The Secret’s Out- Storyphone (1990s)

I know that the 900-number industry isn’t exactly known for their respectability, but this one seems particularly shady. Who doesn’t like to have fun, am I right? And what better way than to spend three dollars for the first minute and thirty-five cents for each additional minute to call a phone number to hear someone…

Popeye Sells Out – Popeye Commercials (1980s)

I get it, nothing in entertainment is sacred, cartoon characters least of all. If there’s a buck to be made by putting a character on a product, that buck will likely be made. That’s just the way it is. I’m not even a big Popeye guy. Are there big Popeye guys? If there are, I’m…

Gone Hollywood – 7-Eleven Movie Rentals (1986)

Not quite Blockbuster and not quite Redbox, 7-Eleven’s brief flirtation with a movie and VCR rental service in 1986 and 1987 was a weird sort of future vision that was a little too ahead of its time. MovieQuik (later RentaMovie) broke new ground by offering 24-hour rentals and no membership fees. The catch was that…

A Strange Transmission – Tab Clear Ads (1993)

Recently I went into Crystal Pepsi’s story, with a footnote about Tab Clear. As the story goes, in order to stave off any loss of market share to the new clear Pepsi product, Coca-Cola introduced an intentionally doomed product – Tab Clear – to turn the public off of the idea of clear sodas altogether….

And Deliver It Does – RCA Selectavision Lineup (1984)

Few companies bridged that gap between the radio days and the television era the way that RCA did. RCA didn’t just develop cutting-edge radios and television sets, they developed broadcast technology that defined how generations of consumers would receive their media and how old people still continue to receive it today. All parties must end,…

Christmas Day in Rainbowland – 1985 Holiday Toys

1985! The world got some good stuff in 1985 like Cherry Coke, Classic Coke, “We Are The World”, and Back to the Future. 1985 also found society in the middle of a huge media shift to the home video market.  VCR players were finally somewhat affordable to the average Joe and this would cause the…

Poppin’ Breakin’ Music Machine – 1984 Holiday Toys

1984! Bring it! 1984 gave us some cool stuff – the world’s first Macintosh computer, the first untethered space walk and, course, UK “Supergroup” Band Aid was formed. Robots seemed to be the order of the year for the holiday season – there were high-end offerings, low-end offerings, things for kids and grown-ups alike.  Society…

We Had A Near Riot – 1983 Holiday Toys

1983! What a year! Sally Ride became the first woman in space! ARPANET started using the Internet Protocol, effectively creating the internet as we know it! National Lampoon’s Vacation, Trading Places, and Return of the Jedi came out in theaters! The Police released “Every Breath You Take”! Motorola released the first consumer mobile phones! (Also the video…

That’s Why Tony Gets The Big Money – Pick Axe Pete (1982)

There are clear winners and clear losers when you look across the history of video game franchises.  Some winners undoubtedly deserve their accolades, the perfect combination of charm and gameplay (looking at you, Mario!) Sometimes the winners becomes losers in the long run as their reputation becomes tainted by lackluster followup titles (looking at you,…