Ad jingles and slogans are designed to stick. So if you suddenly find yourself humming “Oh, I’d love to be an Oscar Meyer wiener … ” even though you haven’t seen that commercial for 30 years, or citing an ancient Alka-Seltzer slogan — “Plop plop, fizz fizz, oh, what a relief it is” — you are not alone.
Those old-school commercial jingles and slogans can burrow into your brain more permanently than any algebra formula or state capital list ever could. So, why not embrace it?
Here’s a little quiz to see just how good you are at remembering those ads from the good old days. Are you a slogan smartypants, or did you spend all that TV time outdoors, healthily never watching a commercial in your life? (Even then, you may be surprised … )
For each slogan, identify the product it advertised, then click on to the next slide to see if you’re right. Keep track and give yourself a point for each correct answer — we’ll grade you at the end.
1. “Sorry, Charlie”
What product’s ad campaign popularized the phrase “Sorry, Charlie”? Hint: It has nothing to do with cartoon character Charlie Brown, though he was on TV around the same era as this commercial — the early 1960s.
b) StarKist Tuna
c) Willy Wonka Chocolates
Answer: b) StarKist Tuna
Cultured undersea character Charlie the Tuna worked hard to demonstrate his good taste, but StarKist was looking for tuna that tasted good. Charlie was repeatedly rejected by StarKist with the apology, “Sorry, Charlie.”
Check out the iconic canned tuna ads here.
2. “Ever eat a pine tree? Many parts are edible.”
a) Pine-Sol brand cleaner
b) Wheaties cereal
c) Grape-Nuts cereal
Answer: c) Grape-Nuts
Naturalist Euell Gibbons hawked Grape Nuts (which are made with wheat and barley, not pine trees) with this somewhat nutty statement in a 1974 commercial.
3. “The San Francisco Treat”
b) Shasta soft drinks
c) Ben & Jerry’s ice cream
Answer: a) Rice-A-Roni
Rice-A-Roni, a side dish named for its combination of pasta and rice, was created in 1958 by a San Francisco-based business then called the Golden Grain Co. It was advertised to TV-viewing Americans as “The San Francisco Treat” in the 1960s.
4. “You’ve come a long way, baby.”
b) Pampers diapers
c) Virginia Slims cigarettes
Answer: c) Virginia Slims cigarettes
Marketing for these narrower-than-normal cigarettes has always focused on capturing female consumers, and the Philip Morris tobacco company leveraged women’s rights themes of the 1960s and ’70s to do so.
Check out this wacky Virginia Slims television ad from 1968. (You won’t see anything like it today, as cigarette advertising on radio and television was banned in 1971.)
5. “The Breakfast of Champions”
a) Quaker Oats oatmeal
b) Eggo waffles
c) Wheaties cereal
Answer: c) Wheaties cereal
Famous athletes have decorated the box fronts of this cereal since 1958, starting with Olympic pole vaulter and decathlete Bob Richards, and more recently Olympic swimmer Michael Phelps, above.
6. “I can’t believe I ate that whole thing!”
a) Chunky candy bars
c) McDonald’s Big Mac
Answer: b) Alka-Seltzer
Other famed Alka-Seltzer slogans include “Plop plop, fizz fizz” and “That’s-a spicy meat-a-ball!”
Watch the “whole thing” ad here. (Note: Most of us remember the phrase as “the whole thing,” but actor Milt Moss actually says “that.”)
7. “It’s not nice to fool Mother Nature”
a) Chiffon margarine
b) Grecian Formula hair dye
c) I Can’t Believe It’s Not Butter
Answer: a) Chiffon margarine
When Mother Nature is fooled in the ad — because supposedly this margarine tasted just like real butter — she invokes thunder, lightning and sometimes a charging elephant. She warns: “It’s not nice to fool Mother Nature.”
Watch one of the vintage ads here.
8. “Good to the last drop”
b) Maxwell House
c) Country Time lemonade
Answer: b) Maxwell House
The slogan is even incorporated into the coffee’s logo, which shows that final drop falling from a coffee cup.
9. “They’re g-r-r-r-eat!”
a) Levi’s jeans
b) Fritos corn chips
c) Frosted Flakes
Answer: c) Frosted Flakes
Tony the Tiger is the mascot for this breakfast cereal, which was called Sugar Frosted Flakes until 1983, when the company dropped the word “sugar.”
