Retro Ramblings Vol. 3

The debate rages on: Smurfs, Fruit Snacks, Super Models and more!
July 22, 2009

Mini Marvels: Smurfs or Snorks?
Let's start with a comparison of the theme songs for this competition. Would all those who remember the Snorks theme song please raise your hand (...crickets...) anyone? Yes, you sir, would you mind singing it for us? "Sure (ahem) Sometimes, some crimes, go slipping through the cracks..." I'm sorry but that is the theme song to Chip N' Dales Rescue Rangers, please sit down. Now let's all sing together the Smurfiest anthem on Earth, "La la la la la la-la la la la laaaaa!". Yeah, the Snorks have a pretty rough road to hoe if they want to make any type of claim at being memorable. See the Smurfs were all blue, we picked up on that pretty quickly and we're ready to move on to that morning's adventure. But the Snorks confused us by making each character a different color, so we didn't care about the story or even weak spots of humor they tried to interject, we were too busy trying to figure out the yellow guy's name.

Also, the Smurfs had recognizable surroundings provided by the hollowed out mushroom community known as the Smurf Village, while the Snorks had the whole freakin' ocean! Note to the marketing department: it's much easier to make toys and playsets based one or two mushroom houses than 2/3 of an entire planet, just FYI. Finally, the Smurfs had a recurring villain in Gargamel, whose bungling made them look like heroes every week (although I always thought his cat Azrael was the real brains behind the operation). Then there's the Snorks who tended to have a villain/problem of the week type format that was unpredictable and if there's one thing kids like, nay, NEED, its predictability. It's a proven fact. Do you think if they changed up He-Man's "I have the power!" speech every week to alternates like, "I am a strong guy!" or "I need a shower!" he would have been as popular? No Way! So who "has the power" in this battle of tiny titans? Let me cheer-spell it for you S-M-U-R-F-S, Gooooooo, SMURFS!

Sweet Things: Fruit Roll Ups or Fruit Snacks?
Can't we just go directly to secret option #3, fruit snacks wrapped in fruit roll-ups? Mmmm...No, I suppose that wouldn't be fair to the format, let the battle begin. Fruit roll-ups were a cellophane wrapped conundrum that could boggle the mind if we thought too much about them. Were kids tricking their parents into buying them candy under the guise of nutritious fruit or were parents tricking kids into eating nutritious fruit under the guise of candy? The truth is unless they were homemade (which never worked out) these things were packed with sugar, but somehow Sunkist managed to get placement in the fruit aisle back in the day-VICTORY!

The best part of a "fruit roll" as I called them, was tearing them into strips so they lasted just a little bit longer. I never could understand the kids that just rolled them back up and ate them like beef jerky-where was the fun in that? Speaking of which, if we're measuring the worth of these products by fun, my vote goes to fruit snacks and here's why. Fruit snacks originally came in boring oval shapes that according to the commercials rained down from trees with laughing faces on them. But soon fun shapes were created in many likenesses.

Garfield brand showed the most artistry in that they actually had three dimensional full body shapes that you could play with before you ate them, but for non-licensed properties Shark Bites were the best. You had your orange Tiger shark, purple Hammerhead shark and the mother of them all the GREAT WHITE! Getting a package of Shark Bites with a Great White in it was like getting a hologram in a pack of trading cards, pure bliss. Fruit Roll-ups tried to compensate by having designs of sports card and Spider-Man etched into their 2-D surface or providing a full foot of rolled up fruity goodness, but it was too little, too late. For true versatility I have to give the win to Fruit Snacks.

Butler Boys: Mr. Belvedere or Geoffrey from Fresh Prince?
If we were choosing a winner based on weight, of course Mr. Belvedere (or Brocktoon as he's known in some circles) would take the cake...then eat it. However this is a contest founded in the fundamentals of witty servitude so let's see who had the butler basics down pat. Geoffrey certainly trumps Belvedere in looking the part as he always appeared on screen in his tux with tails and the posture of a frozen eagle. Meanwhile Belvedere was always trying to get away with dressing like Mr. Rogers' English cousin, in his sweater and slacks combination. Of course Belvedere tried to make up for this by going above and beyond the call of duty by dishing out "helpful" advice to the family.

