Category: Christmas

The Hottest Christmas Toys Through the Decades: The 1950’s

Christmas Through the Decades

 

It doesn’t matter how far back through the decades you go, each Christmas season has had it’s “must-have” hot toy that all the kids wanted.  Cabbage Patch Kids dolls were hot in 1983, but Davy Crockett coonskin caps were just as hot in 1954.  We’re going to be taking a look back at the hottest toys for Christmas’s through time, and this time we’re looking at the 1950’s.  You can also check out the decade of the 1940’s.

 

1950

Buzzy Bee

Buzzy Bee

Fisher-Price introduced the Buzzy Bee, a wooden pull-toy shaped like a bee whose yellow plastic wings not only rotated when pulled but made a delightful clacking sound.  Further delight was added by red wooden balls that waved at the end of coiled-spring antennae.

 

Hopalong Cassidy Lunch Boxes

Hopalong Cassidy Lunch Boxes

Hopalong Cassidy lunch boxes, inspired by the new TV hit, flew off the shelves.  Before December is out, over 600,000 had been sold.

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Vintage Holiday Recipes From 1967

I recently came across an issue of McCall’s magazine from December of 1967, and while getting lost in all the great advertising, I stumbled upon some fun and tasty looking recipes from that magical year.  The Christmas season always brings along it’s own unique blend of tasty treats that are usually reserved for the holiday and not many other times of the year.  So chances are these recipes only saw print a few times through the years.  Well today, we’re pulling these old recipes out and sharing them with the world!

 

While all the food on this spread looks pretty tempting, the only recipe given is for the Cream Wafers that are pictured at bottom right.  They seem easy enough to make, and look pretty dang good too!  The main thing I’ve picked up on in these old recipes, and you’ll see as we go along, is they call for butter and not margarine.  These are my kind of people right here!

Now I know that aluminum foil isn’t food, but Reynolds Wrap got in on the game with some “recipes” of their own to try and move more of their product by giving you ideas of things to do with it.  You can wrap a child’s present with it, Christmas candles look more “gala” when they have some foil curled around them.  From the looks of things, I guess bunching a big glob of it up and sitting the candle in it as a base works too.  It even says you can line your fireplace with it to reflect it’s glowing warmth.

Now this one is certainly one of my favorites, as it features the always delicious snack, Bugles!  It also features Whistles and Daisy’s, but they are no longer on the market, so we just have to settle for what we can get.  As much as I love Bugles, I am more than a bit disappointed I missed out on ever trying the other two offerings.

I’m not so sure about the dip though.  Cream Cheese, Blue Cheese, and onions mixed with Cheddar and other stuff doesn’t sound too appealing to me.  Maybe it does you.

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The Hottest Christmas Toys Through the Decades: The 1940’s

 

It doesn’t matter how far back through the decades you go, each Christmas season has had it’s “must-have” hot toy that all the kids wanted.  Cabbage Patch Kids dolls were hot in 1983, but Davy Crockett coonskin caps were just as hot in 1954.  We’re going to be taking a look back at the hottest toys for Christmas’s through time, and we’re starting with the 1940’s.

 

1942

Little Golden Books

Little Golden Books

Little Golden Books published it’s first twelve books.  1.5 million copies were sold in the first 5 months alone.

 

Lionel Paper Trains

Lionel Paper Trains

After being forced to halt production to their normal metal trains due to the war, Lionel offered a paper train for the holiday season.  In its Model Builder magazine and its Railroad Planning Book, Lionel urged boys and their dads to start planning their post war railroad now.

 

1943

Chutes and Ladders

Chutes and Ladders

Produced by Milton Bradley, Chutes and Ladders created a fervor among kids everywhere.

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Classic Advertising – Christmas Edition, Part 1

As you know, we love vintage advertising here at Retro Ramblings, and you know we love Christmas, so we really love retro Christmas ads!  Here are 5 classic ads for your viewing pleasure.

