The Lions celebrated a Thanksgiving victory in 1999.

Football Friday: Thanksgiving’s Best NFL Teams

Detroit Lions vs. Green Bay Packers, Thanksgiving 1962

The 1962 “Thanksgiving Day Massacre” saw the Lions hand the championship Packers their only loss of the season.

Thanksgiving turkey and the National Football League — one of the finest traditions in all of American sports. And, as it turns out, one of the longest-lived as well. Since the NFL’s inception in 1920, at least one game has been played every Thanksgiving, and since 2006 three are played. Most fans associate the Detroit Lions and Dallas Cowboys with the now-dubbed Thanksgiving Classic series, and for good reason.

The Lions and Cowboys have played the most Thanksgiving games ever, with 72 and 44 respectively through the 2012 season. Following behind are the Green Bay Packers (34), Chicago Bears (31), and Arizona Cardinals (23). Of these five teams, however, only the Cowboys and Bears sport a winning Thanksgiving record.

Here are the ten NFL teams with the most wins and highest winning percentages on Thanksgiving Day since 1920 (includes AFL records). Totals are current through the 2013 regular season, and only franchises with a minimum of five Thanksgiving games are eligible for this list.

(For other fun and informative NFL records, as well as some from other major leagues, check out my Sports Lists page.)

Most Wins

Detroit Lions Logo (1952 - 1960)

Detroit’s last Thanksgiving win was in 2003.

1. Detroit Lions — 33

2. Dallas Cowboys — 28

3. Chicago Bears — 16

4. Green Bay Packers — 14

5. New York Giants — 7

6. Arizona Cardinals — 6

7(t). Kansas City Chiefs, Miami Dolphins, Minnesota Vikings, Tennessee Titans — 5

Highest Win Percentage

1. Minnesota Vikings (5-1) — .833

2. Philadelphia Eagles (4-1) — .800

3(t). Miami Dolphins (5-2) and Tennessee Titans (5-2) — .714

5. San Francisco 49ers (3-1-1) — .700

6. New England Patriots (3-2) — .660

7. Dallas Cowboys (28-15-1) — .636

8. New York Giants (7-4-3) — .607

9. New York Jets (4-3) — .571

10. Chicago Bears (16-13-2) — .548

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Superman Balloon at the 1940 Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade

Vintage Photo Wednesday, Vol. 41: Superman Balloon at the 1940 Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade

Superman 1940 Macy's Thanksgiving Day Parade ad

Last year I shared a cool vintage photograph of a Mickey Mouse balloon from the 1934 Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade, so this year I’m back with another fantastic floating icon.

This shot from the 1940 Macy’s parade marks the debut of the famous Superman balloon. His debut was given its own article in the November 22 edition of The New York Times, entitled “Superman Struts in Macy Parade — His 23-Foot Chest and 8-Foot Smirk Delight the Throngs Lining Sidewalks.”

Superman balloon, 1940

This is yet another example of something from pop culture achieving an enormous amount of popularity in a very short time. Consider that Superman had only just debuted in in April 1938 in Action Comics #1.

So within just a few years, the Man of Steel had his own comic book, his own radio program (The Adventures of Superman, which debuted New York’s WOR on February 12, 1940), and finally his own prominent balloon in the world’s most famous parade.

And for those who wonder what the balloon looked like all those decades ago, we now have some outstanding homemade film taken from inside a building during the parade. Look for Supes to make his appearance at the 1:28 mark, after a floating Uncle Sam, hippo, and clown, as well as the usual marching bands. What an awesome sight he must’ve been that day.

Lexus "December to Remember" message - Suck It, Poor People!

Congrats to Lexus on the Most Obnoxious Holiday Commercials of All-Time

Lexus "December to Remember" message - Suck It, Poor People!

