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Five Classic Christmas Commercials!

We're well on our way to Christmas and almost halfway through December!  Boy, how time flies!  What better way to keep the momentum going than watching some old television commercials from when we were young and full of Christmas wonder?  

Nostalgia geeks like me often spend many hours watching "found footage" on Youtube dubbed from someone's home videotapes.  Great folks on the internet will edit and clean up the footage to compile old commercials into hours of great footage. 

Some kind soul will spend their free time reviewing old VHS tapes, convert them to digital, and then upload them to the internet.  That one long-lost memory will be given a "forever space" on the internet, just waiting to be enjoyed by the people who've spent years looking for it.  Bless these people.  

These days, if you're like me, you fast forward through as many commercials as you can.  This Thanksgiving, my family watched network television for the first time in over a year as we tuned in to WPIX (Channel 11 in New York) for our traditional viewing of Laurel and Hardy's "March of the Wooden Soldiers." We left it on to play in the background but quickly noticed that every three commercial spots were filled by the same Public Service Announcement for a medical procedure or medicine or what have you.  No wonder everyone is so crazed if that's all they hear every 5 minutes all day!   I digress...

You probably aren't a fan of commercials now, but I guarantee that you can remember (and probably even sing) at least 3 jingles from ads from your childhood.  I have a whole series of commercials I fondly remember, which you can head over to the "Collections" page and check out.  But that was back when companies invested significant money in advertising and had things like jingles or gimmicks to catch your attention.   One of the nice things about commercials from years gone by is that they remind me of a different time or specific memory.  

The commercials back then all had a holiday flair to them and kept the festive Christmas spirit going between a Christmas special or themed sitcom episode breaks.  Heck, even the car commercials got into the act!  Remember the "Lexus Christmas Sales Event" commercials as the shiny new car would wind its way through snow-covered woods to arrive in time for Christmas morning, complete with a giant bow on the car once its intended recipient woke up in the morning?  

Or who could forget the so-annoyingly-awful-they're-great Hyundai commercials from 2010 (11 years ago already!) featuring the singing duo Pomplamoose?  (CLICK HERE TO BE REMINDED!)

Now that Pomplamoose is stuck in your head, click below to see Five Classic Christmas Commercials!

1) Hershey's Kisses "Christmas Bells" (1989)

This is pretty close to being my favorite Christmas commercial as it instantly puts me in the holiday mood.  

I've always thought using the cone-shaped candy as bells was a clever idea, and playing the song "I Wish You a Merry Christmas" just ups the Christmas spirit.  As a kid, I can remember giggling when the little one would show off at the end and wipe his brow, having pulled off the big solo act.

Debuting in 1989, the "Christmas Bells" commercial has evolved a bit over the years.  The footage is cleaned up and digitized and, in 2012, was converted to Pixar-style computer animation.  In 2020, they transitioned from the bells routine to a little girl reaching in to grab one of the Kisses, and it cuts to the kitchen where her Dad helps her bake cookies.  Cute, I guess... but it ruins the whole thing for me.

2)  Nobody Beats the Wiz - Joe Namath and Christmas (1991)

I'll admit, this particular commercial isn't any singular fond memory of mine, but just hearing the old jingle again and seeing Broadway Joe's winning smile as he shills for The Wiz in an ugly Christmas sweater brings back plenty of memories.

For those of you not from the North East, Nobody Beats the Wiz (later just called The Wiz) was a chain of electronic stores in New York, Pennsylvania, and New Jersey, that featured football legend Joe Namath as their pitchman.  The chain was also spoofed in the "Seinfeld" episode "The Junk Mail" when Elaine dated a man who became famous for being "The Wiz" in a "Nobody Beats the Wiz" commercial.

To make this commercial even more unique, my wife, daughter, and I share a special connection to old Joe himself! 

3) Friendly's Jubilee Roll (1995)

So, this specific commercial isn't exactly that memorable to me, but man, those Friendly's ice cream rolls during our holiday dinners were a treat!  When that music hits in the ad, I can remember the stack of Christmas compilation CDs my Dad had that we'd listen to as we decorated the tree or opened the presents.  

While Friendly's is primarily a North East or East Coast thing, these things were available in the restaurant (with the purchase of a cheeseburger!) or in the freezer case at the grocery store.  I haven't noticed them this year, and to be honest, I haven't looked, but they were still available at Shop Rite last year.  

4) McDonald's Muppet Baby Dolls McDonald's Holiday Huggables! (1988)

These weren't Happy Meal toys, but something you'd have to purchase separately with your order.  I remember McDonald's doing this quite a bit during the 80s and 90s, with things like the Little Mermaid or Rescuers Down Under plush ornaments or my favorite, the Muppet Babies books.  These Muppet Baby dolls were a huge deal when I was little.  Jim Henson's Muppet Babies was very popular, and the idea that you could find your Muppet friends (in Christmas outfits!) at McDonald's was pretty darn cool.

Besides, getting Mom to buy you a Kermit to go along with your Happy Meal meant two toys in one trip!  

My wife still has these dolls, gifts from her grandparents as a little girl, packed among our Christmas decorations.  When I showed her this commercial to let her know I included it in my list, you could see the memories of her Grandparents flood back to her. That's what this nostalgia stuff is all about.

5) M&M's "They Do Exist!" (1996)

Around 1992, the Holiday M&M's were being sold in quant old-fashioned style packaging that conjured images of Christmas in old England or early classic America.

The popular candy had declined in sales from the 80s to 90s.  To help fix this, the M&M Mars company decided to create new mascots for the brand, and in 1995, the oafish yellow Peanut and the sarcastic red Regular debuted to rave reviews and rising sales.  

In the winter of 1996, the above commercial debuted to sell the holiday-themed red and green colored candies.  It was an instant classic and has been reused every year since!