Here it is. The big one. The Christmas commercial to end all Christmas commercials. The song, the cereal, the Santa, the Bedrock. Yes, it's the Post Fruity Pebbles holiday ad, where Fred Flintstone and Barney toss aside their differences in favor of Christmas cheer and goodwill towards yummy bowls of sugar rocks. Even when compared to such other Yuletide cereal commercial classics as Christmas Crunch and The Trix Rabbit versus Santa Claus, Fruity (and Cocoa!) Pebbles was in a league of its own.
I haven't seen the commercial on television for quite some time now, but there's still thousands of people who could recite the lines forwards and backwards without having to think twice. I hope I'm not overstating things -- after all, it's just a Fruity Pebbles ad. There's been zillions of 'em. There's just something so incredibly festive about it, and like the other cereal ads we've looked at this month, seeing Fred leave a bowl of yum out for Santa was one of kids' most glorious notifications that the holiday season had begun.
Things kick off with a group of carolers outside the Flintstones' home. It's a snowy night in Bedrock, and the holiday cheer in the air was just as thick as all of the dinosaur flatulence. The carolers opt on a familiar favorite... "Season's greetings in our soulllls..."
"....yummy Fruity Pebbles in our bowls." Yes, Fred freestyles for Christmas. Won't put on pants, though. Inside, Fred prepares for Christmas morning by leaving the prerequisite bowl of FRUITY PEBBLES out for Santa. You've never seen a Fred Flintstone with so much bounce in his step, including the John Goodman version. Happy as a Christmas clam. Prancing around his stone floors with Fruity Pebbles in his hand and Fabulous Presents on his brain.
"Uh oh, here comes youu-know-whoo-ooh..." Everything Fred spoke poured forth like a trickling jingle, and his last line noted the arrival of a very special guest. The only guest that really mattered during Christmastime. The guest who gave you presents without expecting one in return. Santa Claus.
"Yabba Dabba Froooo-tee-licious, Doo!" Man, they even got Santa to sing. Cap'n Crunch couldn't even get him to appear in his commercials for a non-speaking role. Though, seeing Santa kickin' it prehistoric does raise the question of just how old the guy really is. I can't recall many Christmas classics that painted Santa as an Immortal -- we just chose to assume that the he rose to prominence just a few decades before we climbed out of the womb. It's kinda freaky to picture Santa as being millions and millions years of age. Oh well. Santa loved to get freaky.
It's also interesting that Fred celebrated Christmas millions of years before Christ was born. He's a seer, that one.
Just as Santa's accepting Fred's offering, we hear a racket coming from up the chimney. Oh, about that offering: Fred watches Santa taste the wares with fear, very nearly biting his nails in anticipation of Santa's reaction. It's as if Fred believed Santa would only hand out gifts if he liked Fruity Pebbles. No way, it doesn't work like that. The only reason parents make their kids set out cookies in the first place is because they need one last dig before putting out the ten trillion dollars worth of toys they had to buy "from Santa." Nothing was going to bring the money spent back, but the sight of their kids being forced to both handle and arrange cookie plates without eating a single one was probably worth half the cash amount. In a society where hitting children is generally frowned upon, dangling the Devil's Cookie in front of your kids is a treat you can delight in without closing the blinds first. I speak from experience; just replace "kids" with "dolls I pretend are alive."
Sorry, but that's how Fred says it. The way Fred says "Barney!" in these commercials is one of the only things on the planet I can do a pretty good impression of, so of course, I'm sure to make that impression at least a few hundred times a day. My neighbors must think I'm reprimanding some ill-named dog at intervals of every five minutes.
