Monday, March 5, 2012

Five Awesome Animated Snack Commercials

First, I just want to say I sorry I didn't update in over a week. School happened.

As you can tell from my bizarre devotion for such animated classics as "Creepy Crawlers: The Animated Series", I have the oddest love for commercials.

Those little snippets of time between my cartoons that are designed to sell something to me. Like the blissfully stupid cartoons that clearly depict characters that have their own action figures, they create a world of their own; a place that resembles my own dimension but is still somewhat alien to me on account there's one particular product that is made out to be the best damn thing you've ever seen, and if you don't buy it, you're either a loser or unhip or some other related adjective.

However, commercials are like a double-edged sword. If they do their job well, they can be really memorable and they might even make you more compelled to buy the product. If they're terrible or grotesque, well, then they tend to be the commercials that air with a really bizarre amount of frequency and make you want to stab the people responsible.

But I'm going to be nice today and point out some snack commercials that really did do their job.

Here were the rules that made this list:

1. The commercials had to be animated. This site is called Nothing But Cartoons and by god I'm going to stick to that name!
2. NO CEREAL COMMERCIALS. Cereal commercials are in a special, crazy league of their own and will be covered at another time. The Trix rabbit will have his day in the spotlight, mark my words.
3. The snacks had to be, in some way, bad for you. Only one of these foods has sort of nutritional value to be had from them (maybe two, if you're really stretching it), but come on. It's obvious that the best commercials were attached to the most sugary and salty of delights. Healthy food commercials usually carry with them an odd air of pretentiousness, like they know they're good for you and they're going to make fun of those lousy philistines for daring to have more calories than them, and because of that, they tend to be more annoying than snack commercials.

So with that being said, let corporate hypnotism wash over your brain and compel you to spend your money on their food, because this is...

Five Awesome Animated Snack Commercials

1. Nabisco Ritz Bits Sandwiches

If you hate these, you're subhuman. It's in one of the Ten Commandments.
Time Period: 90's

Probably the most beloved of the corporate snack crackers (their only competition being Kellogg's Cheez-Its, and those things are freaking nasty and taste like gross), Ritz Crackers and their smaller variety stuffed with fillings known as Ritz Bits Sandwiches are like little bite-sized morsels of deliciousness. These things were the staple of any schoolchild's lunch when I was growing up. I couldn't find a single colleague amongst my Pokemon card trading group that hated these things. Some preferred the ones with cheese filling, some preferred the peanut butter ones, and there was a more daring and odd variety of kid that honest to god liked the limited edition pizza Ritz Bits.

I remember these things tasting a little like stomach acid and crushed dreams.
...come to think of it, a lot of snacks were pizza-flavored in the 90's. I blame the Ninja Turtles.

But anyways, these snacks rule (save for the pizza flavor) and I wish I had a handful of them right now. They're basically the salty, cracker version of Oreos. And, like Oreos, my favorite part of eating a Ritz Bits Sandwich was pulling it apart and eating the filling first.

The commercial
The commercials have a simple, tried-and-true concept that's existed in TV commercials since the advent of the medium. All they have to do is anthropomorphize some snack crackers, make them frolic and happily go about their bite-sized lives while looking suitably edible, and somehow work in the box so that children will have something to recognize and grab off the shelves for their parents to buy. That sounds like the simplest damn thing in the world, right?

Well, they went above and beyond the call of duty here, because in one commercial, the box is a goddamn spaceship. Who knew cardboard had thermal control strong enough to withstand transit through the Earth's stratosphere and is able to survive the merciless vacuum of space?

Now I wonder if Ritz Bits had a space race with the Goldfish nation.
And, once they land on this previously unexplored territory, the daring crackers, who aren't even wearing any protective suits to guard their crumbly bodies from any unbreathable atmospheres they may encounter, get right to work. They don't perform any research of collect any rock samples, no. They have traveled to this uncharted planet purely for the conquest, for they start levitating through the air and, one by one, barbarically destroying the landscape in order to turn from simple buttery crackers to cracker sandwiches. It's sort of like if Avatar starred snack treats and there was a lot less awkward blue alien sex in it. Also, I'd totally watch the hell out of that hypothetical movie.

"Om nom nom nom natural resources are delicious!"
While this is going on, the planet Cheez absorbs the spaceship within its dairy-infused confines and transforms it from a Ritz Bits box to a Ritz Bits Sandwiches with Cheese box.

Ladies and gentlemen, we have just witnessed an evolution of a snack species. At the risk of grossly overexaggerating the impact of this commercial, this is a moment as great as the dawning of man in 2001: A Space Odyssey.

