Not to interrupt the flow of Hiatal Bleats that ignore the main banner art, but isn't that beautiful? There were lovelier streets. There were better signs. But I just want to be there for a while.

Today we meet . . . THE URCHINOIDS.


For a while were one of the three archetypes available to young boys.

You had your cowboy, of course . . .

  The Slugger . . .
  And the Astronaut, the brave explorer of the new frontier.

Urchinoids was the name I gave to the species of children who populated ads in the 50s and 60s, the kids with the glass space helmets. I don’t remember why I chose the term, but it stuck with me.

I wonder if the ads worked on Moms. Won’t my child be in great peril out there, with nothing but a glass helmet between him and asphyxiation?

A little too much nitrous in the mix, I fear

Stand and deliver!

They don’t explain what IFIC means. I suspect it’s just an intensifier, and doesn’t stand for anything like Intense Flavor In Candy or anything.

What is the face-plate for? Eating?


The text:

"I'd say you're well equipped, Jimmy. With that gadget you should be able to handle any emergency."

Hazards in business require more than modern protective equipment for workers. For on-the-job protection you also need workmen's compensation insurance with a reliable organization chat assures quick, sympathetic service.

So the kid's a goner before he goes up, then.


Oh aren’t they just the funniest things

The urchinoid is always armed. He points his ray blaster at sentient beings without the slightest hesitation of misgiving.

Damned thing is going to topple off his head, hit the floor, shatter, and everyone’s going to have to walk around it until the clerk cleaning it up.

I don’t know how he got his head into that thing.

Now we have selections from a big Ford ad, featuring an urchinoid exploring a new Ford interior.

The tilting wheel brings an expression of unexpected astonishment:

The glove compartment lights up! Also, the car will soon lurch forward because the kid’s crawling around unintended, and is bound to put it into gear

Using his special Space Scope, the intrepid explorer notes the warning lights on the door, which alert any oncoming traffic that the door is open. In case they didn’t notice the door.

The side window, for dumping the atmosphere and asphyxiating anyone who’s not wearing a life-support system

You can put lots of space criminals in here and fly ‘em out to the Pine Barrens of Mars

And he is absolutely correct about that, you know? He’s right.







We resume our study of commercials from the Duke Collection. Today it's . . .

There's a limit to what a coffee ad can do. There are two things it cannot reproduce: flavor and aroma.

Other than that, anything's possible.

Lilli Langtree Maxwell House

In commercial terms, this is practically the Lord of the Ring trilogy. One minute and 40 seconds.

They’d learn to speed things along soon enough.

The ad agency’s archives are mostly Maxwell instant, which was positioned not as a coffee alternative for the time-pressed, but a superior iteration that provided all the coffee satisfaction you wanted, thanks to SCIENCE.

This takes a minute, but that’s because Rex Marshall has to describe this amazing new coffee discovery: Hollow flavor-buds, waiting to burst.

The sponsor looked at the ad, and said “okay, fine, but can you do it in 20 seconds, and make it space-age?”

Can do; just watch us!

The fresh-roasted aroma is part-and-parcel of the revolutionary new form of coffee. MASSED CHANTING PROVES IT

Now we move to the new era, with color, and plotlines, and suggestions of unexpected psychosexual needs.

Give them a few years, and they'd try comedy. Oh we loved him on Hollywood Square he was so FUNNY! But the persona was rather malicious. Contempt and cruelty softened by an exaggerated delivery best described as aggressive simpering. Mean mincing.

Next, a domestic tableau, with a long unbroken shot (well, it does the thing where it cuts as it moves behind a pillar) that documents the look of the idea middle-class life c. 1972 or so. They're comfortable folk - you can tell because they have a split-level - but this isn't ostentatious. This isn't aspirational. This is a reassurance to middle-class people that Maxwell House Instant has a secure place in the fine, quiet lives of good Americans.

Even as society outside the door seemed to crumble a bit more by the day. Or maybe not! Depended on how much you paid attention, and what you cared about.

Now two ways to chip in!

That'll do. Tomorrow's ads . . . well, it's anyone's guess.




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