Ad Nauseam: ALF #23 (Mascot Madness!) 

You can find previous “Ad Nauseam”s here.

Welcome back to Ad Nauseam: never ending articles inspecting promotions of yesteryear found in between the “Biff”s and “Pow”s of clearance rack comics. Please send help. 

Tonight we crack open the capitalistic corpse of ALF #23 released December 1989.

ALF (Alien Life Form) was a Marvel comic series based off the television show of the same name. It ran for a surprisingly successful 50 issues (1988-1992), actually exceeding the lifespan of the show. ALF tells the story of Gordon Shumway, an alien from an extinct planet that crash lands in suburban California. He’s discovered and reluctantly “adopted” by a wholesome nuclear family as sitcom shenanigans and laugh tracks ensue. The show was like a fusion of Full House and Garfield complete with 80s sitcom cheese, cat references, food binging, all centering around a family named The Tanners. 

ALF #23: December 1989

On a personal note, ALF was one of my favorite shows as a child. Being raised on Muppets, anything involving puppets immediately caught my attention. And in his prime, ALF was a merchandising machine as his face was slapped on coloring books, lunchboxes, and everything in between. 

Which brings me to the focus of tonight’s article…

I’ve spent too much time building these virtual monuments to 30+ year old junk food and mailaway trading cards. A driving force behind diving into these ads isn’t nostalgia alone…but the realization that I’m part of a bygone era I’m calling The Lost Art of the Mascot. For better or worse. 

There’s a reason why I’m so fondly in love with the Mcdonald’s of yesteryear. Or how I’ll gush over sugary cereal boxes and the return of “throwback” labels on the same old products. The Trix Rabbit! Toucan Sam! Scrubbing Bubbles! The Noid! Mrs. Butterworth! As a child I loved the Energizer Bunny and Chester Cheetah. What they were bussing was moot (or so I thought), yet they turned out to be the reason why I wanted Cheetos in my lunch and Energizer batteries in my talking Robocop. If you’re in your late thirties you CAN’T look me in the GOSH DANG eyes and tell me you didn’t eat raisins because of the CALIFORNIA RAISINS singing on your television! Don’t lie to me this isn’t my FIRST RODEO! 

This is a brilliant marketing strategy that, I would say, peaked throughout the 1960s-1990s. Take a mundane product and pair it with a bright lively marketable character that would appeal to children. This is most common with cereal (as we’ll see tonight) but expanded far beyond to everything from batteries to cleaning supplies. It’s a strategy that cements a brand and creates a brainworm in future customers based on recognition. It’s planting the seeds of consumption in young malleable selfish minds and might just be considered evil. But, boy, does it work!  

It’s fitting that I found these ads in an ALF comic. Yet another character created with a big marketable lovable personality full of quippy one liners and sarcasm. Almost as if the priority was merchandising over actual quality. Huh. Well that can’t be…can it? So let’s travel back to the last gasp of the 1980’s with ALF #23 and quietly ask ourselves why is this December released comic themed around Fall?


Trix and Lucky Charms Word Games!

These ads are a great example of how to make your mascot appear as more than just a vapid salesman. Both of these full page ads are games first and ads second. Kids know when they’re being marketed to, so to literally make a game out of your product is a way to get attention without your little consumer even realizing you’re getting your sugar soaked fingerprints all over their fresh malleable mind. You engage your audience. The cereal and logo take up little of the illustration, making the mascots the main focus besides the game itself. It’s a way to get kids to “help” the characters (they look distressed afterall) and connect with them. Appeal to emotions. The games center around the themes of the cereal and names so it’s easy to identify next time you’re at the grocery store. If you play this fun game with these characters in your monthly comics, you’d be more than willing to beg mom for their cereal. I felt a loyalty to these characters, therefore, I wanted their cereal over, say, Corn Pops or Frosted Mini Wheat. 

