As the 1950s became known as the Golden Age of Television, it also sparked a Golden Age of Commercial Jingles. Jingles, those short musical melodies that are specifically designed to be remembered and identified with a product, began a couple of decades earlier in radio. The first jingle for radio is credited to General Mills. Performed in 1926, though there may have been earlier ones, the jingle, Have you tried Wheaties? was sung by the Wheaties Quartet for Wheaties cereal.
Radio call letter jingles began being more popular after World War II, and product jingles on the radio picked up where they left off before the War. In the beginning years of regular broadcast TV, the actors of a show read the lines to the commercials on behalf of the show’s sponsor. As more households bought a TV and it became more popular in the 1950s, commercial jingles migrated from radio to television.
One of the many jingles that made the transition was the Chiquita banana song, I’m Chiquita banana and I came to say … . Written in 1944, the same year Miss Chiquita was introduced, the song helped educate Americans to the correct way to ripen and enjoy bananas, which, even though available in some shipping port areas since the late 1800s, were still considered an exotic fruit. Over the years the lyrics were rewritten, but during the Baby Boomer era, boomers recognized the Carmen Miranda-like figure with a bunch of bananas on her head, singing the song, both in live action and animated versions.
TV jingles reached their peak in the 1950s and ’60s. By the late 1970s, jingles were on the way out as licensed music written for other reasons became the norm. Yet in that time, jingles became unforgettable, so many boomers can still sing along today. Mister Boomer had his favorites, some of which are listed here. It’s difficult to say if he liked the product because of the jingle, or liked the jingle because of the product, but whatever mechanisms were at work, he has vivid memories of these TV commercial jingles. Mister B has already written about several of them. There are links to the posts if you care to read more about them. See how many you can recall:
See the U.S.A in your Chevrolet … is long associated with Dinah Shore. She sang it on her show in 1952, but the jingle was created in 1949 and had been aired during the years prior to Dinah Shore making it her signature song.
Good & Plenty
In 1950, Good & Plenty candy introduced the animated Choo-Choo Charlie character and jingle. Good & Plenty is a black licorice covered with a hard candy shell, which was either white or pink. The jingle, which began, Once upon a time there was an engineer … featured the character driving a train. Leaning out the window, he shook a box of Good & Plenty, mimicking the back-and-forth motion that the rods of a steam engine would make. The jingle was patterned after The Ballad of Casey Jones. It was one of the earliest jingles that Mister B recalls.
Campbell’s used jingles in their radio commercials in the 1930s, and in TV commercials from the first ones that the company aired. Yet the “M-m-m-m good” part of the Campbell’s jingle wasn’t what many of us recall. In the early boomer days, the phrase was often spoken or sung only as a small part of the commercial jingle, usually near the end. It wasn’t until the 1970s until M-m-m-m good … was elevated to be the main part of the jingle lyric.
Another of the earliest jingles Mister B can recall was the 1953, You’ll wonder where the yellow went, when you brush your teeth with Pepsodent … jingle. It continued on air for several years.
In 1954 the jingle, Winston tastes good like a cigarette should … made its debut. The company continued to use it into the 1960s.
In 1962, Texaco introduced the You can trust your car to the man who wears the star … jingle. It was written by Roy Eaton, an Advertising Hall of Famer who also wrote the jingle for Beefaroni.
Oscar Mayer Wieners
There aren’t many boomers around who can’t sing at least part of the 1965 Oscar Mayer wiener jingle: Oh I wish I were an Oscar Mayer wiener … . About the same time, Armour Hot Dogs had their own memorable jingle about the dogs kids love to bite.
Late-age boomers may experience more nostalgia for the Oscar Mayer, My bologna has a first name … jingle from 1974.
As a product, Alka-Seltzer was introduced in 1933, but the Speedy Alka-Seltzer character made his debut with the Plop, plop, fizz, fizz, oh what a relief it is … jingle in 1951. Mister B was into commercial characters back then, so he certainly remembers those commercials. His father tended to rely on Alka-Seltzer when he over-indulged, asking Mister B and his sister to bring him an Alka-Seltzer the morning-after. Mister B and his sister would fill a glass with water, open the packet and drop the two tablets into the glass, recalling the Plop, plop in their little boomer minds.
Brylcreem, a little dab’ll do ya … first aired in the 1950s. The product changed the lyrics through the years to remain relevant with the changing fashions of more natural-looking hair. (Grooming for Boomer Men: Not Your Father’s Personal Care)
The year was 1955 when Farfel the dog puppet sang the last line to the jingle, N-E-S-T-L-E-S … Nestles Makes the Very Best … Chocolate. (Food vs. Food: Boomer Food Always Had Competition)
Boomers will forever recall Pillsbury for the 1957 jingle, Nothin’ says lovin’ like something from the oven, and Pillsbury says it best.
Procter & Gamble began selling Mr. Clean all-purpose cleaner in 1958, and had a memorable jingle created for the launch: Mister Clean gets rid of dirt and grime and grease in just a minute … (Spring Cleaning for Boomer Youth)
Doublemint gum had been around for decades before Baby Boomers. In 1960 the company debuted the Doublemint twins, along with the Double your pleasure, double your fun … jingle. (Boomers Learned that “Sex Sells“)
Thanks to a catchy jingle, every boomer knew that Rice-A-Roni was the San Francisco Treat. The jingle was first aired in 1961.
The Green Giant became the mascot of the Minnesota Valley Company in 1925. TV commercials with the Green Giant aired from the early ’50s after the company changed its name to Green Giant. Commercials tried to portray him with green-painted men, puppets and animated characters. It was 1958 before it all coalesced into the jingle we all know: From the valley of the jolly (ho, ho, ho) Green Giant.
The Burger King, Hold the pickles, hold the lettuce … jingle aired in 1974, when the youngest boomers had reached the age of ten, and older boomers were in their twenties and thirties.
McDonald’s Big Mac
it was 1975 when growing Baby Boomers tasted the Two all beef patties, special sauce, lettuce, cheese, pickles, onions on a sesame seed bun … commercial. It only ran for a year and a half, but there aren’t many boomers who can’t recall it today, regardless of whether they ate Big Macs.
There are, of course, many, many other great jingle examples. The Coca-Cola, I’d Like to Teach the World to Sing … jingle from 1971 comes to mind, but Mister B hated that one, and the pop song release it spawned. What were some of your favorite jingles, boomers?