Welcome to December! Like clockwork, the minor draft from the window I sit beside — endurable through most of the year — now has my right hand feeling like the discarded prisoner from Star Trek VI’s snow jail sequence.
Most of the ads in this edition of Classic Christmas Commercials are from the mid ‘90s. I was still a kid by then, but only barely, and I counted on the Christmas season to really let me feel like one. Looking back at stuff from that era hits differently. It’s not wistful nostalgia as much as archaeological analysis. I figure myself out through old Velveeta commercials.
Gremlins on WPIX! (1993)
In November of ‘93, my beloved WPIX ran Gremlins in prime time. I’ll spare you another mile-long explanation of WPIX, but in summary, it was like the broadcast version of the USA Network — a place for cartoons, sitcom reruns, and movies that ruled your world five years prior.
I shouldn’t need to argue that Gremlins is a Christmas movie, because of course it is. The furry protagonist was a Christmas present, after all.
That was one of the first films I requested when my family discovered the “connect two VCRs to copy video rentals” trick, so I hardly “needed” to watch WPIX’s ‘93 broadcast. I’m sure I did, though, because it meant that strangers were watching it at the same time. That’s still cool in 2020, but before the internet, the connectivity factor was off the charts. Read More…
The holiday season is all about traditions, and one of mine is naming the best toys from old department store catalogs. Let’s head back to 1992, when the 47th and 48th hottest things going were Swans Crossing and 3 Ninjas.
Behold, JCPenney’s 1992 Christmas catalog! Over 500 pages’ worth of things you had to have, from Little Mermaid dolls to those cheap artist kits that came with the messy pastels.
I meticulously examined the entire catalog, and then almost as meticulously cut key pages out of it. What, you thought I scanned these pages without tearing them out of the catalog first? Excuse me, have you tried to scan bound pages from a 550-page catalog? They look like Edvard Munch paintings.
Below are six highlights from JCPenney’s 1992 Christmas catalog. Narrowly missing the cut are a 90210 sleeping bag and a Camaro-shaped phone.
Batcave & Ertl Die-cast Set!
($44.99 & $14.99)
Batman Returns hit theaters in June of that year, which gave its toys the advantage of recency. With TMNT waning and no other strong contenders, Batman ruled over the Christmas season with ease.
The crème de la crème was Kenner’s Batcave Command Center, which strongly resembled a modern day Cheesecake Factory. Sorry, you know it’s true. I think Bruce would’ve ordered the pretzel bite fondue.
Actually, I’m more enamored by those die-cast metal figures and vehicles, from Ertl. I used to buy those all the time, if only because they were some of the cheapest figures in toy stores — especially after the clearance sales started. Hell, sometimes I’d throw a tiny metal Batman on the counter just to break a ten. Read More…
Happy Thanksgiving week, everyone! The festivities may be muted this year, but you can still depend on a few of the usual traditions — like, say, the Purple Stuff Podcast’s annual review of an old Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade!
This year, me and Jay from Sludge Central have selected the *2001* parade. I know that seems like an oddly “recent” choice for us, but that year’s parade was a banger. With appearances by everyone from Cheesasaurus Rex to Tim Curry, we absolutely needed to gush about this!
Oh, and if you want to watch the 2001 parade, the awesome MajorLeaguePongGods has uploaded the entire thing to YouTube. It’s a little choppy, but you’ll get the drift.
Some of the other special guests included Pikachu, Triple H, Cookie Monster and Kenny G. For extra historical value, the 2001 Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade took place fairly soon after 9/11, which was definitely an “affecting element” in how everything was produced.
As a reminder, the Purple Stuff Podcast is also on Patreon, where you can grab an exclusive bonus show each and every month. (November’s is coming soon, and yep, it’ll be holiday-themed!)
Down below are several grainy images from the 2001 parade, if you want some warning about what this episode’s gonna tackle! Read More…
How about a new edition of Classic Christmas Commercials? Okay good, you approve!
If you’re new to the site, this is where I gush about ancient TV spots that have some tie to Santa Claus, no matter how minor. The commercials below were rescued from old VHS tapes with incorrect labels. “Hey here’s WrestleMania III siiiiike it’s Rudolph.”
Enjoy them, perhaps now more than ever:
Carvel’s Thanksgiving Cakes! (1980s)
This isn’t a Christmas commercial, but since I’ve always considered Thanksgiving “Little Christmas,” I think it still fits.
Tom the Turkey was (and probably still is) Carvel’s official Thanksgiving mascot. He was named after company founder Tom Carvel, who also did the voice-over for this spot. (Yes, even for that crude cartoon turkey at top.)
If you’re thinking that Tom’s ice cream cake looks suspiciously like Cookie Puss, you’re right. Carvel reused the Cookie Puss mold for all sorts of cakes, whether the shape was appropriate or not. (It’s like how they turn Fudgie the Whale into Santa Claus every December.)
This was an extremely low-budget TV spot, and if it seems almost intentionally rough, well, maybe it was! It’s weird to say, but part of the chain’s success stemmed from its ability to seem smaller than it was. There were Carvels dotted all across the northeast, but every store still felt like the ol’ neighborhood ice cream parlor.
Spot Saves Christmas! (1988)
Can’t believe it’s taken me so long to get to this one, as it’s truly among the most beloved Christmas commercials of the ‘80s. (I think it was still in rotation through half of the ‘90s, too?)
More than any other piece of 7UP-related media, THIS is the thing that made me a Spot fanatic. Were you to literally set me on fire, you would not warm me any faster than the sight of cartoon Spots posing as Christmas tree ornaments.
I loved all holiday commercials as a kid, but there was a certain “top shelf” reserved for the ones that felt like TV specials in of themselves. For me, this one crossed that threshold. It may have lacked the emotional punch of Ronald McDonald teaching a shy boy to ice skate, but it was an instant spirit boost no matter how many hundreds of times I saw it. Read More…