Also I love how Lucky the Leprechaun is relaxing in his cozy home with an offering of a perfectly balanced breakfast (did anybody really partake in orange juice and milk?) and the Trix Rabbit is cornered in some gritty back alley (also is the pencil oversized or is the Trix rabbit truly that small?). Through engaging ads like this, you might actually look forward to them popping up in your comic book. Imagine that! Soon Trix and Lucky could mean more to you than just breakfast cereal, but in turn, Trix and Lucky Charms might be the first brands that spring to mind when getting some sugary trash to shovel in your gullet at 7 am. Magically delicious? Or Implemented strategically delicious?   

Nestle Quik Hop Shop!

It’s pretty incredible how some of these ads can work on a young mind. I haven’t seen a Nestle Quik commercial in decades and haven’t drank it in probably over 25 years, yet I still remember that Quik bunny suckin’ that gloop up while his long ears twisted around as if he were in the middle of some sort of powdery orgazmic trance. 

Here we have an example of being “rewarded” with stuff you don’t need for consuming junk that will hurt you. Today, this practice of marketing has been (mostly) dropped across the board as it shouts “blind vapid consumerism” and can direct your child onto the road of diabetes and obesity all in the name of a Quik Bunny Plastic Mug. If you delve back into comics of the 1960s and 70s, you’d find similar “reward” programs using points to earn prizes aimed at children. These points were earned through, essentially, a pyramid scheme: Want a kite or magic set? Sell a certain amount of magazine subscriptions (for example). You could earn up to a bicycle! Though marketing like this “Hop Shop” ad truly reflects the consumeristic junkie mindframe that permeated the 1980’s: Eat to earn. Buy our products and earn cool prizes adorning our logo. It’s a pretty bold and confident move when you think about it. 

It sounds like John Carpenter’s They Live in a way. Mostly because, in a way, it is. That movie had to come from somewhere, right?

Okay, so I’m being cynical. I previously touched on a similar tactic with Kool-Aid. And there’s tons just like this. I don’t look down on anyone who was into this. Mostly because I know for a 100% fact, I’d partake in this if I didn’t have such a strictly-budgeted mother growing up. The bendable Quik Bunny and Plush Bunny are calling my name. Then I’d probably go for the t-shirt and some “hot shades”. That ice pop maker and mug are swell too. I didn’t even drink Nestle Quik much, but I loved the fun design of the Bunny from the commercials. I liked him. Which was the point. They got me hook, line, and sinker. I delve into this stuff because I fall for it. 

I actually sought out some of the prizes being offered here through eBay and paired them with the image above. I’m pretty sure I’ve seen that Quik Bunny mug at almost every flea market I’ve ever been to. Also, do you notice the 1950’s aesthetic in this ad? The music notes, “Hop Shop” logo design, and the way the Bunny talks? The 1950’s Americana fascination was only 30+ years ago at this point in time. The people making these ads were nostalgic for their era. For instance, what era do you see today so firmly replicated throughout marketing in pop culture? Ah, that’s right, the 1980’s. Which is only 30+ years ago at this point in time. Where does the time go?   

   

Mr. Bubble’s Tub Tales!

Man, when was the last time you took a bubble bath? Is taking a bubble bath just a kid thing? Why? I remember always seeing sexy women taking bubble baths in movies, but that was usually because it was PG and they needed to cover up their body. Why can’t a middle aged construction worker come home from a hard day’s work to a nice bubble bath? Can we normalize that? Anyway…

The “mini-comic” ad you’d find in comic books is a classic tactic. In fact, I wouldn’t mind doing that for a living. Here we get a short tale featuring Mother callin’ in the kiddos after having a fun-filled dirty play day only to *GASP* be excited to take a bath?! That’s right, kids, because Mr. Bubble makes getting clean almost as much fun as getting dirty! I love the admittance of saying  “almost”. They’re just being honest. It’s not more fun or even as fun apparently. But the fun doesn’t have to stop in the bath! Because Mr. Bubble’s got them tees and sweaters to rock on your clean bubbleless bod. And a f**king WATCH?! A Mr. Bubbles Watch?! I wish I could’ve met someone wearing a Mr. Bubbles watch in the wild. Like, who are they? What is their story? How are they doing?