Anyway, Barney's up to his old tricks. I really need to start an archive of Barney's foiled "Fruity Pebbles" plots. I've seen him disguise himself as everything from a dinosaur to a breakdancer, an alien robot warrior, and even some kind of rare shark that has Barney Rubble's face growing out of its stomach. To say that Barney isn't a Post loyalist is a downright lie -- this guy pulled the "cereal stealing" scam more times and with a much better record than the Trix Rabbit and the Cookie Crisp Crook combined. His success rate was just phenomenal. What was interesting to me as a kid, being brought up at a time when "The Flintstones" had long since stopped production and were years into the morning hour reruns stage, was just how different the "Cartoon Barney" was when compared against "Cereal Barney." They're two entirely different characters. Cereal Barney was intelligent, witty...he was borderline smooth. Cartoon Barney? He provided nothing save for a few misplaced cackles that sounded like an owl coughing on ratmeat.
Cereal Barney, not Cartoon Barney, can be credited for bringing that intangible hip aura to the Rubble family name.
This time, Barney's dressed as Santa. He expects to waddle his medium-sized ass down the chimney, trick Fred, and eat as much Fruity Pebbles as he wants. It's a masterful plot, but there's just one thing -- Santa's already down there. Two Santa Claussses?! It really is Christmas!
"Santa?! My Pebbles!!"
Just as Fred was about to dismember Barney for ruining his special holiday moment, Santa intervened. "Tis the Season to be sharing, Fred!" Ironically, even as he tacked on the original "fake verse" to the carolers' song, Fred had this nagging feeling that doing so would later bite him in the ass. And there it was -- Santa, forbidding Fred to kill Barney with more made up song verses. Fred was distraught, but remained cognizant enough to realize his defeat. He'd have to share with Barney, in the spirit of the holiday, and because he didn't want to get shafted after Santa began lightening his sack. Wow, that sounds disgusting if you picture it twice.
"Happy Holidays, pal."
And you thought E.T. flying back home was a tearjerker. This was a better Christmas moment than the nipple skit from "Scrooged."
The reunited friends celebrated their newfound understanding with two bowls of cereal -- "Fruity Pebbles" and "Cocoa Pebbles." Duh, of course Fred always keeps both in stock. There'd be a scandal if he didn't. Santa flies off, as the boys silently thank him for getting them back together. Course, they didn't notice that he skipped Bedrock without dropping off their loot. This is why Fred only seemed to be "going through the motions" during Flintstones Christmas specials filmed after the mid 80s.
It's a great ad, though -- possibly the best of all Post Pebbles spots. Might be the only one with a happy ending for both of our heroes, too. Makes me want to be a better person.
Click here to watch the commercial!
Fruity Pebbles always felt like a Christmas cereal to me, probably because the commercial shown on the left was the only campaign that got me to switch from usual faves like "Lucky Charms" and "Count Chocula." Hey, if Fred wanted to get seasonal, I'd go along for the ride. There's been holiday editions of the cereal for a while, though the scheme has changed a bit. Formerly, Fruity Pebbles' December fare was much more Christmassy, with Fred donning the Santa cap and throwing around Catholicism like so many giant mammoth ribs. For the great nondenominational movement of 2003, our compromised offering is "Winter Fruity Pebbles." It's still a Christmas cereal -- but Chanukah celebrators won't have to feel quite so silly buying it.
I've always preferred the Christmas edition stuff to actually say Christmas on it, but whaddyagonnado? It just feels kinda naked without the true moniker. I mean, you saw the commercial -- you know Fred celebrates Christmas. Still, I guess a "Winter Fruity Pebbles" isn't without its merits. At least we can still eat it in January without feeling like totally late assholes.
What "Winter Fruity Pebbles" lacks in name is more than made up for in content -- like previous editions that actually used "the word," the familiar sugar rocks have all been dyed red and green. Jesus Christ, it's been a long time since I opened a box of Fruity Pebbles. The aroma that lifted from the box threw me straight back to my childhood best friend's kitchen table, where I usually ate the stuff. His mother only ever had skim milk, but for Fruity Pebbles, I was willing to cut my losses.
Strangely enough, a small amount of the sugar rocks were yellow. I toyed with the idea of sending a formal complaint to Post Cereal, but really, I can live without a few half-off coupons for more Fruity Pebbles. Besides, picking out the unwanted yellow nuggets is sort of like a game. Not an enjoyable game, though. More like an "activity." It's the activity cereal. See how much better everything is around Christmas?
