In the 1980s, Everyone Understood your Jellybean Reference

This ad for Shaw’s of San Francisco features all the sorts of gifts and nick-knacks you might give your co-workers or your Mom on Mother’s Day in 1981. What I love about the ad is the mention of the “Presidential treat”.

Ask anyone who lived through the 1980s and they will know exactly what that means. It is in reference to president Ronald Reagan’s love of Jelly Beans. How did we all come to know this? Because every comedian, sketch comedy show, talk show host, etc brought it up ALL THE TIME.

As a fan of the Jelly Bean, I am glad that it raised awareness of this sweet treat and spawned many a gourmet jelly bean business, but I could have done without the constant and tired impersonations.


Sugar Free Fresca? Wow!

I do not generally drink sugar-free soft drinks. When I am going to have one, I go for the real thing, I have always been that way. I did go through a brief infatuation with Fresca. This was mainly because my mother had drunk it in the 1960s and spoke very highly of it. When I asked her why we didn’t get it, she said it was because they had “ruined it” by changing the artificial sweetener.

Fresca like many sugar-free drink used sodium cyclamate which was banned by the FDA and replaced in most drinks by saccharin. She seemed to be one of those people who felt that the saccharin had an aftertaste and the sodium cyclamate did not. So Fresca was never in the house until I bought one out of curiosity in the mid-1980s. I too tasted the saccharin aftertaste that she complained about and it has always made me curious about the original formulation.


Skyball…Never let it hit the ground!

Before it was an amazing bouncing ball by Maui Toys, Skyball was a net and ball set that I could never seem to get the hang of in the late eighties. Here is how I came to try it out. A friend of mine was really into frisbee and we would head to the park once a week to chat and throw the disc back and forth. He was getting really good at catching it really fancy-like and I enjoyed setting him up for his acrobatics.

Then one day he showed up with this Skyball set and we burned an entire afternoon trying to figure out why it should be fun. Catching it in the net is sort of fun, but I found the whole practice very tedious and rather jarring. It is like lacrosse, I guess since I never played it, without the convenience of the stick. My friend quickly got frustrated with me for not taking Skyball seriously and from that point on he asked a more athletic buddy of ours to Skyball with him. When I tagged along all I could do was sit under a tree and watch them attempt to do things they assured me were amazing, but to me just looked silly.

The commercial for Skyball is much cooler than the actual toy…


I want a Bigtoob Bunkbed!

Occasionally while browsing through old magazines or commercials, I see a product that I wished I had heard of as a kid. Last week I spotted these Bigtoob Bunkbeds and I have been obsessing over them ever since.

I always wanted a bunkbed and these are so much better because they are tubes! This is like sleeping in some sci-fi sleeper chamber every night as a I rocket off to dreamland. Sadly I have only been able to find these illustrations of what they look like, but I am going to keep going until I find a photo of Bigtoob Bedroom set in one of its seven bright colors.


Omega Watch Space Shuttle Ad

Omega watches have been associated with the US Space Program since Gemini and was used right through Apollo. So it should not have been surprising that when it came time to select a watch for the Space Shuttle crew, the trusty Speedmaster was chosen yet again to slip the surly bonds of earth. I would drool over ads like this as a kid and planned on getting an astronaut-like Omega when I got older. Well here I am, older, and I still don’t have that watch.