I’d like to teach the world to lip-sync

November 19 is National Carbonated Beverage with Caffeine Day. And for most people, the first carbonated beverage with caffeine that comes to mind is Coke.

people on hillside with Coke bottles

In 1971, Coca Cola used the idea of world peace to sell their product, assembling a bunch of idealistic-looking young people on a hillside in Rome. Ironically, they are lip-syncing the song about teaching the world to sing. Read the full story behind the commercial here.

Coca Cola commercial, “I’d Like to Teach the World to Sing” (1971)

By coincidence, November 19 is World Toilet Day, which is fitting, since Coke is a diuretic.

Today on the tray: Pickles! And more pickles!

November 14 is National Pickle Day.

I’m in a dilly of a pickle. You see, I’ve posted a lot about pickles in the past, and I’m plum out of pickle post ideas for National Pickle Day. So here are some pickles I’ve highlighted in previous posts.

Pickles SorrellFirst, there is Pickles Sorrell, a character from The Dick Van Dyke Show. Pickles was married to Buddy Sorrell (Morey Amsterdam). She was a former showgirl whose real name was Fiona. Though mentioned often, Pickles only appeared in a few episodes. She was played by Barbara Perry in two episodes (1961-62) and by Joan Shawlee, pictured left, in three (1963).

Next, let’s turn our attention to pickles that yodel. It’s possible you may have seen or heard of the yodeling pickle marketed by Archie McPhee. But have you ever done the Yodeling Pickle Dance? Below, two people perform it unabashedly in their kitchen.

The Yodeling Pickle Dance

Do you like storks? Do you like Groucho Marx? Then you’ll love this vintage Vlasic pickle commercial, which features the Vlasic Stork and other animated characters doing Groucho Marx impressions — including a little old lady and a Japanese man (who does his impression in Japanese). Each takes a noisy bite out a pickle, then wags it like a cigar and says “Now that’s the best tasting pickle I ever heard!”

Vlasic pickle commercial (1983)

Ruth McDevitt

Ruth McDevitt is about to find out that her pickle is limp and soggy.

Some people get pretty darn upset over pickles that aren’t crisp. In the Heinz pickle commercial below, a pickle lover goes berserk and completely trashes a restaurant when presented with a dull, soggy pickle. The violent pickle lover is played by Ruth McDevitt, who played a million character roles in the 60s, including the pet store lady in The Birds, the summer camp leader in the original version of The Parent Trap, and a neighborhood cat lady in Bewitched.

Heinz pickle commercial (1965)

You know who doesn’t want any kind of pickle at all? Arlo Guthrie. That’s right, the folksinger-songwriter famously expresses his indifference to pickles in “The Motorcycle Song.”

Arlo Guthrie, The Motorcycle Song, Alice's Restaurant (1967)

I don’t want a pickle
I just want to ride on my motor-cicle
And I don’t want a tickle
I’d rather ride on my motor-cicle
And I don’t want to die
I just want to ride on my motor-cy-cle

But if, unlike Arlo, you do want a pickle, go ahead and have one! And have a happy National Pickle Day.

cut pickles

Today on the tray: Vinegar

vinegarNovember 1 is National Vinegar Day.

Vinegar can be used for so many things! You can put it on a salad. You can clean carpet stains with it. You can use it to ease the pain of jellyfish stings.

You can be full of piss and vinegar, like Grandpa Simpson.

Grandpa Simpson“I’m filled with piss and vinegar! At first, I was just filled with vinegar.”

You can also use vinegar to make your lady parts feel fresh (or so I’m told). Just ask these two.

Massengill Disposable Vinegar and Water Douche commercial (1978)

Woman #1: Jane, look! Massengill has a new vinegar and water disposable douche! It’s convenient.

Woman #2: No artificial anything? Just vinegar and water?

Woman #1: The ingredients many doctors recommend. But this is premixed, pre-measured, sanitary.

Woman #2: No more bother! Look how cleverly it’s designed!

Woman #1: [Stroking the bottle] Only Massengill has this special design.

