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You know how your parents always tell you how good you have it compared to what they went through back in the day? Judging from these commercials, they may very well be right. While we struggle through a day of channel surfing with Feist and Victoria's Secret super models, our parents had to endure this kind of terror during commercial breaks--often with no remote control to save them.

The horror.

7
Green Giant Vegetables: The Green Giant

You know what's kind of scary about this early version of the The Green Giant? Everything.

Nothing jolly about that fucker. That bizarre, jerky robotic walk and that cold, lifeless smile will haunt our dreams forever more.

If this commercial was a horror movie, it would surely feature a friendly, 70-year-old farmer who, on seeing this terror descending upon his farm, would let out a blood-curdling scream and and take cover behind a bale of hay. But after noticing the Giant's calm, smiling face and gentle demeanor he would foolishly step from behind his makeshift shelter and attempt to make nice with a few stammering "H-h-hey buddy's" and an ice breaking "Are ya lost?"

All fears would be put to rest when Big Green magically produced a can of Niblets and bent down as if to make a peace offering to the gentle farmer. It's at that point our beloved farmer would be bludgeoned to death with the can of corn and promptly devoured.

6
M&M's: The M&M's Candies Man

Remember kids, never take candy from strangers. Unless they're dressed in what appears to be flamboyant, tight-in-all-the-wrong-places official candy company garb. In that case, follow them wherever they may go.

Make sure to bring all your friends, too! We wouldn't want anyone staying behind to tell your parents what you're doing now, would we? WOULD WE?!?!?

We shudder to think where these neighborhood skip-fests eventually ended. After earning the trust of neighborhood kids and parents through a series of fun-filled group activities, the Candies Man would inevitably start popping up at "other" times.

Like when that one kid with the absentee father and the alcoholic mother happened to be walking home from school alone. Out of the blue, there stands the M&M's Candies Man, smiling with that come hither grin with a half-guzzled bottle of scotch in one hand, a bag of M&M's in the other and a cigarette dangling from his lips.

We're not sure what was up with the cop who, half way through the ad, goes skipping along with M&M Man and his harem of preteens, but in most jurisdictions, wearing that outfit alone would be considered probable cause for a search warrant.

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5
Super Sugar Crisp Cereal: Sugar Bear

Super Sugar Crisp is a hell of a drug.

Have we ever seen a more stark portrayal of the family devastated by drug addiction? While Victor Vicious and his tiny Cloverfield-like offspring are busy wreaking havoc on defenseless grandma, Sugar Bear is nonchalantly sitting under a tree satiating his demons with a bowl of Crisp, terrifying in his apathy toward the situation, all like "evvvvvvvs maaaannnnn, I'll get to that bitch when I get to her. Quit harshing my mellow."

By the time he gets off his junkie ass and comes to grandma's rescue, the "vitamin stealer" has made a Hurricane Katrina-like skeleton of her once proud abode.

Probably settling a drug debt of some sort. But honestly, this is the direction things were headed anyway. It's clear from this commercial that Sugar Bear was spiraling out of control. It wouldn't have been long before he was stealing grandma's shit, including the siding off her house, to support his habit. Once that well ran dry, it's just a matter of time before he's blowing some grizzly bear in the back of a van for an eighth of Crisp and half a grapefruit as part of his less than wholesome breakfast. Tragic.

4
Rice Krispies: Snap, Crackle & Pop

What happens when you invite the son of Satan himself over to spend the night and he doesn't like the breakfast you serve? He summons his minions, and wanton violence and deliciousness ensues!

At somewhere around the 15-second mark, we were hit with the sinking feeling that this commercial was going to end with the gracious sleep over host meeting an untimely and needlessly violent death at the hands of "Bobby." We're still not convinced that didn't happen at some point. As troubling as Bobby and his goth eye shadow is ...

... he has nothing on Snap, Crackle & Pop.

Notice how they just snapped and made that mushy cereal disappear? That's not a power that's generally limited to cereal. They could've done the same to those three equally-frightening mushy cereal henchmen. But they didn't. Because they wanted to fuck some shit up.

How do three mini-guys who work in the breakfast cereal industry even develop such a propensity for random violence? There's really only one explanation. The whole cereal thing is just a front; Snap, Crackle & Pop are hired killers.

