I’ve never been a regular gum chewer. Oh sure, I have a pack of peppermint gum sitting next to me while I’m typing this but that’s because I had serious onion breath the other day and went out and bought said pack so I could talk to people in a professional capacity without killing them. But really, I’m not a regular gum chewer. It might have something to do with the fact that from the third grade on and off until my sophomore year of high school, I had braces; however, I like to think that it’s because I am ultimately disappointed that I never had the experiences that gum companies promised me in the 1980s.
Commercials for gum these days seem to hype the product’s taste, making it seem that chewing a piece of 5 gum will make your entire body shake from its awesomeness. In the 1980s, however, gum commercials seemed less focused on how great everything taste and more focused on the amount of sex you could possibly have as a result of chewing said gum. Extra promised that things would last an extra long time, you could get a “little lift” from Wrigley’s spearmint gum, Big Red allowed you to get a little closer and kiss a little longer, and Doublemint … well, they had twins. But no gum was so focused on getting you some than Juicy Fruit, which had the taste that was going to move you …
It really is the ultimate gum commercial and uses sex for its sales pitch so much that it’s practically a beer commercial. You have a group of un-loving teens who are going water skiing on a lake somewhere. And they’re not just any group of teens, but they are the type of group that I’m sure my father would have referred to as a “crew.” For instance, “Yeah, that’s Jake Ryan. He hangs around with Andrew Clark, Brad Hamilton–you know, that whole crew.”
I was never part of a crew. You have to be popular to be part of a crew, and I wasn’t popular. I did have friends, but the closest we ever got to being a “crew” was emulating the Car of Idiots from that Far Side cartoon. We certainly never went water-skiing; I don’t think we ever event went to the beach. I know that I was certainly embarrassed to take my shirt off in public when I was a teenager (although there wasn’t anything wrong with me, aside from my being skinny), and if you ever did catch me at a lake or at a beach, you’d probably find me with my face buried in a Star Trek or Star Wars EU novel. Yeah, not exactly the type of person who belongs in a “crew.”
Funny thing, I kind of always wanted to be in a crew and I think it’s commercials like this that helped feed this desire. That and it seemed like everybody water-skiied in the 1980s. I remember being dragged to what seemed like an endless stream of barbecues, clambakes, and family parties (okay, it was probably two) where someone had a boat and a pair of water-skis and the entertainment for the evening was seeing how long various partygoers could stay on the skis before they completely wiped out. Here, everyone seems to be an expert skiier and while some of them do wipe out on occasion, it seems that they all know how to perform the type of stunts that you’d only see at Sea World. (more…)