Dinosaur Dracula!
Dinosaur Dracula

Classic Christmas Commercials, Volume 18!

There are some big swings in this edition of Classic Christmas Commercials, so if you thought I’d be down to the dregs by now, THINK AGAIN.

A Fruity Pebbles Christmas! (1986)

I’ve covered this spot before, but in an ancient article that’s unrelated to this series. Forgive me for double-dipping, but this one *needed* to be a part of Classic Christmas Commercials.

I don’t know if I’d call it my favorite Christmas commercial now, but it certainly was during childhood. I was obsessed with this ad, which for me was a bigger indicator of the holiday season’s arrival than even those ringing Hershey’s Kisses.

Santa squashing Fred and Barney’s longstanding cereal beef was THE feel-good moment of the ‘80s. It came off less like a commercial and more like a thirty-second prime time special. It wasn’t just a lucky break for Post, either — everything from the animation to the sound design was several steps beyond the typical Pebbles Cereal TV spot. This was made to be major, and it was!

Every time this came on television, it was an instant dopamine hit. I’m surprised that Post hasn’t yanked it out for a nostalgia run, since the most-affected people are now choosing cereals for their own kids.

Snuggle Bear Christmas Ornament! (1986)

As some of you know, I’m in love with Snuggle Bear. Always have been. While the more recent “iterations” have been cute, nothing beats the original Snuggle Bear — literally a teddy bear come to life, with a voice that taught me about ASMR before it was even an acronym.

Back then, my adoration was almost painful. It was another “Gizmo situation” where I wanted nothing more than my own pet Snuggle Bear, but had absolutely no way to get one. Living, breathing teddy bears just didn’t exist.

This commercial — specifically the last fifteen seconds — shows Snuggle Bear at his all-time cutest. Just you try not to adore Snuggle Bear as he crawls out of a fireplace wearing a Santa hat, giggling at himself. Seriously guys, my kingdom for this fucking bear.

(And yeah, I fully intend to grab an official 1986 Snuggle Bear tree ornament from eBay. Might not get here until after Christmas, but since I intend to hang it from my rearview mirror, that’s okay!) Read More…

2020’s Hottest Holiday Junk Food, Part 2!

I’m posting this on a Saturday night, which doesn’t strike me as the best time to launch thousand-word articles about milkshakes and peppermint bark. Oh well. It’ll still be here on Monday.

Get set for the second edition of 2020’s Hottest Holiday Junk Food. If you missed the first edition, it’s over here.

Cheetos Popcorn Tin!
(Found at Walmart)

Christmas isn’t Christmas without the traditional three-flavor popcorn tin, but if I was going to allow any substitution, it’d be for this sexy thing.

I love the weird modernity of it. You know there will come a day when I find that popcorn tin at the back of a closet and think, “Wow, that’s so 2020.”

Inside are individual bags of Cheddar and Flamin’ Hot™ Cheetos Popcorn. The tin doesn’t include a cardboard divider, but that’s okay, because the best way to present those two flavors is by mixing ’em together and letting each handful act as a game of hot-or-not roulette.

GRADE: A+. If you’ve never had Flamin’ Hot™ Cheetos Popcorn, it’s spicy, but not excessively so. The red color mostly comes from food dye. Like, enough food dye to camouflage one of those extra-big elephants from LOTR.

Pepsi Apple Pie!
(Coming soon?)

Sorry, you’re not going to find this in stores. 1500 bottles of Pepsi Apple Pie were given away on social media, and I was among the winners. If you’re envious, just keep in mind that this free bottle of soda was pretty much the best thing to happen to me the entire year.

I’ve heard that Pepsi does have plans for an eventual retail rollout, and GOD I hope that’s true, because this is THE BEST PEPSI FLAVOR I’VE EVER HAD. No hyperbole! Do away with the crust and picture the spiced innards of an apple pie, and then apply that to soda. It’s freakin’ incredible, in everything from smell to taste.

Some have asked if it’s anything like the old Pepsi Holiday Spice. I mean, I guess a little, but this one is less about the bite and more about the appley sweetness. But much like Pepsi Holiday Spice, I imagine that it’d make a great mixer — a theory I intend to test literally ten seconds after I hit “publish” on this article.

GRADE: A+. I know some will ascribe my high praise to being on the take, but screw that. If I have a price, be assured that it’s a whole lot higher than a bottle of soda. This stuff is just GOOD. Read More…

Classic Christmas Commercials, Volume 17!

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…

Toys from the 1992 JCPenney Xmas Catalog!

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…