Culture Feature

15 Classic Commercials to Trigger Your '90s-Kid Nostalgia

Let these distilled doses of 1990s advertising take you back to a simpler time, when pizza came on a bagel and hair came in a can.


The field of advertising is designed to plant its simple ideas deep inside your subconscious.

As a result, your brain is overflowing with jingles, images, and snippets of commercial dialogue that you absorbed like a sponge through the hundreds of hours of TV you watched in your childhood.

While this has probably crowded out useful knowledge and skills like your CPR training, or the name of that cousin you see every few years, it does have the bonus of tapping straight into nostalgia. Short of the smell of your childhood home, there is probably nothing better than an old commercial to transport you back in time, away from the horrors and crises of the present.

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This Haunts Me: The Insane Body Horror of Gushers Commercials

Turning into a banana is pretty terrifying.

Betty Crocker

Children's food advertising in the 1990s ran on pure fumes of lunacy and the genuine belief that kids desired to eat colorful things that would irreversibly mutate their bodies.

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What's REALLY Going On In Burger King's "3 Pancakes for 89¢" Commercial??

Is it just a silly 15-second spot, or something more sinister?

Have you seen Burger King's new "3 Pancakes for 89¢" commercial yet?

In case you haven't:

[UPDATE: BURGER KING has removed this commercial from YouTube. Do they know we're on to them?]

Now that you've watched that: WHAT IS GOING ON IN THIS COMMERCIAL?

It may seem pretty straightforward (and after all, it's only a 15 second commercial).

  • Recently coronated woman and man sit side by side in an otherwise empty BK Lounge, with three pancakes each.
  • Man asks woman: "What would you do for 3 pancakes for 89¢?"
  • Woman, nonplussed, replies that she would "pay 89¢," the menu price of three pancakes at Burger King. After a pause, she asks him the same question "What would you do for 3 pancakes for 89¢?"
  • Man replies "I'd hug a shark."
  • End spot.
But the nature of the commercial raises questions. What is the relationship of these two people? Several distinct possibilities come to mind:
  1. These people have never met before, they are strangers sitting next to each other in an otherwise empty Burger King
  2. They are platonic friends who are getting breakfast at Burger King
  3. They are on a romantic breakfast date eating pancakes at a fast-food restaurant.
Because they're sitting next to each other in this otherwise empty Burger King, I'm going to assume that they've met before. Only a sociopath would sit next to someone they didn't know in an empty fast food restaurant and strike up a conversation with a stranger (keep reading–the man in the commercial may be just that).

Who sits on the same side of a table at a restaurant? Disgusting couples, that's who. The man and woman in this commercial are on a date.

So what's really going on in this commercial?

Nameless man has taken Nameless woman to Burger King in a pathetic attempt to impress her, not with fine cuisine, but with his thriftiness (cue Macklemore?).

Nameless man in Burger King commercial, I can promise you that this won't work. You're not supposed to prove that you're good at saving money on the first date. First date is when you get extravagant. 3 pancakes for 89¢ FROM BURGER KING isn't going to get that fine-looking lady to come back to your place.

After spending $4 (including tax) on six pancakes and two coffees, our leading man suggestively asks his date:

"What would you do for 3 pancakes for 89¢?"

Is it just me, or is he trying to imply that because he took her to Burger King for a pancake breakfast, that she has to "do" something for him? She doesn't OWE him anything in return for his 89¢ gesture, and she knows it.

Our heroine cattily brushes off his inappropriate advance, basically telling him that if he thinks she's going to get in bed with him over these crappy pancakes, she'll just give him the dollar he spent back.

When King Douchebag (get it, because he's wearing a crown?) replies that to get 3 pancakes for 89¢, he would "hug a shark," it's a typical act of male bravado because he's intimidated by a woman who is obviously stronger and smarter than he is.

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