February 17, 2013

Catchy chewing gum jingles

What is it about chewing gum that made a rockin' little jingle so central to their commercials? No other product type had such consistently likable music. Like, you don't have to worry about basic things anymore, now go have yourself some good clean, wholesome fun? Whatever it was, it seems like every brand had a catchy commercial in the second half of the 1980s.

Extra. Hands-down the best. Great build-up and climax, and there are about three separate melodic phrases, with no mindless repetition. How'd they pack all that, plus the voice-over pitch, into just 30 seconds? Great funky bass line too. Another version.

Big Red. Almost as much melodic variety as the Extra jingle, and another great build-up to the climax.

Juicy Fruit. It's not quite as varied as the Extra jingle, nor with as much build-up. The jangly timbre of the instruments does give it more of a footloose feeling, though.

Doublemint. Rounding out the classics, this one has good melodic variety, more on the easy-breezy side compared to the energy of the others. Nice sincere sense of humor, too, about the most you can get out of a 30-second commercial.

Carefree. A little more repetitive, but still fun and upbeat.

Dentyne. Couldn't find a good original jingle for this brand, and they did take a stab at it many times. But hey, a nice sample works too.

Spearmint. Another one that I couldn't find a catchy original jingle for, but these ads are so rad it doesn't matter if they're music-free. Here is another. In 30 short seconds, they capture the '80s attitude toward technology pretty well -- somewhat anxious (dark lighting), somewhat optimistic (smiling faces), and trying to have fun and a sense of humor about it all. Very new wave, even though these ads came out in '88.

Ever since the '90s, gum commercials have led the way toward the meta-ironic faggotry that we're still stuck in today. As the ads from the '80s show, it's not that hard to make something upbeat, catchy, and non-saccharine, even if it's advertising chewing gum.

These things aren't terribly entertaining on their own, but they're not meant to be -- and when you think of how many ads we have to watch every day, every week, it all adds up. The unrelenting tide of wacky-zany commercials these days makes it unbearable to watch TV anymore, aside from the programming itself. Back in the '80s, I don't think we reflexively dove for the remote every time a commercial break came on, and you can see why -- they were pretty fun for what they could be.


  1. As with everything else, the gum commercials were just happier. The only one I can remember is for Double Mint, where some guy was going on a double date at a ski range with twin girls. It wasn't portrayed lewdly at all, though.


  2. Hardly anything was lewd in the '80s, even hardcore porno movies. But that's a topic for some other post.


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