Wednesday, August 5, 2015

Old Ad Evokes Old Patriotism

An old television commercial back in the mid-1970s described things that are quintessentially American: “Baseball, hot dogs, apple pie, and Chevrolet.” I guess that’s true, as long as we ignore the fact that baseball was derived from the British game “rounders”; hot dogs were invented by Germans; the name Chevrolet is French; and apple pie — well, I’m not sure about the exact origins, but I suppose people in other parts of the world were baking apple pies long before Columbus ran aground on a continent he wasn’t even looking for.

That just shows how much America truly is a melting pot — or as Archie Bunker used to say, “smelting pot.” (But please be careful. The University of California system recently warned all professors to avoid using the term “melting pot,” which is now considered a “micro-aggression,” something that may cause especially delicate students to wet themselves. No, I’m not kidding. No clue why, but it’s true. Look it up.)

Now, of course, the whole purpose of that old commercial was to sell automobiles. A cynic might say the ad should’ve said, “Baseball, hot dogs, apple pie, and faulty ignition switches.” Or, “Baseball, hot dogs, apple pie, and government bailouts.” But I’m not a cynic. (Yeah, right. Even I’m not buying that line.)

Cynicism aside, that old commercial did a brilliant job of striking a chord in the hearts of many people, evoking nostalgic thoughts of patriotic Americana. I’m not sure if the sale of Chevys increased, but I bet the commercial caused hot dog and apple pie sales to rise.

Earlier this summer, during the 4th of July weekend, I inadvertently embodied that old commercial. While grocery shopping with my wife, I walked by “Bill’s Table” and noticed they had apple pies on sale. You know what Bill’s Table is, right? It’s the table you walk past as you enter the supermarket that has fresh pastry, donuts, cakes, or pies for sale. They put it there especially for me (hence its name), as I’ve never once been able to walk past without grabbing an item or two or twelve. That’s the same reason the displays by the checkout lines are called “Bill’s Candy Racks.”

So, I bought an apple pie. Then later that day my friend Gerry called me and asked if I wanted to go to the Torrington Titans baseball game that evening. Of course I did. By the way, their season is just about over, as the players will be heading back to college soon. So get over to Fuessenich Park and catch a game. It’s the best six bucks you’ll ever spend. And kids age 10 and under get in for free!

While at the game we naturally ate hot dogs — although I’m sure a lot of the ingredients in the hot dogs were less than natural, which is why they tasted so good!

To complete the grand slam, we drove to and from the game in my Chevy Equinox. As a bonus, because it was the 4th of July weekend, I wore a hat with an American flag on it and sang along with “God Bless America” during the Seventh Inning Stretch. Wow, George M. Cohan would’ve been proud. (Get it? He was the “Yankee Doodle Boy”? Oh, never mind.)

Anyway, it was nice to embody some old nostalgic images of American culture. Too bad patriotism has fallen out of favor these days. The fashionable trend now is to bash America and everything our nation stands for. We have become so selfish and cynical, even worse than I tend to be. 

I suppose if a new commercial were produced, the quintessentially American items would be: “Facebook, lawsuits, Lipator, and micro-aggressions.” I definitely like the old stuff better.


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