Retrotisement – Skippy Peanut Butter

It’s no understatement to say that I love old commercials. So much so that I plunked down 10 bucks just to own some of them. And I especially love commercials of the 1950s, most of which display a cheerful lack of cynicism so often found today. In a lot of cases, we get treated to some really great animation or stop-motion photography. There are, however, some real odd entries in the canon of classic advertising. Like, say, this circa 1958 ad for Skippy Peanut Butter.


The commercial starts off with a brief history lesson (the true sign of a rip-roaring ad) – “Fifty to sixty years ago, people were introduced to peanut butter for the first time.” (Incidentally, it turns out that George Washington Carver did not actually invent peanut butter.)

Cutting-edge 1950s animation.
Little stick children worshiping their peanut butter god.

These “people,” it turns out, were nothing but formless sticks with heads, obviously suffering from a lack of essential protein in the pre-peanut butter era — I guess that’s where the inspiration for the people in the “Life” board game came from. According to the commercial (which has gone more than 30 seconds without once mentioning the product), kids liked the early, crude forms of peanut butter. Parents, however, recoiled in horror at the seemingly unwieldy jar sizes. Their unfortunate choice of graph paper-inspired wallpaper no doubt added to their consternation.

A depiction of shock that would turn Munch green with envy.

So while kids were content to eat peanut butter that the ad described as oily and sticky, parents were forced to live a peanut butterless life, devoid of any real meaning or substance. That was until the banner year of 1933!

1933, a banner year for something or other.

That’s right, 1933. So while the rest of the world concerned itself with trifling matter like Hitler’s election to the German chancellery and the repeal of Prohibition, moms and dads could finally breathe a sigh of relief. Why? Skippy was here!!!!

1950s Skippy peanut butter ad
Skippy - Salmonella free since 1933!

In a particularly puzzling bit of marketing, the name of the product did not appear until more than a minute into the commercial. Take that, overrated Macintosh “1984” ad! But I digress. Apparently Skippy became a hit with parents, and it likely had something to do with its powerful hallucinatory effects:

1950s Skippy peanut butter ad
Zoinks, Scoob! This Skippy is like, far out!

So the commercial ends after roughly 90 seconds, having not once named the product. Buy hey, with interesting side effects like Skippy seems to have produced, I’m sure the word-of-mouth impact on sales was huge.

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