Regardless, this advertisement intertwines the idea of the main product (being bubble bath..er-uh..stuff) supplemented with the idea of wearing the brand out of your pure enjoyment for it. Whereas the Nestle Quik branded swag was based on “earning” it. Mr. Bubble just wants to be friends, bro. An adult sized shirt cost $4.95 in December of 1989. With inflation (plus $1 for S&H) that comes out to $13.49 in 2022. Not to shabby considering most tees cost around $27 shipped these days. Also notice the inclusion of adult sized clothing (as well as that rad watch). Mr. Bubble was a brand founded in 1961, nearly 30 years of business at the time. It’s appealing to nostalgia. Your kid would see it and might want one and there’s an off chance that you might too…seeing as you might have grown up with Mr. Bubble as well. That marketing practice is super common today as nostalgia has become almost the go-to route for marketing towards adults. 

And, yes, I managed to go to Mr. Bubble’s website. And, yes, they sell shirts and little Mr. Bubble dolls. And, yes, I’m internally struggling with not buying them. 


I always bring up throughout these Ad Nauseum articles how you no longer see ads for sugary snack cakes, candy, or tooth rotting “juice” drinks marketed towards children anymore; much less rewarding them with prizes for consuming them. Commercials don’t have the same imagination and charm as they used to either. When was the last time you saw Ronald dicking around in Mcdonaldland? Or Captain Crunch recklessly sailing his ship into a kitchen under the influence of crunchberries? Or Kool Aid man carelessly bursting through drywall? Lumber costs have skyrocketed you giant pitcher abomination.  

And, in all honesty, it’s for the best. These mascots still exist but they’re minimal and present for posterity. Whenever they are used, it’s sparingly to appeal to a time where you’d eat this trash and not feel like it. As a society we’ve become much more conscious of what’s in our food and the benefits of it. I believe we’ve broken a marketing cycle and caused a shift towards a more healthy and transparent approach. It may no longer involve a colorful talking toucan or collecting proofs of purchase for a glow-in-the-dark yo-yo…but it benefits us long term. I can definitely see a day in my lifetime where all these mascots are distant memories. Where some 78 year old’s suspiciously hairy ears perk up as we’d recall “Cheesasaurus Rex” over overpriced space-lattes on Planet Starbucks.   

Regardless, I am fond of this stuff. These colorful faces that greeted me on Saturday mornings and in between the pages of my favorite superhero adventures. The excitement I felt digging through sugary cereal I convinced my mom I needed just for the toy inside. Looking at the cookies baking in the oven to see if the Pillsbury Doughboy would actually pop up and greet me. It could be the time and place that gets me. But it’s also the marketing itself. It’s genuine nostalgia for something that was strategically planned and meticulously implemented by a boardroom of rich business tycoons. So undeniably American. But when you look at things that way…it kinda sucks the fun and wonder out of life.

Although the Art of the Mascot is indeed lost and I truly can’t think I’m better off for being apart of it, I can at least look back at it through the eyes of a child and smile. In a lot of cases ignorance is bliss afterall. Thanks for thumbing in between the action of old comics and reminiscing with me. You’ll always find “insight” into comfy comic culture here on ChrisDoesComics.

Ad Nauseam: The Supernaturals

PAST COMIC ADS CAN BE FOUND HERE!

I only decide to write my Ad Nauseum articles when the breath of the comic gods speaketh to me naturally. I let the comics find me, you see. The timing, price, and content has to be just right. One may call the process very sad SuPeRnAtUrAl. Which brings us to tonight’s book: The Supernaturals: The Most Supernatural Superheroes of Them All! 

This was a four issue miniseries released by Marvel Comics in December 1998. I found the entire series (including the preview book) for $20 at a semi-local comic convention last month. The covers slapped me in the face harder than Will Smith. TOPICAL! It’s as if Halloween threw up its orange and purple guts all over a comic book. And, on top of it all, each issue came with a “pop-out” mask of a Supernaturals hero! When hitting that close to home I realized this book was created specifically with me in mind. 

Just me

No one else.  

