Jingle Fever: The Stories Behind 5 Ad Jingles

The following is an article from Uncle John's 24-Karat Gold Bathroom Reader.

You might not hear them so much anymore, but songs from commercials are a serious part of the soundtrack of pop culture. Here are the stories behind some of the most famous ones.

(YouTube link)

 Product: Folgers Coffee

Jingle: “The best part of waking up is Folgers in your cup.”

Story: Singer Leslie Pearl had one minor hit in 1982- “If the Love Fits Wear It,” which hit #28 on the pop chart. After that, she moved into songwriting. Among her compositions are “You Never Gave Up On Me,” a Top-5 country hit for Crystal Gayle; and “Girls Can Get It,” a Top-40 hit for Dr. Hook & the Medicine Show. After that, Pearl moved into jingle writing. In 1984, she wrote the most-played and most famous song of her career: a jingle for Folgers canned coffee. It’s been used in ads for more than 25 years, making it one of the longest-running jingles of all time.


(YouTube link)

Product: Old Spice aftershave

Jingle: Whistling

Story: Since the mid-1990s, Old Spice commercials have used just six whistled notes, but that six-note melody was originally the ending of an earlier jingle called “The Old Spice Sea Shanty,” written in1953 and used for decades. (Sample lyrics: “‘Old Spice means quality’ said the Captain to the Bosun / Ask for the package with the ship that sails the ocean.”) Veteran jingle writer Ginger Johnson borrowed the melody from an old Scottish bagpipe folk song called “Scotland the Brave.” The whistling was performed by jazz musician Jean “Toots” Thielemans, who also provided the whistling in the theme  song of The Andy Griffith Show and played the harmonica on the Sesame Street theme song. 


(YouTube link)

Product: Oscar Mayer weiners

Jingle: “I wish I were an Oscar Mayer wiener…”

Story: Richard Trentlage was a struggling songwriter in 1963, when he heard about a jingle contest being held by Oscar Mayer. Contestants composed original jingles for Oscar Mayer hot dogs; the winner’s song would be used in commercials.Unfortunately, Trentlage found out about the contest only the day before entries were due. Fortunately, it took him only a few minutes (on a banjo-ukulele) to write: “Oh, I wish I were an Oscar Mayer wiener / that is what I’d truly like to be / ‘Cause if I were an Oscar Mayer weiner / everyone would be in love with me.” Trentlage won, of course; his jingle is still in use.


(YouTube link)

 Product: Tootsie Roll

Jingle: “The world looks mighty good to me / ‘Cause Tootsie Rolls are all I see…”

Story: In 1976 a 13-year-old boy and his 9-year-old sister were hired to sing the Tootsie Roll theme. They weren’t professional singers- their parents were friends of the jingle’s writer. It took an entire day to record the song at a Manhattan recording studio, mainly because the adolescent boy’s voice kept cracking. Finally, the mid-jingle solo (“Whatever I think I see / becomes a Tootsie Roll to me”) was given to the girl, Rebecca Jane. (Her brother’s name was never released.) The song was used in Tootsie Roll advertising for more than twenty years, but the singers were paid only $50 each for the day’s work and that’s all they ever made.


(YouTube link)

Product: Almond Joy and Mounds candy bars

Jingle: “Sometimes you feel like a nut / sometimes you don’t”

Story: One of the biggest purveyors of late ‘60s bubblegum music was Super K Productions. The label’s lead producer and songwriter was Joey Levine, who was also the lead singer for the company’s anonymous studio creations, the Ohio Express (“Yummy Yummy Yummy”) and Kasenetz-Katz Singing Orchestra (“Run, Joey, Run”). Levine knew how to write a catchy tune, so in 1969, he formed a jingle-writing service called Crushing Enterprises. The first jingle he sold was for Peter Paul’s line of candy bars. After that, he wrote some of the most memorable jingles of the last 30 years, including “Just for the taste of it -Diet Coke,” “You ask for it, you got it, Toyota,” “Come see the softer side of Sears,” “The heartbeat of America, that’s today’s Chevrolet,” and “Who’s that kid with the Oreo cookie?” 


The article above was reprinted with permission from Uncle John's 24-Karat Gold Bathroom Reader.

Since 1988, the Bathroom Reader Institute had published a series of popular books containing irresistible bits of trivia and obscure yet fascinating facts. If you like Neatorama, you'll love the Bathroom Reader Institute's books - go ahead and check 'em out!

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For some reason, there is quite a bit of disagreement as to the identity of the whistler for The Andy Griffith Show theme song. Some claim the whistler was Fred Lowery, some claim it was Earle Hagen (who penned the tune himself), some claim it was a fellow by the name of Jerry Duane. But even the extensive discography on Jean “Toots” Thielemans's own website does not claim The Andy Griffith Show theme song as one of his credits.
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