Frankly, I think he was overstepping his bounds by meddling in family affairs. If ol' Belv-O were my butler I'd put him in his place right quick, "Hey, I'm paying you to iron my pants and make me casseroles, so you'll keep your mouth shut if you know what's good for you, LYNN!". Geoffrey on the other hand stuck to making snippy remarks under his breath and only offering his thoughts on life if someone really pressed him for the info. So who am I hiring to cater to my every whim? You guessed it, Geoffrey.

Like Mike: Michael Jordan or Michael Jackson?
(Note: I wrote this a week before Wacko Jack-O's death and I stand by my choice!)
Much like last edition's Gary Coleman vs. Webster match-up we have to put ourselves back in the moment when each of these guys was biggest star in the world. Both of these guys not only dominated their respective industries, but managed to branch out into the world of marketing and cement their pop culture status even further. In the fashion world Air Jordan sneakers and clothing were pretty much top dog as far as athletic wear went, it's even somewhat true today. Also, every time I think of the Hanes brand it I immediately brings to mind and image of Michael Jordan. Red leather jackets, fedora's and single sequent gloves gained popularity thanks to Jackson, but I never recall an actual brand name Michael Jackson line of clothing so I think #23 wins this round.

In Movies: Jordan gave us the animated/live action mashup known as Space Jam that never hit a chord with me, but there was no denying its popularity on the playground. Going back to fashion for a moment, I think that Space Jam may have had something to do with the oversized Looney Toons gangsta' wear that became popular shortly after.

Jackson meanwhile gave us the bizarre extended music video film Moonwalker which was pretty laughable even at the time of its release, with the exception of the "Smooth Criminal" segment, "Look! They're leaning farther than humanly possible! Leaning is awesome!" Technically, we also got the immortal "Captain Eo" at Disneyland but since it wasn't available outside the park it shant be included in the considerations. For me though, Jordan has a one up on the prince of pop that can't be topped, he appeared as himself in the animated series "Prostars".

This show featured Bo "Knows" Jackson, Wayne "The Great One" Gretzky and Michael "Air" Jordan as a trio of sports themed super heroes that saved the world time and again with their athletic skills. It was cheesy, yes, but at least it was better than the Hammerman cartoon. Some will defend Wacko Jack-O and state that he did appear on an episode of The Simpsons, which is true, BUT he didn't appear as himself. In fact, he didn't even allow his name to be used in the credits, instead he had a character name Leon Komposwki speak in his voice-LAME! Yeah, I'm going to have to award the official title of MJ to the guy who shilled for superior products and couldn't keep his tongue in his mouth to save his life, Jordan wins!

Bonus Question: Who Was Your Favorite Super Model?
There was a moment in time where the modeling industry seemed poised to take over the world, one sexy magazine ad at a time. It really didn't matter what brand of clothes they were shilling for or which muscle group they were toning in their latest workout video, these gorgeous gals could sell us anything. Granted, for guys we were mostly buying posters and calendars of the ladies rather than the products of their sponsors but then they started crossing over into movies and television and we were definitely buying into that! But who was the queen of the runway?

Personally I've always considered Cindy Crawford, Kathy Ireland and Claudia Schiffer to be the Holy Trinity of the super model movement. But Cindy Crawford really marketed herself into the stratosphere hooking up with Pepsi, hosting House of Style on MTV and even getting the lead in the movie Fair Game. As stated before it was not unusual for supermodels to get bit parts and guest spots in various productions, but to make us sit through a full 90 minutes of poor acting she must have really had the nation hypnotized.

I actually met Kathy Ireland while working as Goofy at Disneyland (I guess technically then I stared at her though a giant plastic head) but personal relationships (real or imagined) don't win you any extra points here missy and so Cindy wins the title as the most Super of Models!

Well, that's all for now gang!
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