I demand that someone redub this commercial with the 2001: A Space Odyssey song.
Since it'd be pretty hard to top this commercial, the other two commercials are relatively low key. They take place on a mundane kitchen counter top (probably because the Ritz bits lack the NASA funding for more than one space flight), but the cookies remain just as magical and as animated as they were in space, for they start making a mess just for the fun of it and start spilling peanut butter all over the place and making Mexican cacti dance. Because how else are crackers supposed to amuse themselves?

If I saw this happening in my kitchen, I'd be calling an exorcist immediately.
Man, it almost makes me feel bad for eating them. They have such a good time reinforcing Mexican stereotypes and performing black magic.

...and who the hell leaves a jar of nacho cheese just sitting out in the open?

Why this commercial is awesome
I started my list with this set of commercials because these are three of my personal favorite food commercials of all time. There's nothing to hate in any of these commercials, except for the fact that Nacho Cheese-flavored Ritz Bits don't exist anymore and that's a goddamn crime against humanity right there.

What makes all three of these commercials appealing to me is that the crackers in all of these commercials are pretty likeable for sodium-coated sandwiches. They react to their environments with child-like wonder. The Ritz Bits Sandwich society has not yet developed a system of language in order to properly communicate their happiness for discovering a cheese planet (beyond saying "Cheeeeese!") or a magical wonderland of dancing cacti, but they are able to squeak out happy little Whee's and Yay's while they gobble up cheese mountains or slide around in peanut butter. 

It helps that they have really charming animation here and, unlike the creepy as hell M and M's, DON'T have scary human limbs or eyeballs attached to them. They're merely crackers and crackers they shall remain.

Sadly, they didn't go the dancing, happy Ritz Bits route with the Ritz Bits S'mores commercials, choosing to instead make it about sumo wrestlers slamming into one another.

Because yeah, this is appetizing right?

2. Kellogg's Twistables

Time Period: early 2000's
A now non-existent food (and it doesn't even have its own Wikipedia entry, that's how badly it bombed), Kellogg's Twistables were doomed from the start. They were essentially a twisty fruit snack in a world where Twizzlers exist and were already well-loved and cherished by most schoolchildren. They had to come up with something to make people buy their strange, fruit rope and they had to do it fast.

The Commercial
So they decided to get the guys responsible for Wallace and Gromit to make commercials where various fruits were in boot camp (Or should I say "fruit" camp), being repeatively chastised by an anthropomorphic Twistable.

...yeah, I guess that makes sense in some parallel dimension.

Because I want to eat something that's stomping around in an arid desert environment
and has teeth that will haunt my nightmares.
The commercials are kind of odd in that all of the fruits have their own distinguishable personalities and quirks. Sergeant Twistable (and yes, in one commercial, he seriously goes by that moniker) is extremely assertive and has a neat Southern accent, Banana's your trademark surfer dude because he has a surf board and abuses the words "dude" and "like", Pear's dainty and feminine, Lemon is mentally unstable and repeatively cannibalizes his fellow fruits (yes, this happens). and Grape was always getting horrendously squished at the end of every commercial. They could've made a TV show about these monsters.

...oh wait, I think something like that already exists and it's called "Coconut Fred's Fruit Salad Island".

This is how you sell a product.
Although more advanced than the Ritz Bits Sandwiches, this fruit society still manages to raise questions in my head. Like, for example, why do the fruit wear shoes, hats, and occasionally glasses if none of them can be bothered to slap on a pair of pants? How do the fruits reproduce if they're essentially pregnant plants? Is Grape's frequent splattings considered graphic violence in their universe?

And why is the pineapple so freaking scary? Look at that smile! He's going to murder that orange in his sleep, I just know it!

Come to think of it, a lot of the fruit here are really scary. I guess tiny eyes and crooked teeth are how one properly depicts the fruit snack with a twiiiist!

Why this commercial is awesome
The commercials are more memorable than the actual product.

Why Sergeant Twistable, I do believe you're trying to seduce me!
Let's be honest here. These commercials were all over the place within a certain time frame. You couldn't escape the fruity rope grip of Sergeant Twistable so every last one of us knew just how to say that stupid slogan.

In fact, "It's the fruit snack with the TWIIIIST!" is exactly what I punched into Google in order to actually remember the product's name. Yes, I seriously forgot these things existed until I did this post. I know plenty of people who remember the boot camp commercials, but no one could peg a product name to them. You can't deny it; these characters had actual charm to them. Their designs could get a little repulsive (that pineapple) but they're certainly more visually appealing that those crappy California Raisins, that's for sure.

