Sports Illustrated Sneaker Phone

The Sports Illustrated Sneaker Phone was hilarious

In the 1980s and 1990s, we were really getting jaded with that miracle of communication, the telephone. No longer did we venerate this hi-tech bit of magic with a place of honor on the wall or a special telephone table. No, the phone had become so ubiquitous that you could throw some anywhere. Not only did they start to disappear, we found it funny to make them look like other things. That is where you get things like the Sports Illustrated Sneaker Phone.

While not as well-known as its cousin, the football phone, the Sports Illustrated Sneaker Phone was released with a splash. Advertising was rampant and they put together a “hilarious” commercial to demonstrate just how much this thing looked like a sneaker. In the ad, unsuspecting “shoppers” are in a shoe store. Confronted by a wall of sneakers, they are surprised when one of them starts ringing. When they inspect the ringing, they discover with delight that this sneaker is actually a phone.

Read: The AT&T Genesis let you use cartridges to add features to your Phone

My first thought is that these people are all paid actors. Some of the reactions seem just a bit too perfect to not be scripted. But I am not going to be jaded. Instead I want to lean into the era. This was a time when gadgets were still fairly clunky. So putting a phone into a sneaker was actually pretty clever. So maybe a “Get Smart” reference could be expected.

Sneaker Phone

Hello Chief, this is Clark!

The phone does look a lot like a sneaker, but had everything you needed on a hi-tech phone in the 1980s, including Mute and Re-dial. The best thing about the Sports Illustrated Sneaker Phone? It was free with your subscription to Sports Illustrated. So for years after this promotion, you would find these things at garage sales and flea markets. Sadly I never picked one up for a bargain back then because nowadays they run between $20 and $30 online.

Was this commercial staged? Watch it and judge for yourself.

Watch the Sports Illustrated Sneaker Phone Commercial

Can “Clean Slate” Run With the Big Dogs?

I’m not sure if Clean Slate could run with anything, to be perfectly honest.

Busy Weekend

My weekend involved grocery shopping and running to Toys R Us to buy something not for me…

The gift is worthy, photos got likes, and well…I can’t fit my butt and hips into this chair.

No, I didn’t try to sit on it.

Revisiting

One of the other things I did over the weekend was tape transfers. I am always pleasantly surprised when I revisit my video collection and actually watch the trailers.  I remember the days of fast forwarding through the beginning of all my videos, being impatient and just wanting the movie to start. These days, I’m a tad more patient with commercials and movie trailers.

Being nostalgic, and a nostalgia writer, has given me the patience and wanting to slow it down and actually watch the things I fast forwarded through in my uninformed youth. In doing so, I’m finding out about movies I didn’t even know existed, spotting commercials I had forgotten about for years, and I even spotted this “special feature” that showed up long before there were DVDs and actual special features.

Strange enough, I only knew Space Ghost as a talk show host before I knew he was actually a 1960s Hanna-Barbera cartoon.

I don’t ramble on and on because there is no point, but all of these fun discoveries (and, in this case, re-discovery) lead me to one of my finds worthy of Retroist.

Running With the Big Dogs…

Chances are, you have seen at least some aspect of the sportswear company called Big Dogs. It was the Dad Wear of choice in the 1990s, long before there was such as term as “dad wear” and “Dad Bod.”  They sell everything from t-shirts to sweatshirts, loungewear to boxer shorts, and even accessories for people and, well…their dogs.

The shirts often had “humorous” sayings that were the kind of things dads wore around their 1990s kids because the felt like they were being cool. I’ve equated Big Dogs to being the “No Fear” of the 1990s psuedo cool adult set. Remember those shirts? I had two of them. But I also remember Big Dogs.

Surprisingly, I don’t remember any kind of advertising for the company, just that I saw men wearing the shirts, as they seemed to advertise themselves.

The other night (in the midst of the tape transfers and “adulting”), I was working on a tape transfer of my 1994 VHS print of Clean Slate. You may remember it as that other romantic comedy Dana Carvey starred in, after Opportunity Knocks proved Carvey wasn’t the first name that came to mind when you heard “romantic comedy.” I loved Opportunity Knocks, and I know I loved Clean Slate back when, but I’m not really sure how I would feel about it now.

Anyway, when I was watching the previews before the movie, there was this one commercial that used the feature film as a tie-in, if only to give people who ordered from the catalog a discount. To me, it is notable as the only advertising I’ve ever seen for Big Dogs, and I obviously had forgotten about it.

Sandy…From Santa Barbara

The commercial features a group of sad-sack type office people, who are groaning about needing an “outside consultant.” These people are complaining to Mr. Magilicuddy. This “outside consultant” is named Sandy…which is only appropriate because she comes from Santa Barbara.

Why is that relevant?!

Sandy beaches.

Oh dear.

Santa Barbara, Sandy explains, is also home to Big Dog. She launches into the catchphrase of Big Dog, to which the office people give the same exact look I’m making while watching this commercial.

And then she uses Big Dogs catchphrases as insults towards the group (especially “Clark”) before we see clips of cool, successful people wearing Big Dogs clothes.