Today on the tray: Oatmeal


October 29 is National Oatmeal Day.

Here are “7 Fun Oatmeal Facts for National Oatmeal Day” from Health.com. For example, did you know that oatmeal is a whole grain? Or that oatmeal is good for your heart? Yeah, those facts don’t sound all that fun to me.

You know what I think is fun? Watching old geezers talk about oatmeal. So here’s Wilford Brimley in a commercial for Quaker Extra Instant Oatmeal.

Hey Wilford, did you ever think that all that sweetened oatmeal is what gave you “diabetus”?

Quaker Extra Instant Oatmeal commercial (1988)

Today on the tray: Greasy foods

October 25 is National Greasy Foods Day.

How will you celebrate? A nice way would be to visit your favorite greasy-spoon restaurant. If you’re really lucky, maybe a gum-chewing waitress with a beehive will tell you to kiss her grits!

As you may have heard, greasy food is bad for you. Nevertheless, TODAY suggests nine “phenomenally decadent dishes, which celebrate grease in all its crunchy, bacony, cheesy, buttery, not-so-good-for-you glory,” including sweet potato fries wrapped in bacon and chicken-fried steak fingers.

Not sure if your food is greasy enough? Take a tip from Dr. Nick Riviera from The Simpsons. In the episode “King-Size Homer,” Homer tries to gain 61 pounds so that he can qualify as disabled and work from home. Dr. Nick, eager to help, explains the paper test: “If you’re not sure about something, rub it against a piece of paper. If the paper turns clear, it’s your window to weight gain!”

But it doesn’t matter what you eat today, as long as you remember: Grease is the word!

Opening credits to the motion picture Grease, title song performed by Frankie Valli

Grease is the word, is the word, that you heard
It’s got a groove, it’s got a meaning
Grease is the time, is the place, is the motion
Grease is the way we are feeling

Today on the tray: Boston (cream pie)

October 23 is National Boston Cream Pie Day.

Here’s a little primer on Boston cream pie, courtesy of Wikipedia:

A Boston cream pie is a cake that is filled with a custard or cream filling and frosted with chocolate. Although it is called a Boston cream pie, it is in fact a cake, and not a pie. Created by Armenian-French chef M. Sanzian at Boston’s Parker House Hotel in 1856, this pudding and cake combination comprises two layers of sponge cake filled with vanilla flavored custard or crème pâtissière. The cake is topped with a chocolate glaze (such as ganache) and sometimes powdered sugar or a cherry.

The Boston cream pie is the official dessert of Massachusetts, declared as such in 1996. However, it is not mass-produced in Boston.

Boston cream pie isn’t the only great thing about Boston. The city has provided the setting for many a TV show. Below is one of my favorite openings to a TV show set in Boston. No, it’s not that one where everybody knows your name. It’s James at 15, a coming-of-age drama from the late 1970s. (The show was retitled James at 16 when the character hit his 16th birthday and lost his virginity to a Swedish foreign exchange student in the same episode—talk about coming of age!)

Opening credits, James at 15 (1977)

I’m also partial to the another series set in Boston; this one is based on a movie that takes place at Harvard Law School. No, not Legally Blonde. I’m talking about The Paper Chase. The opening is memorable for the 1970s soft-rock theme song performed by Seals & Crofts, and for John Houseman, as the crusty law professor, saying “You teach yourselves the law, but I train your minds. You come in here with a skull full of mush—and, if you survive, you leave thinking like a lawyer.”

Opening credits, The Paper Chase (1978-79)

I love it when teachers deliver nuggets of wisdom in the opening credits of a show that way. Like in the opening credits of Fame, when Debbie Allen as the dance teacher tells her students, “You’ve got big dreams. You want fame. Well fame costs—and right here is where you start paying—in sweat!” Yeah, we get it: If you want something badly, you’ve got to be willing to work for it.

But all I really want right now is some Boston cream pie.

Today on the tray: The can-can!

October 23 is National Canning Day. You might celebrate by canning your own food—or, if you’re like me, you might say “screw that” and head over to the supermarket. With any luck, ShopRite will be having their Can-Can Sale!

