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Awesome 1980s Commercials that Helped Define a Generation

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Reagan was president, hair was huge, and neon was king! The 1980s are a decade that was full of abundance, success, and booming business. Kids who were raised in the 80s were privileged to have TVs in nearly every home. Besides MTV, incredible special effects, and 24-hour news channels, commercials were probably the best thing to watch!

All kidding aside, the catchphrases and images of commercials from the 1980s have permeated the culture of America for decades now. People from GenX cannot think of the commercials we list here without some fond memories of their totally tubular childhoods. Time to sit back, enjoy, and reminisce about some totally gnarly times.

 

Awesome 1980s Commercials

“Where’s the beef?!?” (Wendy’s, 1984)

This is Wendy’s ultimate roast of its competitors! At 4’10”, his little old lady didn’t beat around the bush when it came to what she wanted. People in the 80s knew that bigger was better and Dave Thomas, the founder of Wendy’s knew it. A whole series of commercials with Clara Peller asking this question sure made her a lot of money and sold a lot of burgers.

 

“Milk: It Does a Body Good!” (America’s Dairy Farmers, 1985)

Today, everyone knows the milk slogan of “Got Milk?” 80s kids had it drilled into their heads that milk was really good for their bodies. A series of ads that lasted into the 90s was kicked off by this commercial. According to the ad, milk makes you grow, become an astronaut, and magically make kangaroos talk! I hope you don’t believe everything you see on TV…

 

“I Don’t Wanna Grow Up! I’m a Toys ‘R’ Us Kid!” (Toys “R” Us, 1982)

Jenny Lewis, Jaleel White, and Lindsay Price were three kids who grew up to have careers in the entertainment industry. They all appear together here in this Toys “R” Us commercial from 1982. Can you spot them? The jingle was undeniably cute and impossible to forget. It ran in the toy store’s commercials through the early 2000’s. What makes it even more emotional for many is the fact that the toy store giant eventually closed all its stores by 2018. Their stores may be gone, but their jingle will never be forgotten.

BONUS: For even more fun, below the first video here, you can watch the commercial remake from 1992 that brought together the original cast all grown up to remake the scenes of the original commercial. Super cute!

 

“Adopt a Cabbage Patch Doll” (Coleco, 1983)

Originally named “Little People” Cabbage Patch dolls blazed into the world of toys in 1983. Just like we do for iPhones today, toy store customers would wait for hours outside toy stores just to buy one! They were each unique, had the inventor’s (Xavier Roberts) signature on their butts, and could be “adopted.” Kids loved them! Over the years, they gained the ability to be posable and had accessories galore. Cabbage Patch hysteria was truly crazy. One doll went up into space, NASA named an area of Mars “Cabbage Patch,” and the US Postal Service put one on a stamp! Prices began in the 80s at $30, but quickly rose to $50 and now some are worth up to $1,000!

 

“Pepsi: The Choice of a New Generation” (Pepsi, 1984)

Michael Jackson was known as the “King of Pop,” so he was the perfect entertainer to include in pop commercials. The jingle in this video is also an altered cover of Jackson’s “Billy Jean.” Michael ended up doing several commercials for Pepsi with this new catchphrase, but this is the only one that includes all of Michael Jackson’s brothers. Can you recognize the dancer in the red jacket? Yep! It’s Alfonso Ribeiro from the 90s hit show, “Fresh Prince of Bel Air.” So now you know he wasn’t just good at doing “The Carlton.”

 

“Grey Poupon: Pardon Me” (Heublein Co., 1981)

The high-class image of this mustard has made it the fodder for many jokes and parodies since it first entered the US from France in the late 1970s. When the advertisers saw that people chuckled at the ads, they began to create more ads that catered to the funnier side of the hotty totty image of the mustard. This is one of the earliest commercials.

 

“Double Your Pleasure” (Wrigley’s Doublemint Gum, 1985)

This is the Doublemint Gum jingle that got stuck in everyone’s head in the 80s. With all the “cheese” in their commercials, you’d think they were selling cheddar or something, but the product having this jingle worked. The company used the song and the twin theme throughout the 80s and it worked. Just ask any 80s kids about the song & they’ll be able to sing it for you off the top of their heads!

 

“Thanks, I Needed That” (Mennen, 1986)

The advertisers appealed to the annoyance men experienced with aftershaves of the past. Most tended to be harsh on skin, so Mennen found a way to show men how they would feel after putting on their product. “Thanks, I needed that,” became the catch phrase for Mennen’s line of aftershave, but the “by Mennen” jingle right at the end became part of every commercial the company produced. That’s what people remember…well…besides the guy with that breeze blowing in his face in the bathroom. I don’t know about you, but I’d freak out if a breeze blew at me from my bathroom mirror!

 

“Fast-talking John Moschitta” (FedEx, 1981)

This commercial helped to kick off the career of “Motormouth Moschitta” and popularized the catchphrase of “When it absolutely, positively has to be there overnight.” The Marine Corps later spun off of this catchphrase when it began using another version of it, “When it absolutely, positively has to be destroyed overnight.” Only the 80s kids will know the origins of this Marine’s saying.

 

“A Little Longer” (Big Red Gum, c.1987)

Many of you may still remember the song in this commercial. After all, it ran for 15 years! Everyone wants to have fresh breath and Dentyne was the market leader when this Big Red Gum campaign hit the small screen. By 1987, this jingle was in our heads and Big Red was in our mouths.

*Do you see the cameo in this commercial? Hint: “You’ll shoot your eye out, kid!”

 

Honorable Mentions

Here are some others that may make you chuckle and bring back some good ol’ memories:

 

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