For those baby boomers that actually grew up with television, the commercials were different way they are today. Many commercials were interspersed with the programs by the stars themselves. We were introduced to Wonder Bread and Hostess Cakes on the Howdy Doody Show. Buffalo Bob always told us to look for the red, yellow and blue balloons right on the package of Wonder Bread. Howdy also did ads for Welch’s Grape Jelly and Jam that had Howdy Doody and characters painted on the glass the jelly or jam came in and there was even a picture of a character on the bottom of the glass to encourage kids to drink all their milk.
Another show called Andy’s Gang featured Andy Devine a veteran Western actor who read stories and had adventures with characters Froggy the Gremlin, Midnight the Cat and a host of other characters. This program was brought to you by Buster Brown Shoes and all us kids sang the song every week: “I’ve got shoes, you’ve got shoes, everybody’s gotta have shoes…”for those Buster Brown Shoes that we all just had to have with the picture of Buster Brown and his dog Tige inside every shoe!
Another one I remember was Captain Midnight and his Secret Squadron. I sent in Ovaltine labels or the inner seal for a Secret Squadron decoder ring. There was a secret message at the end of each program and “only kids with a decoder ring” could find out the message. It was always reminders like brush your teeth or to drink your Ovaltine, looking back it was no big secret!
The Kukla, Fran and Ollie Show was a puppet show with real live Fran Allison as the non-puppet of the trio. She stood in front of a small stage and the puppets were behind where they could be operated by hand under this small stage. Lots of antics were created by other puppets on the show, and they also advertised Nabisco’s cookies.
And last by not least, who could every forget Jeff and then Timmy having their Campbell’s Soup on the program we could never forget; Lassie. For ten years Lassie endured two different families before the format was changed much later into the series.
All in all, these early programs led to a change that our parents did not experience in their childhood. They grew up without television, and only had the family radio as their source of media. The first baby boomers, like me, saw our children experience the first video games and their children become savvy with their iPod and various interactive video games. What will the next generation have as their claim to fame? One can only guess!
My membership in the Peanut Gallery