Lexus, a perennial contender for the most annoying holiday commercials of the year, has roared back to the top of my Most Hated Christmas Commercial list in 2011 for all-time after being temporarily dethroned in 2010 by the Hyundai Hipsters. Incredibly, they’ve found a way to amp up the obnoxiousness even more this time by playing cutesy with their stupid “December to Remember” jingle. If you haven’t seen this spot from 2011, get a barf bag handy:

Look, I don’t normally encourage class jealousy or class warfare, but this is just fucking ridiculous. Who exactly does this campaign appeal to, if not privileged, upper-class white people without an ounce of shame? At least this year’s Acura holiday ads try to be funny.

If it makes you feel any better, feel free to sing along with this jingle with some lyrics I’ve come up with:

“I’m a giant douchebag / look at my car / don’t you wish you were just like me!”

(Turns out this is actually a real song called “Family & Friends” by Steve Kujala. Good for him for cashing in, I guess.)

2013 Update: While Lexus has toned down the smarm factor just a bit this year, there’s still a lot to loathe. Now these stupid fucking red bows are being elevated to holiday icon status. Ugh.

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Jack Benny's Golden Memories of Radio

Golden Memories of Radio, Part 1 — Jack Benny, Bing Crosby, and Amos ‘n’ Andy

Jack Benny Presents the Treasury of Golden Memories of RadioIn which we journey into the distant entertainment past, through the magic of old radio shows preserved on vinyl…

The sun set on the Golden Age of Radio roughly two decades before I was even born. By the 1970s, the warm glow of  the living room radio dial had long been washed out in a cathode ray bath. I’m not going to lie and say that I feel I missed out on a special time in American entertainment — I’m more of a classic TV man — I have to admit there is something compelling about what is now known as Old-Time Radio.

So, inspired by a recent 75th anniversary broadcast of Orson Welles’ War of the Worlds, I decided to blow the dust off a radio time machine I’ve had for years — my six-record collection called Jack Benny Presents the Treasury of Golden Memories of Radio. It was issued in 1969 on the Longines Symphonette Recording Symphony label.

Over the course of twelve vinyl sides, Benny narrates the listener through some of radio’s biggest performers and moments. The first side, which I’m presenting today, kicks off with a violin solo and series introduction from the man himself. It then spends its remaining time highlighting some of the best comedy old time radio had to offer.

The first clip we hear is from Fibber McGee & Molly, specifically the timeless sound effect gag of Fibber’s hall closet spilling its crammed contents all over the place. The idea behind running this first is to acquaint — or reacquaint depending on your age — the notion that radio relied on the listener’s imagination for its potency. The implication, of course, was that it wasn’t as lazy as TV tended to be.

Up next is a clip of Benny and his wife, Mary Livingstone, cracking wise on Bing Crosby’s Philco Radio Time show. My research indicates that this show was broadcast on March 26, 1947. Philco Radio Time debuted in October ’46 and ran for almost three years and just over 100 episodes.

The comedy continues with a choice segment from the legendary George Burns and Gracie Allen. I don’t really get the references in this bit — I had never heard of Charles Boyer — and personally I find the Crosby segment to be funnier, but it’s still a gas to hear the pair at work.

After a brief memorial mention of the recently deceased Eddie Cantor, the remainder of side 1 is a bit from the Amos ‘n’ Andy, that most popular and controversial show. Putting the issue of period racism aside for a moment, the jokes come easy and land well. I think this and the Philco Radio Time segment were the two strongest on this side, which is no easy feat considering how much more quickly comedy ages as opposed to drama.

In Part 2, we’ll sample daytime radio (aka the Soaps) and a host of vintage commercials. You know I’m always down for classic ads, so it should be a treat!

1963 Peanuts/Ford Falcon print ad

It’s a Ford Falcon, Charlie Brown

1963 Peanuts/Ford Falcon print ad

Several years before classic TV specials such as A Charlie Brown Christmas and It’s the Great Pumpkin, Charlie Brown secured the place of Charles Schulz’s beloved Peanuts characters in the hearts of millions of Americans, Charlie Brown and his friends came to life to sell cars.

