Local commercials are fun and memorable primarily because they are bad. A shabbily produced spot featuring people who have never before appeared in front of a camera possesses a charm that slickly bland nationwide spots are completely devoid of. I was exposed to thousands of nationwide commercials for a wide variety of products as a child, and I only remember a small percentage of them, but I will never forget the Garfield 1 2323 jingle. For today’s article I reached out to some very talented friends and asked them what local commercial do they remember best from childhood. What follows are their responses, but first, an entry from me.
Garfield 1-2323 (Cleveland)
If pressed, I could probably name 10 local commercials from my childhood, of which at least three were for car dealerships. Norton Furniture, as seen in the featured image for this article, is definitely the most iconic series of commercials from northeastern Ohio. The spots are deliberately weird and characteristically low-budget, and the weirdness led to national attention following the ascendance of YouTube. Norton is iconic, but the spots I’ve decided to focus on are indelibly branded into my brain. They’re for a local aluminum siding and window company now known as Garfield 1-2323. When I was 7 I probably couldn’t have even told you what they sold, but everybody born in northern Ohio in the past 50 years knows the jingle: Garfield 1 2323, Garfield 1-2323. Simple, but what an earworm. Above is a full commercial featuring an unfortunate version of the jingle, followed by the classic version that appeared on most of the commercials.
Matt Storrs- Nobody Beats Mitch (Phoenix)
The natural conclusion of the Phoenix Mattress Wars of the 80s and 90s was the scathing, virulent campaign Nobody Beats Mitch. The commercials tested viewers’ patience and the viability of their sound systems. Whether it’s the high-pitched, repetitive copy, the frightening character, or the blaring truck horns, you cannot watch this commercial without coming to hate it. But after years away from home, you will find yourself longing for Mitch to frighten you awake when you doze off during a Quantum Leap rerun.
Matt Storrs is a humor person. You can follow him here.
Sarah Kennedy- Nice Cars for Good People (Albuquerque)
BRRING! BRRING! You know how CGI in movies never quite give you the same magic as practical effects? This is how I feel about foley artists inserting ringtones into commercials after years and years of seeing the Nice Cars For Good People ads. Why use a sound effect when you’ve got your wife right next to you making a pitch-perfect ringtone herself? There are bigger fish to fry! We gotta tell all these good people about our damn nice cars! Mom & pop shops are the backbone of this great nation, especially in Albuquerque, and NCFGP takes it one step beyond and includes the whole famn damily. Excellent work!
Sarah Kennedy is a writer, comedian, and producer in New York City. She’s contributed pieces to Reductress, Laughspin, and The Advocate and has been featured in pieces for the Huffington Post and Glamour.com. She is an avid Taylor Swift stan and she loves her girlfriend, her cat, and you. Follow her on Twitter.
Amy Bilancini- Water Country (New Hampshire)
(While obviously this isn’t the commercial, it’s the only full version of the jingle we could locate- Ed.)
Growing up in Massachusetts we had a lot of memorable local ads:
“My name’s Ernie Boch Joonya – come on down!”
“Bernie and Phyl’s – quality, comfort and price! That’s nice.”
“Who do you call when your windshield’s busted? Call Giant Glass!”
But none of them have withstood the test of time like Water Country’s inimitable earworm.
This jingle has been haunting the subconscious of every New England millennial since before we knew what the heck a millennial was. The song has remained the same since the late 80s when the park opened and the commercial itself has undergone only minor cosmetic updates. Until recently, a girl in a blue bikini sitting up in a deck chair featured prominently in the ad. She was easily in her teens when I was a kid in the early 90s and I often wonder what she went on to do with her life. Does she get mileage out of being the bikini girl from the Water Country commercial like kids who appeared on Nickelodeon game shows? These are the things that keep me up at night. That and the Water Country jingle rattling around in my head.
Amy Bilancini likes to run long distances and is generally a very sweaty person. She loves driving past the Stop and Shop with the radio on. Follow her on Twitter and Instagram @h0rcrux.
Patrick Hastie- King Kong (Omaha)
Growing up in Southwest Iowa meant all of our television was piped in from Omaha. In the 90s, there were a bunch of amazing local commercials and they all had great catchphrases: “Runza Tonsa Funsa”, “We Love Jensen Tire”, “Baxter… It Just Doesn’t Get Any Better” and of course, “Woodhouse Ford, Just A Country Mile North of Omaha In Blair, Nebraska”. But my favorite commercials were for a Greek restaurant called KING KONG that specialized in great burgers (called Kongs which you could get as a single kong, double kong or triple kong depending on how many patties you wanted), fries, Greek salads, steaks and gyros. The catchphrase, and joke of every commercial, was when someone would say gyro (pronounced Ji-Row) and then they’d be quickly corrected by owner of the restaurant Nick, an old Greek man, with the catch phrase “No Gyro (pronounced ji-row), Gyro (pronounced year-row). Everyone loved these commercials, everyone repeated this. I still don’t think I’ve ever had a gyro in my life, but I’ve said the word, incorrectly and correctly, a billion times. In college, my friends and I would go to King Kong every week to get Triple Kongs. Massive burgers that would fill you for days. Honestly it was one of the happiest times of my life. I haven’t eaten meat in 4 years but just watching this commercial made me yearn for one of those big ol’ burgers. Also, a fun fact, when the Peter Jackson film “King Kong” came out in 2005 Burger King started selling a burger called the “King Kong” and were sued by the Omaha restaurant chain because they owned the restaurant rights to the name. The Omaha restaurant chain won.
Patrick Hastie is a stand up comedian based out of Brooklyn, New York. You can hear him weekly on THE NOSTALGIC FRONT PODCAST and check his website http://patrickhastie.com/ for his tour dates to see when he is coming to a town near you.
Chris Calogero- Crazy Eddie (NYC/NJ/CT Tri-state)
“His prices are insane!” If that made your ears tingle then chances are good you grew up in the tri-state area in the 80s. This was the catch phrase for “Crazy Eddie.” a consumer electronics chain that guaranteed when you saw just how much cheaper they were than the other guys you would lose your goddamned mind. The commercials generally featured a dude ranting like the most unfun cocaine addict at a party about how desperately you were going to need X product and how much of deal it would be at Crazy Eddie. You’d basically be fucking moron to turn these deals down! Fun Fact: Eddie Antar, the titular Crazy Eddie, was charged with a series of crimes including fraud and violation of federal securities laws and was sentenced to 8 years in prison. Maybe this fact isn’t exactly fun, but it is oddly comforting to know this man was truly Crazy. 10/10 would go crazy with Eddie any time.
Chris Calogero is a hilarious and kind NYC comedian. Check out his videos and jokes on Twitter and his podcast Mourning Coffee.