Long before Terry Tate was enforcing his strict office rules like not cutting the cheese wherever you please, and even before a group of enterprising young men stuck us with a screaming greeting that grandfathers everywhere would repeat, there were simpler times for Super Bowl commercials. There was the 90s, a blessed time when lobsters stole beer, Miss Piggy smacked a bro around, Michael Jordan and Larry Bird played an innocent game of horse, three frogs repeated three sounds forever, and men were forced to make the crucial decision between paper and plastic.
Come with me then, friends, and let’s re-live our youth together (or at least my youth). As we wind down the week before the best week ever, let’s go back to the years when Sonic the Hedgehog was the coolest, and when you walked with music, there was concern about a CD skipping. To the 90s, and some digitally dusty Super Bowl commercial nostalgia.
Those damn frogs (1995)
As is the case with many a commercial which plants a deep ear worm, this was catchy and cool at first, though we didn’t really know why (think BY MENN-EN). Then it was horribly annoying and we wanted to kill it with fire (think Expedia violin). A lizard-ferret combination tried that for us, and failed miserably.
The frogs first appeared in 1995, and then they kept coming, popping up in a total of six Super Bowls. A dead horse was flogged for 21 commercials that spanned over seven minutes, peaking with a six-part series during the big game in 1998. We can never have just one nice thing.
An iconic game of H-O-R-S-E (1993)
This is a classic that screams early 90s with the music, and Michael Jordan’s seizure-inducing shirt.
An animal was harmed in the making of this commercial (1993)
First in 1993 we had two athletes in their prime between Jordan and Bird, and then we had the average oversized suburban male attempting to squeeze into his required uniform. Pour one out for the canary.
Laser poop (1997)
This one discovered the only way pigeons can be useful in our world: pooping on Nissans.
The all-seeing lobster (1999)
Another classic from the beer folks who would later bring us the magic fridge in 2006, this little guy was either forever your hero, or he gave you the idea to mix beer in with your lobster cooking.
Dream big dreams, guys (1998)
Bud Light gave many a man an innovative idea that has yet to take off. For shame.
Paper or plastic? (1999)
Oh, we’ve all been here. Or maybe only I’ve been here. Yeah, probably just me.
You fine, Miss Piggy (1997)
Any fine establishment that serves my usual couch grub is a friend of mine.
When I grow up… (1999)
Remember when every dot com thought it was the best dot com idea ever, when really their business philosophy was pretty much identical to that of South Park’s underpants gnomes? Yeah, fun times. One of the few to emerge from that clustermess was Monster.com, though a decade later a similar service (careerbuilder.com) gave us what is, for my money, the best Super Bowl commercial ever.
The Bud Bowl (1989)
Yes, this narrowly misses our 90s cut off. But if this is a world where I can’t make an exception for beer bottles playing football, it’s not a world I want to live in.