In 1959, Ford Motor Company secured licensing rights to the Peanuts for use in a series of color TV commercials for its cars and the intros for Ford-sponsored The Tennessee Ernie Ford Show. The first spots appeared in January 1960 and marked the first time that Schulz’s creation had been animated. Here’s one of those early show intros:

While that show left the air in June 1961, the Peanuts’ association with Ford was just getting started. The gang’s most high-profile (and memorable assignment) was to help pitch a brand new Ford vehicle.

For the 1960 North American automobile model year, Ford made its first foray into the compact car market with the Falcon. Designed and priced to compete with the likes of compacts such as the Studebaker Lark, Chevrolet Corvair, Nash Rambler American, and Plymouth Valiant, the Falcon lasted through the 1969 model year — when it was replaced by the Maverick.

From 1960 through the 1965 model year, the Peanuts were everywhere in support of the Falcon — print ads, TV commercials, and official Ford literature such as sales brochures. Here’s one of the very first Peanuts Ford ads, animated by Bill Meléndez for Playhouse Pictures. In it, Charlie Brown is handing out cigars to celebrate the birth of Ford’s new “economy twins,” the marketing phrase used to sell the Falcon and the third-generation Fairlane.

Meléndez is a name most Peanuts fans should know, as he was hand-picked by Schulz to direct those great, early holiday TV specials. Already you can see that the classic Peanuts animation style is firmly in place for characters like Charlie Brown, Linus, Lucy, and Snoopy.

1962 Peanuts/Ford Falcon print ad

After Ford’s licensing deal with Schulz and United Features Syndicate expired, that was the end of the Peanuts appearing in Ford Falcon ads. In 1965, the year after that deal ended, A Charlie Brown Christmas aired. A few decades later Peanuts embarked upon its most visible and memorable marketing association yet when they began an association with MetLife insurance.

Here’s one final treat from the Peanuts Falcon days — a beautiful color animation cel and background from a 1962 TV ad. It features a great Bill Meléndez illustration of Charlie Brown, Linus, and Snoopy.

1962 Peanuts/Ford Falcon TV commercial animation cel

1984 USAir advertisement

Say Goodbye to US Airways, Finally

1984 USAir advertisement

1984 USAir advertisement

Now that the threat of a U.S. government lawsuit has been taken care of — via a nice out-of-court settlement — US Airways is finally free to complete its merger with American Airlines. When I published my post of the best logos for the top 10 U.S. airlines in August, I fully expected the merger to be completed imminently. But such are the wheels of justice I guess.

1979 USAir adBut with the recent announcement that the government’s case has been settled, the days of the US Airways brand are officially numbered. When the new airline rolls out in early 2014, it will carry the American Airlines brand only. Before that happens, let’s take a moment to remember what is still the 5th-largest carrier in the United States as of this writing.

As mentioned in the logo post, the ancestor company of US Airways is Pittsburgh-based All American Aviation, founded in 1937. When passenger service began in 1949, the company was renamed to All American Airways, but that only lasted three years.

In 1953 the carrier re-branded as Allegheny Airlines, one of the more successful regional carriers in the Northeast. By 1970 — two years after acquiring a smaller regional outfit named Lake Central Airlines — Allegheny boasted almost 1,700,000 scheduled revenue passenger miles. That total was bumped again in 1972 after Allegheny merged with Mohawk Airlines.

In 1979, following the passage of the 1978 Airline Deregulation Act, Allegheny morphed into yet another new identity in an effort to expand their routes and to start playing with the big boys. And thus was USAir born.

1984 USAir advertisementUSAir’s expansion was modest but steady for their first several years, then took of exponentially in the late 1980s. In 1996 the company announced a slight re-branding, in the form of a name adjustment. USAir was no more, replaced by the more adult-sounding US Airways. The logo and livery got a more streamlined and corporate look, which I suppose made business sense but was a lot less fun.

The first attempt at a merger/acquisition for US Airways actually took place in 2000, when they announced a proposed deal with United Airlines. After objections from labor unions and the government, the deal fell apart in the summer of 2001.

