Monday Mood Show: Old School Food Ads

Leandra Medine | January 25, 2016

It started one morning last month when I saw a picture of this vintage ad pop up in my Facebook feed on what felt like an unassuming Monday morning. I’d had my coffee, I’d answered my e-mails and slowly but surely that Monday-morning-feeling was creeping back in quietly as though it were a mixed drink and I the victim of its wrath. Then boom!

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There she is, innocent little Eunice. Her mother had no idea she would become the generational bud of a misogynist joke that would never live down her participation in an advertising spot that promised her a lifetime supply of free bananas but instead provided her with nothing more, nothing less, than The Truth About Gag Reflexes. Who let the agencies of yore run these things?

In what version of reality could this young boy, dope-ish and cheeky with a smile that indicates much more about his future than I’m comfortable expounding upon, have successfully fed a banana to a young girl without having at least — at least — one eyebrow raised in response? Such questions led to an investigation that turned my dreary Monday morning into a vibrant Monday evening, Jell-O, fish soup, anti-feminist ads not withstanding.

Indeed, don’t you forget that chefs do everything (slide 16) but cook; that’s what wives are for!

And when they fuck up?

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At least the beer is still alright.

I will admit that I find the coloration of these images highly intriguing — that the positioning and sort of organized clutter indicated beneath their hollow messages please my eyes in the same way that, like, a MiraLAX bottle does, and I don’t think we have to get into what’s wrong with what the world looked like. We don’t even have to talk about how this exact conversation will pan out 25 years from now given our current resources, when, ostensibly speaking, men are taking back meninism. So instead, let’s just click. We can click and laugh and feel grateful that though we live in a weird-ass world, at least it’s not that one.

Also, though: little fish, big sauce! Genius.

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  • Wow…Just Wow

    • Olivia O

      I honestly can’t find this amusing at all. The banana one has me sick to my stomach and I had to stop on slide 8 since I probably shouldn’t be visibly enraged at work.

      • Leandra Medine

        Maybeeeeeeeeeee the angle we should take so as not to get so angry (bc frankly, I’m with you) is to instead look at how far we’ve come! This shit would NEVER fly in 2016! No one would dare! That’s something, isn’t it!?

        • Olivia O

          In some ways, I completely agree. But I was basing this off an assumption that there are people who find these funny (and yes jello salad is gross and that’s funny).

          But I really think you have to marry the two points of view…it’s great that no one would run that ad today. But I think that feeling of hurt and anger is what drives me to want to see our society change further. And I think that’s okay, as long as one doesn’t act out in anger.

          I hope I never stop feeling angry over injustices (whether it’s sexism, racism, homophobia, some intersection, etc) because that’s what drives my passion.

  • Elizabeth Tamkin

    I’m ashamed of myself for now craving Velveeta. I saw a commercial for the fake cheese sh*t on the TV. Commercials nowadays don’t do it like these babies do! Ah! The good ol’ days of saturated (and very PG-13) print.

  • Haha! I remember seeing some of these. We’ve come a long way.

  • Amelia Diamond

    ugh the jello salad

  • Vintage recipes are gold. Here are some more cringeworthy imagery and a blog dedicated purely to recreating these concoctions. Click for your horror and BE AMAZED!!!!
    http://www.dailymail.co.uk/femail/article-2537433/From-ham-banana-hollandaise-lime-cheese-salad-liver-sausage-pineapple-Retro-culinary-abominations-happy-leave-past.html

    http://badjellyblog.com

  • I love it… In France, you can find it in all markets. Some big firms are reedited it nowadays.

  • Lucia

    There was a great HANK WILLIS THOMAS exhibition titled:
    UNBRANDED
    A CENTURY OF WHITE WOMEN, 1915-2015
    Definitely look up the images!

    • Leandra Medine

      Thanks friend

  • BK

    Burning question: have we really come that far at all though? I know in Australia, our commercial television networks are full of advertisements for not so much food, because we just Instagram that now, but cleaning products, and they are all in the vein of a frustrated, pretty but not too sexy housewife in her early thirties, always in a bright cardigan and straight-leg dark wash jeans desperately trying to get what is basically an imperceptible stain out of her son’s white soccer shorts. She works herself up into a real tizzy about it until finally! She discovers a some sort of superhuman stain remover sold in a pink (of course) bottle and she can carry on with the rest of her chores with an unfurrowed brow. She lives in a big suburban house in an implied nuclear family structure – the husband is rarely present because he is presumably off at work. So, if we’re now so progressive, why do none of these sort of ads reverse the role and star the father as the homemaking protagonist and the mother as the absent breadwinner? Sure, these days we’d draw the line at images of men spanking their wives over shitty coffee, but the underlying societal expectations of women doing housework, and men definitively not doing it, are still driving the bus.

  • The really troubling thing though…is that someone once suggested people put shrimp and chicken legs into jello molds.

  • Living Paula Blog

    This is so cool!

    http://www.livingpaula.com

  • December 2015: was trying out a cookie recipe and wanted to add some colored icing, mainly to please my new neighbors at our first cookie party. I had beetroot powder of deep pinkish red, it was my first time and I am a generous (i.e. occasionally careless) person.
    I took a photo of the result and sent it to the said neighbors via WhatsApp, captioning the photo with “menstruation cookies”. The reactions varied.
    But I am now sort of famous for my culinary … endeavors.

  • Haley

    gald we lost the Jello salad. Sure you can put anything into it, but was that really tasty???