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Five Classic Christmas Commercials: Part 3

Since today is the 11th, we're almost halfway through December already.  That means Christmas is nearly here!  Time just moves faster and faster, doesn't it?  

What better way to keep the momentum of the Christmas spirit moving than by watching some old television commercials that remind us of the days when we weren't "too busy" to enjoy the season and were still full of joy and wonder?  

When I get a rare bit of spare time, I like to spend some of it watching "found footage" on YouTube.  Some kind folks who find or purchase batches of old VHS tapes at garage sales or auctions sort through them and digitize them for our online consumption.  The cleaned-up footage provides beautiful memories of these old commercials and television moments I had long since forgotten about yet somehow remained in the dark recesses of my mind.

Bless those saints who dedicate their free time to this.  Honestly, I've tried to burn old VHS tapes for YouTube, and it's a chore.  They are still sitting on my hard drive after several months.

These days, I skip as many commercials as I can.  I'm just not a fan of them anymore.  When we were kids, we were forced to watch commercials because (horror of horrors to kids today) we didn't have the technological ability to fast forward.  If you did get up during the commercial break, you ran like a bat out of hell to go to the bathroom, grab a snack, and make it back before your show began again.  

I'm just not a fan of any of the commercials today.  It seems like an effort is always made to sanitize or "corporate-ize" these ads, making them safe from internet "cancellation" or legal backlash.  They've lost the specialness they once had.  Besides, they are primarily pharmaceutical ads anyway.  

You, too, probably aren't a fan of today's commercials, so I'm not telling you anything you don't already know.  I guarantee you can remember (and even sing) at least 3 jingles from ads when you were a kid.  I have written several articles about commercials I fondly remember, which you can head over to the "Collections" page and check out.  

One of the nice things about commercials from years ago is that they remind me of a different time or sometimes even a specific memory.  

The Christmas commercials kept the festive spirit going during a Christmas special or breaks in a holiday-themed sitcom.  Even the car commercials got into the act!  Remember the countless car commercials played ad nauseam as a shiny new car found its way through snow-covered woods to arrive in time for Christmas morning, complete with a giant bow?   

I'd also like to take this time to remind people of the year we were tortured with the so-annoying-and-awful-it's-great Hyundai commercials from 2010 and 2011 that featured the band "Pomplamoose?"

Don't remember?  Check it out below!

Now that Pomplamoose is firmly stuck in your head, please continue as we look forward to this year's FIVE CLASSIC CHRISTMAS COMMERCIALS:  PART THREE!  

1.  Little Mermaid McDonalds Little Mermaid at McDonald's!  (1989)

Little Mermaid is one of the first movies I remember seeing in theaters, probably only second to Turner and Hooch.  It sticks out not because I remember seeing the movie but because my Uncle took my brother and I to see Disney's newest animated adventure.  I remember him ushering us out the back door of this run-down theater in Suffern, New York, to a parking lot full of snow.

As a scaredy-cat type kid, I would often get so upset that something would prevent me from getting home and seeing my toys again that my stomach would get upset.  I could feel my Uncle's nervous energy while driving, which terrified me the entire ride home of the light dusting.  I can't say for sure, but I probably needed the bucket on that ride home.

The underwater animated McDonald's in this commercial looks just like the place I want to visit today.  A bright red, yellow, and white McDonald's with the mansard roof is just the look McDonald's should still strive for.  Not these bland, brown boxes that look like a Starbucks threw up a Chipotle on top of a Panera.

The commercial also features McDonald's gift certificates!  I can still smell french fry grease and salt on that thick cardstock paper.  Read about my love of McDonald's Gift Cards HERE.   

These ornaments were pretty unique, too.  They were high-end for McDonald's and the precursor to the Rescuer's Down Under toys that would come out the following year.  My wife and I still have the original Flounder and Sebastian in our Christmas ornaments collection, along with some others we've picked up along the way.

2.  Fotomat's Christmas Commercial (1984)

I've always wanted to cover Fotomat here on YesterYear, but I could never figure out anything long-form that would be interesting or entertaining.  This commercial isn't a total "classic" by any stretch, but it does fill a desire to cover these photo huts.  

