That’s right, Allison’s Written Words wants to team up with Retroist by – brace thyself – kicking off the holiday season with a big commercial block!
Late Saturday night/early Sunday AM, and I show you a glimpse of a recording session.
No life, I tells ya!
Allison’s Written Words and Retroist – The Joint Presentation!
It’s no secret that I love combining my world on here with the one I’ve carved out on Allison’s Written Words. I share teasers for my articles here over on my blog, create videos with mention of both sites, and affiliate myself with both anywhere and everywhere I possibly can.
I love the work I do with both sites, and I’m proud of the opportunity to continue letting my geek flag fly simultaneously.
Allison’s Written Words/Retroist Christmas Commercial Kickoff!
Last week, I worked on my first commercial block commentary, after several efforts of dipping my toes in video games and, well, “video games.” I’ve loved the opportunity to hone my “comedic” skills and show you some great nostalgia at the same time.
The commercial block I selected is from the November 28, 1998 airing of Saturday Night Live Goes Commercial, Volume 2. The tape originates from WNBC 4 New York, my former home market NBC station. The special aired as one of the prime time specials the late-night sketch show was famous for during the 1998-1999 season. It was the second one that year, and the highest-rated one. Not bad for primetime AND a holiday weekend Saturday night!
There’s a healthy mix of Christmas-themed commercials, promos, product ads, short-lived television shows, and even The More You Know. Throw in a local newscast teaser and you’ve got nostalgia AND awesomeness.
That’s right, nostalgia AND awesomeness! Because those two should always go hand-in-hand!
So go on and click play, and join me in watching some commercials!
Upload via Allison Venezio / Allison’s Written Words
As a kid I was a sucker for a good 976 number. I called the Chipmunks, Howard the Duck, Santa and many more. All of this without my Mom’s permission. Which caused some issues. So it was probably a good thing that I did not live in California, where I could have called Kitt from Knight Rider at 976-2233.
Like all kids in the eighties, I loved Knight Rider, especially Kitt. Probably because I have always dreamt of a world where I had a robot/computer friend. If that friend could also have been my car, all the better! I also would have accepted talking robot dog or bicycle.
What is weird about this particular 976 number is what you got when you called, it was almost incidental that you were talking to Kitt. He was just a vehicle for delivering information. Information not about Knight Rider or the Knight Foundation, but real solid science facts from the California Museum of Science and Industry. It is an odd idea to generate revenue, but I imagine it worked since kids like me existed in every state.
Since I have written a few of these posts about 976 numbers, people have emailed me about them. Someone recently asked me if they remembered if I thought I was really talking to Santa Claus at the time. I would like to tell you I was a smart kid. That I realized that I was consuming a generic message, but I am not so sure.
I wouldn’t say I was a dumb kid. Maybe I am just being kind to myself?
Let’s just say, I wanted to believe.
Watch this commercial a 976 Number to talk to Kitt from Knight Rider!
My family enjoyed going out for fast food. We liked the price and we really enjoyed the taste. It was not something we did all the time, but when we did, we made an event out of it. So when Burger King Table Service began we were drawn to it immediately.
Burger King Table Service was part of their move to go slightly upscale. It mostly revolved around their BK Dinner Baskets. It was a short-lived experiment. Starting in 1992 through 1994 and ending quickly thereafter. They really did not change the Burger Kings themselves, just the food options and how they served it.
During dinner hours, between 4pm and 8pm, you would order your food just like normal. Then things started to change. They would give you a number for your table and a basket of popcorn to munch on while you waited. Then a few minutes later a person would bring your food in baskets to your table.
Those baskets has a lot of the standard Burger King food, but with some new options on the side. You could get choice of Fries, Baked Potato AND Cole Slaw or Side Salad. I never got any of those sides and stuck to my normal cheeseburger meal. My family on the other hand were thrilled at trying their baked potato and side salads. Although in the end they would going running back to the fries option, but at least they tried.
The basket options, not counting any regional options, included:
Whopper Dinner Basket
Steak Sandwich Dinner Basket
Chicken Dinner Basket
Shrimp Dinner Basket
They might have also had a meatloaf sandwich at the time, but not sure if that was a regional offering. I recall the meatloaf sandwich being enjoyed a bit by my Grandmother. Mostly because we mocked her a bit for getting a meatloaf sandwich. For most of the meals during this offer, the rest of my family got the Whopper.
Never got to try BK Dinner baskets the accompanying Burger King Table Service, but still remember it? That is because they had some high energy commercials during their “I Love this Place” phase of advertising featuring Dan Cortese as Dan the Whopper Man. They were part of that obnoxious high-energy attempt to try figure out how to sell to Generation X.
Besides the grating tone, the commercials were good in that they did spell out the exact process and food available. Enjoy this collection of Burger King Table Service commercials.
Burger King Table Service Commercials
Since I mentioned the Meatloaf Sandwich, here is a little commercial about that short-lived gem starring Mr. Baseball, Bob Eucker.
Weird it is done in the same style at the Dan Cortese commercials, but with Euker.
That’s right, the “Olds Connection” wants to give you a camcorder so you can be on TV!
We Can All Be On TV!
In the summer of 1991, Oldsmobile (excuse me, the Olds Connection!) aimed to make stars out of its car buyers. So they offered a $1100 camcorder with the purchase of a 1992 Oldsmobile Eighty Eight. In August 1991, the promo was so successful, they extended the offer through the end of the month.