The Supernatural story is about a team of superheroes with occult-superpowers that battle the team of Dracula, the Mummy, and Frankenstein’s Monster led by literally a man with a jack o’lantern for a head named Jack O’Lantern because what else would you name him hellooo? This comic doesn’t take place within the “mainstream” Marvel Universe as they take established heroes like Ghost Rider, Black Cat, and Werewolf By Night and adapt them into extreme hip 90’s teenagers. I learned wonderful tidbits like Werewolf By Night’s adoration of Quentin Taratino, and Metallica; Ghost Rider’s love of all extreme sports; Black Cat being a vegetarian Democrat that listens to Jewel; and Brother Voodoo being a successful R&B singer and “mega-producer” whose headquarters is a revamped YMCA. 

IT’S LIKE I’M READING ABOUT MYSELF! IT’S JUST WHAT WE KIDS WANTED.

But I digress, as we’re here to look at the relics between the story. So I plucked out the four ads that spookily spoke to me most. So turn off your Spice Girls CD, put down that Prowrestling Illustrated magazine and save your game in Ocarina of Time. We’re headed back to December 1998 to ask: Hey, why did this Jack O’Lantern comic coupled with Halloween masks come out in December?

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UNIVERSAL MONSTERS COOKIE SWEEPSTAKES! 

One of the few products where you can take a bite out of Dracula, Universal Monsters cookies were essentially chocolate Teddy Grahams in the shape of classic monsters instead of cuddly teddy bears which makes them one of the greatest treats ever produced in American history. I talk about the Universal Monsters as much as Twitter talks about injustice, so it’s shocking that I had no idea these were in the grocery aisles at the time. By late 1998 I was already fang deep into classic horror: religiously attending the weekly church of Svengoolie; proudly displaying my Burger King Universal Monster toys; and dressed as Dracula and Wolfman four Halloween’s in a row! Little did I know I could’ve been literally ingesting the Universal Monsters via sugary low quality cookie-like byproduct! 

This ad, in particular, is a great mix of Halloween vibes with purples, greens, and oranges alike not to mention the illustrated presence of the classic monsters! This was definitely during the awkward era where Universal had likeness-rights issues, so we get “Not-Quite-Lugosi” Dracula, a generic Mummy, “Bye-Bye-Boris” Frankenstein, and a Blurry-Is-That-Even-Wolfman? Wolfman. This ad also boasted a sweepstakes in which you could win a trip to Universal Studios Florida and “Party with the Universal Monsters in the Ghostly Spirit of Halloween!” They poke fun at old horror movie titles by naming the sweepstakes “The Son of the Curse of the Wicked Halloween Party”. It’s an ad worth framing and hanging above my roaring marble fireplace posing as an entranceway to my hidden laboratory. 

The thought of attending a 1998 Halloween party in Universal Studios with the Universal Monsters is nothing short of incredible. The opportunity to slow dance with the Gillman to Aerosmith’s “I Don’t Want to Miss a Thing” or boogie with Frankenstein to Jay Z’s “Hard Knock Life” is something I would quite possibly sell my soul for. The Mummy would definitely be the wallflower of the group, but I feel like I could get him swaying when “You Get What You Give” starts playing. 

Anybody else catch on how weird it is that there’s a Halloween comic (that comes with a mask) with an ad for a Halloween party but it’s released in December? I think somebody missed the deadline. 

YOMEGA YO YOS! 

I remember going to school one day and suddenly everyone had a yo yo. Honestly. I sharply remember walking into my classroom on a particular weekday morning to nearly everyone attempting to “walk the dog”. It was an annoyance. Not because I was suddenly surrounded by 22 colorful yoyos (we’ve all been there) but because, yet again, I missed the newest fun trend. How do they keep up? I thought to myself. Does my “Letter of Hip Trends” get lost in the mail every month? Or is it an e-mail I miss because I don’t have a computer? I was yoyo-less. For the day. Week. Month probably. But the realization of being the actual Charlie Brown didn’t stop my need for INTEL. YOMEGA was the “it” brand (so I’d been told by the trend-masters as I hit the local beat) Duncan was a distant second yet still emitted a passable-cool. It took a couple weeks of nagging my grandmother with my woe filled yoyo-less days until she finally succumbed to buying me one. 

