The Way We Were

Categories: Humor
Tags: 70s Ads
Estimated reading time: 7 minutes, 52 seconds

The 1970s weren’t just a different time. The United States itself was a far different place. A much stranger place. Just take a look at these ads, which, at the time, seemed entirely normal. Because we were high as a kite.

Keep in mind that these weren’t weird little ads in alternative newspapers. These were all products of mainstream advertising, and filled every magazine and billboard in the country.

These were our styles in the 1970s
These were our styles in the 1970s

The year was 1974. In many ways, this picture tells it all. These were our clothes, our drinks, and our decor.

Little knit dolls for men were optional, though.

Balls!
BALLS! Sweet, suckable BALLS!

The 1970s were a more repressed time, free of the sexual double-entendres of today’s advertising. So, this ad, urging you ladies to put some BALLS in your mouth, and to suck on some BALLS, were completely innocent. Remember, when you’re down, BALLS help you rise to the occasion!

Stop sniggering! Get your mind out of the gutter, you 21st-century pervert!

Tuna Jello
Lime Jello Tuna Salad?! Please, Mom, can we have more?

Lime Jello, cottage cheese, mayonnaise, and tuna. This was called “food”. When the munchies hit you after you finished off that joint of Oaxacan ditch-weed, Lime Jello Tuna Salad would always hit the spot.

Spam Sticks
Spam Sticks: Made almost entirely of pork. Pork and...stuff

If fishy gelatin wasn’t to your liking, you could always have some Spam sticks. Mmm! 95% pure leg and shoulder ham!

Don’t ask about the other 5%.

Seriously. Just don’t.

Iced Beef Broth
Ummm, isn't this just...soup?

There was no better pick-me up on a blazing hot day than a refreshing glass of iced beef broth. Actually, this was a pretty good drink, especially if you added some Worcestershire sauce, tomato juice, a dash of Tabasco, and vodka. Lots and lots of vodka.

Belted Sweaters
Would you like some sweater with your belt?

Prior to global warming, the climate was a bit chillier, so you needed a good sweater. And it wasn’t a real sweater unless it was a belted sweater.

Also, those were considered perfectly normal color schemes.

Boots
Captain Bootfetish in post-coital bliss

Back then, every man could dress like a space pirate—assuming they had 5 extra hours a day to lace their boots. And, yes, that is a naked woman sitting there, patiently waiting for Captain Bootfetish to give himself a lace job.

Eleganza Collars
Like Dumbo ears for your neck

Collars. Collars were very important in 1975. Given a stiff headwind, and an Eleganza collar, some men could fly like Dumbo.

Black 70s Fashion
Now we know where the Temptations got their clothes

Of course, even in the 1970s, there were some styles that black people could pull off, but white people couldn’t. Every R&B music act wore clothes like this from 1971 to 1979. White guys who wore this stuff just looked like an extra from Star Trek.

Polyester Suits
There isn't a single natural fiber depicted in this photgraph

Of course, the classic man’s suit never went out of style. The 100% Dacron polyester suit gave unparalleled freedom of moment, wrinkle-free wear, and a complete lack of breathability. When the temperature rose above 70 degrees, it was like wearing a personal sauna.

Also, I get the feeling that this was a pose he was comfortable assuming when not wearing a suit. Or anything else.

Jumpsuits
Slip it on, zip it up, and let the party begin

When you needed something to wear that was casual and comfortable, the jumpsuit was always an acceptable option.

Why, yes, I did have a few jumpsuits, now that you mention it. I had a gold one that I quite liked.

A gold one. Which no one, at the time, thought was unusual at all.

Inconvenient necklace
That necklace is just trying to save him from lung cancer

Men wore necklaces in the 70s. Sure, wearing all those necklaces were sometimes a pain, as this ad demonstrates.

But it was worth it for the style of the things.

Misogony?
Today, this ad might receive some criticism for perceived misogyny

I’m pretty sure the ad agency behind this had a huge argument over whether the model should just be naked, or pregnant in the kitchen. But, ultimately, they went for the sexy. I presume this is the same ad agency that bought us the original album cover for Spinal Tap’s “Smell the Glove”.

Sexy Violinist
Violinists were slutty in the 1970s. Not that there's anything wrong with that.