If you don't remember Fotomat or the various brand names, these were basically photo-developing kiosks slightly larger than a phone booth stuck in the middle of parking lots or on street corners where you could drive right up to the window.  If you remember the scene from Back to the Future when the Libyan terrorists arrive to shoot Doc, they drive past one of these photo huts.  I also vaguely remember a Pete and Pete episode on Nickelodeon about a Fotomat, but I'll have to get back to you on that.  

These days, the ones still standing are mostly wristwatch or cell phone repair stores or coffee-to-go shops, or whatever.  But, if you see a tiny shack that seems quite random in a parking lot or street corner, there's a good chance it used to be a Fotomat.  

3.  The CBS Holiday Specials of 1987 Featuring A Garfield Christmas (1987)

I selected this particular ad this year because it just so happens that next Monday morning, I'll be posting a review of A Garfield's Christmas for this year's "A Cartoon Christmas" feature.  

This quick video combines two ads for two nights of Christmas specials aimed at the whole family.  See, this is what I'm talking about!  Why can't we do this in 2023?!  

The first half focuses on Friday night (which the calendar shows would have been December 18, 1987) when CBS aired likely my favorite Christmas special, "A Charlie Brown Christmas," and another classic, "Dr. Suess' How The Grinch Stole Christmas!"  

However, the latter half of the commercial advertises the premier of many folk's favorite Christmas special, "A Garfield Christmas!" On Monday, December 20, 1987, Garfield, Jon, Odie, and the Arbuckle family made their Christmas debut, and it's been no looking back ever since.  

Following Garfield was Will Vinton's "A Claymation Christmas Celebration," which was also brand new.  It features the California Raisins and several other Vinton creations in a somewhat out-there but must-see at least once Christmas extravaganza.

4.  M&M's Holidays Chocolates (1987)

Just last Christmas, my wife and I discussed holiday candies that our Moms would always have out.  We both had a bit of an "Oh, yeah!" moment when I mentioned my Mom always kept a red Tupperware jar full of M&M's next to the microwave in the kitchen, but I remember them having Christmas trees on them.  We both hadn't thought of that in years, but it came flooding back, and we had to turn to Google to figure out when they stopped putting designs on the Christmas M&Ms.  

It turns out that in 1986, M&M launched "Holidays" branded candies for Easter and Christmas.  For Easter, they'd have pastel-colored candies with bunnies, chicks, and egg symbols, while for Christmas, the red and green candy shells would be etched with pine trees, bells, and candles.  

In 1993, M&M dropped the "Holidays" branding and replaced the Christmas and Easter designs with the standard (and boring) "M."  

5.  Lexus "December to Remember" Sales Event (1999)

Of the many car commercials we used to see around Christmas time, yes, even those blasted Pomplamoose ones, nothing sticks out in my mind like the Lexus December to Remember Sales Event.  

This promotion has been ongoing for decades now, and the commercials have always been pretty absurd.  I don't know about your family, but there is no way I could buy a car without my wife knowing.  Let alone get it to the house on Christmas Eve, wrap it in a giant bow, and shock her Christmas morning with it in the driveway.  

Then there were always those commercials where someone took one of the basic SUV's or sedans through a snow-covered winding road in the middle of the blizzard.  I've driven in those cars; there is no way they'd handle that well.

Based on this ad campaign, there's even been a slew of memes and jokes on the interwebs in the past few years.

These commercials are engrained in my memory, and I don't consider it the Christmas season until I see a car commercial.  Even better if it's Lexus!


  1. Omg, you almost killed me, Jeff. I was going through these commercials while eating dinner and almost choked on my food when the California Raisins just randomly popped up at the end of one of them.

    It’s like… Charlie Brown Christmas (hey, I remember that!)… How the Grinch Stole Christmas (now that’s a classic!)… Garfield Christmas Special (ah, I loved that one as a kid!)… then BAM - the California Raisins. WTF???

  2. Glad you didn't choke and make me and the California Raisins accessory to involuntary manslaughter! Not a Raisins fan? I enjoy the special but its definitely out there!

  3. I don’t mind them - I had completely forgotten all about them, so it brought back memories. But their placement in the commercial was just so random and unexpected.

    I mean, come on! Multi-generational classics like Charlie Brown, the Grinch, and Garfield... then out of nowhere, giant claymation walking turds???

    It just caught me totally off guard and a small chunk of food went down my throat. But I was able to cough it up easily, so no harm no foul. =P