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Five Spooky Halloween TV Commercials

Commercials have this weird ability to take you back to a time and place from yesteryear.  There really isn't much more nostalgia than watching an old commercial.  You'll see stuff you loved or maybe stuff you forgot that you once loved.  Occasionally, you'll see something you didn't know existed until some random guy posted it to YouTube 30 years later, but now that you've seen it, you feel like you missed out on something important.  

It's not just the grainy low-resolution footage, compared to the crystal clear digital visuals of 2022, but the subject of the advertisement itself.  

You may find a toy you once had or food or snacks you used to enjoy in the cafeteria at school.  The television shows or movies you watched with friends or the stores in the mall that no longer exist.  All of it, just the way we remember it.  The way things used to be and, frankly, the way they still should be.  

When watching retro stuff on YouTube, one of my favorite things to do when I have a rare moment of free time is to watch a collection of commercials that some saint took the time to edit and put on the internet.  Watching this "found footage" on YouTube, dubbed from someone else's home videotapes, brings me right back to when I was a kid.  

Yes, advertising executives and marketing masters targeted my age group then, but I feel they certainly put more effort into things back in those days.  Now, both adult and children commercials, on the rare occasion I watch them, feel like, "Hey, here's our product, just buy it on Amazon."  

In the 90s, pizazz, a hook, catch or jingle, made these commercials memorable.  Go ahead, sing three jingles from an 80s or 90s commercial.  Now try to sing three from commercials made in the last 10 years.  I'll wait.

I've talked before about the importance of commercials to my generation, so feel free to check out my collections section and the "Commercials of YesterYear."  You'll find articles featuring things like "Beautiful" Mount Airy Lodge, Pace "New York City?!" Salsa, and "Sunday, Sunday, Sunday!" of auto racing!  

When I was a kid and we'd record something, often Dad would hit the pause button during commercials to save space on the tape.  Oh, the horrors we suffered under before the days of unlimited cloud storage.  Most of the remaining VHS tapes I have are missing the commercials, but occasionally when I pop one into the VCR, I'll come across a handful of old commercials.   

By the way, Dad hitting pause during the commercial breaks was similar to when he created his own edited version of Ghostbusters just for me.  He knew that as a 4 or 5 year old I was obsessed with The Real Ghostbusters cartoon and the Kenner action figures and desperately wanted to see the 1984 Ghostbusters film.  The movie, though, was a little too adult for a child that age.  

So, one night he watched the movie with pen, paper, and a stopwatch in hand and took notes of any profanity or scenes that were too scary for such a wee one.  He somehow got a hold of a second VCR, in 1988 or 1989 mind you, and dubbed the tape onto a blank VHS cassette.  He'd hit mute or he'd pause the recording during any scenes or moments on his list, producing his own version of an edited film.  I'd say I only got to watch about 45 minutes of the 105 minute movie, but in the end I was able to watch the film I so desired.  That's the dedication of a father right there.  

Thanks, Dad.

Holiday commercials seem to be even more nostalgic than some of the rest.  Maybe it's because of the increased amount of holiday television specials we all watched back then, but I have an easier time remembering the holiday ads.  Around Christmas, I always look forward to seeing the Hershey Kisses bells or the M&M "Santa Claus is real" ads.  

Halloween is no different and there are hundreds of memorable ones.  I don't have the time to write about that many, so I picked 5 of my favorite Halloween commercials of Yester Year.  I'm not sure just how "spooky" these are, but they definitely give off that great retro Halloween vibe.

I can't wait to dig into them, so let's start!

1.  Sunkist Fun Fruits "SPOOKY FRUIT" - 1988

My Mom bought a lot of Sunkist fruit snacks when I was a kid.  There was always a pack in my lunch box and it was often the first thing I went for when I sat down in the cafeteria.  Fruit snacks were huge in the 90s, especially Sunkist, the grower of oranges and maker of different fruit juices, who tricked parents and kids into thinking these sugary snacks were made with at least *some* fruit.  You could pick your favorite animal and there was a fruit snack shaped like them... sharks, dinosaurs, you name it.  These Spooky Fruit snacks were shaped like bats, skulls, and other Halloweenie things.  

