When I was a kid growing up in Michigan, for a couple of years I lived right next to a Hardee’s restaurant. Hardee’s back then was a sort of fast food diner chain in the midwest and southern states where you could get really good, horrible, greasy tater tots, “Gee, I Wish I Was Arby’s” roast beef sandwiches, fried chicken, and other food like that. Today they are owned by Carl’s Jr., a fast food chain popular on the west coast. They have a different menu. They’re basically the same as Carl’s Jr. now, with the star logo and everything. This is kind of a loss for children’s junk culture because the kids of today miss out on getting shitty, motionless action figures with their soggy, deep fried artery glue.
The California Raisins began life as an advertisement for the California Raisin Advisory Board and soon abandoned shilling healthy food for the riches of the world of fast food. In addition to the original Claymation Will Vinton Studios’ “I Heard It Through The Grapevine” Marvin Gaye ad, two TV specials, and a memorable appearance at in the Claymation Christmas Special, they made regular appearances as Hardee’s Children’s Meal premiums.
As children, we pleaded and begged for these worthless trinkets in ’87, ’88, ’91, and when they made a comeback in 2000 (looking nothing like they used to), now grown into adulthood, we bought more terrible fast food out of a sense of nostalgic duty! That’s right: duty. Don’t try to tell me otherwise. I know you saw those crappy Michael Bay Transformers movies out of guilt. I certainly did.
I scanned this paper ad from my copy of an issue Totally Kids Magazine, the weird quarterly publication you would be entitled to as a member of the Fox Kids Club. This was a glorified spam mailer, but dammit, this was spam we WANTED. While it was not exactly a comic book, it usually contained short comics among other things, so fuck you, this is a classic comic ad!
The paper ad in question is from ’91 and what always makes me laugh about it is how they’ve updated the raisins from their original ’87 release. See the guy wearing the shades, Benny? He was always my favorite raisin because orange is my favorite color and cool people wear sunglasses. This is also the reason to this day I am constantly running into things. Anyway, Benny was originally known as Ben Indasun, which is a terrible pun. He was naked back then, wearing only a pair of orange Chucks and his trademark orange shades. But by ’91, he had aged 20 years, given up his dream of being a musician, gotten a shitty job as a used car salesman, and joined a bowling league. It’s sad seeing dreams die.
It’s also sad to think that my childhood burning desire for tiny immobile plastic figures of anthropomorphic raisins and skateboarding beach bunnies (no, not sexy beach girls, ACTUAL rabbits) may well lead to heart disease later in life. Maybe by then I will work at a used car lot and enter a bowling tournament.