US Airways was hit hard by the after-effects of the September 11, 2001 terrorist attacks and the company entered Chapter 11 bankruptcy on August 11, 2002. However, they received a government-guaranteed loan through the Air Transportation Stabilization Board and were able to exit bankruptcy in 2003. Two years later, after a second bankruptcy filing, the company merged with America West Airlines.

After several years of retrenchment and other aborted mergers/deals, the merger with American was announced in February 2013. It looks like it will finally be consummated almost a year after the fact. And this the nation’s #5 carrier will cease to exist, entering the brand graveyard and opening the door for Allegiant Air to crack into the top 10.

Elvis Presley - King Creole, Vol. 2

Top 40 Radio Killed the Radio Star?

Elvis Presley - King Creole, Vol. 2

It’s a well-worn cliche by this point, but “the more things change, the more they stay the same” is just so appropriate for what I’m sharing with you today. It’s an article called “Program Monotony — Top 40 Menace to Industry, Says D.J.,” and it’s from the October 27, 1958 issue of Billboard magazine (known then as The Billboard). Click on the article for a larger version if you want to read the whole thing.

In the piece, a popular DJ based out of Hartford, CT named George “Hound Dog” Lorenz laments the rise of the Top 40 radio format, with its lack of variety and its potential to harm record sales and squash new artists.

"Top 40 Menace in Industry, Says D.J."One of his first complaints was probably valid then — I wouldn’t know — and is certainly valid now. “A lot of the stations are programming 24 hours a day with no more than 50 records. Maybe that’s okay, but when it’s the same records every day for a week and they change only 10 or so a week, then it begins to get pretty monotonous,” he said.

I can get on board with that. But until the rise of the iPod and ready access to your own music library, there was a good reason the limited-playlist format was used — it was profitable. I can see why it would suck as a DJ, but it made business sense.

Now, finally, after decades of dominance we’re seeing a major shift in listening habits. I don’t have hard numbers on ratings or anything like that, but I can confidently assert that Top 40 radio certainly no longer has the cultural importance it once did.

Elsewhere, Lorenz basically says that the Top 40 chart game was rigged, and based mostly on the personal preferences of program directors or deejays. He also claimed that record sales are hurt because of the Top 40 format when he said, “I find out from one dealer that he hasn’t sold 20 copies of [a Top 10 record]. Why? He tells me, ‘Do you think any kid is going to buy what he can hear on the radio till it’s coming out of his ears?'”

Sound like a familiar debate now? Just replace “Top 40” with “YouTube” or “streaming music services.”

Lorenz moves on to assert that new recording artists no longer stand a chance of getting wider exposure because they can’t break through the monolithic, hit-heavy playlists of radio. I understand where he’s coming from, but was it really any different in the early ’50s or late ’40s? It stands to reason that new performers in any field — pop music, radio, books — are going to have the odds stacked against them because relying on proven winners is more profitable. I’ll call this one a wash.

Finally, Lorenz makes his boldest claim: “I can tell you that the Top 40 stations, to say the least, aren’t helping [the singles market] any. I repeat, they’re helping to kill it for everybody. Elvis Presley’s “King Creole” EP has appeared on very few of those fancy lists. Yet it has sold close to a million. If anything kills Presley, it’ll probably be the charts.”

For the record, the King Creole soundtrack LP peaked at #2 in the U.S. and #4 in the U.K. There were two EPs of the same name in 1958 and they both hit #1. Although he stopped being white hot he still scored Top 10 singles all the way through 1970.

Phoenix Suns logo on a billboard

The Best and Worst NBA Logos (Pacific Division)

Phoenix Suns logo on a billboard

I’ve gone through my logo rankings for the NFL and MLB, so now it’s time for the NBA! If you want to see which logos I picked as the best for those leagues, I’ve provided this handy reference page. Otherwise, let’s do some roundball logo reviews. I’m going to take this at an easier pace than I did with football and baseball, so this will be running throughout the NBA’s regular season.

