Top 10 Weirdest Nostalgic Commercials



Top 10 Weirdest Nostalgic Commercials

VOICE OVER: Andrew Tejada WRITTEN BY: Beca Dalimonte
These commercials make us feel nostalgic, but they're also incredibly bizarre. For this list, we'll be looking at ten of the weirdest commercials from years past. Our countdown includes Airheads Fruit Spinners, Quizno's Subs, Earthworm Jim, Bic Banana Ink Crayons, and more!
These commercials make us feel nostalgic, but they're also incredibly bizarre. For this list, we’ll be looking at ten of the weirdest commercials from years past. Our countdown includes Airheads Fruit Spinners, Quizno's Subs, Earthworm Jim, Bic Banana Ink Crayons, and more! What are some of the strangest commercials you remember from your childhood? Let us know in the comments below!

#10: Starburst Berries & Cream

While some bizarre advertisements are just hazy childhood memories, others have made comebacks in recent years - either from the company themselves or in the form of internet memes. The latter happened in 2021 with Starburst’s “Berries & Cream” ad, when comedian Justin McElroy posted a clip of the commercial to Tiktok. The ad, which shows a “little lad” dressed in old fashioned clothes dancing and singing about his love for berries and cream, was a surprise hit, inspiring a number of memes and remixes. An interview was even released with the little lad themself, Jack Ferver. Since doing the commercial, the actor and choreographer has taught at Bard College and choreographed scenes for Alvin the Armadillo in the Netflix mockumentary “Mascots.”

#9: Winston Cigarettes

In 1971, cigarette commercials were banned from American television - making this next series of advertisements seem like a real product of the stone age. “Winston tastes good, like a cigarette should!” was the basis of a jingle advertising Winston Cigarettes, but it’s the brand’s spokesperson, not their slogan, which has landed them a spot on this list. Who was their spokesperson? None other than the family-friendly suburban cavemen “The Flintstones.” Living in a world where the teen-centric show “Stranger Things” came under fire for the amount of smoking shown onscreen it may seem hard to imagine a cartoon character selling cigarettes, but this was the surreal reality for Americans in the 1960’s.

#8: Earthworm Jim

Blammo! This commercial for “Earthworm Jim” shows plenty of footage from the cartoony side-scrolling adventure game, but it may be hard to focus on gameplay when the story is being told by a deranged grandma. The ad, which aired in 1994 to coincide with the first game’s release on Sega Genesis and Super Nintendo, features an older woman who begins to eat from a bowl of wriggling live worms as she explains the new game. As it goes on, the woman becomes more and more excited by the story, her voice becoming deeper and her hair becoming unkempt. It may seem like a strange way to advertise a video game, but it created a lasting impression on its young demographic.

#7: MiO Energy

Anthropomorphic animals - that is, animals with human qualities - are a popular character type in animation, especially for children. Characters like Mickey Mouse, Bugs Bunny, and even Smokey Bear have made lasting impressions on American pop culture. Unfortunately for MiO Energy, their attempt at creating anthropomorphic animal characters just comes across as a little …well, creepy. In the ad, an ostrich and giraffe with uncannily human faces discuss a rhino’s recent nose job and ultimately decide to customize their water like she “customized” her nose with MiO Energy. While talking, they’re passed by a similarly uncanny camel who is implied to have had her “humps” done.

#6: Bic Banana Ink Crayons

Charles Nelson Reilly was an actor who lent his voice to a number of animated characters, including evil henchman, Killer, in “All Dogs Go to Heaven” and Mr. Toad in the 1987 adaptation of “The Wind in the Willows.” He also played the “alien game show host” D.O.R.C. on “Space Cats,” where he was represented by a green disembodied head. Prior to these roles, however, Reilly could be seen on American television in a rather wacky Bic Banana Ink Crayon advertisement. The commercial, which ran in 1973, showed Reilly dressed in a banana costume singing about how great the new crayons were to a classroom full of students who were also dressed as bananas.

#5: Airheads Fruit Spinners

You may not think that a regular human face would make for a bizarre commercial mascot, but what if that face was spun upside down? This is the case for the 2010’s Airheads Fruit Spinners commercials, which show excited chins and mouths talking about the fruity flavors of Fruit Spinners. To complete the look, the strange creatures are given googly eyes, eyelashes, and small human arms, making them feel a bit reminiscent of the late 90’s/early 2000’s thumb-based parody franchise beginning with “Thumb Wars: the Phantom Cuticle.” At the end of the ad, the chin creatures are cleverly turned into the Airheads logo, a red balloon with a face.

#4: Hummer H3

What better way is there to sell your product than with a depiction of true love? What makes this Hummer H3 ad bizarre is that the true love on display is between a giant robot and Godzilla-like monster. The unlikely pair meet while destroying a city and immediately hit it off with the monster getting pregnant and eventually giving birth to a Hummer H3. Yes, you heard correctly - the monster gives birth to a Hummer. The tagline for the ad, which played during Super Bowl XL, was fittingly “it’s a little monster” paired with the Hummer slogan “like nothing else.” Truer words were never spoken!

#3: Pole Position

Video games graphics have improved a lot since the 1980’s - as witness the “Pole Position” ads for the game’s release on the Atari 2600. One ad features a corporate executive who “stops exciting things from happening” taking a Sunday drive with his family. They get shaken out of his car by a giant disembodied hand and dropped into a race car. The family then race against each other, with some cars running into signs and exploding. All of this live-action action is juxtaposed against actual gameplay footage, which is laughably tame by today’s standards. To hammer in the absurdity, the commercial ends with the slogan “you’ll bust your crank, and leave skid marks on your soul.”

#2: Bud Ice

It’s not everyday that a company tries to sell you its product by implying that you’ll be stalked if you have it, but that was the premise of a series of “Bud Ice” ads that aired in the mid-1990’s. Most of the ads played out like a short thriller or horror scene, ending with a shot of a penguin hauntingly singing the tune “doo be doo be doo” as the human protagonist screamed and ran away in fear. The slogan? “Drink Bud Ice but, uh, beware the penguins.” Despite the ads’ strange content, it was a hit with American television viewers, with the series’ dark comedic edge working in Bud Ice’s favor.

#1: Quizno’s

If you lived in America in the early 2000’s chances are you saw one of these bizarre commercials for the sub shop, Quizno’s. The ads puzzled, and occasionally charmed, those who saw them, featuring abrasively weird creatures photoshopped to have buggy eyes, human mouths, and hats. Naturally, these creatures screamed about their love for tasty toasted subs. If you do some digging, you can find that these “animals” are called “spongmonkeys” and were created by a man named Joel Veitch for a video called “We Like the Moon.” The Quizno’s chief marketing officer was a fan of the video and ordered a series of attention-grabbing ads from Veitch for the company - unleashing the spongmonkeys onto TVs across the country.