These Memorable Taglines from the 1990s Will Make You So Nostalgic
Three words: "You've got mail."
You'd be surprised how easily a 1990s commercial can make you wistful for the days of neon windbreakers and fanny packs. Take those Mentos ads from the '90s, for example. There's something about watching a guy make his own pinstripe suit as he celebrates "the freshmaker" that'll make you so nostalgic for the '90s. Since we all love a walk down memory lane, we've rounded up the most iconic commercial jingles and catchphrases from the '90s. So snap into a Slim Jim and let's get started!
"Got milk?" (California Milk Processor Board)
It all started with this 1993 quirky ad for milk featuring a history buff who's misunderstood all because he's out of milk. He calls in to a radio contest with the correct answer to "Who shot Alexander Hamilton?"—but he's mid-bite on a peanut butter sandwich and has nothing to wash it down, losing his chance at $10,000. After that, '90s kids around the country knew who Aaron Burr was and the "Got Milk?" campaign took off.
The California Milk Processor Board began creating print ads with the likes of Mike Myers, Patrick Ewing, Kate Moss, Kermit the Frog, and the cast of Friends. Yes, anybody who was anybody appeared in a "Got Milk?" ad sporting a "milk mustache" in the '90s. Kids were even collecting these ads from magazines. Did the wildly popular catchphrase convince anyone to drink more milk? It's debatable, but it sure did create a rhetorical question that will live on through the ages.
"Be like Mike" (Gatorade)
While nobody was fooled into thinking that Gatorade would give them the athletic prowess of basketball great Michael Jordan, that wasn't really the appeal of these '90s ads anyway. What really stood out was the crosscut between footage of Jordan at his best and everyday people, just like us, attempting to recreate his moves. "Be like Mike" was about dreaming the impossible dream, and how much fun it can be to have your head in the clouds.
"Snap into a Slim Jim" (Slim Jim)
You didn't need to have any idea who Macho Man Randy Savage was to find something to enjoy in these truly bizarre mid-1990s Slim Jim commercials. Savage was like a human Kool-Aid Man in yellow tassels, crashing through walls to encourage kids, in his growling baritone, to "Snap into a Slim Jim!" Because, according to him, processed meat sticks could solve any problem. It wasn't exactly the most convincing sales pitch, but Savage was too hilariously terrifying to ignore.
"You've got mail" (AOL)
In the '90s, the welcome voice announcing "You've got mail" was a huge part of our early exposure to the internet. Elwood Edwards, the man behind the famous voice, once revealed that he's pranked people by hiding behind their computer monitors and saying "You've got mail" before popping up to reveal himself.
"Beef. It's what's for dinner" (National Cattlemen's Beef Association)
Declining beef sales inspired the National Cattlemen's Beef Association to launch this ad campaign in the early '90s in an attempt to change the public's opinion about a meat-based diet. Lucky for them, it did the job. Add one part Robert Mitchum narration, one part killer song like "Rodeo" by Aaron Copland, and four parts images of delicious cuts of meat, and it was impossible for any of us not to start craving a juicy steak. Beef was indeed what was for dinner in many American homes throughout the decade.
"Do the Dew!" (Mountain Dew)
Mountain Dew is a lot of things, but it's not the ideal sports drink for professional athletes. However, the "Do the Dew" commercials from the '90s tried to convince us otherwise, featuring death-defying daredevil stunts on BMX bikes and Mountain Dew-pounding teenagers saying things like "been there, done that." Too much caffeine in your system probably won't help much if you're making a 4,000-foot vertical drop down a mountain, but whatever, it made for a fun commercial.
"I want my baby back, baby back, baby back…" (Chili's)
Even the guy who wrote the Chili's baby back ribs song in the 1990s never expected it to become so huge. "I wrote it in, like, five minutes," adman Guy Bommarito said in an interview with Vice. "It ran, and we thought that it would go away." It did anything but, becoming a pop culture staple that was parodied by everyone from Austin Powers to The Office. In 2004, it was chosen by Ad Age as the melody "Most Likely to Get Stuck in Your Head."
"The freshmaker" (Mentos)
Everything about "the freshmaker" Mentos commercials of the 1990s was obviously scripted, as if the casting director gave specific instructions to the actors to look like robots imitating human beings. As indisputably bad as the acting might have been, however, the public had a love/hate relationship with the ads. And no matter how you feel about them, "the freshmaker" was a tagline anyone who watched TV in the '90s remembers.
"Nobody better lay a finger on my Butterfinger!" (Butterfinger)
Bart Simpson was the poster child for bad behavior when he became the world's most famous candy spokeskid. In the hilarious 1990s commercials for Butterfinger, which could occasionally be as funny as an episode of The Simpsons, Bart constantly outsmarted his dad's attempts to steal his precious Butterfinger, ending with the warning, "Nobody better lay a finger on my Butterfinger!" Any candy-crazy kid could totally relate.
"Yo quiero Taco Bell" (Taco Bell)
Don't ask why a Chihuahua that was fluent in Spanish and requesting fast food was so hilarious to us in the 1990s, but it just was. Gidget, the most unlikely commercial spokesdog that ever lived, became a household name just for telling strangers she wanted Taco Bell in Spanish. Sure, on paper it sounds preposterous, but that Chihuahua stole our hearts.
"Once you pop, the fun don't stop" (Pringles)
We gotta say, it was pretty bold for Procter & Gamble to promote Pringles by promising they'd bring endless good times. But the reality was, whether you were using Pringles cans as percussion instruments or making Pringles duck lips, once you popped open a can of Pringles, it truly was hard to contain the fun.
"Maybe she's born with it, maybe it's Maybelline" (Maybelline)
As one Reddit user pointed out, this beauty product tagline was basically saying, "Maybe she's naturally pretty, maybe she fakes her beauty with makeup." But regardless of what they suggested, these Maybelline commercials got our attention.
"Think different" (Apple)
Apple's 1997 "think different" campaign still gives us goosebumps. As clips of people like Bob Dylan, Albert Einstein, and Thomas Edison flashed on the screen, a narrator paid tribute to "the crazy ones, the misfits, the rebels, the troublemakers, the round pegs in the square holes, the ones who see things differently, they're not fond of rules, and they have no respect for the status quo." If you ever want to feel less cynical about the world—or advertising, really—watch this spot again. And for more '90s nostalgia, check out the 12 Hilarious Questions Young People Have About the '90s.
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