The Tribune Democrat, Johnstown, PA

December 4, 2010

MICHELE M. BENDER | Ghosts of Christmas ads past

Michele M. Bender
For The Tribune-Democrat

— They’re back! Hard Rock, CoCo and Joe, Frosty the Snowman, and, my peronal favorite, Suzy Snowflake, have returned to delight us with their nostalgic black and white magic.

Do you know the best thing about those entertaining little animations? They’re NOT SELLING ANYTHING!

“I hate when shopping seasons overlap,” observed my young friend, Bill.

“There’s something disturbing about Santa and Halloween witches sharing the same display,” I agreed.

My child-mind knew Christmas was drawing near when the Sears catalog Wish Book appeared in the mail. I pored over the toy section, dog-earring pages featuring coveted items.

When my dad arrived home with his annual case of Christmas “spirits,” I knew Christmas was on the doorstep.

I loved the TV commercials for Dad’s “brew,” Olde Frothingslosh. Men in Victorian garb clinked glasses and toasted each other. The voice-over encouraged shoppers to “enjoy a hardy mug of Olde Frothingslosh, the pale, stale ale with the foam on the bottom.”

I watched carefully when Dad poured. The foam was NOT on the bottom. But the whole thing tickled my funnybone.

“When you think back to Christmas commercials when you were a kid,“ I asked my friend Joe, “do you remember anything in particular?”

“The Norelco Santa,” Joe answered without hesitation.

“Black and white. A little Santa rode a triple-head Norelco electric shaver up and down hills of snow.”

So, which commercials do you believe deserve to last? And which will survive simply because they blow the needle off the “stupid meter?”

“Clap on! Clap off! The Clapper!” and Chia Pets will remain as long as there are desperate last-minute gift seekers.

And the Snuggies. I thought last year’s ad with people at a football game looking like hooded Druids epitomized loopy until I caught this year’s commercial with the gang gathered around a piano!

The deluge of jewelry ads will continue until they reach the Valentine’s Day frenzy point.

And while it’s charming and quaint, I must admit I’m “Smuckered” up to here!

My favorites? Glad you asked.

Santa and the polar bears delivering Coke and the Hershey Kisses performing “We Wish you a Merry Christmas” make me feel warm and fuzzy.

May Santa coast his Norelco over the snowy hills forever.

And my all-time fave, the Eat ‘n Park Christmas tree bending down to help that poor, struggling star reach the top.

I’m adding one more category: Worst gift imaginable to advertise or give to a child. The inventor of this item should be tortured as mercilessly as the clowns who purchase it.

Hallmark’s Countdown to Christmas ornament.

“Dad! Eight days, four hours and seventeen minutes til Christmas!”

I would have buried it in the backyard at the 10 day point!

Where’s Old Frothingslosh when you need it? Ho! Ho! Ho!

Michele Mikesic Bender is a Johnstown resident and a member of  The Tribune-Democrat’s Readership Advisory Committee.