We hit a now defunct store called “Gamer’s Paradise” in my local mall. There they had a rack displaying all the newest coolest trendy YOMEGA YOYOS. I grabbed a Yomega Fireball (black with clear accents) as the store clerk quipped how these were suddenly all the rage. The next morning at school was when I was accepted amongst my youthful peers. As we stood around in a circle during recess all totally sucking at doing anything remotely impressive with our yoyos. Despite all that, I actually enjoyed playing with it. At the very least I learned how to successfully make my yoyo  “sleep” as well as “walk the dog”. And the quality of the Yomega yoyo did seem “professional” compared to your cheap run-of-the-mill bargain yoyos. 

When it comes to the modern nostalgia niche, there’s certainly a lot of cherry picked “memories” deemed worthy to market as retro. The yo yo fad of the late 1990s is certainly one that’s overlooked. In fact, I completely forgot about it until coming across this ad…demonstrating why I do articles like this to begin with. I can even vaguely recall a classmate bringing up the “Yoyo Championships”..perhaps even a VHS tape was involved. And now that recollection is gone. It was for the best. 

Not too long into yoyo-mania ‘98, I had acquired a glow-in-the-dark yoyo that contained an actual scorpion molded into the clear plastic. From the reaction of my classmates, it was then when I realized I had flown too close to the sun. A yoyo so extreme…so extra…so ‘90s…I may have single handedly ended the yoyo craze within my community. From ”hot” to “not”. Regards of yours truly. It wasn’t long before my yoyo ended up in a drawer alongside my knockoff Tamagotchi, mismatched baseball cards, and forgotten Happy Meal toys. One might say the yoyo craze of 1998 certainly had its ups and downs. 

POKEMON RED/BLUE ON GAMEBOY!

The yoyo trend completely paled in comparison to Pokemania which, at this point, was runnin’ wild, brothers. A Japanese pop culture monster that eclipsed Godzilla yet fit in your pocket, Pokemon was (and still is) a popular cartoon show, trading card game, and…now…video game. If you didn’t see Pikachu’s fat face adorning everything from lunchboxes to backpacks at this time I’d argue that you, indeed, had no eyes. And if you have no eyes…how are you reading this article? Some sort of cyber-optic-eye implants I assume. Then you better use those fancy-robo-eyes to best watch yourself. Because we don’t take kindly to cyborg-types around these parts, you understand? 

Good. 

Anyway, Pokemon Red/Blue was my gateway drug into Pokemania. It was a trend making the rounds within my school that (no surprise) I was still unfamiliar with. While my friends were “battling” their Pokemon cards and “linking” their Gameboys to trade their pocket monsters, I was cradling my glow-in-the-dark scorpion yoyo and wondering where it went all wrong. It was my birthday gift of WWF Attitude on the Gameboy Color that began my journey into the world of Pokemon. How does a terrible wrestling game for the Gameboy Color bring me to Pokemon you ask? Simple: I didn’t own a Gameboy Color. And the game did not work on my original Gameboy. So my grandmother took me to Gamer’s Paradise (you know the one) to return it. There I was told I could not get the money back but I can exchange it for a game of the same value. I spotted Pokemon Red in their display case, thought the dragon on the cover looked cool, and that was that. 

The game was oddly addicting as the “Gotta Catch ‘em All!” marketing mentality became a state of being for me. The game led to the playing cards and, soon, I was an unfortunate addict begging any relative within speaking distance for a quick drive to get a booster pack fix. I’d have a binder full of “moderately-impressive” pocket monsters, the occasionally holographic cards, presented almost as a physical representation of my self worth. Bringing certain “rare” cards in a single protective case to school to “flash” fellow poke-addicted peers for schoolyard validation. Was I merely a “First Edition Holographic Machamp”? Did I peak as a “Japanese Imported Holographic Gyarados?”. It’s questions like these that I still ponder to myself today. 

DEADLY DOLLS DOUBLE FEATURE: BRIDE OF CHUCKY & SMALL SOLDIERS!