Old toy ads are always a favorite of mine, and this Toyland ad has some cool old toys included.  That Hiawatha bike looks pretty dang snazzy, and who wouldn’t want that the western gun set to go track down invisible bad guys all summer long?

 

Coca-Cola may be the king of Christmas advertising when it comes to soda, but Pepsi has had some good ones through the years as well.

 

If you had lights on your Christmas tree in the 40’s, 50’s, and 60’s, theres a good chance they were Noma lights.  I really like the ones shaped like candles.  I could go for a set of those today!

More Advertising:  Retro Comic Book Ads

 

Budweiser’s best Christmas advertising would come in later years when they introduced the famous Clydesdale horses into them, but advertising for alcohol was common place for years, and it only increased during the holiday season.

 

The Colonel gets all the women.  I still don’t know if it’s his own machismo, or the bucket of chicken he’s holding, but either way, the man is surrounded by lovely ladies.  This ad would probably play huge in Japan where going for KFC chicken is a real Christmas tradition.

 

Christmas Mornings of the Past

No other time of the year holds more nostalgic memories for me than Christmas.  All my life – from a kid, up through today – I spend all year long looking forward to this time of year, and making plans to make it as special as possible for my kids.  The climax of the whole season is Christmas morning itself.  That magical time of the year when you get up real early, and rush to the Christmas tree to see what Santa Claus has left for you.

It seems that Christmas morning is kind of a tally sheet for the year doesn’t it?  Like, as a kid, you had all these things you wanted all year, and all those wishes would culminate in that one single morning.  If you got a lot of loot, or very cool loot, your year was a success.  If not, well…better luck next year kid.  At least that’s the way it went in my mind all those years ago.  I had a few of what I thought were less-than-stellar Christmas mornings, but then 1986 came along and changed all of that.

Nowadays, I like to look back on different people’s Christmas mornings of years past and marvel at how cool it must have been to be in their shoes on those mornings so long ago.

Christmas Morning

So first up, this kid looks pretty pleased to have gotten the Go Bots Command Center play set under his tree on Christmas morning.  I was a big fan of the Go Bots cartoon, but only ever had two of the action figures….Loco and Dive-Dive.  Now while I wish I had more of the figures, and would have loved the Command Center, I never put it on any of my Christmas lists because it wouldn’t have been very much fun without a lot of the action figures to go along with it.

In the background on his right, someone has gotten some kind of G.I. Joe play set, because we can clearly see the opened box.  I’ve gotta take a few points away from this kid now knowing that he chose to pose with the Go Bots toy when he could have been posing with the G.I. Joe one instead.

I can’t really tell what his brother is holding in the background, but just in front of it is a nice looking piece of gold ribbon, which indicates their Christmas presents were probably well wrapped and made for a very nice presentation.  And I am almost certain, that on the far right of this photo, you can see what is the box of a G.I. Joe Cobra Rattler!

I’m going to go out on a limb here and say that these kids had a pretty damn good Christmas.  A Go Bots play set, and a couple of G.I. Joe toys means a big Christmas morning, regardless of what other loot they may have found.

More Christmas Memories:  Making My Christmas Wish List From the 1986 Sears Wish Book

Man these kids really hit the jackpot!  You can clearly see a buffet of G.I. Joe play sets including the Cobra Rattler, Cobra Vamp, G.I. Joe Wolverine, and the G.I. Joe Dragonfly helicopter!  I don’t see any carded figures in the picture, but one can only assume these kids already have several of those.  I’m sure there was quite a battle fought between the Joes and Cobra later on this Christmas day.

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5 Classic Christmas Commercials

Christmas Commercials

Man, what better way to keep getting pumped up for Christmas than watching some old commercials!  No?  You’re not a fan of commercials, are you?  Well, once upon a time I didn’t used to be.  But that was back in the days before Tivo, Netflix, and other streaming services that allow you to skip all the advertising.

