What brands do you remember most when you look back to the 60s and 70s? The first one that comes to my mind is Frosted Flakes. I guess I must have had a crush on Tony the Tiger. Others were Twinkies, Kool-Aid, Tang, and Oscar Mayer weiners. Barry Silverstein’s first book is called Boomer Brands: Iconic Brands that Shaped Our Childhood. It’s a fun read and brings back fond memories.
The cartoon shows that I remember most are The Flintstones, The Jetsons, and Huckleberry Hound. I still wish I could get into a tube and be zapped to a new location like George Jetson. My favorite was The Adventures of Rocky and Bullwinkle. Earlier fond memories were of Captain Kangaroo, The Mickey Mouse Club, and Bozo. I was on the Bozo Show once when I was about six and when he asked me what I wanted to be when I grew up, I said “A pig.” I don’t know what possessed me to say that because I was a girlie girl and didn’t particularly like rolling in the mud.
Boomer Brands covers the cereal we loved, (or what manufacturers wanted us to love), our favorite shows, toys, (didn’t we make Barbie famous?) everything Disney, (love you Uncle Walt) what we wore to the beach, (Coppertone) and the emergence of Fast Food. (McDonald’s, White Castle, and Kentucky Fried Chicken before it was KFC.)
As we got older we took The Pill, smoked cigarettes, (Virginia Slims – no thanks) drove classic cars (who can forget the VW bug and Mustang?) and we stiffened our hair with Dippity Do.
Of course, there were our favorite bands. I was a Monkee fanatic for a while in middle school and loved Micky. My magazines of choice were Tiger Beat and Seventeen. In high school, I graduated to The Rolling Stones, The Mama’s and Papa’s, James Taylor, Linda Ronstadt, and The Beatles. For a while, I had a huge crush on Arlo Guthrie. Don’t ask me why. I was a weird kid when it came to music.
Silverstein goes in-depth on our politics and people who were in the news as well as what we were protesting and why. We caused a stir in the environmental movement. Remember “Keep America Beautiful,” and the beginnings of “Earth Day.” Ralph Nader kept us in check with consumer awareness.
The author also names 10 Boomer brands that have had lasting legacies that endure to this day like credit cards Gatorade, and Microwave ovens.
At the end of the book, he lists brands that started in particular years. I looked up 1953, the year I was born. Boomer brands that came into prominence include Denny’s, Walt Disney Studios Motion Pictures, and Cheez Whiz, among others.
His second book is called Boomer Brand Winners and Losers
Here, the author writes his take on it.
It’s an interesting phenomenon that as we age, we become more nostalgic. We look back fondly on old memories from our childhood. Many of those memories are related to favorite brands in such kid-oriented categories as cereal, soft drinks, and snack food.
One reason you may recall brands when you were growing up: You associate them with the comfort and security of your childhood home. These brands are linked in your subconscious to a time when you were a happy, carefree youngster. That’s why a childhood brand can act as an emotional trigger, setting off positive feelings from the past and shielding you from today’s pressing problems.
Here’s another reason your memory banks light up when you recall a childhood brand: Television. During the 50s and 60s, television became the dominant medium in America. Turns out television was also pretty awesome for brand advertising.
There was a real emotional connection between us and what we watched on TV. Television shows resonated with our young, impressionable minds, allowing us to fantasize. Shows cleverly incorporated brand promotions of all kinds and brazenly advertised products to kids. Even today, your mind may closely associate your favorite childhood brands with your favorite childhood TV shows.
There were childhood brands you probably considered “winners” or “losers.” Among the winners for me growing up were Cocoa Puffs, M&Ms, and Pop-Tarts (notice that sugar was the common ingredient!). My personal losers included Maypo cereal, Atomic Fireballs candy, and a toy called Sea Monkeys. I still think about these winners and losers so much that I wrote a new book about them: Boomer Brand Winners & Losers.
As a retired marketing professional, I can tell you that any brand marketer would be giddy with delight to know that you still remember a brand you first learned about decades ago. Remarkably, many of the brands we grew up with still exist today. There could be no better proof of a brand’s staying power.
Even so, is reminiscing about childhood brands a good thing? Most of us would probably agree there is nothing wrong with having positive memories of childhood brands. In fact, brand recollection may actually be good for you. Research into nostalgia suggests remembering the past has tangible benefits.
Reporting for The New York Times about nostalgia research, John Tierney wrote, “Nostalgia has been shown to counteract loneliness, boredom, and anxiety. It makes people more generous to strangers and more tolerant of outsiders. Couples feel closer and look happier when they’re sharing nostalgic memories. On cold days, or in cold rooms, people use nostalgia to literally feel warmer.”
So as you start the new year, keep those old brand memories alive. Think about your own brand “winners” and “losers.” Chances are reminiscing about brands will spark cherished childhood memories: Thoughts of when you happily sat in front of the television on Saturday mornings watching your favorite shows and eating a bowl of Cap’n Crunch or Froot Loops… when you played with your Barbie dolls or read Action comic books… when you snacked on Cheetos or Devil Dogs… and in your later years, when you pulled out those 45s and listened to the most famous rock ‘n’ roll “brand,” The Beatles.
Recall those childhood brands without guilt. Reminisce about them all you want. Think happy thoughts about the brands you loved when you were a kid. It’ll probably make you feel good to keep those brand memories alive. As a certain brand’s television commercial famously proclaimed, “Try It, you’ll like It.”
What Boomer Brand do you especially remember? Please leave a comment below.