6 Retro Ads With Accidental Sexual Innuendos
Every now and then, we look back at the past and laugh uproariously at our stupid ancestors. Sure, they get a gold star for saving the free world from Nazis, but they also get a negative million stars for giving toddlers cocaine for toothaches. These vintage ads, however, are a specific kind of shameful ... the sexual kind. From what we can tell, 20th century admen were either hopelessly naive or diabolically perverted. Either way, we can laugh at the fruits of their labor.
Skinless Wieners for Good Boys and Girls
When God wanted the world to be fancier, he invented penguins. And when he wanted to laugh, he invented hot dogs, because there is nothing funnier than penis-shaped food. Rather, nothing funnier except when pretty people trip on the curb, but who wants to eat that? Hot dogs, on the other hand, aren't just hilarious -- they're delicious. Anyone who says otherwise is probably going to hell. Look it up -- 1 Hezekiah 17:3b (NIV).
But here's what you probably didn't know: In addition to enjoying all the Social Security they could get their grubby hands on, the last few generations have also benefited from the greatest hot dog technology since the first bun was split. Until 1925, hot dongs came to the table shoved into sheep intestine casings. As if people needed more reasons to hate themselves for gorging on phallusy pig innards.
So let's set the scene of what you're about to see: One minute, you're willing to slice open a sheep's intestine in order to enjoy the processed meat product cooked inside it, and the next minute, a guy announces that he invented a way to case, cook and uncase the hot dog before it ever leaves the factory. It's like someone removed the dog poop before you ate your macaroni and cheese! Or better yet, removed the pig butt cheeks before you ate your hot dogs. It's a miracle! Of course you're going to get excited. Too bad this was the way the revolution in wieners got phrased in advertisements:
I hate this family. That fairy tale book has nothing to do with wiener fairies and you know it, you sick old lady. The little girl knows it, too. She just wants to talk about skinless wieners, and that's why she's SHOUTING WITH CAPITAL LETTERS AT HER GRANDMA. Look at how she's got her hand on her grandmother's flappy neck meat. She's manipulating the whole conversation, relentlessly driving it toward that which was once only a faraway dream -- meat tubes that aren't served in sheep entrails. If this is story time on the sofa, can you imagine what these people are like when they're served actual skinless hot dogs at a barbecue? Breathless wonder and elderly orgasms all around.
This time the hot dogs have faces and sing a ballad about how they lost their skins. It's like one of the Just So Stories sung by your junk food just before you destroy it with your mouth. That one on the end -- I'm not sure, but I think she's a lady hot dog, thus the modesty. Too bad that towel and powder puff overly emphasize the fact that she is really, really shaped like a penis that you can eat. Squinch your eyes and you can see it.
Buried in all that pornography is a subtle insult to the reader. The copy says "Skinless frankfurters are sure to be tender because they have no skins!" I like how "because they have no skins" was added almost parenthetically, just in case the readers couldn't figure out what "skinless" meant. Then again, we're talking about people who referred to skinless wieners without suffering a giggle fit, so maybe they weren't so bright.
Most egregious of all is the ad below, when Jughead Junior and Bill "NO SKINS!" O'Hannomalley learn a lesson in life and love.
Say what you want about the folks behind Skinless Wieners, but they sure did know how to serve frankfurters with chocolate chip ice cream, bacon with a side of bird poops.
Toss That Salad!
Well, to be fair, I'm 98 percent sure that "Toss that salad!" wasn't on the tip of the tongue for our grandparents, so to speak. This is just a case of us with our dirty minds applying modern sex slang decades after the fact, like when we make fun of "Pork the Other White Meat" and "Got Milk?" I don't even know what tossing a salad means outside the kitchen, so let's move on.
(Is it that thing when you use your tongue to kiss your partner? In prison?)
Mickey Wants to Put His Milk Inside You
Before there was such a thing as Rule 34, Mickey Mouse was giving the freaks all the ammunition they'd ever need with this saucy exchange. It starts as all pornos start: with one huge girl rodent sitting in a tree while paying a sweet, innocent compliment to her huge rodent boyfriend dangling from a wisp of a branch. At least I think that saying that your boyfriend is ahead of milk in terms of bestness is a compliment.
But Mickey Mouse takes that innocuous comment and tosses a fat salad with it. Forget the fact that he countered Minnie's altruistic remark with a conceited comment about himself. And even forget that the packaging never identifies the milk as having an affiliation with Walt Disney. That pretentious rat took ownership of something that didn't even have anything to do with him. "Allow me to compliment you on my Pyramid of Khufu, m'lady." (Doffs imaginary hat and bows.) That's my impression of Mickey Mouse visiting Egypt.
So Mickey's self-absorption is problem number one, which I told you to forget. The real problem, as you've already figured out, has nothing to do with his weird selfishness. It's that Mickey wants to put his mouse milk inside of Minnie because Mickey's bodily fluids are the best thing in the world. Coupled with their aggressive pointing, their overeager Pac-Man-shaped eyes and whatever humping motion is going on with Mickey's lower half, we can all agree that no one skipped the bong the day this was written.