These days, I find myself kind of missing commercials.  Not every commercial break, but some old commercials in particular.  It was rare, but sometimes commercials could actually enhance the show you were viewing.  Hang on…hear me out!  I can remember watching the Mickey’s Christmas Carol Special that aired on NBC every year in the mid-late 80’s, and when the commercials that aired were Christmas in nature, it kept the cool Christmas vibe going for my young self.  So these commercials we’re viewing here today get a pass.

Folgers Coffee, “Peter Comes Home for Christmas”
(1986)

I’m not sure why this commercial ever touched me as a kid.  It probably had something to do with the fact that my old man traveled a lot, and there were times he would come in early in the morning like this.  Never at Christmas though.  He was always in town for that.  But whatever the reason, this commercial has continued to resonate with me for all these years since I first saw it air.

I think it really embodies the spirit of Christmas in the form I like to think of it.  Families being together, and enjoying simple things in life like a fresh cup of coffee is endearing to me.  I actually keep this commercial on my Christmas playlist on YouTube to make sure I see every season.

 

Polaroid Cameras
(1985)

One of the great frustrations for me growing up was trying to prove or disprove that Santa Claus was real.  I tried my own ways of getting to the bottom of things, but trying to snap a picture with a Polaroid camera was never one of them. I give these two kids an A for effort here, as their plan kinda worked.  They just didn’t anticipate Santa being a petty thief and sneaking away with their snapshot.

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The Year Santa Became Real

By the fall of 1986, my thoughts were starting to turn to the coming Christmas season, and anticipation was starting to build for the holiday. The hope of children isn’t easily pushed to the side, but back in those days, I would be lying if I said that Christmas didn’t feel a little lacking.

Admittedly, I personally never felt slighted on Christmas morning. Whatever was under the tree from Santa Claus always left a lasting impression on me, even if I sometimes felt the little internal tug of wanting a little bit more. But when I would return to school, and see and hear about all the cool things my friends and others had gotten for Christmas, I would get a little jealous.

I was a good kid. I never caused trouble at school, and I definitely knew better than to cause trouble at home. I did my chores and I ate my vegetables, so why did I seem to be farther down Santa’s Nice list than some of the other kids? “Jonathon pushed Samantha down and hurt her arm”, “why did he get a huge Lego set and I only got a trumpet?”. “Zach punched me in the arm all year…hard.” “Why did he get a cool G.I. Joe HISS Tank and all the Dreadnoks figures and I ended up with a set of cars?” Such are the worrisome wonderings and questions of a kid who is not aware of all the comings and goings of adulthood.

What I didn’t know or understand back then, and actually I’m still learning and gaining a greater perspective on now, is that times were very tough for my family in the early eighties. My Dad was a self-employed business man. He bought and sold new and used conveyor belts to coal mines, and as the coal business went, so did my family’s financial well-being.

1983 was a very tough year. My Grandfather’s alcohol addiction was in the last stages of consuming his life, and my Dad spent more time helping my Grandmother, both emotionally AND financially, than he did on the business. The first week of December, my Grandfather passed away. Christmas was lean due to dealing with the emotional struggles of losing someone close, and the fact that so much time had been spent away from the business.

1984 came along, and so did the large-scale United Mine Workers of America strike in West Virginia…..primarily against the A.T. Massey Coal Companies and subsidiaries. West Virginia was always the bread basket of my Dad’s business. When strikes occurred, it crippled his business and our financial well-being for quite some time, and unfortunately, this strike would not be over quickly.

1985 came, and the strike was still on. It wasn’t resolved until late in the year. Too late for lost income to be made up. Several straight years of lean and underwhelming visits from Santa Claus was wearing on my faith in the man.

But then came 1986. The strike had been resolved, and with the mines back in full-time operation, orders poured in from all sides. It was a VERY good year. Not so coincidentally, Santa seemed to fill his sleigh completely just for my family. I guess he was making up for lost time.

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