In the last edition I covered the Northwest Division, so up next are the five teams of the Western Conference’s Pacific Division — the Golden State Warriors, Los Angeles Clippers, Los Angeles Lakers, Phoenix Suns, and Sacramento Kings.  As always, most of these are sourced from Chris Creamer’s outstanding logo website.

Golden State Warriors


Golden State Warriors primary logo (2010 - present)

Golden State Warriors primary logo (2010 – present)

Warriors fans might be surprised to find this logo over the classic “The City” one from the late ’60s. It was a hard choice for me, but at the end of the day I think the bridge design on this one is more dynamic and appealing than the original. Even if I take points away for the uninspired font choice (copperplate? really?), this is still the best logo in team history.


Golden State Warriors primary logo (1997 - 2010)

Golden State Warriors primary logo (1997 – 2010)

There could only be one… worst Golden State logo. The team gets kudos for at least trying to incorporate an actual warrior in the logo, but  not much else. He looks more like the most buff member of Blue Man Group ever.

Los Angeles Clippers


Buffalo Braves primary logo (1971 - 1978)

Buffalo Braves primary logo (1971 – 1978)

I’m using my author’s privilege to once again reach deep into a franchise’s past for a cool logo. The Clippers spent their first eight years in the NBA as the Buffalo Braves, and this was their second primary logo. I dig the feather motif, and how it’s incorporated into the big B. This is similar to the sleeve logo the Atlanta Braves used in the ’70s, and I really like that too.


San Diego Clippers primary logo (1978 - 1982)

San Diego Clippers primary logo (1978 – 1982)

In 1978 the Braves left Buffalo and moved west. The team spent six unremarkable years in San Diego as the Clippers, and sported this rather bizarre logo. I get what they were going for here, but the execution is just a little sloppy. This would’ve been much cooler with the sail and sun elements rearranged a little bit.

Los Angeles Lakers


Los Angeles Lakers logo (1960 - 1967)

Los Angeles Lakers logo (1960 – 1967)

Before the Lakers adopted their now iconic purple and gold color scheme, they wore the same blue as when they were based out of Minneapolis. Perhaps I’m just jaded after looking at their current logo for so long, but the blue variant just seems a little fresher to me. The design itself isn’t particularly inspired, though.

This was taken from the team’s 1966-67 media guide, by the way.


Los Angeles Lakers alternate logo (2001 - present)

Los Angeles Lakers alternate logo (2001 – present)

I’ve got no beef with either of the Lakers’ primary logos, but this alternate one has to go. The only thing it has going for it is restraint, which sort of works against it. Why not get a little creative with an alternate logo?

Phoenix Suns


Phoenix Suns logo (1968 - 1992)

Phoenix Suns logo (1968 – 1992)

Faithful readers of this site will remember that this first Suns logo was featured as part of one of my billboard galleries. I really like the typeface used here, and the color scheme is great too. I also have a soft spot for the alternate logo from this period, as plain as it is.


Phoenix Suns alternate logo (2000 - 2013)

Phoenix Suns alternate logo (2000 – 2013)

It’s everything you love about the primary logo from the same period, but pointlessly stretched and distorted!

Sacramento Kings


Cincinnati Royals logo (1957 - 1971)

Cincinnati Royals logo (1957 – 1971)

I understand why a logo like this would never fly in today’s edgy, way-too-serious pro sports world, but dammit I love this so much. This thing was probably outdated as soon as it was rolled out in 1957. It really looks more like something from the 1940s. It’s just so unapologetically cartoonish, you have to admire it. And hey, how come Cincy doesn’t have a pro team anymore?


Sacramento Kings logo (1994 - present)

Sacramento Kings logo (1994 – present)

This seemed pretty bold and strong when it was unveiled in the mid-’90s, but now it just looks cluttered and messy. So I guess in that respect it’s the perfect symbol for the franchise.

Still, at least it doesn’t have any of those godawful gradients.

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