oatmeal swirlers

I made my own Oatmeal Swirlers

I was a dangerous kid to bring to the supermarket. When new products were advertised on television, I wanted to try them, and was not above begging to get what I wanted. That meant my Mom needed to have a core of iron and patience as deep as the ocean. Both are noble traits, but as an adult I regret how much she had to apply them to something like Oatmeal Swirlers.

Oatmeal Swirlers showed up in the eighties and were discontinued by the nineties. During their run they had a very compelling ad campaign, both on TV and in print. The product was simple, it was oatmeal with an extra packet of delicious fruity sugar or chocolate paste. After your oatmeal was heated in the microwave, you squeeze the packet on to the oatmeal and enjoy. Naturally in the commercials you are also encouraged to have fun with it and make smiley faces or play tic-tac-toe on your oatmeal.

Plus it had the playful fun tagline, “Give it a swirl!”

The one time we actually bought Oatmeal Swirlers, I tried to draw on my oatmeal, but the goo came out messily. So my smiley face looked like the face of a tortured oatmeal homunculus, trying to cling to a life that it knew would be short and painful. By bowl two of the Oatmeal Swirlers, same day as bowl one, I cut out the middle man and just ate the oatmeal with some added sugar and shotgunned the fruity goo into my mouth.

My mother was appalled, not because of my gross eating habit, she knew who I was, but because of how wasteful it was. Oatmeal Swirlers were a lot more expensive than regular oatmeal and I was basically eating it like candy.

So the next trip, when I asked for my Swirlers, she insisted I get standard oatmeal and a jar of strawberry jelly. I whined of course, but relented. In the end it was a much better deal for a sugar fiend like myself.

Instead of a drizzle of sugar paste, I would take huge spoonfuls of jelly and shove it in my oatmeal, until it was more jelly than oatmeal. This too would be short-lived because my Mom thought it was unhealthy for me to eat a jar of jelly in a week. Not what I was hoping for, but it was okay, we still had Hershey’s syrup in the cabinet and I was able put lots of that in my oatmeal for months without her noticing.

Whenever I see a commercial or print ad for Oatmeal Swirlers, I cannot help but think back to my eighties’ winter breakfasts. Of thick strawberry/oatmeal goo that would make your teeth hurt and of a disapproving mother just trying to figure out this mess of a kid she was raising.

This is a great ad, with late eighties sensibilities and the art direction and music are pitch perfect for the era. Enjoy.

Watch this commercial for Oatmeal Swirlers

EPCOT Magazine

My appearance on Disney Channel’s EPCOT Magazine

Recently I asked the podcast RetroWDW to investigate the short lived Disney Channel news magazine, EPCOT Magazine. Naturally they were able to uncover some wonderful details about the production of the show and shared it in their episode, Polynesian Dreams – Part I. It is a great episode if you love the Polynesian Resort at Walt Disney World and if you are interested in hearing what they found out about EPCOT Magazine.

Listen to RetroWDW answer my question about EPCOT Magazine

If you are not a fan of high quality Disney podcasts, here is what they said in their show notes:

Garry was up next and asked all about EPCOT Magazine. He felt he was on the show at one point, so we inform him all about this daily digest style show from The Disney Channel. This show ran from 1983 – 1986 and was hosted by Michael Young. Brian gives all the details on this gone, but not forgotten shows. We restored a 16mm film that shows some of the filming, behind the scenes. Check the 3:00 minute mark in this video.

That is right, I might have been on EPCOT Magazine as a kid. I thought I would use this opportunity to write-up a more thorough description of my appearance on the show.

In late Winter/early Spring of 1983 my family visited EPCOT Center for the first time. We did not take many trips, but my Mother was obsessed with Florida and Disney. So we saved for the entire year to make this trip.

We drove down from New Jersey and were in Florida for a week. We stayed in Ft. Lauderdale and then at the end of the week we would drive up to Orlando and check into the Days Inn and checked in for two days. Day one we went to EPCOT Center and day two, the Magic Kingdom.

