Tuesday, May 31, 2011

"Pretty sneaky, Sis..."

In today's video, we talk about some of our favorite childhood toys and games -- the Fisher Price house, the super-sexist Mystery Date and the always satisfying Connect Four. "Where? I can't see." "There, diagonally!" "Pretty sneaky, Sis..."

Thursday, May 26, 2011

More about one of our favorites, Quisp

Does Quisp really taste the same, after all these years? Can our adult palates take this much sugary goodness? Check out this video of us giving the stuff -- one of our favorite childhood cereals -- a try.

Wednesday, May 25, 2011

Book Giveaway

Want to score an advance copy of "Whatever Happened to Pudding Pops?" PopCultureGuy is giving away two copies -- just visit his site by midnight tonight and leave a comment, and you might take one home!

Tuesday, May 24, 2011

Whatever DID happen to pudding pops?

So, whatever DID happen to pudding pops? Here's the first of four videos leading up to our book launch on June 7. In this one, we chat about why we wrote "Whatever Happened to Pudding Pops?", and how today's frozen treats stack up against the ones The Cos made famous in the '80s. Mmmm...pudding on a stick...

Monday, May 23, 2011

Classic Clip Monday: McKenzie Brothers

Take off! To the Great White North! Take off! It's a beauty way to go!
OK, all you hosers, we're gonna wear our tuques, have some back bacon, and drink a heckuva lot of beer. The McKenzie Brothers were that rare fad of the 1980s that was both hugely successful and actually pretty darn funny. SCTV was an underrated classic that only earned its proper love after it was gone, and "Strange Brew" is a movie I find myself still quoting today, like when the robot hockey player checks one of the brothers (checked 'em? darn near killed 'em!) and the brother gets up and yells, "No goal, eh? He was in the crease!")

I never knew this, but their "coo coo coo roo..." sound was a poke at some Canadian nature PSAs with the hilarious name of "Hinterlands Who's Who." (Here's the beaver one.)

And who doesn't love the story behind how they came about? Let Wikipedia tell it: "The CBC network heads asked the show's producers to add specifically and identifiably Canadian content for those two minutes. Rick Moranis and Dave Thomas thought that this was a ridiculous request, since the show had been taped in Canada, with a mostly Canadian cast and crew, for two years. The request inspired them to create a parody that would incorporate every aspect of the humorous stereotype of Canadians."

 Added Dave Thomas in a 2000 interview, "Rick and I used to sit in the studio, by ourselves – almost like happy hour – drink real beers, cook back bacon, literally make hot snack food for ourselves while we improvised and just talked. It was all very low key and stupid, and we thought, 'Well, they get what they deserve. This is their Canadian content. I hope they like it.'

Bring back the Bros., please. They were hilarious.

Friday, May 20, 2011

Funky Food Friday: Shasta!

Oh man, you have to watch this commercial. I wanna...pah pah pop! I wanna...SHASTA!

We bought Shasta, because it was cheap I guess, and because you could sit there and fill up a box with your own flavor choices. Diet grapefruit was my favorite. Their cola was always a little off, like the guys at Coke or Pepsi were making a batch and then got called to the phone and left out a few ingredients.

Did you drink Shasta, or were you a Pop Shoppe family? (We had both.) Or was there a regional brand of pop you liked? And yes, we're Minnesotans...we have to call it pop, not soda.

Man, even the company home page still plays the jingle. Rock on with your so-retro-it's-cool self, Shasta Beverage Company.

Thursday, May 19, 2011

'Grease' is the word

In honor of Jeff "Kenickie" Conaway, let's talk "Grease."
It's the word, it's the word, that you heard...and it was also a huge dominant pop-culture landmark from our childhoods. Olivia Newton-John went from shy to slutty! John Travolta branched out beyond Barbarino! We learned what pinks were, yearned for a car we could name Greased Lightning, learned the "brusha brusha brusha" jingle from Ipana toothpaste even though it wasn't sold in the U.S. anymore. But we never figured out why Rizzo was late. Late for what?

Man, it was an awesome movie. Every song rocked. We wanted to have a slumber party, drop out of beauty school, get caught in the rain on prom night and end up stranded at the drive-in, look at someone who was Sandra Dee. Life at Rydell High, and teenagerhood in general, looked a little bit terrifying from the vantage point of us grade schoolers watching, but it also looked kind of crazy-wonderful. I got chills! They're multiplying!

