Well Being

Vintage Diet Commercials Show That Nothing Ever Changes

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Vintage Diet Commercials Show That Nothing Ever Changes vintage diet 640x488 jpgThe pressure to be thin is nothing new, neither are products that promise to help consumers achieve thinness, nor the tactics used by advertisements to hock those goods.

1) Size 8 Cereal- A puffed cereal for women who want to be a size 8, which was smaller than the size 8 of today’s standards. Though the cereal box itself seems way groovier than any cereal box on shelves today, the message of the ad is remarkably similar to diet cereal ads today. Post Foods targeted this cereal to women in a very similar fashion to the way Kelloggs targets women today with Special K. The commercial flatters their demographic for having the knack to want to look good and be thin, but “are too hungry and active for starvation diets.” And of course it’s fortified with iron.

2) Good Measure– 300 calorie diet dinners. This product and commercial reminded me of diet programs that deliver pre-portioned meals to the consumer. They promise that you can still eat favorites like cake and pizza and lose weight while you’re at it. Good Measure’s product is the same thing: just controlled versions of mid-century favorites like potatoes and gravy. The commercial even suggests it is a better alternative than “popular liquid diets” of the era, showing that juice cleanses have been around in different forms for awhile.


3) Diet Pepsi– I was entranced by this wildly sexist but very sexy ad for diet pepsi cola, allegedly the preferred beverage of “girls that “girl-watchers” watch.” The term girl-watcher is a reference to the creepy, objectifying and wildly catchy 1960s pop-hit by the O’Kaysions. Like the other ads, this one has a different rhythm and format than modern commercials, but delivers the same message: if you want to be sexy, you better be thin and buy our soda because it will help. This commercial displayed one particular similarity to 21st century advertising that I did not expect. The narration of the ad emphasizes that “natural” taste of diet pepsi. I did not know that people preferred “natural” products at that time. Now I do.


I get into Youtube rabbitholes really easily when I search for vintage television ads and PSAs. If you have any time on your hands and are as curious and fascinated by the past as I am, I recommend looking around Youtube for more vintage weirdness.