Retro Flashback: 33 Memorable Commercials from the 1980s and 1990s
I’m a proud child of the 1980s. I remember watching Back to the Future when it was a fairly new release, I owned more than one pair of leg warmers and jelly shoes, and my mom would record cartoons onto now-obsolete media called VHS tapes.
Therefore, I was also old enough to enjoy the sheer madness that was the early 1990s, when commercials went all out to grab kids’ attention and weren’t ashamed to resort to cheap tricks to get people to watch. You know, when advertising for food and toys was fast-paced, brightly-colored, and full of as many flashing lights as possible. Each one had its own catchy jingle that got stuck in our heads and drove our parents crazy. Now, TV spots all seem to be cluttered with dreadfully boring people staring at their cell phones for 30 seconds straight. Why would I watch that? Snooze…
My point is, commercials got me pumped back then (unlike now, when I constantly keep my finger poised on the mute button).
So, it’s no wonder that retro commercials are the only ones I’ve remembered for more than 10 minutes after seeing them. Just in case you feel the same way, thirty-two of my favorite retro commercials are embedded or mentioned below — do you remember any of them?
The Kool-Aid Man, a gigantic walking pitcher full of red liquid, was one of the most in-your-face brand mascots of the 1980s and 1990s. He was loud, he wore ridiculous outfits, and he frequently barreled through walls and scared the crap out of people in the room. This commercial shows him at his finest!
I don’t know a single 1980s kid who didn’t beg their parents for a Crossfire game when it was launched. How could we not, when commercials like this one were thrown in our faces while we watched our Saturday morning cartoons? Caution: Quality Logo Products takes no responsibility for the theme song making its way into your brain on repeat.
I’d have to rack my brain to think of a recent commercial I look forward to seeing. But this classic Tootsie Pop commercial? It’s just as wonderful now as it ever was! I still think of it every single time I see a Tootsie Pop, more than 20 years later. That’s a sign of an effective commercial, no?
Ah, yes…the anti-drug public service announcements. Making children terrified of eggs since the 1980s.
My Little Pony:
These toys have come a long way through the years, but I recall these versions the best. I still collect My Little Ponies (only the vintage ones) and think of this theme song when I see them!
Cheetos X’s and O’s and Cookie Crisp:
The general consensus among my generation is that Cheetos X’s and O’s were the best type of Cheetos we’ve ever put in our mouths. They were the perfect combination of puffy and crunchy, with the ideal amount of cheese! They weren’t exactly healthy, but they hit the spot. (Skip to 1:13 to see this ad). Kind of like Cookie Crisp cereal (skip to 1:43 to see this one).
You might also remember these commercials: Goldfish (“I love the fishes ‘cuz they’re so delicious…”) and Bagel Bites (“Pizza in the morning, pizza in the evening…”).
I’ve been a vegetarian since 1987, so I didn’t try a McDonald’s D.L.T. However, if Jason Alexander (George Costanza from “Seinfeld”) is excited enough to sing and dance about it, then you know it’s quality!
You may have heard the tagline, “Don’t hate me because I’m beautiful.” That was made famous by Pantene, thanks to this commercial. Just look at that mop of teased hair and try to tell me you’re not jealous of her!
BUT WAIT, THERE’S MORE…
Check out these 3 as a bonus. Unless you lived in the Chicago area, you may not recall these local gems: Victory Auto Wreckers (the car door falls right off), Eagle Man (“Look at those low rates!”), and Empire Carpet (I’ll forever remember their phone number).
It’s so surreal that many of these commercials are more than 20 years old now! Somehow, I never thought the day would come when I’d be reminiscing about retro TV ads…
If you’re fascinated with nostalgia and you have free time, then you may want to scour YouTube for more classic commercials sometime. I promise you, it’s a retro gold mine! You’ll get sucked in to a black hole before you can ask, “Where’s the beef?”
Do you remember watching any of these commercials in the 1980s or 1990s? Are there any of your favorites I missed? Which modern commercials will we look upon fondly in another 20 years, if any?
Image credit to Clipart.com and QualityLogoProducts.com.
Jill has been obsessed with words since her fingers could turn the pages of a book. She’s a hopeless bibliophile who recently purchased a Kindle after almost 6 years of radical opposition, and she loves stumbling upon new music on Pandora. Random interests include (but are not limited to) bookstores, movie memorabilia, and adorable rodents. Jill writes for the QLP blog and assists with the company’s social media accounts. You can connect with Jill on Google+.