I decided to combine these two ads into one section because A. I don’t have much personal insight on either of these movies and 2. They involve toys that are “alive” and cause chaos

I recall renting Bride of Chucky when it was a new release and casually enjoying it. I was still living in the era of my childhood where my mom forbade R-rated horror films…but if I happened to be watching one via my own sneaky schemes …the reprimanding was definitely relaxed. 1988’s Child’s Play scared me stupid when I caught it on late night television years prior. There were a few nights where I had trouble sleeping as I stared intently at my toy box…waiting for any unusual signs of movement. I’d follow up the uneasy fear by thinking about the happy positive toys of Toy Story…and, like the sweet Ambien that is Disney, I would drift off to sleep. 

If you’ve seen Bride of Chucky, you might’ve realized that this is when the series became a full blown horror-comedy. And, being a kid, it worked for me…as the film didn’t leave me too scared and the rude crude adult humor of Chucky (dialed up to an 11 here) came off as simply “bAdAsS”. It was that meta 90’s counterculture “attitude” that was so marketable and appealing. Child’s Play is unique for me in that the first film is one of my favorite horror movies…and everything that came after I don’t care for. Yet Bride is interesting in that I haven’t recalled it since writing this…and while my memories of it aren’t too vivid…there’s clearly a fondness that goes along with it that might warrant a second viewing.

Small Soldiers is interesting where it seemed like a PG-13 Child’s Play on the surface, yet is its own beast entirely. I don’t remember this film being released. I believe I was gifted it on VHS that Christmas of ‘98. One of those “You’re a kid, here’s a movie for kids” presents a relative gives you because they don’t really know you. Where it felt more like a “truce” instead of a present. The film is essentially about GI Joe action figures that go haywire, break out of their boxes, and start raging war on each other and any humans that get in their way. I turned out loving the film as it was kept in my constant VHS rotation for years. There’s a certain darkness to it and definitely some offbrand humor that makes it work on many levels. When covering the Yomega Yoyos, I mentioned “cherry picked” nostalgia and how a lot of memories get lost to the past. And although Small Soldiers seems to have a cult following these days, I’d still put it in the “overlooked” nostalgia category. 

Editor’s Note: I neglected to mention that I also watched Small Soldiers so often because I was completely smitten with actress Kirsten Dunst. Years later when we got a desktop computer, I printed out pictures of her and taped them to the walls of my room. I even had a picture of her I cut out from a magazine and taped it to the inside of my school schedule. I am aware this was the behavior of a 12 year old girl. But I just want to create an open honest space here. Once she was cast in 2002’s Spider-man, I became near-obsessed with her. It faded with time but I’d just like to point out that, after doing some research, her husband is my age and, quite frankly, I am much better looking. Your loss, Dunst. 

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Interesting Trivia Stat: I have written 12 of these Ad Nauseam articles (Covering nearly 60 Vintage Ads!) over the course of 5 years! Is that something to be proud of? I DON’T KNOW! Do what you will with this knowledge. I write these when I get an “itch” to; and that’s usually when I come across an ad that tickles my noggin’ while flipping through an old comic. Each Ad Nauseam article very well could be my last. And for those of you who have read one, some, or all of these little paper time machine insights…I appreciate you! It takes a special kind of person to take their own personal time and read the nostalgic personal ramblings of a manchild sparked by 25+ year old advertisements. 

I think we’d be friends.

So thank you for thumbing in between the action of old comics and reminiscing with me. You’ll always find “insight” into comfy comic culture here on ChrisDoesComics. Let’s get coffee sometime. 

Editor’s Note: Kirsten please stop trying to contact me. You had your chance. Lets move on like two responsible adults.

Ad Nauseam: X-Men #60

Welcome back to my retrospective series of articles in which I sit in my dark apartment, listen to synthwave, and thumb through back issues in hopes of sparking shadowed memories of simpler times! An exciting Saturday night is finding a 24 year old advertisement for Dinosaur Eggs oatmeal. How can life possibly offer anything more?