They’re all not “Clark.” We then find out that there are Big Dog stores throughout the United States, as well as a catalog.

But wait, there’s more!

First-time catalog shoppers can get a 10% discount just by mentioning the movie Clean Slate. And while I’m sure the customer service representative who takes your order knows about the promo, chances are they probably didn’t see the movie. Because no one really did.

Except for me, and the people who are reading this. Because Retroist readers and contributors always seem to be ahead of the curve, even with box office bombs.

We’re the smart bunch, and way cooler than this office crowd.

We’re given a toll free number…

And Sandy throws more insults disguised as Big Dog-isms, before we’re reminded of the discount offer and phone number again.

But don’t take my well-written words for it – click play and get sucked in by corporate madness and big dogs!

Uploaded by Allison Venezio

And my takeaway from all this? Be cool. Wear Big Dogs. Be like Sandy.10% discount on your first order. Clean Slate. Don’t forget to mention Clean Slate. Don’t be like “Clark.”

Lead follow, or get out of the freakin’ way…”Clark.”

Be Like Allison…

Can you run with Allison? Don’t stay on the porch…unless the porch is Allison’s Written Words. You can also follow her blog on Facebook, and she’s on Twitter @AllisonGeeksOut.

Be like her.

Did You Pop Yer Top For This 1968 Boardgame?

It’s my belief. My personal belief mind you – that board games were quite a bit more popular back in the 60s and 70s. In addition I think that they had a more imaginative approach to the designs of the game. Just a couple of weeks ago I shared that incredible 1979 Alien board game as a case in point.

Having said that I think the 80s had some amazing board games too of course. Many of them were movie tie-in’s like The Goonies. But you also had offerings that relied on other media – like 1988’s Shrieks and Creaks that used an audio cassette.

And it’s a fact there are some INCREDIBLE games being made today. Just off the top of my head I can’t recommend Inis, 7 Wonders, or Betrayal at House on the Hill enough.

Those games however are not exactly designed for children – or furthermore quick to finish. Which is why I try to seek out the older board games. Generally for the use of the arcade but some of them are for my personal collection. Of course looking for worthy games is half the fun and thankfully we have YouTube to help make things a little easier.

[Via] Chris Hanson

Which is of course how I found this 1968 game from Milton Bradley. Pop Yer Top tasked Players on their turn to take control of the Koo-Koo bird.

Following the steps printed on the board – through two safe zones to reach the winner’s spot. Make sure to check out the degrees Koo-Koo goes to in those safe zones to ensure he doesn’t pop his top.

Image courtesy of BoardGameGeek.

There are no dice used in the Pop Yer Top. Instead a Player pushes their luck with each press of the wacky bird on the game board.
Pop Yer Top

The Players have no clue of course at which point Koo-Koo will pop his top.

If that happens the Player must go all the way back to the starting area. I’ve been able to find a few copies of Pop Yer Top for purchase on ebay. They range from a mere $12 to $33. Not a bad price for such a fun game if you ask me.

I really want to thank the always impressive BoardGameGeek for the image used at the top of the post as well as the board itself.

Granted if I do pick up a copy of Pop Yer Top I will have to look into Koo-Koo’s eyes for quite some time. His all-knowing eyes!


Cinderella Chili Dog Commercial

They made a Cinderella Chili Dog Commercial?

When the band Cinderella was still a rising force in the nascent hair metal scene, they starred in a local commercial for Pat’s. Located in the Philadelphia area, where Cinderella was also based at the time, the commercial seemed like natural synergy. The band could make some extra money and get some free advertising for their new album. Pat’s on the other hand could attempt to attract all those hungry kids who were stumbling out of music clubs late at night. While the Cinderella Chili Dog Commercial ran only locally on Mtv in the area, it has since gone on to become a cult hit on the internet.

When I first heard it a couple of years ago, I was smitten. I cannot claim to be a fan of Cinderella, but this was something special. Music being used to sell chili dogs. A movement I can get behind no matter what the genre of music.

The band sings a song all about Pat’s and its amazing hot dogs. While the song is a big redundant, I think it is cassingle worthy. It should have at least been a B-side.

Sadly Pat’s didn’t stay in business. I guess the wave of grunge that swept hair metal away also damaged chili dog sales. Damn you Nirvana! Pat’s Chili Dogs had two locations. The one at Route 420 and McDade Boulevard in Folsom, PA and a second on Route 291 in Lester, PA. Both locations were open 24 hours a day. So you could rock out to your favorite metal bands and get stuffed whenever you needed.

Watch the world-famous Cinderella Chili Dog Commercial

Now I know after one watching, you don’t know the jingle by heart. But admit it, you can’t help yourself from singing “Pat’s dogs!” That might be because some of the lyrics are a little hard to decipher? Here is my attempt to decipher them.

Hey, we’re Cinderella for Pat’s Chili Dogs!
Pat’s Dogs!
The cook is never tired!
Pat’s Dogs!
The Steam is always fired!
Two locations rockin’ all night
We ????? ???? Lester????
Pat’s Dogs!
Pat’s Chili Dogs!
Pat’s Dogs!
Pat’s Chili Dogs!