10. “We wear short shorts”
b) Gillette razors
c) Dockers clothing
Answer: a) Nair
In one memorable ad for this hair remover, a group of women jump off diner stools and perform a kick line to show off their hair-free, short-shorts-wearing legs.
Watch that retro ad here.
11. “Tastes great!” “Less filling!”
a) Coors Light
b) Bud Light
c) Miller Lite
Answer: c) Miller Lite
The famous call-and-response ads featured a collection of famous athletes including pro football players Bubba Smith, Billy Martin, Deacon Jones and Dick Butkus, and other celebrities such as comedian Rodney Dangerfield, arguing over the reason for drinking Miller Lite. The idea of the ad campaign, which started in 1973, was to sell “Joe Six-Pack” on light beer, according to a Wikipedia article.
Watch one of them here.
12. “Where’s the beef?”
c) Burger King
Answer: b) Wendy’s
Clara Peller, the manicurist-turned-spokeswoman who uttered the famous line after inspecting a competitor’s obviously tiny hamburger, was 81 when it made her famous.
Watch Peller’s famous ad here.
13. “Sometimes you feel like a nut … sometimes you don’t!”
a) Planters mixed nuts
b) Almond Joy and Mounds candy bars
c) Honey Nut Cheerios
Answer: b) Almond Joy and Mounds candy bars
Both bars had chocolate and coconut, but only one (guess which … ) had almonds.
Watch one of the ads here.
14. “Finger lickin’ good”
a) Kentucky Fried Chicken
b) Snickers candy bars
c) Duncan Hines cake mix
Answer: a) Kentucky Fried Chicken
The company formerly known as Kentucky Fried Chicken changed its official name to KFC in 1991. Founder Harlan Sanders, better known as Colonel Sanders, trademarked the phrase espousing casual dining etiquette in 1963.
15. “He likes it! Hey, Mikey!”
c) Life cereal
Answer: c) Life cereal
Oddly enough, John was the name of “Mikey” who enjoyed eating the cereal “that’s supposed to be good for you” in the 1971 TV commercial — though those are his two real brothers with him, Tommy and … Mike.
Watch the commercial here.
16. “Two great tastes that taste great together.”
b) Vanilla Coke
c) Reese’s peanut butter cups
Answer: c) Reese’s peanut butter cups
Usually uttered after two klutzy actors slam into each other, knocking one’s chocolate bar into the other’s peanut-butter jar.
“Hey, you got peanut butter on my chocolate!”
“You got chocolate in my peanut butter!”
And a product is born.
Watch the commercial here.
17. “Let your fingers do the walking”
a) Yellow Pages
b) Adidas shoes
c) Apple computer
Answer: a) Yellow Pages
You see, kids, in the old days, we couldn’t just Google the phone number of the nearest florist …
18. “When you care enough to send the very best”
a) U.S. Postal Service
b) Hallmark cards
c) FTD florist
Answer: b) Hallmark cards
It’s been the Kansas City, Missouri-based greeting-card company’s motto since 1944.
19. “[We’d] rather fight than switch”
a) Tareyton cigarettes
Answer: a) Tareyton cigarettes
According to this old ad campaign, Tareyton cigarettes, with their charcoal tips, were so exceptional that smokers in the ads sported a black eye, apparently from defending their right to stay with the brand.
20. “Think outside the bun”
a) Subway sandwiches
b) Papa John’s Pizza
c) Taco Bell
Answer: c) Taco Bell
Appealing to customers with the late-night munchies, “think outside the bun” ads attempted to lure customers from the competition, predominantly fast-food burger joints. Taco Bell takes its name from founder Glen Bell, which surprises many folks who assume the company just wanted a bell as a logo.
21. “Have it your way”
b) Burger King
Answer: b) Burger King
“Hold the pickles, hold the lettuce …” In the 1970s, the chain tried to sell diners on the idea that “special orders don’t upset us.”
20 correct: Congratulations, you really know your ads! Move over, Don Draper — there’s a new boss of Madison Avenue!
19-15 correct: Very good! Got a few old jingles stuck in your head, do you? Spoiler: They’ll never leave.
15-10 correct: Not bad! Your memory is still hanging in there, just like that old gob of gum on the bedpost.
10-5 correct: Um, let’s look on the bright side: You use your memory for other, more important things, like where you left your keys.
Fewer than 5 correct: What was it like being raised on a deserted island and never seeing a magazine, newspaper or TV set? Probably pretty cool.
How did you do with our classic ad quiz? What ads do you have stuck in your head? Share with us in comments below or on our Facebook page.
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