Tuesday, December 13, 2011

70's Nostalgia

Today I took a little walk down Memory Lane, which for me is a place stuck somewhere in the 1970’s. It began with clackers, glass orbs connected by a string that really hurt if you accidentally hit yourself (or someone else) in the head.

Clackers were very pretty. They came in all different colors and some of them were sparkly. Clackers were something like a cross between nunchaku and yo-yos, but bigger and more attractive than either, if less useful in the greater scheme of things.

Clackers were the big thing when I was 12 or 13. But by the time I was in my mid-teens, all the boys were showing off their nunchaku skills. They called them “nunchuks,” and how well they were wielded seemed to have a direct relationship to supposed male virility/testosterone levels. Something like that. But I remember making the connection even back then: nunchuks were boy clackers without balls. Hmmmm.
Remember puka beads? I remember buying a choker made out of puka beads for a boy I really liked when I was 14 or so. He put them on and my logical brain thought: “They make his neck look really pimply and fat,” while my emotional brain thought: “He likes them! He thinks I’m cool!”

I’m not really sure what made those beads become so popular. Maybe it was the thought that they came from Hawaii. Associations with Hawaii: Hawaii Five-O, Don Ho (my aren’t we in good rhyming form today), resorts, exotic drinks with umbrellas, and um, marijuana? The beads themselves were boring and almost colorless.

First there was Cracker Jacks, then there was Poppycock (still the best of the bunch if you ask me, and Kosher to boot!), then Fiddle Faddle, but how many of you remember Screaming Yellow Zonkers? They weren’t that good, but they sure were brightly-colored. Wonder what additive got them that way? Luckily they weren’t around long enough for us to ingest much of them.
Screaming Yellow Zonkers were all about the Peter Max rip-off box design. The box just screamed “COOL” and you felt forced to buy them just for the packaging. A lot of the 70’s products were like that.

Mood rings were popular a bit earlier, I think. I never felt very comfortable wearing my mood ring. I was afraid I’d betray an embarrassing emotion in public. Which is why those rings were a stupid idea: they were all about betraying embarrassing emotions in public. Why would someone pay for that particular privilege? But we did. Everyone did.

Now leisure suits, there’s a little bit of Americana that should have been terminated before becoming a viable entity. Ugly. Just ugly. This was not a look for a guy with no chest hair. Here my friend Bernie Newman shows the look.
Bernie Newman with long time best friend, Robin Bergstein Berman
Rumor has it Bernie’s powder blue leisure suit is still hanging in his closet waiting to be flaunted at high school reunions.

Who remembers the gum wars? Double Yum, Hubba Bubba, and Bubblicious were the names of the game. Green Apple, Grape, and Watermelon were the big three flavors. I confess I never much liked chewing gum or blowing bubbles. But I did admire my girlfriends who could blow super-sized bubbles without having them explode all over their long, straight (ironed) tresses. Hint: peanut butter is useful for removing chewing gum from hair.

We were Baby Boomers and we drank in TV with our mother’s milk, though lactation was not in vogue back when my bottle-fed generation came into existence. Our sexual and other mores were predicated on the images that paraded in front of our passive faces for more hours than I care to remember. Imagine my shock then, at seeing this old commercial for Love’s Baby Soft products which seems to be peddling, er, pedophilia.

Is that not creepy or what?

But this was a successful ad campaign. My girlfriends bought this stuff in droves. There was a huge line of products and a girl's popularity at that time was dependent upon what percentage of that product line you owned. My God. How did our parents let us buy this stuff??

Before Love’s Baby Soft shattered our innocence, there was Shake-A-Pudd'n. The commercials were shameless in targeting children. Moms could not go to the grocery store with children in tow without purchasing this product. Their kids would give them no peace until said product had been loaded into the grocery cart and purchased.

I remember making this with my sister and it was fun shaking the stuff. However, I also remember feeling perturbed that the finished product had a taste inferior to our family’s usual brand of instant pudding. I don’t recall that my mother purchased Shake-A-Pudd'n more than three times, at most.

Did you have a Frosty the Snowman? I did. He lived in the basement and I didn’t use him too often. Frosty was kind of a pain to use. I needed my mother’s help too much and she was too busy playing bridge and getting her hair done to load a plastic snowman with ice. I think we also ran out of the flavoring syrups and my mother used that as an excuse to put old Frosty in the basement cabinet for the duration of my childhood. I do remember taking him out and using him as a character in my playtime with friends.

What 70’s products do you remember?

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