Throwback Thursday: Classic Commercials!

Because it’s the kind of day where you want to crawl into a YouTube hole and never come out, we’re spending Throwback Thursday looking at old commercials. Forget books or films — these are the cultural touchstones that truly speak to us.

Evan DeSimone

There’s a lot to love about the old school commercial for Skip It, a toy that people used to buy back when children played outside instead of on the internet. The jingle is super catchy, and contains a fun Doo-wop style hook that was retro even back in 90’s. As a kid I remember that I particularly appreciated how short this commercial was. It clocked in at a crisp 30 seconds and let you get back to whatever you were watching without taking up a ton of time. However, I have to confess, I’ve been carrying a grudge against this commercial for years, and today I finally have a chance to air it out. Take a look at the lyrics to the Skip It jingle:

Hey now kids come gather ’round, see what just skipped into town, so skip it, skip it, you want to jump to the top, skip it, skip it, skippin’ and a screamin’ and a’ bop shoo bop
but the very best thing of all, there’s a counter on this ball, so try to beat your very best score, see if you can jump a whole lot more! Skip it, skip it, come on everybody! Skip it! Roarin’ good fun, from Tiger Toys!

Everything starts off fine. The jingle asks us kids to gather around and take a look at this new thing, a product for our consideration. It helpfully explains the premise of skipping which, I guess, could be confusing for some. Then we enter the retro but charming doo wop hook I mentioned earlier. The problems start in the second measure. “But the very best thing of all,” begins the slogan “there’s a counter on this ball.” Okay, that’s fine, but saying “but the very best thing of all” implies that you’ve already mentioned one pretty good thing. So far all I know is that it’s called Skip It and “a bop shoo bop” so is the first good thing the name? Or is it “a bop shoo bop?” Clearly the best thing is the counter on the ball, but what was the other good thing Skip It? WHAT? WHY HAVE YOU BEEN TORTURING ME SINCE 1991? WHY?!

Christine Linnell

“Parents who use drugs … have children who use drugs.” Including, apparently, this utterly boring-looking guy from the classic Partnership for a Drug-Free America ad. You’re telling me he comes home from his nine-to-five job at the accounting firm and starts shooting heroin right where his annoying teenaged son can see it? (I’m blindly guessing it’s heroin. I’m probably wrong. I don’t know what drugs paraphernalia looks like. My dad was in the Air Force if you were wondering.) I mean, did this man have an intense hippie and/or rock star lifestyle back in the 70s before he got married and had a kid, and now he shoots up all the time to forget how mundane and disappointing his life has become? What happened, dude? What’s the meaning of it all? I am super missing the point of this commercial.

Rachel Kiley

If I ever made one of those ridiculous “you know you’re a ‘90s kid when you remember…” lists, this would literally be the only thing on it. Rachael Leigh Cook smashing an egg with a frying pan and then SMASHING EVERYTHING IN THE ENTIRE ROOM to show you what life is like when you do heroin was freaking iconic, man. And, if I’m being totally honest, made doing drugs look like so much fun. (Note: Don’t do drugs kids, they aren’t really as adventurous as any 30 second PSA may accidentally make them out to be.) Centuries from now, if our descendants discover anything leftover from the Robot Wars to analyze who we were in this time, I sincerely hope this PSA is among those relics. Also, damn, they really went for the scare factor with anti-drug commercials in the ‘90s, didn’t they?

Sara Parra

When it comes to commercials nothing beats the quotability that was the Isiah Mustafa, one-take Old Spice commercial. For weeks, you couldn’t go on the internet without hearing someone say “Ladies, look at your man. Now back to me,” or “I’m on a horse!”

The commercial was so popular that you could have a custom voicemail answering message made, complete with Mustafa saying your name, so your friends and families could melt while trying to give you a call.


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