Promises, Promises by
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I have a very bad habit of singing old commercial jingles over and over again. Especially when I’m using some similar product. Or just walking down the street. Sometimes when I brush my teeth I’ll hum, “You’ll wonder where the yellow went when you brush your teeth with Pepsodent.” Even though I’m using Crest. Afterwards, when I’m washing the sink, “Ajax, bumbum..the foaming cleanser, wash that dirt right down the drain. You’ll stop paying the elbow tx, when you start cleaning with Ajax.” It’s sometimes annoying enough that someone will relieve me of my task. Or divorce me. Remember Castro Convertible sofas? “So easy even a child can do it.” The last time I tried to open one, I pulled my back out. Best leave that to the children, I’ve since decided.

My dad once won a contest for creating a jingle for Blue Bonnet Margarine. I wish I could remember what it said. He was a big fan of margarine. He thought margarine was going to save him from high blood pressure or alcoholic dementia. My mother, on the other hand, believed the tag line on our favorite bakery in Roslyn. Butter Makes It Better. It turns out margarine isn’t so good for you. And neither is butter. Nevertheless, both my parents made it into their 90s.

Anyway, the prize for the best BBM jingle was free art classes in New York City. Dad wasn’t interested. So my mom and I got to take the train into The City a couple of times and take free art lessons. I must have been less than 5 years old. I remember being told the cat I drew didn’t look like a cat. Which I’m sure was true, and is probably why I have always hated cats and preferred Picasso.

We stopped at the bakery and bought blueberry muffins for a picnic on the train. That is a much more pleasant memory than the art classes. We’d unwrap our muffins, carefully pick the blueberries out of the muffins and eat them one by one. I don’t recall if my mom had coffee to wash them down, but if she did it was probably Chock Full o’ Nuts. “The heavenly Coffee. Better coffee a millionaire’s money can’t buy.” That was before Starbucks.

While I do think some of today’s commercials are pretty cool, especially now that they’ve co-opted all our old songs from the 60s and 70s, I like the catchy jingles from long ago that worm around in my brain. “Mr Clean gets rid of dirt and grime and grease in just a minute. Mr Clean will clean your whole house and everything that’s in it!” So where is that guy, anyway? Promises, promises.

Profile photo of Penny K Penny Righthand

Characterizations: funny, right on!, well written


  1. Marian says:

    Really enjoyed this, Penny. I could taste the date nut bread that went with Chock Full o’ Nuts coffee at the restaurant in New York City. I find it interesting that today’s commercials are using “our” songs.

  2. Suzy says:

    Penny, this was a fun story. I love that your father won a Blue Bonnet Margarine contest, too bad you don’t remember what his winning entry was.

    Who could forget that Chock Full o’ Nuts commercial? But do you remember that the last line was originally “Better coffee Rockefeller’s money can’t buy”? The Rockefeller family sued, and they had to change it to “millionaire’s money” even though it didn’t fit the tune as well.

  3. Risa Nye says:

    Penny, have you heard of a book called “The Prizewinner of Defiance, Ohio”? Check it out! What a great story about your dad’s contest-winning jingle! I love the memory of how you ate that blueberry muffin with such intent.

  4. I like the details of picking the blueberries out of the muffins.
    Bluebonnet Margarine? you mean he wrote, “everything tastes better with Bluebonnet on it?” In the 1970s my roommate was watching TV and there was a promo with a seductive woman for Dubonnet. (INternet research: “Think of Dubonnet as a combination of fortified wine like Port or Sherry and a herbal liqueur.” ). The ad said “Du” and then “Dubon” and then “Dubonnet” as this woman was wearing less and less. I was (as still now) pretty clueless and impervious to commercial culture and anyway after the ad aired I felt very confused and said to Dave, “So they’ve changed the pronunciation?” He said, “what do you mean?” I said it used to be pronounced “Dubonnet (rhyming it with Bluebonnet).” I said the ad used to be that everything tasted better with Dubonnet on it. He just shook his head and signed. Later I figured out that Dubonnet wasn’t Bluebonnet.

  5. Betsy Pfau says:

    Love you having a blueberry muffin picnic on the train (yum!), and thanks for reminding us of the Chock Full ‘O Nuts jingle (among others). Yes, those great tunes do stick in our heads forever.

  6. Not saying this to butter you up Penny, but this is absolutely wonderful!

  7. Laurie Levy says:

    Fun story, Penny. And yes, I could really use Mr. Clean these days. Not the product — the guy who will get my house clean. BTW, I picked out the blueberries because I don’t like them. Could have shared with you.

  8. Such a fun (and wry) story, Penny! My favorite part: “I remember being told the cat I drew didn’t look like a cat. Which I’m sure was true, and is probably why I have always hated cats and preferred Picasso.” Love this…the wording makes me laugh. I, too, would rather have a Picasso than a cat.

  9. Dave Ventre says:

    I have never met anyone else who remembers that Castro Convertibles was “the first to conquer living space!”

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