Friday, 8 February 2008

No other chocolate does it to you

I am 35 and largely for this reason I have personal experience of Australian television of the 1970s, experience which compensates with quality what it lacks in quantity.

I didn't get much memorable entertainment out of TV as an infant (Catweazle, The magic Roundabout, Aunty Jack, and The Goodies honourably excepted) but one TV thing I do remember with chilling, decades-annihilating clarity is the ad for Flake bars which has carved itself a dedicated and permanent fascicle among my neural pathways.

I'm sure you know the ad I mean. According to the person who uploaded it to Youtube, it hung around on telly for years and years, which sounds right. Nevertheless my memory of it dates very precisely from the era when the kitchen benchtop was at eye level and I was an adept at handling the Happy Hopper.

I believe that it was this ad taught me to experience the emotion of disgust. God, it made me feel horrible!

The ad goes like this: a woman dressed in white polyester flounces and carrying a white basket walks along the pillared and cluttered verandah of an inauthentically 'gracious' house and steps down onto the facistic-imperialistically green lawn. The whole thing is larded with Vaseline and aureoles, and on the sound track an invisible chinless wonder is awfully singing a song about having things done to you with flaky chocolate. Swinging her basket, which has a Flake in it (tastefully concealed under a peach polyester napkin), she walks to the shrubbery and seats herself in the seclusion of shady long grass under a tree. Meanwhile back at the house, a man also dressed mostly in white is sucking on a glass of Coolibah when he sees (or possibly smells) the woman walking away and a 'tally-ho' expression comes over his silly face. He puts a flaccid white hat on his head, which emphasises the unpleasant way his hair lies like a recently killed kitten on the back of his neck, and follows her down to the bushes.

She's sitting there poking suspiciously symmetrical fragments of Flake into her lipsticked mouth and he sneaks up behind her and pushes his head between the branches, triumphantly fingering his hat. She looks up at him from under her own hat and smiles while steadily continuing to mumble manicured rectangles of Flake. Yuk! I don;t know what's worse. She sneaked off to guzzle chocolate on her own and then he followed her in order to scab some. Have they no shame?

17 comments:

David said...

And that very final image is a warning to us all about reckless Flake-related shenanigans.

Cozalcoatl said...

We are the same age and I totally remember that ad, not that I have thought of it in yonks. Though the only real affect it had on me was that I wanted a Flake. I'm sure the chocolate isn't as good as I wanted it to be.
Though it was a sign to me of growing up when I could afford to buy my own Flakes, Mint Slices and Vienna Chocolates.

For the TV I have to add 'Dr Who'
"Worzel Gummidge' and "To The Manor Born'....
Now you have made me watch 'Catweazle' on YouTube. Rob who never saw it (being a Yank and all) is bemused

lucy tartan said...

I watched those shows too. Worzel Gummidge and Doctor Who belong together. To The Manor Born reminds me to name Fawlty Towers too, even though it should really go without saying.

Meredith said...

Do people still make pavlovas decorated with flaked up flakes?

Drewzel said...

I am a chocolate fiend, but have never liked Flake. Too dry and lacking in structure. But I remember that ad too. Oh and the "Cherry Ripe" ads. And that "mmm, mmm, mmm, mmm" soldier Picnic ad (that was a bit later I think?) And I can still sing for you the "Care for kids", "Have a go" or "Milk it instead" jingles. And Hector the Safety Cat.

PS. TV, don't forget The Banana Splits and (embarrassingly?) Simon Townsend's Wonder World.
PPS. Laura, as you might have got regional tv too, remember the yawn that was Sunday? 'Variety Italian Style' and 'Sounds of Sunday'.
PPPS. A bit later, remember circa 1985 sitting up late with bleary eyes, waiting through Rock Arena for the Young Ones to come on?

cristy said...

I have strong memories of that ad too - and must admit that it never failed to make me want to eat a Flake. It retrospect I am unsure why that was...

My favourite ad was the one for Frosty Fruit. I still get it stuck in my head from time to time.

lucy tartan said...

How did the Cherry Ripe ad go?

Mel said...

Although your post was written very humorously, I felt sad as I was never disgusted by that ad. If it taught me anything, it taught me "classiness". My friends and I thought that sticking tiny flakes of chocolate lasciviously in our mouths was the height of sophistication and now you've - well, you've made me realise why I'm single. Just in time for Valentine's Day too.

As for the Cherry Ripe ad, the one I liked had a jaunty song with the refrain "You're everything (Cherry Ripe!) that I want (Cherry Ripe!), you're everything I want and a little bit more!" It featured a man and a woman walking along a street and they come to a fruit cart filled with cherries. The woman picks some up and you can see her mouthing CHERRIES! like it's the best thing ever, but she's wrong! and the guy shakes his head wryly and pulls a Cherry Ripe bar out of his pocket. He peels off the wrapper, being careful not to ruin or obscure the logo, and she bites off the corner while he is holding the bar, because obviously someone retarded enough to prefer real cherries to a Cherry Ripe is incapable of holding their own bar.

Ben.H said...

Dear god, I don't even have to look at that YouTube thingo because that bloody Flake ad is fresh in my mind like it happened yesterday. If you asked me to sing "Nobody Does It Better" I'd end up singing that Flake jingle instead.

It's the one with that annoying bit of politely wailing guitar at the end, right? I'll never forget that. Even as a pre-teen it embodied all that was naff about music. As for the ad itself, it, combined with love scenes from daytime soap operas, was sufficiently unpleasant to defer my adolescent interest in sex for, oh, several weeks.

Are you sure this is late 70s and not early 80s? I ask because (a) the 70s hung around for longer than we care to remember, but on the other hand (b) I've been surprising myself lately by discovering some of my memories are several years older than I thought. That second point is a sure sign that I am no longer young.

Ben.H said...

Oh, and happy anniversary to you and your blog.

francarr said...

I have memories of that Flake advert as well...mostly worrying about how she would get the grass stains out of all that white. I used to love Cherry Ripes, when they were made by MacRobertson's and came in an orange wrapper; but then they suddenly were made by that other company, and repackaged in that horrible foil-y wrapper and CRs never tasted the same, ever.

tigtog said...

Sweet, melt in your mouth nostalgia, eh?

I have to throw in a mention for Yes, Prime Minister, although that may have been more early 80s.

P.S. For the first time ever, I got not even one pic of Baz in Baz-lotto.

lucy tartan said...

Anti-baz....

Kathleen said...

The Flake ad has to be early 80s, I think. I have no cogent memories of the 70s, having been born in '77, but I remember this ad so well that, like Ben, I don't have to watch the link. Perhaps it was so successful they kept running it through the 80s?

Far from teaching me disgust, I am ashamed to admit that I thought this ad taught me class...Sorry. White polyester. Ooh yeah.

The other ad that is burned on my brain is the VB ad. As kids, we were only allowed to watch 1 hour of TV a day, and yet my Year 2 teacher still told my mum that I watched too much TV because I was always singing "As a matter of fact, I've got it now." That didn't go down too well at my church school.

The Doctor said...

At least there's a dark chocolate Flake now! Much nicer.

dysthymiac said...

35 years ago when Sesame Street was first screened on ABCTV, the Greek Chorus all wailed that Our Aussie children's minds would be destroyed by the Septic Culture conveyed straight into tiny minds, so I have to ask "Do you say zee for zed, pavement for footpath, cookie for biscuit, biscuit for scone ... ? "

lucy tartan said...

Heaven forbid. I do talk about chocolate chip cookies, but they still fall under the larger heading of 'biscuits.'