I remember my friend Gretchen somehow got two copies of the "Grease" record, and she gave me one, but she also made sure to give me the one that did not include the interior sleeve (man, remember record sleeves?), which was pretty cool because it was based on a yearbook design with the characters' signatures and doodles, or at least that's how I remember it. Darn you, Gretchen!

And I still think "Summer Nights" is the best karaoke song ever. Wella wella wella UH! Tell me more, tell me more, like does he have a car?

Was "Grease" a part of your childhood? Do you still find yourself humming along to the songs? Did you feel sorry for Rizzo or Frenchie, or were you Sandy all the way?

Tuesday, May 17, 2011


"Emergency!" was one of my favorite shows of the 1970s. Of course, it was a Jack Webb production. I can honestly say that after Gordon from "Sesame Street," Randolph "Johnny Gage" Mantooth of "Emergency!" was my first TV crush. I even memorized his birthday when they mentioned it in some horoscope plot on the show -- August 28.
It also contributed to society, in that it familiarized people across the nation with the paramedic program. It's hard to believe now that we didn't always have paramedics, but we really didn't. And it also taught people CPR and first aid, and then classes in both started sprouting up. Really hard for me to believe that people didn't know these necessary things then -- we're talking the 1970s here, not the 1770s, but apparently we didn't. So yay, "Emergency!" Cute guys, good drama and excellent social action.

Other fun things. Bobby Troup and Julie London (Dr. Joe Early and Nurse Dixie McCall) were married.  "Alert Rampart!" is and always will be an awesome saying. Kelly Brackett was the first male "Kelly" I had ever heard of. A totally memorable episode featured someone in a bathtub with their toe stuck in the faucet, and completely frightened me away from idly doing that with my toe while bathing. The show was named "Emergency! One" in syndication, because new episodes were still airing under the "Emergency!" name. (Which we obviously don't do today, witness "Seinfeld," "Family Guy," "The Simpsons," etc., all featuring syndicated and new episodes with the same title.)

My husband Rob grew up in Southern California, and as a kid, was convinced HIS local fire station was the one seen in the opening credits. It wasn't -- he lived in Calabasas, and the station used was in Carson -- but I love that he wanted it to be.

Monday, May 16, 2011

Classic Clip Monday: Ancient Chinese Secret

This Calgon ad is a classic. But if you dissect it, it's also pretty funny.

So the guy (nice feathered hair, by the way) owns a dry cleaner, but he washes the clothes in a regular-sized washer in the back? And uses small boxes of Calgon? And his wife hates him so much she calls him on his lie right in front of a customer?

Most commercials, both modern and vintage, don't really stand up to that kind of scrutiny, and thank heavens they don't. Also, apparently this is not the same Calgon in "Calgon, take me away!"

Thursday, May 12, 2011

Rub-a-dub Dolly

Rub-a-dub Dolly has a really infectious jingle. Rub-a-dub Dolly! Soft pretty dolly! But other than that, I never really understood this doll. It's a plastic doll you can take in the tub. What plastic doll CAN'T you take in the tub?

And really, what kids got a huge thrill out of soaping up and washing a doll? We didn't even want to soap up ourselves, why would we want to do it to a toy?

But the jingle, and this entire ad, with two blonde twins who remind me of early versions of Mary-Kate and Ashley, cracks me up. TUGBOAT SHOWER!

Wednesday, May 11, 2011

Funky Food Friday: Ding Dongs, King Dons or Big Wheels

They were always Ding Dongs to me, but I know in some parts of the country, they were King Dons. What I never knew was why, so I researched it. Not only were they called King Dons in some places, they were called Big Wheels in others. (No, not the bike!) King Don is even more confusing because I remember the cartoon version with the crown being named King Ding Dong, never King Don.

(Image via the awesome Waffle Whiffler!)

Apparently, there was a similarly named product on the East Coast when Ding Dong came out, so they had to change the name there. (No word on why Big Wheels was used.)

The real question: Didn't they taste better when they were individually wrapped in foil? You know they did.

Also, ya gotta watch this bizarre commercial, which can only be from the 1970s. Note the commentor who writes: "King Ding-Dong is an evil bastard, selling his fellow Ding-Dongians as food."


Oh man, this takes me back. Before Big Wheel, and even maybe before Hoppity Hops, we had Inchworms, weird little green worms that you rode around.

Not just the toy was memorable, but its jingle was too. "Inchworm! Inchworm! I'm tellin' you true...Inchworm! Inchworm! I love you!"