My Mom and I were over the moon for EPCOT Center. The rest of my family, not so much. Being raised on a steady diet of Disney mythology, I could not get over that I was in a NEW DISNEY PARK. At the time I thought this was a once in a lifetime experience. At the park, I was shot out of a cannon, nothing could contain me as I ran from attraction to attraction and place to place.

I discover WorldKey

Being a tech fan, how could I not be excited? Then I found the WorldKey Touchscreen info kiosks. This was my first time interacting with the screens and I was set on mastering it. Since few attractions were open and we had a whole day to kill, my family indulged my love of the kiosks while they spent time in shops or hiding in the shade.

I was very young at a the time, just a child, and my enthusiasm grabbed the attention of a nice person who asked me to talk them through the use of the kiosks. Little did I know that I was auditioning for an appearance on a television show.

After 15 minutes of poking at the screen and talking non-stop, I noticed a few other people were watching me. They then asked to talk to my parents and I brought them to my Mother.

I would later find out they were from EPCOT Magazine and wanted to film me for the show. So after my Mom signed a few documents, they set up the cameras, filmed for about 45 minutes, and that was it.

We got copies of the docs, but no info about when or if the footage would air. Despite my sisters making fun of me for the rest of the day, I was on Cloud nine.

When we went home, I was sure that this was the start of my career in television and fell asleep on the cot at the Days Inn dreaming of my inevitable move to Hollywood.

When we got home, we did not have access to the Disney Channel. This caused much consternation on my part. After all, I did not want to miss my big moment.

Eventually the Disney Channel would be available, but it was very pricey. It did not seem like we would be able to afford it, but fate would lend a hand.

My awesome rebellious sister lends a hand

My sister, fed up with having only basic cable, took it upon herself to order the MOST expensive cable package by pretending to be my Mom. The fallout from it was explosive, but somehow when the smoke cleared, we kept the cable!

I would tune into the Disney Channel every day and would consult my Disney Channel guide for broadcasts of EPCOT Magazine. Episodes would come and go, but I would never see myself. Which means that they might have never used the footage or I missed the episode that aired it.

Sadly info about the show is scant online. So I have not been able to find episode descriptions. The bits of footage available are just as scarce, so I am forced to look for clues and information wherever I can.

Watch the intro to EPCOT Magazine

When my Mother passed away, I inherited a lot of paperwork, I could not find the release forms, but I have not given hope up that they are in some other box. Perhaps if I find them, I will get more clues or a name of someone I could try to track down.

The internet is a magical place. You never know what someone is going to upload or sell. So I keep my eyes open.

This is the closest I have come to being a part of “Disney” and as fans of Disney will tell you, being part of the magic is something we all secretly dream about.

Did You Clean Your VCR With A VCR Head Cleaner?

If you loved and valued your VCR, you definitely used a VCR Head Cleaner! Or the Powers That Be/Ad Wizards want you to believe that!

Strange Nostalgia: Happy Accidents vs. Intentionally Recorded Strange Nostalgia

It never ceases to amaze me just how much strange and unusual nostalgia exists on the interwebs. Much of these awesome VHS finds come out of happy accidents, where the responsible person/people just happened to be recording on a seemingly normal day. That describes my archives.

Then there’s the intentionally recorded strange nostalgia – a found item someone with a VCR transfers to digital media. For evidence of intentionally strange recorded nostalgia, refer to my article on Laderdisc “Dead Sides.”

And say hi to Laserdisc Turtle while you visit!

Also categorized as intentionally recorded strange nostalgia? VHS Head Cleaners!

*Rubs hands together and laughs*

VHS Head Cleaner Tapes

It never ceases to amaze me the types of accessories one could buy to optimize home entertainment equipment: cleaners, special remotes, and sound systems. Items to optimize performance, confusion, and sound quality. Separate VHS rewinders extended the life of your VCR.

Chances are, you owned a VCR peripheral. I did!

VHS Head Cleaner tapes looked like standard videocassettes, but served the purpose of cleaning your VCR’s critical parts (video heads, head drums, audio heads, pinch roller, and capstan), thus enhancing videocassette quality and extending the life of a VCR. My parents owned one (in addition to one of those VHS Rewinders), and while ours was just snow on a screen, many have visuals and test the VCR’s other functions. There are dry head cleaners (the type with the visuals), and wet head cleaners.