We're not sure why Bobby wanted those mushy dudes killed, but he knew where they would be and he knew who to call to get the job done.

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3
Sunkist Oranges: The Sunkist Monster

OK guys, kids are eating way too much candy. How can we convince them to give up the sugar and start eating more fruit? We got it!

What could be more enticing to an impressionable young kid than knowing that while fumbling around looking for the Sunkist label they risk being devoured by a giant reptile should they accidentally drop their orange?

Imagine if you will, that you're a kid who has just recently seen this commercial and you're young enough to actually believe it. You walk in the house one hot summer afternoon and request a snack. Next thing you know, without warning your dad says "Sure, champ!" The he tosses you an orange from across the kitchen. Suddenly, the seconds become hours as that little orange sphere of potential death comes hurling in your direction. Visions of your entire childhood flash before your eyes as you ponder why dear old dad would place you in such a precarious situation, your entire life depending on your ability to catch an orange.

Just as the orange reaches your trembling little hands, it caroms off your left middle finger and falls helplessly to the floor, at which point you turn and run screaming from the kitchen and out into the cold, cruel gaze of the other neighborhood kids who notice that you've just pissed your pants. Those kids then mock you relentlessly about the incident well into your high school years. Good luck coming out of that ordeal without a crippling drinking problem. And good luck coming up with a worse idea for a corporate mascot.

2
Fig Newtons: Big Newton

Fig Newtons have always suffered from a bit of an image problem. While not altogether unpleasant tasting, they look like and (presumably) have the consistency of a heaping pile of bird shit wrapped in a corrugated cardboard sleeve. To help improve upon this unsavory image, the marketing forces at Fig Newtons came up with this:

the Big Fig Newton

Yep, that probably helped.

We're not sure if that's what a fig looks like or if the damn things have garlic in them. Anyway, hate it all you want, but this just offers further evidence that the music industry is justified in valuing looks over talent. Sure, this guy may have nailed the oh-so-difficult choreography and hit every note with pinpoint accuracy, but if the second-best auditioner looked even kind of normal, they should have gotten the job.

In this dude's disgusting hands, this looks less like a campy dance designed to get kids fired up about figs and more like a field sobriety test that's gotten completely out of hand.

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1
McDonald's: Ronald McDonald

This early version of Ronald McDonald isn't the most terrifying corporate mascot we've ever seen. It's the most terrifying anything we've ever seen.

Oh how the devil fools with the best-laid plans. We get where McDonald's was coming from here. Kids really shouldn't talk to strangers, nobody wants a repeat of the tragic events of the M&M's Candies Man fiasco described earlier. But maybe "don't talk to strangers unless they're dressed like Ronald McDonald" is pushing it a bit. If your mascot happens to be Robocop or some shit, that idea could work. Steel plated enforcer of justice is a hard look to imitate. But given that every Tom, Dick and John Wayne Gacy can get their hands on a clown costume for next to nothing, this might as well have been a training video on how to lure a kid into your car in under 60 seconds.

The point is, this commercial would have been disturbing even if it starred a Dallas Cowboys Cheerleader. But adding a clown that looks like the result of Jeff Goldblum in The Fly having passed through the teleporter with a bag full of McDonalds? That amps up the fright factor exponentially.

The Nick Nolte-mugshot hair, the makeup that looks like it was applied using a series of violent blows to the face, the yellowing teeth, that horrific belt/cummerbund/duct tape contraption around his waist. There is nothing about early Ronald McDonald that doesn't scream, "Drop the cheeseburger and step away from the playground!"

Want some more Ronald? No? Well, here it is anyway:

On a trivial side note, if you've never seen this commercial but for some reason you're finding it uncomfortably familiar, relax, it's not because it's jarring loose repressed memories of some childhood trauma (we hope). It just means you're old enough to remember the voice of the man underneath the beast, former NBC Today Show weather man and Ronald McDonald creator, Willard Scott.

Thanks for the nightmares, Willard.

Adam Brown has a whole website full of his stuff at ScenicAnemia.com.

If you liked this, perhaps you'll enjoy our look at 5 Retro Commercials Companies Would Like You to Forget, featuring ads where the murder isn't just implied. Then head over to 8 Upcoming Movie Adaptations That Must be Stopped where three of our finest writers are arguing over which upcoming cinematic interpretation Hollywood should be most ashamed of.
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