Dang! Ya say the red and green pieces are limited editions?! Well I'll be! Actually, is that even true? I mean, I know they've always had "red," and at points, certainly have had "green." The regular edition most likely still has both. So, because they had someone push a button to exclude grapey purple and lemony yellow, it's a limited edition? No no no. If they wanted to make that kinda claim, they could've at least striped the red ones to look like candy canes. Now I have a reason for that formal complaint.
Eagle-eyed readers have pointed out that "Christmas Crunch" does in fact still exist. (it's not in my city, for whatever reason) "Winter Fruity Pebbles" marks our second holiday cereal. Are there more? You bet -- at least two more, actually, and we'll be seeing them on the Calendar during these final days before Christmas.
(click to enlarge)
Mark, only one day removed from his Playmobil debut, lands his first gift in the form of December 17th's hockey equipment. Armed with a helmet, hockey stick, pucks and various gear, Mark envisions a wonderful afternoon spent shooting goals and figuring eights and rocking like Rockettes. He's happy, and oddly, so is Mare.
"Hey, sorry about yesterday. It's Christmas, though, Mark. Let's try to get along."
Mark was skeptical, obviously. Mare is not a woman who speaks many truths. In fact, the only thing she's ever told Mark that wasn't a lie had to do with what she called "period problems," and even then, Mark really didn't want to hear about it. Mare is famous for turning lying into an art form, and even if there was no reason to spread falsities, Mare couldn't help herself. She just loved to lie.
Course, Mark did make that promise to their mother. You know, before Mare ate her. He swore that he'd try to make things right with his sister -- he'd try to keep the family together. The risk of another patented "Mare Lie" was certainly present, but perhaps this was a case of her extending the proverbial olive branch. Maybe she really wanted to make amends.
With Mysterious Boy mysteriously at her side, Mare tells Mark all about a wonderful ice pond a few blocks down the road. "Why don't you check it out? I mean, you've got all that great new hockey equipment!" Mark hated to admit it, but he was touched by the sentiment. During their youth, Mare was known as something of an ice pond hoarder, never revealing the locations of her favorite skating grounds. Maybe she's really changed?
"That's awfully swell of you, Mare. Think you can hold down the fort for a few hours?"
Mare insisted that everything would be okay, citing that they'd gotten along just fine prior to Mark's arrival. "Have fun! Make sure your skates stay tied!" Had our hellion gone heroine? Mark really wanted to believe in his sister, and sometimes, you've gotta take a risk. Despite a few nagging doubts, he headed off for that elusive ice pond.
As Mark disappeared from sight, Mare and Mysterious Boy glanced at each other, a twinkle of Satanism in their eyes. They both nodded, ever so slightly. Off in the distance, Pauly Pooch claimed a tree.
M.B.: You sure you want to go through with this? It's a pretty rotten thing to do, even for you.
Mare: Rotten is my middle name.
M.B.: I thought your middle name was Megan?
Mare: "Megan" means "rotten" in French.
Mare: Mista Snowman! How ya doing today?!
Mista: Wha--what?! Mare?! You're asking me how I'm doing? Why?
Mare: Aw, come on. We got off to a rough start, but that doesn't mean we can't be friends.
M.B.: Yeah -- Mare wants to put the past aside, Mista Snowman. Don't be cold. Figuratively.
Mista: Well...okay! Let's be friends! Thanks, Mare!
Mare: Don't mention it! Say, you wanna take a little walk with us? I've got something really neat to show you.
Mista: Neat? You mean neat as in "tidy," or "neat" as in "cool?"
Mare: Neat as in "follow me." C'mon, buddy! Time to go have some fun!
What lies ahead for Mista Snowman? Find out more tomorrow. Pray for him. Pray not prey. Don't eat Mista Snowman.
- Matt (12/17/03)