Tuesday, May 10, 2011

Shaker Maker toy

Does anyone remember this? Shaker Maker was a toy from Ideal where you mixed up a pudding-like powder and then shaped up some goofy little figurines, which you would eventually see at every garage sale in town.

Apparently they've tried to make comebacks a few times to no avail.

Monday, May 9, 2011

Classic Clip Monday: Windsong

Oh man, this is one of those ads that will be with me on my deathbed.

I can't seem to forget you ... your Windsong stays on my miiiiiind...

It actually might be the first time I'd heard a song where it builds on its own lyrics but cuts off the final word. I suppose there's some musical term for that, but after the original line, it builds like this: "Your Windsong stays on my, Windsong stays on my, Windsong stays on my miiiiiiiind!"

No one in my house bought Windsong though, so I have no idea what it smells like. Do you remember the ad? The scent? What perfumes did your mom (or colognes did your dad) wear?

Friday, May 6, 2011

One month and counting...

It's just a month until our book, Whatever Happened to Pudding Pops? The Lost Toys, Tastes and Trends of the '70s & '80s, hits store shelves, and to celebrate, we've launched a new site.

We're still going to be blogging about our favorite childhood memories here, but we hope you'll also head over to WhateverHappenedtoPuddingPops.com for more information about the book, links to preorder it online, media coverage, and a fun sneak preview video.

The site also has a rundown of book signings. So far, we're set for four appearances in June -- two in the Twin Cities and two in Seattle:

Barnes & Noble, Roseville, MN
Thursday, June 9, 7:00 p.m. - 8:00 p.m.

Barnes & Noble Mall of America, Bloomington, MN
Saturday, June 11, Noon - 2:00 p.m.

Third Place Books, Lake Forest, WA
Saturday, June 18 6:30 p.m. - 7:30 p.m.

University Books, Seattle, WA
Monday, June 20 7:00 p.m. - 8:00 p.m.

Thanks for all your support so far -- we're excited to see what comes next!

Thursday, May 5, 2011

Shrinky Dinks

I loved Shrinky Dinks. When you put 'em in the oven, there's always that sense that they're just going to sit there flat and aren't going to work, but then out of nowhere, they start to curl up and flatten out, and voila! It's like a miracle!

The problem with Shrinky Dinks: What do you do with them after they're shrunky dunk? One can only have so many luggage tags and wine charms and key chains, after all.

Did you play with Shrinky Dinks? Remember what kind you made? What did you do with them?

Thanks to Retroland for the first commercial!

Wednesday, May 4, 2011

Air Supply

Yeah, a lot of the music we loved as kids I can cheerfully classify as crap (Billy Ocean! Whitney Houston!). But I refuse to put Air Supply in that category, dammit. Some of the most beautiful love songs of our era came from them.

Plus two of my best friends saw them at the Minnesota State Fair, and one of the guys (Russell Hitchcock or Graham Russell, it always cracked me up that they had similar names) fell off the stage and broke his leg or something. I can only imagine he stopped singing at the time.

"All Out of Love" might just be my favorite. I'm all out of love, I'm so lost without you.

But "Lost in Love" isn't half-bad either. Reach for a star, and I'll show you a plan.

"Making Love Out of Nothing At All" is bombastically 1980s. I can make every tackle at the sound of the whistle, I can make all the stadiums rock.

Other hits include "Every Woman in the World To Me," "Just When I Thought I Was Over You," "Even the Nights Are Better," "Two Less Lonely People in the World" and others.

The Air Supply sound started to get repetitive after about a song and a half -- I never bought a whole album by them or went to a concert, stage fall or no. But for that song and a half, they were the sound of young love in the Eighties for a lot of us, and I still hear it in their songs. Flame if you must, but I'm still lost in love.

Monday, May 2, 2011

'70s Magicians

When we were little, magicians multiplied faster than pulled-from-hat bunnies: Harry Blackstone, Doug Henning, The Amazing Mumford, David Copperfield, Harry Houdini. (OK, we're not that old, but still.)

The best part was that these guys were all over the place: Carson, Donahue, TV specials, Broadway -- and so were magic tricks. Just about every nerdy kid I knew (myself included) had some little plastic cups, foam balls, trick wands or magic cards they ordered off TV or picked up at Pamida. Kids doing sleight-of-hand at school without getting a swirlie? That really was magic.

Henning, especially, was of and by the '70s, with his facial hair, trippy, cast-of-Godspell outfits and decidedly hippie attitude: "I would like to wish each one of you all of life's wonders and a joyful age of enlightenment."


Who was your favorite '70s/'80s magician?