Christmas 1981 – We’ll Be Back To Pick You Up Later

1981. By the time Santa came, the world had been through the ringer.  Bob Marley died, Reagan was shot, Walter Cronkite left our televisions, the first AIDS cases were officially recognized, Muhammed Ali lost his last ever fight, the Cold War raged on, and the Iran Contra scandal caught its spark. But! Also in 1981,…

Christmas in 1980 – They’re Afraid Of Your Snake, Yoda

Christmas, 1980. Carter’s on his way out, Reagan’s on his way in, Rubik’s Cubes are the must-have holiday toy, The Empire Strikes Back rules the theaters and Dallas rules the living room.  Here’s a look at the holiday ad surge you’d have seen if you were a television viewer or magazine reader in Christmas of 1980.  It’s…

The Angry Red Planet – Total Recall (NES) (1991)

I’m  always only ever an inch away from starting a Total Recall blog.  For better or worse, it’s probably my favorite movie of all time.  There’s a surprising amount of stuff to unpack with Total Recall too – the would-be Cronenberg treatment, the Piers Anthony novelization that took severe liberties with the story, the spin-off…

For Digestion’s Sake – Thanksgiving Ads (1940s-1990s)

Holiday traditions in the United States grow and change over the years, but there’s one constant: everyone wants a piece of your holiday spending money.  These Thanksgiving ads ranging from 1942 to 1991 showcase the different angles these companies took to try and get at your wallet. In doing so they speak to the design…

Incrediburgable – Burger Chef (1950s-90s)

If I asked you to name a burger restaurant established in the 1950s with a patented cooking method, a signature burger with the word “Big” in the title, a packaged meal themed just for kids, and a roster of make-believe characters, what name would you guess? You’d say Burger Chef, right? (courtesy Burger Chef Memories)…

Where The Future Comes From – 1983 Atari In-House Promo

It’s easy to contain Atari nostalgia in a memory of charming simplicity. The 2600 and 5200 served as building blocks (no pun intended) for the lush and vibrant gaming worlds we take for granted today, and when we look back at that generation the graphics, sound, and gameplay seem like a natural “step one” to…

Sad, Sorry, Spooky – “Halloween Party” (1950s)

As if I needed further contradiction to my lament on the stale modern state of Halloween than the one I received from my four-year-old son, here’s seven minutes of proof that Halloween in the 1950’s was about as exciting as eating a rice cake. The title is misleading; there’s no “Party” here.  Instead there’s a…

Better Than Pennies – ’70s Halloween Commercials

We’re pretty stale and orderly with our Halloween celebrations these days, so much so that it’s easy to forget the Wild West that was Halloween in the 1970s and 1980s.  Suffocation-threatening vinyl masks,  flammable vinyl shrouds to match said masks, and the ever-present threat of razor blades in your candy brought an edge of danger…

Mini-Munsters (1973)

I’m not really sure what happened here. I wanted to share something from ’70s television with a spooky vibe, and then I stumbled across this, and while I can describe it and comment on it, I’m just not sure what exactly it is. Originally broadcast as a one-hour “movie” on The ABC Superstar Saturday Movie, “Mini-Munsters” re-aired…

Mysteries of the Unknown – Time-Life Books (1980s)

The “Mysteries of the Unknown” series is the jewel in the Time-Life crown. You can’t talk for long about Time-Life books without this exploration into the paranormal coming up. It makes sense; UFO abductions, Stonehenge and Easter Island, telekinesis, ESP, and deja vu were at super-high popularity in the ’80s. Magazines and books like “Mysteries…