Posted in WB Cartoon Companion on January 30, 2004

    While some consumer products have been with us for over a century -- Coca-Cola and Kodak come to mind -- advertising slogans and trademarks are usually retired fairly soon after their introduction. A catchphrase such as “Where’s the Beef?” may be in vogue for a brief period of time, only to be forgotten a few months later.

    In many respects, Warner Brothers cartoons serve as time capsules, preserving products and slogans, once of public prominence, which have since all but vanished. Two cartoons in particular, Lights Fantastic (Freleng, 1942) and Billboard Frolics (Freleng, 1935) abound in references to then-current products and advertisements.

    Products parodied in Lights Fantastic:

  • Underwood typewriters as “Understood”
  • Four Roses whiskey as “Four Noses”
  • Lucky Strike cigarettes, in the horse shoe sign with the Speed Riggs auctioneer spiel made famous on radio advertisements. See also Sold [to] American.
  • Chase and Sanbourn coffee as “Face and Sunburn”. The “It’s Dated” gag refers to a then-hot innovation about the dating and freshness of the coffee.
  • Maxwell House coffee as “Stucco House” with its “Good to the Last Drop” motto
  • Planters peanuts, seen both as the dancing Mr. Peanut and in the live action footage of New York City’s Times Square
  • Carnation tinned milk as “Darnation”, with the “contented cows” tagline
  • Old Dutch cleanser

    Two references I have yet to identify with certainty are the cod liver oil gag and the “hieroglyphic” animated billboard, also seen in A Hare Grows in Manhattan (Freleng, 1947). The billboard may possibly refer to Ramses II Cigarettes. The long and short cigarette gag seen in Meet John Doughboy (Clampett, 1941) as well as a number of 1941-1942 cartoons from MGM, refers to Pall Mall cigarettes, specifically spoofing an ad in which two soldiers blithely compare the sizes of their cigarettes.

    In Billboard Frolics, the products include

  • RCA with Nipper, its canine symbol
  • Arm & Hammer Baking Soda
  • Bon Ami cleanser with its “Hasn’t Scratched Yet” chick
  • Old Dutch Cleanser

    Other slogans and/or products can be seen in various other cartoons as follows. This is by no means an exhaustive list, but rather a representative sampling:

“Good to the Last Drop”, Maxwell House Coffee

  •     Seen in Ceiling Hero (Avery, 1940) on a parachute
  •     See also separate entry linked above

“China Clipper”, Pan American Airways

  •     Rather “politically incorrect” gag seen in Ceiling Hero (Avery, 1940)

“B.O.”, Lifebuoy Soap

  •     Several references, see separate entry linked above

Posters defaced in Daffy Doodles (McKimson, 1946) include

  •     Elsie the Cow, Borden Dairy products
  •     Campbell Soup Twin
  •     Nipper the RCA Dog
  •     Johnny the Phillip Morris Bellhop
  •     Fisk Tires “Time to Re-Tire” ad with sleepy child and candle

“Men of Distinction”, Calvert Whiskey

  •     Parodied in a “Frenchified” poster in Two Scents Worth (Jones, 1955)

“Ask the Man Who Owns One”, Packard Automobiles

  •     Several references, see separate entry linked above

“Tattletale Grey”, Fels-Naptha Soap

  •     Goofy Groceries (Clampett, 1941)
  •     Ali Baba Bound (Clampett, 1940)

“The Pause That Refreshes”, Coca-Cola

  •     Seen on billboard in Daffy Duck and the Dinosaur (Jones, 1939)

“It’s __, two to one”, parody of Lucky Strike’s “With Men Who Know Tobacco, It’s Luckies two to one”

  •     Seen as “Duckies” in Daffy Duck and the Dinosaur (Jones, 1939).
  •     Seen in The Major Lied Till Dawn (Tashlin, 1938) as a subtitle after eating spinach.

“So Round, So Firm, So Fully Packed; So Smooth and Easy on the Draw”, Lucky Strike Cigarettes

  •     Daffy Duck says this as “Danny Boy” in Book Revue (Clampett, 1946). See also separate entry, linked above

“Listen to It Fizz!”, Alka-Seltzer

  •     Scrap Happy Daffy (Tashlin, 1943)

The reference by Daffy to sodium acetylsalicylate is a further spoof of the Alka-Seltzer ads of the day, which prominently mentioned this active ingredient.

  •     Catch as Cats Can (Davis, 1947)

“Have You Had Your Iron Today?”, Ironized Yeast

  •     The Goofy Gophers (Davis, 1947)
  •     Variation in Screwball Football (Avery, 1939)
  •     See also separate entry, linked above

“Does Your Tobacco Taste Different Lately?”, unverified, but may refer to Camel Cigarettes

  •     Seen on billboard in Baseball Bugs (Freleng, 1946)
  •     Closing gag of Herr Meets Hare (Freleng, 1945)
  •     Variant used in Hook short Tokyo Woes (Clampett, 1946)

“Trade” and “Mark” the Smith Brothers, Smith Brothers Cough Drops

  •     Appear coughing at each other in Smile, Darn Ya Smile (Harman/Ising, 1931)

“How are you fixed for blades?”, Gillette razors

  •     Bugs asks this of the executioner in charge of the guillotine in Napoleon Bunny-part (Freleng, 1956). The studio was producing commercials for Gillette at the time of this gag.
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