X-Men Vol. 1 #60, January 1997

If there’s a main theme throughout these articles (besides the onset of Peter Pan Syndrome) it has to be constantly waxing nostalgic about the X-Men. They were a benevolent force throughout comic culture in the 1990s. But 1997 marked a lull in X-Men fandom. While at heart X-Men was always a glorified mutant soap opera, the ideas of love triangles, false deaths, and double agents were tired tropes. This was also the year the acclaimed X-Men animated series was cancelled. And with that dries up the marketability of X-Men toys, tie ins, and video games.

But, as we all know, this wasn’t goodbye for the X-Men. It was just “see you later”. Because in just 3 short years Marvel introduced the ULTIMATE universe of comics and the blockbuster X-Men live action movie hit theaters worldwide.

But, right now, we’re stuck in 1997 and we have this awfully mundane issue to get through.  But between the story: A D V E R T I S M E N T S. This is an X-men title so I didn’t have to necessarily hit the clearance for you, so we’re not at the bottom of the barrel per-say.  That’s reserved for Witchbalde or Youngbloods. So put on your finest Austin 3:16 shirt, pause your Playstation, crack open a cold Surge and join me on this capitalistic journey of useless trading cards and fruitless VHS tapes.

Kool-Aid Points

It’s summer break and you and your best buds have the whole day ahead of you. Maybe you play some Bucky O’Hare, head over to the park district pool, split some nachos, and do that weird running gallop so the lifeguards don’t blow the whistle at you for running. What always hits the spot on a hot summer day like this was a big pitcher of some sticky flavored sugar water. And while you sit on your throne of innocence and Super Ropes you think to yourself, “How can this get any better?” 

Well let me tell you: Getting free garbage for drinking that cold sticky sugar water.  What we have here is the always incredible Kool-Aid Kool Points program. Kool-Aid packets were worth points. You save the packets. And mail them in to get treasures. I have to say, I love everything that is offered in this ad. I try to imagine what I’d save up for and I get anxiety from the choices. I’d love to get some official Kool-Aid merch like a shirt, beach towel, or bottle that way I can let everyone know I’m well on my way to premature diabetes. But, at the same time, the idea of saving up for a Yomega Fireball Yo-Yo, Nintendo Gameboy Keychain, or Remote Control Car truly feels like an accomplishment I’d cherish more so than my college degree (it’s a BA in art so it’s basically not real) .

This Kool-Points program was started sometime in the early 1980s and ended  recently in 2008. Unfortunately you can’t find as much Kool information as you’d hope as it seems to be the name of a mobile gaming app nowadays. But let this be a remainder of the days where you just didn’t chug a pitcher of Rock-a-dile Red for the pure enjoyment of quenching mere thirst, you were inching closer to quenching the thirst of owning an Official Kool-Aid Man kite. Oh. Yeah.

Got Milk? Featuring Spider-man!

As stated as the topic for my college thesis, if you were anybody of significance in the past 20 years you were featured in a Got Milk? ad. Singer, athlete, actor, wrestler, cartoon character or inter-dimensional idea you were given a page wide spread with a glass of milk complete with white mustache. Even Spider-man himself, complete with mask mustache, is pictured in this very ad presented.  The Nobel Peace Prize paled in comparison to the worldwide recognition one receives when simply asking the question “Got Milk?”. 

The one downside to this ad campaign is that it was a little too successful in that it became trendy for nearly every brand or company to ask the famous “Got Milk?” question with their own, often illogical, spin. I remember seeing tons of t-shirts and bumper stickers being sold with simple text reading things like “Got Comics?” or “Got Pizza?” in that tall white font. I even recall the local zoo selling “Got Dolphins?” bumper stickers with the names of various animals at whatever exhibits.

It was genius in it’s simplicity. These ads were featured in every kind of newspaper, magazine, or comic. And it made Milk, well, cool if you seen Spider-man, Brett Favre, or Whoopi Goldberg with the classic ‘stache. I even seen someone with a “Got Speed?” bumper sticker on their car driving home last week. It’s still relevant today and kind of douchey apparently!

Michael Jordan Highlights on VHS!