ShopRite’s 1980s can-can commercials were my first exposure to the can-can dance. Because I no longer live near the ShopRite chain, I didn’t realize that ShopRite still has the Can-Can Sale and still uses the same jingle. Here’s the 1980s version I remember:

Shop Rite Can-Can commercial (1983)

Now, ShopRite does the can-can
Selling lots of brands of everything in cans, cans!
Today, it’s great to save some cash
So come to ShopRite’s Can-Can Bash
From can to can to can to can
You’ll save much more on every brand
You’ll save much more on every brand
Now’s the time to shop at ShopRite’s Can-Can Bash!
Now it’s time to stock up while the values last!

ShopRite also has a cool app where you can upload your photo and create your own ShopRite can-can. Here’s mine. I’ve got great gams, if I do say so myself! Oh-la-la!

Today on the tray: Four prunes

four prunesOctober 17 is Four Prunes Day.

Why four? According to The Nibble, it’s because “four prunes are the minimum of what people who want more ‘digestive regularity’ should take per day (up to a maximum of 9 prunes a day).” Well, the label on the prunes I buy says that a serving is five prunes, so that is what I eat—but enough about me.

Below, see a wacky prune commercial from the 1960s featuring science fiction author Ray Bradbury.

Sunsweet prune commercial with Ray Bradbury (1960s)

By the year 2001, the ad forecasts, people will travel around in penumatic tubes. (Nope, never came to pass.) TVs will be large enough to take up a whole wall. (Yes, some people have pretty big TVs.) And prunes will be packaged in mini-packs. (Yes, Sunsweet does sell them individually wrapped.) Well, two predictions out of three is pretty good.

Bradbury, puzzled by his own presence in the commercial, says, “I never mentioned prunes in any of my stories…What are these people trying to pull?” He also observes that prunes are “badly wrinkled.”

“Sunsweet wrinkle technicians will one day conquer that too,” the voiceover boldly promises. This, my friends, is how the plum was invented. 

But really, I’m glad they never found a cure for prune wrinkles. If they had, then calling someone “prune-face” would no longer be an insult, and I need it in my arsenal of insults to hurl at my aging friends.

Today on the tray: A very Brady mushroom


October 15 is National Mushroom Day.

According to Wikipedia, a mushroom is “the fleshy, spore-bearing fruiting body of a fungus.” Gross. You can leave the mushrooms off my side of the pizza, thanks.

You may recall that in the 1996 movie A Very Brady Sequel, Alice serves spaghetti sauce made with psychedelic mushrooms to “Roy Martin” (Carol’s back-from-the-dead first husband). It seems Alice found them in Roy’s room and thought he would enjoy them.

Upon eating the ’shroom-laced spaghetti sauce, Roy hallucinates an animated sequence featuring the characters from The Brady Kids Saturday morning series (1972-73), set to “Good Morning Starshine.” It’s hysterical even if you don’t remember The Brady Kids, but I gave an extra shriek of glee when I saw Marlon the magical mynah bird and the pandas Ping and Pong! I didn’t realize how much I missed them. Watch it below.

Roy Martin (played by Tim Matheson) takes a trip after Alice slips him psychedelic mushrooms in A Very Brady Sequel (1996)

Born on this date: Hank Patterson

Fred and Doris ZIffel

Fred Ziffel (Hank Patterson) and Doris Ziffel (Barbara Pepper)

Hank Patterson, who played Fred Ziffel on Petticoat Junction and Green Acres, was born October 9, 1888. If he were alive today, he would be 126! It seems impossible that he could have born that long ago, but apparently he was in his late 70s when Green Acres started. IMDb shows acting credits for Patterson dating back to 1939.

Fred Ziffel, of course, was the “father” of the pig Arnold Ziffel, who was treated like a human. In the clip below from Green Acres, Fred and his wife, Doris, are upset that Arnold has started to bark after forming an attachment to Mr. Haney’s dog, Cynthia.

Clip from Green Acres, Love Comes to Arnold Ziffel (1967)


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