The aim of the promo? Being in a commercial, of course!
Regular People Buying Oldsmobiles!
The commercial featured regular people…
Wearing awesome early 1990s Mom Pants…
Liking traction control (optional feature, folks!)
The trunk space, DUDE!
Let’s see that again…via GIPHY MAGIC!
And Now That You Know Who Likes the Olds Connection’s Offer…
Why not click play and see these people in action?
Uploaded by Allison Venezio
So…Why This Promo?
The 1992 Oldsmobile Eighty Eight, Oldsmobile’s full-size premium sedan, was redesigned for its 1992 model. Hence, people talking about what they loved most about the redesign. The promo occurred during the summer of 1991 (this commercial aired during that summer’s telecast of the Primetime Emmy Awards), and ran through August 31, 1991.
It’s safe to say people really like their Oldsmobile Eighty Eight, and Oldsmobile kept the model going until 1999. Sadly, Oldsmobile was not much longer for the world, as the close of the decade brought about the final years for the General Motors brand.
We’ll always have Mom Pants, Old Guy Who Likes Traction Control, and…the trunk space, dude!
But if you really wanted an Oldsmobile or a camcorder…I’d love to know if anyone went for this deal. There is nothing on the interwebs about it, but surely someone has a story out there…
Kid’s World. It has a nice generic ring to it, doesn’t it?
All Those Amusement Parks…
I thought I’d heard of all the known amusement parks in the Delaware Valley and Jersey shore regions. I even worked for one (Fantasy Island Amusement Park in Beach Haven, NJ).
However, when you grow up hearing about/watching a steady stream of commercials for Six Flags Great Adventure, Dorney Park, Hershey Park, Sesame Place, and the infamous Action (Traction) Park, it is easy to miss the smaller amusement parks.
Uploaded by WeirdNJTV
Admit it, we watched these commercials just to see if someone ate it or broke their neck in the background. Half the fun of Action Park wasn’t actually going, but also learning about their spectacularly infamous history.
There are amusement parks (some local to my area), that I have never heard of, but no longer exist. For instance, a “castle” haunted house in one of the shore communities off Atlantic City, a whole Dinosaur-themed pier in the famous Wildwoods (that didn’t last long), and a park in Long Branch that I only heard of when I spotted two commercials on an old tape.
Previously, On Allison’s Written Words…
Last week, I spotted a commercial for an amusement park in Long Branch, NJ called Kid’s World. Aside from the obvious belief that the name was a tad generic, I’d never heard of this place.
Lo and behold, I was looking through the tape for my Flashback Friday commercial (it wound up being about Slip n’ Slide), and I found I missed out on a second commercial for the same amusement park.
This park, my friends, is Kid’s World, and it was a victim of circumstance.
In 1985, Pat Cicalese and his business partner, Carmen Ricci, re-themed the pier, pool, waterslide, and Bumper Boats on the Ocean Avenue Long Branch Pier. They purchased the pier six years earlier (and leased it the year prior to that), and called it Kid’s World.
Their inspiration came from Langhorne, PA’s more famous amusement park, Sesame Place.
Kid’s World: It’s a Do-Be!
See what I did there!
Oh, wait, a bee.
Kid’s World was a child/family-friendly amusement park that not only had a rides, but a Romper Room-themed area. Sesame Place had Big Bird and all his friends, and Kid’s World…had Mr. Do-Be. Who may or may not have stolen souls.
It was Mr. Do-Be’s MO for getting you to come there!
It also had all this!
And also in live action!
But seriously, this was the best part!
“Honey, get the kids in the car! They have SHADOW PUPPETS!!!!”
While Kid’s World had water slides and kid-friendly stuff, it also had a Haunted Mansion right there for the adults. Not exactly their target audience, don’t ya think?
Uploaded by clarkkent1367
Also not wanted? Doobies that aren’t Do-Be’s! (How could I make that plural?)
Unfortunately, fate had other plans for Kid’s World, and didn’t involve Shadow Puppets or Mr. Do-Be.
The Fire…And The End
On the afternoon of June 8, 1987, a fire broke out at the McDonald’s on the pier, sparing only the water attractions across the street. Couple that with slowing business, and Kid’s World closed for good at the end of the season.
Both videos uploaded by Ted M
The story only gets more depressing, as Cicalese’s plans to rebuild the pier were dashed by insurance that didn’t cover the cost, and Long Branch Township’s unwillingness to fund a rebuilding, resulting in Kid’s World’s abandonment until the pier and water park were demolished in 2001 and 2002, respectively.
But From Those Ashes And Abandonment…
For that depressing story, there actually is a happy one!
Pier Village (opened in 2005) was built on the former site of Kid’s World, and is a mixed-use community of 100,000 square feet of 536 rental residences, retail space, a grassy area for events, shops, restaurants, a salon, and a gym.
Oh, and I’d be remiss if I didn’t share one more VERY important thing!
The commercial for the other Kid’s world commercial I found on my tape…taped from WNYW in June 1987!
Wow, back when Monmouth County had “201” numbers.
And there you have it, one of those lesser-known amusement parks (because of its lack of longevity), and the mixed-use community that succeeded its charred remains.
Not every sad defunct amusement park has a sad ending, folks.