When you want to describe someone being the best at something, nowadays it’s common to say “They’re the Michael Jordan of” it. For example, “Chris is the Michael Jordan of  having a cynical outlook!” or “ChrisDoesComics.com is the Michael Jordan of websites nobody cares about.”  Well, Michael Jordan is the Michael Jordan of basketball. Being a Chicago native during the Bulls legendary era, I and everyone I knew wanted to be like Mike.

MJ was on my t-shirts and my bedroom walls. I had MJ books and magazines. I wanted Hanes because Michael wore them. I wanted a Big Macs and Ball Park Franks because Michael ate them. Space Jam was a childwide event in Chicago complete with parades and screenings in church. I made that last one up. Michael Jordan was so awesome and such an international phenomenon that for $30 the NBA sold a 2 1/2 hour MJ highlight reel on VHS.

I included this ad because I really downplay the love I had for Michael Jordan nowadays. Not really for a particular reason other than I simply forget what a idol he was to me and so many other kids back then. This ad truly gave me the warm fuzzies because it’s the reason I write these articles to begin with: to dust off fond forgotten memories.  And I remember a time where I wanted to be Like Mike. Except for that short period where he played baseball.

CardZillion Trading Card Machines!

Another reason I write these articles is to share things I had no idea existed like CARDZILLION. I wasn’t sure to include this ad but after doing some research I simply had to. These “vending” machines were located exclusively in Toys “R” Us stores from 1994 until 1997 and were distributed by Bandai. You’d pop in a quarter and receive a trading card from properties like Power Rangers, Beetleborgs, Sailor Moon, and Donkey Kong Country. Each series composed of 42 cards including 6 ULTRA cards (which were the rare ones).

What set these cards apart were they all felt special. They had hologram cards, holofoil cards, Ultra rare cards, cards that popped up into little dioramas, cards that made up a battle game. And with the machine being placed in the store exit, it was a great strategy for kids to drain a little more out of their parents during the trip. 9 year old me would be all over those Donkey Kong Country cards without fail.

I’m not sure why they didn’t last long. It may have been because the novelty of trading cards weren’t nearly as popular as they were 10-30 years ago. That being said, had I known about these I would’ve certainly begged for a trip to Toys R Us just to use one.

Wouldn’t it be interesting if they brought these back with comic books? With Marvel and superheroes being modern day Greek Mythology, it would be a fun experiment to bundle these with some $1 back issues with maybe some “exclusive” or signed covers as a rarity.

Rugrats Reptar Crunch Cereal!

The Rugrats is a cartoon that elevated Nickelodeon to legendary kids entertainment. And it open the floodgates to a plethora of classic cartoons. But with Nickelodeon being presented as a network “For kids by kids” they understood that children knew when they were being marketed to. Which is why, compared to say Disney, they had very limited merchandise. It made getting your grubby little meathooks on something Rugrats, Rocko, or Ren more special.

And, here, we have not Rugrats cereal but Reptar cereal! Reptar was a show within the show that the Rugrats themselves watched and idolized. What I love about Reptar is although he was watched by babies he was much more Godzilla than Barney. He had no educational value for these kids. He just loved to smash cities and roar. And I love him for that.

Reptar  merch was always present in the show itself with things like a Reptar chocolate bar, Reptar on Ice, Reptar The Movie, and Tommy Pickles’s beloved Reptar doll. I find it very interesting to bring that branding off the show and into reality as it makes for a much more fun and unique product. Sure, you could’ve had an actual Rugrats cereal with marshmallow rattles or something uninspired. But instead you now have a product that Chuckie Finster and Tommy Pickles himself would eat….if they had teeth that is.

With with whole Nick Nostalgia in full effect to drain us 90s kids of our hard earned cash, they’ve actually released a whole Reptar brand of merchandise including cereal and the legendary chocolate bar itself. So if you gotta find that Reptar now is the time more than ever.


Would you look at that? We’re done with X-men #60 cover to cover. Man, I can’t believe Cyclops was being mind controlled to kill Storm. I thought for sure ‘ol  Summers was just overcome with jealousy over her latex outfit and cool white hair. I hope you enjoyed reminiscing with me about the soulless ads featured in a 21 year old comic about mutant love triangles.  One might say I’m the Michael Jordan of writing articles that waste your time.

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