Plus, you know, Aardman animated these things. Enough said.

3. Chips Ahoy Cookies

Time Period: 90's

Okay, really? I have to describe Chips Ahoy! cookies as if there would exist a person who's never heard of them? Seriously?

Fine. Go to your supermarket. Go into the cookie aisle. They're going to be sitting next to the Oreos. Done.

Joking aside, I heard many, many, many people in my life say that these cookies are pretty terrible compared to homemade cookies. And they are, but since I currently live in a dorm, these corn syrup infused sweets serve as a suitable and affordable replacement for that cookie-deprived void in my life. And let me tell you, there are many, many things that happen to me that can only be cured through routine cookie injections. The sugar dulls the pain.

So basically, they're not the best cookies in the world, but they're certainly the cheapest and the most mass-produced.

The commercial
With that kind of description, you'd be expecting some sort of monotonous commercial where kids or teenagers enjoy cookies at various locations, right? You know, like 80% of food commercials today.

No. Instead, the entire damn world is made out of cookies and milk, an exclamation mark turns into a hot air balloon that promises a thousand chocolate chips in every bag, there are chocolate chip tornadoes that manifest cookies at random, and there is big band music in the background while chocolate chips explode with more chocolate chips.

What Cookie Monster pictures when he visualizes Nirvana.

Huh, so this is what one pictures when they experiment with recreational drugs and eat cookies at the same time.

Why this commercial is awesome
It made a classic piece of music "The Chips Ahoy song" for a long period of time.

For influencing an entire genre of music, his art will be used to promote chocolate chip cookies. Capitalism!
Admit it. If you saw this commercial as a kid, you still think of Sing, Sing, Sing from Benny Goodman as "The Chips Ahoy song". School bands the world over played The Chips Ahoy Song during the 90's, people started requesting jazz band CDs just so they could listen to The Chips Ahoy Song, and the late King of Swing did cartwheels in his grave. It's why I was so happy that Donkey Konga included this song in their playlist.

But going back on the chocolate chip planet there because it's just too good of an idea to ignore. I'm pretty sure if we as a human race encountered a planet with giant oceans of milk (geez, how many cows would that even take and how foul would it smell?) and edible mountains made out of chocolate-y goodness, it'd be considered perfectly okay to completely subjugate and enslave the chip inhabitants and then consume their homeland.

...geez, like most of this list so far involves strange alien worlds that are somehow appetizing. This is like if the Star Wars Universe did a crossover with Cloudy With A Chance of Meatballs.

4. Lunchables

Oh, good. It's an excellent source of calcium. That means it's perfectly healthy.
Time Period: 90's

Even though they've since cleaned up their act and actually made these things at least somewhat nutritious, Lunchables were at the peak of their popularity in the 90's and into the early 2000's, when they were just jam-packed with preservatives and sugars. When I was in 6th grade, my teacher actually made me read out all of the ingredients in my Ham and American Cracker Stackers to illustrate just how unhealthy we children of today are eating. And you know what? After that lecture was over, none of us gave a single crap, because by god, all that sodium and saturated fat was what made them tasted so good!

And little did my teacher know that later, they would release Lunchable Mega Packs with honest to god sodas packed inside. I wonder if there were a correlation between Lunchables and childhood obesity.

In retrospect, I'm surprised they got away with selling these.
In short, kids today just don't know what they're missing, even if they'll probably live longer than us. 

The commercial
There are many, many, many Lunchable commercials laden throughout the sands of time, but none were as cool as the pizza commercial in the early 90's, because it involves a bizarre and almost unique brand of logic from the people responsible for spawning this thirty seconds of weirdness.

But I'll get to that in a moment. The commercial starts with some kid, gloomily lit only by the soulless glow of his computer. Somehow, we're supposed to believe this is taking place during school hours instead of automatically assuming that the kid is staying up past one in the morning in order to grind for Leatherworking mats for his Rogue Dwarf alt he rolled on Proudmoore.

"Man, I hate grinding for Darkmoon rep..."
Suddenly, a generic (barren of recognizable brand names because Oscar Meyer's not paying for royalties) pizza delivery truck drives by and that same kid suddenly decides that he wants pizza, so he uses superhuman speed to make a "I want Pizza" graphic in what I assume is the mid-90's version of Photoshop and prints a flyer out in less than two seconds. Holy crap, man. I want this kid in my Graphic Design classes.

So, why wasn't he using this ungodly mutated speed to complete his schoolwork ahead of time, giving him more leisure time again?

