Tuesday, September 16, 2014

So Wheaties Started The Whole Thing...!

You know those annoying commercial jingles that get caught in your head and refuse to go away? We can thank Wheaties for that!

Seems as though the Wheaties jingle was the first commercial jingle to show it's face in public. It really started something, I'll tell ya! Trying to get one of those jingles out of your head when it's stuck there is almost impossible, but you already know that, right?

The First Commercial Jingle Saved A Cereal Icon
By S. Grant on Saturday, September 13, 2014

Long before jingles on TV commercials became mainstream, these short, memorable tunes made their debut on radio stations. Of course, advertisements, and even musical ads, were around since the very beginning of radio, but it wasn’t until 1926 that General Mills introduced the first, legitimate commercial jingle. The ditty was promoting Wheaties breakfast cereal and was so successful that it saved the brand and motivated businesses everywhere to create their own jingles.

Similar to the Internet today, early radio broadcasters were operating in a new industry and faced the challenge of figuring out how to make money while giving away free content. It seemed selling ad space was the best (and perhaps the only) way to monetize their stations. And so radio ads were born, after which melodies naturally worked their way into the ads, and then those tunes gradually evolved into jingles. Thus, jingles have been around in one form or another since the start of commercial radio in the 1920s.

Since they were developed gradually over time, no one can claim to have “invented” the jingle. However, General Mills is recognized as being the first company to create a stand-alone, commercial jingle. It aired on Christmas Eve 1926 in Minneapolis, Minnesota and featured an a cappella group, known as the Wheaties Quartet, who sang the following lines in a rhyming, albeit somewhat slow tempo (especially compared to today’s jingles):

Have you tried Wheaties?
They’re whole wheat with all of the bran.
Won’t you try Wheaties?
For wheat is the best food of man.
They’re crispy and crunchy
The whole year through,
The kiddies never tire of them
and neither will you.
So just try Wheaties,
The best breakfast food in the land.

The jingle was such a success that it saved the now-famous breakfast cereal from being discontinued. In 1929, General Mills was going to put the kibosh on the failing brand until the advertising manager pointed out that over half of all Wheaties boxes were sold in the Minneapolis area—the only place the jingle was being aired at the time. Instead of giving up on the cereal, General Mills decided to run the ad nationwide, and it didn’t take long for Wheaties’ sales to skyrocket. Even after 80 years, it is still one of the most popular cereals out there.

The success of the “Have You Tried Wheaties” song was the spark that lit the fire of the jingle movement, and by the 1930s businesses were using catchy, repetitive melodies to advertise everything from food to tobacco to personal hygiene products. Besides being an easy, memorable way to expose potential customers to brands, advertisers also liked jingles because it allowed them to skirt a certain broadcasting rule. Radio stations were forbidden from broadcasting direct advertisements during prime time hours, but because these songs were often placed at the beginning or end of radio programs and viewed more as entertainment than a sales pitch, advertisers could get away with playing them any time of day.

Ultimately, we have Wheaties to thank for launching the genre and ensuring certain songs never (ever) get out of our heads.

If you want to hear the original jingle, you can find a recording of it, you can find it right here. Don't let it get stuck in your head...OK?

Coffee in the kitchen once again. C'mon in...plenty of room!


JO said...

Well now who could have remembered that one. Those jingles can drive you crazy and I noticed when a song gets stuck in your mind it never seems to be the one you want stuck there.

Pouring here too, for the next three days. So coffee indoors seems to be a good thing.

HermitJim said...

Hey Jo...
It does seem a little lame compared to the ads today.

Thanks, sweetie, for stopping by today!

Chickenmom said...

Don't remember that one but 'Ajax the foaming cleanser' always comes to mind while scrubbing the tub! Rained the morning, but sunny now - how about some pumpkin flavored donuts?

Rob said...

Mr. Hermit, you outdid yourself with that one. The hot link to actually hear the jingle was the cherry on top!

Mamahen said...

Wheaties hmmmm...The Mr Clean is the one that stuck in my head....Mr Clean will rid your house of dirt, and grime and grease in just a minute ....Mr Clean will clean your whole house and everything that's in it..Mr Clean Mr Clean Mr Clean lol or something like that :))

HermitJim said...

Hey Phyllis...
The old commercials for Ajax, Brylcreme, and so many others jump to my head without a lot of help!

Don't think I've ever had any of that flavor!

Thanks for coming by today!

Hey Rob...
Glad that you liked it. Strange how things have changed in such a short time, isn't it?

Thanks for coming over today!

Hey Mamahen...
Now you have me singing that dang song in MY head!

Thanks for stopping by today and for checking on me earlier!