There's Got to Be a Better Way to Advertise Underwear
Let's assume for a second that everyone reading this column is a gay man. Just suuuper gay. You're so gay that when I casually suggest that you call me because I don't have any gay friends, you remind me that not every Grace gets a Will. But you say it so cattily that I know you're fooling, so I put my hand up to my ear and mouth "Call me." And you do, because who wants to turn down friendship? Two years later, I'm in your wedding and you make me wear a top hat because we're so playful.
Even though I know that you and everyone else reading this are the gayest, I'm going to bet money that you don't cavort around in your skivvies as often as the men who advertised underwear back in the day. If I didn't know any better, I'd think "hanging out in your underwear with your man-friends" was a regular pre-Vietnam endeavor and the underwear companies were just documenting it. Like when the young man below either lights his older friend's cigarette or lets him lovingly kiss his hand.
Does it help that the seated man is wearing white leggings, an anklet and ballerina flats? No, it does not. But at least the ad just has two casually undressed guys hanging out, talking and holding hands and whatnot. A little innuendo never hurt anybody. The two below put innuendo on a wrestling mat and straddled it while wiggling their butts.
Again, I'm guessing that totally out and proud gay guys do not wrestle each other in their underwear. I wouldn't know, though, because you never invite me to your parties. The point is that Munsingwear's "Stretchy-Seat" underwear is specifically targeting men who engage in semi-naked combat. We're forced to conclude that either that was a thing people did back then or Munsingwear seriously misread their market. At least the ad below gives us some reasonable context: a locker room. Yes, it is perfectly reasonable to imagine men talking to each other in a locker room as they undress. I mean, I'm not imagining that right now. I don't have to:
COME ON, ARROW. Seamless crotch? GO GAY? But not too gay? In the whole English language, there wasn't a better way of putting across the idea that you changed your colors? Nice corset, Gene Kelly. How much do you want to bet that the text bubble is covering up a third guy doing squats or something?
Speaking of ...
Doink! Dad got caught exercising privately in his own room again! Skippy and Junior didn't knock so they could capture every riotous second as they stood at the door laughing in their underpants, as grown brothers often do. Junior is also brushing Skippy's nipple, because at this point, why not?
Finally, I want to say that there's nothing wrong with people dressing in a way that defies gender expectations, like a man wearing ladies' stockings and patent leather shoes while lovingly caressing his own leg, for example. Or when a woman is a cop. That's a fine thing to do. I am saying it's probably not the best way to advertise your man socks.
This guy is business on the top, party on the bottom. He's the first human mullet.
The Very Worst Way to Advertise Bananas
There are two kinds of people in the world: those who love justice and goodness, and those who approved this ad. If I were a banana seller, here would be my NO! List when it came time to sit down with admen:
And that's pretty much it for my list. There are a lot of fun ways you can advertise bananas. There's only one that's pretty rapey: shoving them down the throat of a little girl whose face is saying "NO" and whose body language is screaming for a restraining order against Stripes. You can try to be cute ...
You can even try to be sexy. By all means, throw some sex appeal into your banana ad. You've earned it. Banana republics don't come cheap.
Make an ad where monkeys put bananas in their butts for no good reason. Make an ad that features disabled bananas in wheelchairs speaking with robot voices. Make a bin Laden banana that gets taken out by little babies dressed as SEAL Team 6. Recreate the Zapruder film with bananas. "Bananas: So Good, They Made the Sinking of the Titanic Worth It."
Do literally anything you want, but don't jam an oversized banana down a little girl's throat.
Speaking of the worst thing in the world ....
Caring Dads Always Lube
We can joke about wieners and salad tossing all day and all night, but at the end of the day, we know we're just making fun of some poor wording choices. But here -- I honestly have no idea what's going on, and I want to call Child Protective Services just to talk out my feelings.
Let's start with the jelly itself. I'm a mom 10 times over and I still don't know what Vaseline is useful for, other than becoming a mom in the first place. Diaper rash prevention? Maybe, if you really want to rub jelly all over your kid's bare private parts. No thanks. Treating cuts and bruises? How about you don't raise a bunch of clumsy dolts instead? Or better yet, don't beat your children. If your kids are so cut up that you're investing in tubs of Vaseline, you're probably already on social services' watch list anyway, so don't plan on making it to the bottom of the jar.
The problem with this ad is that they insist on using "bedtime," "dad" and "lube" in the same context. Let's assume people used to put Vaseline on cuts for some reason. Why would you specifically do that at night? Your sheets and pillowcases would get oily. Yet Vaseline has forced us to assume that this is a product for treating injuries ... at night. That's the very best scenario we can hope for: that bedtime was once "oil your cuts" time, and dad was in charge. The little girl's head size and facial injuries indicate that this is not a diaper rash treatment. Is her head swollen from the beatings? Is she crying because she knows she'll never wear normal hats thanks to her father's punch-hugs? What if the doll is the girl and the giant big-headed girl is an imaginary manifestation of her inner trauma?
Thanks, Vaseline. Thanks for coercing me into assuming that an illustrated child goes to bed with new, greased-up injuries every night. Because the alternative is too awful to consider.
Quick Addendum: A fellow writer has pointed out that the Vaseline ad is most certainly a photoshop job. So we all have one more thing to add to our list of things to be thankful for.
And just in case you can't get the lube ad out of your head, there's no way I'm ending on this note. Here.
I hope we can be friends again ... and ... and ... I love you.