27 WTF Vintage Thanksgiving Ads, Because Nothing Goes with Turkey Like Cigarettes, Beer, and Mayonnaise
Imagine, if you will, Thanksgiving in the 1950s and '60s, back before the advent of important modern holiday innovations like cranberry Sprite and roasted turkey flavored Doritos; before the invention of funny seasonal sweatshirts and GIFs of the pilgrim scene from Addams Family Values , when our forefathers could only entertain themselves during turkey season using the materials readily available to them: booze, McCarthyism, and ridiculous old Thanksgiving ads. Okay, fine, they may have had a few other things. I imagine that they may have also spent some of their down time running duck-and-cover-drills, or wondering when someone was going to get around to inventing hippies. But unless my (unlicensed) sociology training is leading me astray here, I think these whacked-out vintage Thanksgiving ads must have played a fairly significant role in how society entertained itself half a century ago.
I mean, these ads weren't designed to actually sell anything, right? Looking at them today, I can't imagine them actually playing any cultural role aside from maybe taking the edge off for 1950s housewives who did not yet have access to mind-bending pharmaceuticals. Why would pilgrims be eating beans? Why would a company suggest that you should consume a giant blob of mayonnaise straight up, as if it were a bowl of ice cream? Why are so many people cavorting with live turkeys? Why??!!
And yet, these ads are as much a part of the American Thanksgiving tradition as some gross cranberry side dish that no one wants to eat; and like that disgusting red jelly, we must honor these vintage Thanksgiving ads as the horrifying holiday tradition that they are.
"I am so excited for you to try my new cranberry surprise! You're never going to guess what the secret ingredient is! Okay, I'll give you a hint: it is something that tastes indescribably foul when mixed with cranberries. Okay, now try to guess!"
Have you eaten so much leftover turkey, it's no longer appealing? Then try this quick tip: chop it up, mix it with mayonnaise, surround it with Jell-O, feed it to your cat, then go to the grocery store to some buy some food that you can actually tolerate eating.
God, to have lived in an era where you could tie whiskey consumption to increased life expectancy with a straight face.
"You remembered! You brought home a giant live turkey, just like I asked! I take back everything I said before — you do listen to what I say while we're having sex!"
Mod Thanksgiving essentials: one mini-dress, four artfully composed turkeys on pedestals, and a fistful of hospital-grade amphetamines (I assume).
"I didn't want to have to say this, but: your family wants to get sloshed on beer at Thanksgiving. And if you stand in their way, you basically hate America. Wow, that was actually much easier to say than I anticipated! Oh, stop crying, Grandma. You're such a drama queen."
If only our pilgrim ancestors had understood that the new world was full of rugged, butch-looking giants who only wanted to help them, things could have gone way differently for them.
Don't you have anything more interesting to talk about than how your mom bought baker's chocolate because it was on sale, little girl? These are supposed to be the best years of your life, and also baker's chocolate on its own tastes like a foot.
What the hell does "lighten the fun" mean? Do they mean "increase the fun"? This is the kind of ad you'd end up with back in the days when everyone — including ambulance drivers and kindergarten teachers — was allowed to show up for work drunk.
"B-b-b-b-ut HOW did you get all that corn to fit into a BOX? I have literally lost control of my motor functions from the sheer shock of it all!"
You may not know this about me, but in my down time, I work as a historian specializing in early American bean studies, so I can attest that this Heinz ad featuring pilgrims....boiling?... a cauldron full of beans is 100 percent factually accurate.
Here is another ad that probably seemed like a good idea to the drunk white dudes in charge of advertising at the time: full-on racism, including actual racial slurs!
Be happy go lucky! Smoke a cigarette on Thanksgiving! Ride around in a cart pulled by a turkey until you both regret it! Live a little, damn it! LIVE!
Parents: are your children getting their daily recommended serving of vitamin "loaf"?
Don't worry about drinking too much beer at Thanksgiving, guys! It's the beverage of moderation! You can throw these back for an entire meal and you'll still be in better shape than this grandma, who from the look on her face has been huffing glue since early this morning.
I'm starting to sense a theme here.
And I'm starting to...kind of want to get drunk on Thanksgiving. Thanks, advertising!
"Happy Thanksgiving! Have another baby before your ovaries turn to sand! Love, Grandma"
Hey, do you guys know who Dinah Shore is? She was a big band singer and then a TV personality in the '60s and '70s, but I'll always have a special place in my heart for her because she was also a highly ranked amateur golf player who dated young Burt Reynolds when she was, like, 50. Anyway, I guess before all that happened, she wanted you to bake a pie. Go figure.
Smoke at the Thanksgiving table! It's what the pilgrims did! Or at least, it's what they would have wanted!
Every Thanksgiving, hundreds of turkeys die of second-hand smoke, and it's no laughing matter. Okay, fine, it's sort of a laughing matter.
Yeah, why did you only take pictures of your family on holidays, you dick? That's why your adult children never call you, and refuse to accept your Facebook friend requests.
Nothing says "Thanksgiving" like a turkey that appears to have literally split in two under the weight of its own internal crouton load.
If there's a better place to get Thanksgiving recipes than off of ads for glassware, I have yet to hear about it!
Are you getting that turkey hammered, young lady?! Eh, you know what, that's actually pretty decent of you. No need for him to be sober during what happens next.
Or, you could just try barfing. Have you looked into barfing at all?
Who wants to be the one to break the news to that perky turkey that this day is probably not going to end well for him?
Images: Heinz, Kraft, Jell-O, Seagrams, Brown-Haley, Alamac, Pabst Blue Ribbon, GTE, Schlitz, Birds Eye (2), Budweiser, Lucky Strike, A & P, United States Brewers Foundation (3), Western Union, Camel, Hellmann's, Chesterfield Cigarettes, Kodak, Kellogg's, Pyrex, Rheingold Beer, Dr. Pepper Snapple Group, Carter's