The 11 Most Iconic Food Product Commercials of All Time Slideshow
May 14, 2013
Mentos: The Freshmaker! Campiness was the key to success for this series of commercials for the chewy oblate spheroid that launched in 1991. In these spots, people facing everyday dilemmas would eat Mentos and spontaneously come up with a creative and funny way to solve their problem, backed up by a ridiculous jingle. In the first ad, which is perhaps the one that’s best remembered, a woman’s high heel tears her dress as she’s getting out of a car to attend a gala of some sort. She pops a Mento and is inspired to rip the entire bottom portion of the dress off. Problem solved! We can also be thankful that the campaign gave us this amazing Breaking Bad parody.
When The Simpsons are licensed to help sell your product, you better make the most of it. From 1988 to 2001, Butterfinger did just that. In the ads, Bart is usually about to enjoy a crispety, crunchety, peanut-buttery Butterfinger when someone, usually Homer, tries to take it from him. Via some clever Simpsonian tactic, however, they’re stymied, and Bart gets to drop the famous catchphrase: "Nobody better lay a finger on my Butterfinger." In April, The Simpsons tweeted that a reunion is in order, so we might just not be done with this campaign after all.
The Beef Industry Council hired Chicago’s Leo Burnett Agency to create a campaign highlighting the many uses of beef in 1992, at a time when the whole "red meat is bad for you" trend was at its zenith. There was something about the sweeping tones of Aaron Copland’s "Rodeo" and the vocal stylings of Robert Mitchum (and later, Sam Elliot) that connected, though, and the campaign caught on and lasted until 2007. Even today, "Beef: it’s what’s for dinner" rings a bell for 88 percent of the American population, making it one of the most successful taglines in advertising history.
Odds are you’ve never wondered if there’s a wrong way to eat a Reese’s peanut butter cup, because the question’s already been answered for you. Reese’s, an offshoot of Hershey’s, has been advertising their peanut butter cups since the '70s via a host of solid campaigns (The "You got chocolate on my peanut butter" ones are still pretty memorable), but they reached their peak in the 1990s, with a series of 15-second commercials that show people eating their peanut butter cups in increasingly wacky ways. Current commercials for the candy, with the tagline "Perfect," don’t hold a candle.
6) California Raisins
One of the most successful and memorable advertising campaigns of all time wasn’t for any particular brand, but for the humble raisin. In 1986, the California Raisin Advisory Board hired Foote, Cone & Belding to help promote the snack, and they delivered on their promise with a Claymation R&B band composed entirely of raisins singing "I Heard it Through the Grapevine." The concept took off, and in the ensuing years the fictional group released four full-length albums, spun off a Christmas special and a Saturday morning cartoon series, and sold a line of merchandise that’s immortalized in the Smithsonian’s permanent collection. Now that’s what we call an iconic ad campaign.
This antacid is one of the most successfully advertised products in history (remember "plop plop fizz fizz?"), but without question its most iconic commercial is one from 1982. In the spot, from Doyle Dane Bernbach, an actor played by Jack Somack is filming an ad for a make-believe meatball company but can’t quite get the tagline correct. The more he tries, the more spicy meat-a-balls he needs to eat, and the more he needs Alka-Seltzer. A true classic, and it still holds up today.
Ann Miller was renowned for her dancing prowess decades before Heinz tapped her in 1970 for the lead role in what was, at the time, one of the most expensive spots in history. This madcap commercial, written and directed by Stan Freberg and choreographed by Hermes Pan, centered around Miller, 21 chorus girls, a 24-piece orchestra, and 4,000 fountains. The punch line: "Emily, why do you have to make such a big production out of everything?"
4) Oscar Mayer
It’s nearly impossible to hear the words "Oscar Mayer wiener" without a jingle from 1965 immediately entering your head. In the animated spot, a girl leads around a ragtag troupe ("Sandra C. Smith’s Chamber Music and Marching Society"), and they sing about how much they wish they were an Oscar Mayer wiener. Running a close second is another, nearly equally legendary ad from 1973, in which 4-year-old Andy Lambros sits with a fishing rod, singing a now classic jingle ("My bologna has a first name, it’s O-s-c-a-r…"). These guys knew how to sell processed meat to kids!
3) Grey Poupon
With one simple question, this Dijon mustard launched one of the most legendary and enduring ad campaigns in history. A dignified English gentleman enjoys a full dinner in the backseat of his Rolls-Royce, complete with a few dollops of the mustard. Another car pulls up alongside him, the window is rolled down, and the rest is history. The tagline became a major pop culture touchstone (even making its way into Wayne’s World), and it’s still well-known today, even though the commercials haven’t aired in many years. It was even recently revived during the Oscars to boost flagging sales.
2) Tootsie Pop
How many licks does it take to get to the Tootsie Roll center of a Tootsie Pop? In the original 1969 version of this animated commercial, which is so legendary that it’s still airing (albeit in a shortened form), a kid (voiced by Buddy Foster, Jodie’s older brother) poses this question to Mr. Cow, Mr. Fox, and Mr. Turtle before he finally gets his answer from the wise Mr. Owl, voiced by the legendary Paul Winchell. It’s a complete children’s story inside a minute-long commercial, and has been seen by just about everyone born in America in the past 50 years. It’s the perfect ad: timeless, funny, cute, and it actually gets you to wondering just how many licks it takes. Though many have tried, the world may never know.