were like edible play food. Holding them was Priority One.

Each burger was around the size of a small donut. The fun part was taking extremely small bites, like Tom Hanks with his baby corn.

New Blue M&M’s! (1996)

In 1995, M&M’s held a vote. They were dropping the tan M&M’s, and We The People would get to pick which color they’d replace them with.

The choice was illusionary, because how would blue ever lose against pink or purple? Those colors were more befitting of something like Skittles, or at best some kind of M&M’s Easter mix.

Besides, this was the ‘90s, when “blue candy” was the hottest thing going. Without warning, it leapfrogged over ten other colors and stood only behind red. If anything, M&M’s was late to the game.

I believe this would’ve been the first post-vote TV commercial. Here we had Steven Weber and a blue M&M laughing at two jealous monsters’ feeble attempt to become the in-color by holding their breath. It’s pretty bizarre when you put it in plain terms.

Harvest Crisps! (1991)

I bet some of you didn’t even realize that Harvest Crisps were out of production. Well, pour one out.

These were “mature crackers,” targeted at adults. I doubt that many kids ever picked Harvest Crisps themselves, but we’d still eat entire boxes whenever the opportunity presented itself.

Each diamond-shaped cracker had weird crunchy grains “glued” to the surface. I used to put my maxillary teeth to work as a sort of organic rake, scraping the grains from the crackers before eating them.

It sounds revolting, but it did mean that I could pace myself. Ten crackers could last ten minutes, and that meant a lot when supplies were limited and you still had two episodes of Saved by the Bell left.

McDonald’s Garfield Mugs! (1987)

I still regularly use one of the Garfield mugs seen here. Weird how promotional glasses from fast food joints always seem to outlast the ones we pay good money for, no?

Come to think of it, the majority of our glasses are of the promotional variety. There’s the Garfield mug, the two Batman Forever mugs, that Empire Strikes Back glass from Burger King, plus a whole set of McDonaldland glasses.

Our dinner parties look like Charlie Brown’s Thanksgiving.

“Nightmare Funeral” Drunk Driving PSA! (1991)

I have such a soft spot for gloom-and-doom PSAs. As a kid, they were like miniature horror movies that could attack at any time, without warning. You’d be watching Rescue Rangers, and then bam, there was that fucking snake demon again, trying to sell you crack.

In this ghoulish PSA, a young man has a nightmare about drunk driving. The dream is staged from his own wake, complete with a POV shot from inside the coffin. The fact that the PSA had a hundred dollar budget only added to the creep factor.

This spot used to air late at night, just like so many other macabre PSAs. I’d catch them on my tiny bedroom TV in the wee hours, when no one was around to protect me. After a spot like this, the house grew darker and every noise meant “ghost.”

It wasn’t “fun,” exactly, but it sure kept things interesting.

Thanks for reading about Harvest Crisps and imagined funerals.