Sunday, November 21, 2004

A Big Delight in Every Bite

In the process of my too-long post about Seanbaby, I forgot to say much about my favorite feature of the site: The Hostess Page. In the '70s and early '80s, Hostess decided to advertise their desserts on the back of comic books in such a way that kids would think the ads were actually part of the comics, and read them. So they enlisted various comic-book characters as pitchmen, and commissioned a series of one-page stories where the hero defeats some villain using Hostess Twinkies, Hostess Fruit Pies, or Hostess Cupcakes. The policy of the comic book companies was that it was okay for the heroes to save the day with Hostess snacks or say nice things about same, but they were never allowed actually to eat the product, because that would have crossed some line into open endorsement. Or something. But that meant that it was usually the villain who was seen eating the product, which left the reader with the odd impression that it's mostly evil people who like to eat Twinkies. Which may, in fact, be true.

Anyway, Seanbaby has most of these totally insane DC and Marvel ads, with equally insane "reviews" of many of them ("Robin, if you carry around a Special Mummy Ray Gun in your panties, it better fucking work on mummies"), plus an interview with a DC guy who wrote several of these things. Some of the all-time classics of bizarre advertising include:

Thor in "The Ding-a-Ling Family" -- the Mighty Thor battles an astral RV full of space hillbillies who are invincible due to "cousin power."

Wonder Woman in "The Maltese Cup Cake -- featuring such villains as Petula Lorry and Cindy Bluestreet.

Green Lantern in "The Fruit Pie Scene" -- The Nefarious Dr. Live learns that he really needs to change his name to Dr. Resol.

The Incredible Hulk vs. the Roller Disco Devils -- The town is terrorized by a bunch of roller-skating disco dancers who prevent kids from going out to buy Hostess Fruit Pies. Fulfilling the fondest dreams of many in the late '70s, the Hulk takes care of those marauding disco gangs.

Captain America vs. The Red Skull -- "Note: The Cosmic Cube Can Do Anything." Anything, that is, except resist the deliciousness of Twinkies.

There's another page, believe it or not, that covers a few of the ads Seanbaby didn't get to, featuring such characters as Archie and, God help us, Bugs Bunny.

When Bugs Bunny starts shilling for snack cakes you may think Madison Avenue has gone too far, and you'd be right. But this sort of thing is way more effective than the usual comic-book ad of the time -- you remember, the ones in black-and-white that told you in block capitals to send them all your money and they'd send you a rock that would give you magic powers. Those ads stunk. And I've got the rock to prove it.

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