The skeleton in this commercial always reminded me of the ghost named Bad to the Bone in the aforementioned great cartoon, The Real Ghostbusters.

2.  Pillsbury - They Came From The Oven - 1998

This is one of the cuter Halloween commercials out there.  Who doesn't love the Pillsbury Dough Boy?  I've often thought he had a mean streak, and this past year's Ghostbusters:  Afterlife's angry little Stay-Puft Marshmallow Men showed how I picture the Dough Boy to be when the cameras are off.  

Mom always bought these "place and bake" cookies for us to make every Halloween.  As a matter of fact, just last week, my wife and daughter made a batch for us to enjoy.  Back then, as is shown in the commercial, they came in a plastic-wrapped tube of gooey dough that you'd slice up and place on a baking tray.  Compare that to today's pre-cut slab of cookie dough.  Kids today don't even get the joy of slicing the dough tube, but it's probably cleaner that way.  

3.  Coke 3 Liter Thirst Buster - 1985

Alright, this one isn't really spooky or Halloween in general, but I don't know when I'll ever get to talk about a 3 Liter soda bottle again, so here we are.  It also has a Ghostbusters connection, so there's that.  3 Liters were all the rage in the late 80s and early 90s, but now I think you can only find them in generic store brand labels at Walmart.  

In 1985, Coke released the "Thirst Buster," a 3 Liter bottle of Coke that, looking back, was more of a novelty item than a serious grocery purchase.  The Thirst Buster name was clearly capitalizing on the popularity of Ghostbusters, which hit theaters in 1984.  Coincidentally, Ghostbusters was released by Columbia Pictures, which just happened to be owned by Coca-Cola.  See, everything always comes full circle.  What do you do when you connect a hit movie to a soft drink?  Why bring in Ray Parker, Junior, to sing different lyrics to his famous hit theme song, of course!  

As an extra added bonus, since this was released in 1985, he must have been promoting NEW COKE!  Yes, the failed soda flavor change of yesteryear lore that caused a million business case studies of what-not-to-do.  

4.  DiGiorno Half and Half Pizza - 2000

Ok, this commercial was released in 2000 so it barely makes my cut-off for retro stuff, but that was 22 years ago already and I was still in high school, so I'll allow it.  

I'm a lover of good pizza, and while make-at-home pizza isn't often the greatest, DiGiorno does have some good pies.  I always liked how they played off the "It's not delivery, it's DiGiorno's" slogan with Norman's mother not wanting any visitors.  This commercial does a great job of using the setting, music, and voice actors who get close enough to the original voices that you immediately know this is a Psycho themed commercial without even having to look at the screen.

5.  Carvel Ice Cream Halloween Cake - 1991

I was an adult by the time I realized the link with Mummies and Mommies used in the opening of this commercial.  I love the "old" footage of the Mummy, even though it was created just for the commercial.  

I also love a good ice cream cake, as I reported in my article about Carvel.  (WHICH YOU CAN READ HERE.)  Carvel still makes the Halloween pumpkin cake, although today, it's shaped more like an oval than a real pumpkin.  You can also pick up a Nutty the Ghost cake, a generic Halloween cake, and a spiderweb cake.  


If you read my article last week about Elvira's time with Pepsi (if you haven't - shame on you, go read it!), you'll have seen me mention a commercial for Pepsi's Monster Match contest that many of us fondly remember.  I included that video in the article as well as on the Video Drive-In page.  

So instead of reposting it, I thought I'd post another funny Pepsi and Monster Match commercial.  I especially like the line about "the neighbors went to Cancun, we went to your brother's in Poughkeepsie!"