Anyway, for the purpose of demonstration, I’ve found an ample collection of VHS Head Cleaners in action on YouTube.

Hey, someone puts these up because people like me want to watch!

Maxell VCR Head Cleaner (VP-100)

First up, Guy that Gets Blown Away By the Power of Maxell…Head Cleaners!

Upload via Jason986

And then there’s the VCR Head Cleaner that floods your living room with cheesy graphics and fish tank awesomeness!

Upload via Chris Williams

By the way, you’ve gotta put on headphones for this one.  Did you notice something about the audio test? ;-)

Scotch VCR Head Cleaner

1995 version:

Upload via VHStash

Let Scotch take you to clean VCR heads…IN SPACE!

And for those minimalists and early 1990s computer voice lovers in the audience…

Upload via VHSBetaOpeningPreviewLover1991

BASF VCR Head Cleaner

1990s, Computer-voice esque, and European? Sign me up!

Upload via Bez Sensu

Stop eject! Stop eject!

JVC VCR Head Cleaner (With Wonder Dog!)

Meet JVC’s video game mascot, Wonder Dog, star of his own Sega Mega CD video game…Wonder Dog! He’s here to save the day…from built-up dust inside VCRs!

Upload via nachum2

“Cleaning of both audio and video head is now going on.”

Hurry Up and Press STOP!

I noticed a common thread with the VCR Head Cleaner cassettes – the mad rush the voiceover has to get us to stop the tape. Obviously, not stopping the tape immediately doesn’t cause the VCR to blow up, but in 1992, we were terrified of the repercussions of not stopping the cassette immediately.

Terrifying as a kid? You bet! Weird and dated now? Most definitely!

VCR Head Cleaners Still Exist!

Unlike most of the weird things I write about, VCR Head Cleaners STILL EXIST! That’s right, they still EXIST!

Which leads me to believe one thing: I’m not the only person who owns a working VCR!


Please tell me this was manufactured last year!

And the boxes look nostalgia-riffic! The companies even cater to the nostalgics in all of us!

Because let’s face it – we’re a generation of people who keep our VCRs so we can buy videocassettes that blast tones that represent “cleaning” and holler at us to remove them immediately, for the love of everything holy, REMOVE!

VCR Head Cleaner: Now hollering at you in different languages!

(From Allison: This author especially loves and hates ‘Stop’ – it reminds me that the word didn’t translate, but that other language misuse quotes too!)

Bubbles - Christopher Tupa

Retro Arcade Art By CTupa: Bubbles (1982)

Bubbles! Another classic arcade title released by William’s Electronics in 1982. The company was totally on a roll with their games. Each and every release seemed to be a classic between ’82 and ’83. Joust, Moon Patrol, Sinistar and Robotron: 2084 to name a few. Christopher Tupa certainly picked one of my favorite arcade games for his latest Retro Arcade Art project. However, depending on if you go by the fans of classic arcade titles on the internet. It certainly seems that CTupa and myself might be in the minority when it comes to our love of Bubbles!

When Bubbles was being developed, a simple goal was in mind. According to co-creator John Kotlarik: “What I was trying to do with Bubbles was come up with a non-violent, clean game (no pun intended)”.

One would be hard pressed in fact to argue that an anthropomorphic soap bubble isn’t a clean cut gaming icon, right?
Bubbles - Title Screen

Furthermore, Kotlarik as well as William’s Tim Murpy and the legendary Python Anghelo were succesful in injecting personality into the soapy protagonist. Including of course the adding of non-violent nature to Bubbles gameplay. I mean what is the main goal of the game but the cleaning of a dirty kitchen sink?
Bubbles - Bubbles Face

While unlike the standard titles from the Golden Age of arcade games. The Player has no ability to fire a projectile at their enemies nor even any way to truly defend themselves from threats. The Player merely has an 8 way joystick to help navigate past those foes and other deadly obstacles.

