In this edition of Five Retro TV Commercials, we’re celebrating everything from Kool-Aid to Sunny D. And also a few things that aren’t drinks.
Super Naturals! (1987)
A line like Super Naturals could’ve only happened in the ‘80s, when the action figure market was white hot. By today’s standards, even massively-pushed brands with associated toons and movies would never get toys this intense.
The main figures were each a bit taller than He-Man, with holographic torsos that alternated between human and monster forms. Snakebite, for example, could change from a snake charmer into a literal cobra. (Guess which form I preferred.)
You could easily argue that Super Naturals was the best of the 1980s “limited” toy lines — meaning the ones that came and went with little outside support. I loved these figures as much as I’ve loved any figures, and I never had to hear one voiced by Chris Latta to get there. Nice work, Tonka!
Sunny Delight! (1991)
Fun fact: The Purple Stuff Podcast got its name from this Sunny D commercial. Or at least one of the ten other Sunny D commercials that played out just like it.
The mysterious “purple stuff” was the clear star of those commercials. It was so much more interesting than Sunny Delight. I never believed that real teenagers would so callously disregard it. Took me out of the moment, every time.
When Jay suggested it as a name for the podcast, I bought right in. Admittedly, most people just think we’re huge on Dave Chappelle.
In this version of the ad, the “purple stuff” acted as a stand-in for Kool-Aid. Given that this aired in 1991, it’s entirely possible that it was Purplesaurus Rex!
Now I’m even happier that we named our podcast after some minor bullshit from a thirty-year-old Sunny D commercial.
Keebler Magic Middles Cookies! (1989)
Even if you’ve never eaten Magic Middles, you’ve probably seen ’em turn up on those “junk foods we miss” lists. Trust me, their inclusion is justified!
“Cookies stuffed with extra chocolate” seemed more uniquely novel in the late ‘80s than it does now, but the gimmick was just a bonus. Plainly put, we ate Magic Middles because they were delicious. Like, crazy delicious, in a way that no cookie before nor since has matched.
The gooey chocolate centers tasted like straight-out-of-the-oven chocolate chips. When you ate Magic Middles, your tongue writhed in ticklish delight. Things got weird.
I’ll never understand why Keebler dropped ‘em. I didn’t know one single person under the age of 16 who didn’t worship Magic Middles. Surely the audience was there!
Parents Love Kool-Aid! (1989)
This was a big departure from the usual tone of Kool-Aid commercials, which were generally loud, bright and completely nuts.
Instead, a bunch of parents playfully complain about life with kids, and how that involves “being slimed” and finding sandwiches in the VCR. (Yes, this commercial is from the ‘80s.)
The parents universally agree that Kool-Aid is aces. It’s cheaper than soda, and healthier, too. Naturally, there’s a bowl of Kool-Aid packets out on the table while they discuss this. Just sitting there in plain sight, like a bunch of oranges. So utopian!
Watch close and you’ll spot Berry Blue, which was rumored to have been discontinued because it resembled toxic chemicals. As far as I know, that’s just an urban legend. The proof may lie in the fact that Kraft has released a billion just-as-blue Kool-Aid flavors in the years since.
Transformers: Metroplex and Bruticus! (1986)
Metroplex has already appeared on Five Random Action Figures, and he was the focus of a rare Dino Drac video. I can’t in good conscience spend another five paragraphs explaining why he’s awesome, even if I desperately want to.
This commercial also features Bruticus, who was my favorite of the G1 gestalts. Formed by the Combaticons, Bruticus looked like some kind of junkyard Frankenstein, stitched together from disparate parts. He wasn’t nearly as slick as the other combiners, but that’s what I loved about him.
I’ll stop here, lest I break my vow to not write more paragraphs about Metroplex’s godliness. Thanks for reading.