In the 1970s, violinists were well known to be sexually liberated, as indicated by the exposed…um…cleavage. In fact, breasts are an ongoing theme of 1970s. For example:

More breasts
She looks like she's already been drinking steadily for a few hours

Barely restrained cleavage was all the rage, mainly because the women’s liberation movement had made a big deal of publicly burning their bras. Bras just weren’t very popular back then.

Fake Nipples
When you want firm support, but still want men to stare at your tits

Indeed, even if you did wear a bra, you might want everyone to think that you weren’t.

But, by 1982, women went back to wearing bras regularly, probably because they didn’t want their breasts to look like one of those Eleganza collars by the time they were 40.

Intimate Odor
As it turned out, this problem was mostly solved by the safety razor

You don’t see ads like this much, anymore. But, in the 1970s, this was occasionally a problem, mainly because of the extraordinarily large expanses of pubic hair that prevailed at the time. Seriously, most people, even when they were completely nude, looked like they were still wearing board shorts made of fur. In these modern times, we’ve pretty much sculpted this problem away.

Hair
Men looked like they were wearing bearskin rugs in the 70s

On the other hand, an excessive amount of hair was not a sexual disqualifier in the 1970s.

Nor was anything else, really. Not even this short-pants leisure suit, which would make a modern woman as dry as the Sahara.

Ayds
In the 1970s, everybody wanted Ayds

Then, as now, weight-loss was an everyday concern. But if you wanted to lose weight, you could always get Ayds. Ayds was a highly effective appetite suppressant, but, sadly, by 1982, no one wanted Ayds. It had been replaced by another very effective weight-loss method, called AIDS. Which no one really wanted, either.

Powder
We knew how to keep our cocaine dry and snortable

In the late 70s, everyone carried around tiny vials of powder. Just as in colonial America, it was vitally important to “keep your powder dry”, though, in this case, it was so you could snort it like a madman in the toilet stall of the Disco men’s room. With this convenient device, built-on space-age, Apollo Program technology, you could keep a vial in the soggy pockets of your moisture-trapping polyester suit for hours, and still snort perfectly dry cocaine.

It truly was an age of wonders.

Tareyton
I'd rather fight emphysema than switch

This ad was everywhere in the 1970s. It’s hard to believe, now that an entire generation has passed without constant exposure to cigarette ads, but this, along with the Marlboro Man campaign, is perhaps one of the most successful ad campaigns in history. It was universally known that Tareyton smoker would rather fight than switch.

Right up until their fight with emphysema and lung cancer.

Inappropriate
She's 18. Really.

Your hyper-sensitive modern eyes might discern some slight trace of pedophilia in this ad, but, in the 1970s, this ad was perfectly normal.

But then, so was waking up naked in a strange house, in a room full of naked people that you didn’t know, and couldn’t remember meeting. Speaking of which…

Rug
This thing probably soaked up bodily fluids like a sponge

And afterwards, it was unbelievably difficult to clean.

Macho
OK, I admit, it really looks like a dick

Despite what your depraved modern mind might tell you, in the 70s, there was no phallic symbolism whatever in the shape of this cologne bottle. But, on the other hand, you probably really don’t want to know to what purposes the empty bottles might have been put.

Datsun 240Z
Like being in a minority group, but without the virulent racism

Of course, this ad for the 240Z was very tongue in cheek. Because no one actually wanted to be part of a real minority group in the 1970s.

OJ
No wonder he rushed for 2,000 yards

Today, of course, OJ Simpson is thought of as a notorious murderer. Allegedly.

But in the 1970s, three-legged football player OJ Simpson was a national hero for gaining 2,000 yards rushing in a single season for the Buffalo Bills.

Two-legged, stabby OJ is much less popular.

Quadrophonic Sound
It was like being surrounded by musicians, in between mid-song track changes on the 8-track

You kids today, with your iPhones and Spotify, will never know the audio joy that was Quadrophonic sound. Especially when matched to a new 8-track tape.

Polaroid
Instagram, circa 1976

This was Instagram, in 1976. The miracle of being able to see a photo within five minutes of taking it was a source of unending joy. And it only cost the modern equivalent of $1.50 per picture, which, I think you’ll agree, was a bargain. It was like having a camera phone and a photo printer, all in one!

Well, that’s all I have for now. I hope you enjoyed this trip back to the strange land that was 1970s America.

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