In Bubbles the Player starts off as a tiny bubble. Insignificant perhaps but passing over – cleaning – the equally tiny ants and grime will help the Player to grow in size. Eventually forming that smiling face you can see in the image above. Which also allows the the protagonist to make contact with the likes of scrub brushes and sponges without losing a life. Instead of sadly popping – the bubble will bounce back and lose some of it’s size.
Bubbles - Razors

Of course hazards such as the razor blades will always cost a Player a life. Which in turn begs the question of whose sink you cleaning. Maybe Hannibal Lecter?

With Bubbles you must also contend with a pesky roach infestation. The Player is only able to safely touch these foes if they’ve picked up a broom. Which is done by scooping up the cleaning ladies that appear during the stage.
Bubbles - Cleaning Woman

Finishing a level requires the Player to grow in size enough to obtain that smiling face. In which case the center of the drain flashes green. Allowing a Player to skip to the next level. On the other hand if all objects that provide points have managed to slip down the drain or even been cleaned up by those brushes. The Player loses a life and has to replay that stage again.

I mentioned what seems to be a dislike of Bubbles at the beginning of the post. It might very well in fact be a small but vocal group. But of those Players that remember the game that I questioned last week. I will say again – CTupa and myself seem to be a small few who have a fondess for the game.

By the way the first time I played the game myself was at that fabled Showbiz Pizza of my youth. Having said that though, ours wasn’t lucky enough to have one of the beautiful Duramold cabinets. Besides the unique cabinet the control panel also offered different control panel artwork.

Bubbles - Duramold Cabinet - Bubbles Tribute

Friends, this image is courtesy of the Bubbles Tribute page.

Bubbles - Duramold Controls

With a little knowledge of Bubbles under your belt. How about watching the game in action?

[Via] Old Classic Retro Gaming

As always with CTupa’s Retro Arcade Art project, you can purchase the artwork featured in this post. The originals are ink and watercolor and are 5″x7″ on 8.5″x11″ size paper. You can hop on over to Christopher’s Official Site to contact him as well as check out more artwork from his project!

I hope you won’t forget to check out CTupa’s previous entries in his Retro Arcade Art Project as well!
Retro Arcade Art - Christoper Tupa

The Hole - 1962 - ICBM

Toon In: The Hole (1962)

It has certainly been a while since the last Toon In offering, friends. You might have thought we’ve dropped into The Hole perhaps? I have definitely missed sharing what I believed to be worthy animated shorts of course. However it was getting a little discouraging to constantly find the subjects of the posts getting yanked. Especially when they are Academy Award winning shorts like in the case of 1962’s The Hole!

The Hole was written by Faith and John Hubley. While some say they also animated the short I have in fact found sites that claim it was Bill Littlejohn as well as Gary Mooney. For the Hubley’s legendary animation studio, Storyboard Studios, of course. If that studio sounds familiar it might be because you remember their work on The Electric Company!

Nanto Vision 1

By the way, Littlejohn also worked on the likes of 1965’s A Charlie Brown Christmas and other Peanuts TV specials. With Mooney being involved with Jay Ward’s George of the Jungle and Underdog to name just a few of the projects they had a hand in. Furthermore the animation for the short is rather different for the time. Instead of animation cells the short was shot using watercolors on paper.
The Hole - Toon In

Certainly giving it a very unique look I would say.
The Hole - Dizzy Gillespie

Also of note are the voice actors that were hired for The Hole. None other than George Mathews (Gunfight at the O.K. Corral). And the iconic jazz legend Dizzy Gillespie. Furthermore the dialogue in the short film was improvised. Which indeed suits the two characters quite well.

In The Hole we listen to two construction workers talk about a myriad of subjects. Dirty dishes, citizenship, dancing, Saints, as well as nuclear war. It’s an enjoyable short to say the very least. The humor coming not from hijinks but ‘real life’ conversations between two co-workers. It also feels incredibly timeless. Which is probably why the Academy Film Archive preserved it in 2003. With the Library of Congress inducting it in the National Film Registry in 2013!

You have a little information on The Hole now, friends. So set aside fifteen minutes of your time and enjoy the short.

[Via] Amesea

Here on Toon In we have shared the work of John Hubley before. Back in February of 2016, the Oscar nominated short Rooty Toot Toot. It’s a little lighter than The Hole and also worthy of your time.