Way to waste the computer lab's ink, asshole!
Somehow, this actually works, and the delivery guy honest to god stops walking where he was supposed to be delivering the pizza and enters the school just because a paper that says "I want pizza" floated in front of his eyes. Yes, this makes perfect sense. You know, even though the paper doesn't say where he's supposed to drop off the pizza, nor did it give any indication that the person who made that is going to pay. I sure hope this delivery guy got fired after this commercial was over.

And is it me, or does this guy look like the teenaged version of Bends from Street Sharks? It would explain why he's suddenly taking orders from random pieces of paper falling from the sky.

"Yeah, sure! Thank you for the information, mysterious flyer!"
Then, through an odd use of slapstick physics, the pizza box ends up hitting a ceiling fan and lands on a copier. Somehow this doesn't shower the little rugrats in molten pizza sauce, nor does the pizza ever slide out of the box and splatter all over some kid's five page essay. Pizzas simply choose not to obey the laws of physics. It's their lack of natural ingredients that grants them this superpower.

Oh god, if that pizza turns into another Frosty the Snowman, I'm calling the police.
And you know what happens next? The copier creates Lunchable Pizzas.

Hey, surely you're familiar with the "spontaneously generate matter" option on a standard office copier, right?

Well, they do taste kind of like paper...
At first, this sounds like a major downgrade, eating some cold, flavorless cardboard shaped into dough instead of eating fresh delivery pizza, until the copier keeps spitting out so many Lunchable Pizzas that it creates a giant tower of food that can feed an entire classroom. That's right. In this very school and in this humble classroom is an honest to god matter replicator. And these kids are using it for mere product placement, the fools!

And the delivery guy remains smiling, because he's so totally baked right now.
So basically, pizza plus copier equals infinite amounts of food just as long as the copier has a steady source of power. How wrong I was to mock the kid at the very beginning; he's solved world hunger in this commercial.

I just hope everyone on planet Earth can tolerate frigid pizza sauce and tasteless cheese. Man those things were nasty...

Why this commercial is awesome
Because it made many kids vainly try to photocopy pizza boxes in hoping the copier would actually spit out Lunchables.

...or maybe I was just gullible. Either way, my mom was pissed.

5. Chips Ahoy Creamwiches

Time Period: early 2000's

Another Chips Ahoy commercial? That's cheating!

Fear not, reader, for there is a method to my madness.

The Commercial
Oh boy oh boy oh boy. I saved the best for last. If you watched TV at all during a certain time frame, you will have this commercial deeply imbedded in your memory nodes of your brain. And you're going to hate me for digging this memory up. It's not too late to turn away while the song is still out of your head!

But before I begin, let me describe what goes on in this commercial. It's but a simple bus, commuting through the city. But, amongst the normal claymation-animated people, a pile of cream also rides. Looking like a large, sentient pile of splooge (meaning this bus is a lot like the bus I ride to my college) with oddly defined lips and eyeballs, no one comments on the strange, tasty being. Hey, just as long as he pays taxes and obeys the law, cream can become perfectly valued members of society just like the rest of us. Hell, one day, they might even elect a pile of cream as president!

"I'm sitting in something wet."
Suddenly, the bus stops. Two cookies board. Because why the hell not? If giant living, breathing creatures that look like the nearly melted remains of the Stay Puft Marshmallow Man can exist in this world, why not giant, man-sized cookies?

I also just noticed that neither of them paid. I understand that it would be hard for them to insert coins into the machine on account neither of them have any limbs, but it's still pretty rude.

"Man, Phil. I tell ya. They really discriminate against Bakery Americans."
Then, they sit right next to the cream and suddenly, it happens. The catchiest song in the history of food commercials. A song that resonates in the core of every unsuspecting human being that bore witness to this tragic, harrowing event. I can provide no more commentary. Instead, I'm going to merely replicate the lyrics in hopes I can recreate what just took place.

Iiiiii'm squeeeeeeezed in the middle,

Smack dab in the middle!

Squeeeeeeeezed in the middle,

Smack dab in the middle!

Behold, a song that defined a generation.

Why this commercial is awesome
Really, nothing more can be said. I can't touch perfection and that's exactly what this commercial is.

And with those wise lyrics, I conclude my list of snack commercials. I may one day return to the land of commercials and once more talk about the snippets of animation that usually are forgotten by most cartoon gurus, but for now, I have actual shows that I need to talk about.

Because why talk about 30 seconds of commercial when I can talk about toy commercials that are over 20 minutes long?

Aw yeah, that's some good commercialism right there...