While the 80’s were the most awesome of awesome decades, there were still a lot of dangers that threatened to kill us off faster than a sex-crazed Crystal Lake camp counselor. There was the possibility that we might get infected with AIDS from a gay mosquito, the Aqua Net smog cloud that was thick enough to choke our lungs with Extra Strong Hold, and the colorful fashion statements were a danger to short circuit the sensitive rods and cones of our eyes. As if that wasn’t enough to make you want to consider a pre-arranged funeral, the 80’s were the decade where cholesterol became our sworn enemy. Sure, our food was giving us life sustaining nutrients…. but it was also clogging up our arteries like two scooter riders trying to get down the same aisle at your local Mecca…
While the war on drugs may have been more popular, it was the war on cholesterol that more people paid attention to during the Reagan years. Suddenly, every shiller of fatty, goopy, heart attack inducing comestibles was scrambling to find a way to shake the evil cholesterol from its products without also making them taste like an ass sandwich. The butter industry found itself right in the crosshairs of the anti-cholesterol movement, since it’s gloppy moo-cow concoction is just loaded with vessel hardening cholesterol.
Vegetable-based margarine had existed since the 19th century and contained no cholesterol… but it had the same buttery taste as those paint chips you ate off of your nursery wall. Oh, if only they could make a margarine that actually tasted like those sticks of death from your grocer’s cooler.
In 1979, the Baltimore based J.H. Filbert Company came up with the best of both worlds and dubbed their butter-tinged margarine the truly clever “I Can’t Believe It’s Not Butter!” Mega-conglomerate Unilever hastily snatched up both the company and it’s unbelievable impostor product in 1986 and marketed it nationwide for health and safety of all citizens…
Don’t feel bad if you were the only one who thought that commercial made absolutely no fucking sense at all… I certainly wouldn’t have given it a Retro Ad Tuesday nod if it had.
Finding out the foods we craved in the 80’s were going to murder us from the inside with their drain clogging cholesterol may have caused a wide range of emotions to our fragile 80’s psyches, but I seriously doubt it ever forced the breakup of two lovers who now had no idea what the fuck to put on their toast. If you thought one of your previous relationships ended on a WTF note, you ain’t got nothing on these two star crossed butter churners.
Maybe there’s an ulterior motive here after all, since somehow our female half of this moronic couple has gotten a hold of some I Can’t Believe It’s Not Butter!… and she taunts her ex with it as he attempts to chase down the train she is leaving on due to the fact that there is apparently some stipulation in the Actor’s Guild guidelines that girls have to get the hell out of town after a breakup. The taste of the shitty Amtrak muffin is so incredible, that our hero somehow leaps aboard the train while it’s in motion, makes his way past every old conductor wanting to know where his ticket is, and reunites with his
density destiny. I can’t believe it’s not Taster’s Choice…
Desperate to add more sex appeal and pop culture relevance to its ads, Unilever reworked their original idea in the 90’s to feature a stereotypical romance novel reading woman who gets more hot and bothered from Danielle Steele than her own husband, as she dreams of the day some hunk of a man will fulfill her wildest fantasy of bringing her a cholesterol free butter spray. I can’t believe they hired Fabio!
Fabio, being fucking Fabio, milks this ad for all it’s worth. No doubt oiled up in the very pseudo-buttery spray he’s being paid to hawk, Fabio’s heavily accented enunciation of the product’s name is so thoroughly layered in raw, unbridled sexiness that it’s a wonder this commercial wasn’t banned to Cinemax. Sure, they let Dennis Franz show his naked ass on network TV at the time… but he also didn’t have every being with estrogen falling at his overly muscled Italian feet.
Unfortunately, our damsel in distress will have to make do with the I Can’t Believe It’s Not Butter…… spray! because the commercial cuts off before she can spread her own nonbutter on this studmuffin. Sorry ladies, but Fabio doesn’t just let any lips touch his own… especially if they may have last been on a vibrator. Thus, our modern day heroine homebody is denied the greater glory of a kiss with the world’s most famous cover model due to contractual obligations. Or maybe Fabio’s face was still recovering from the nosejob he got from the errant bird that had the gall to fly into his path on that roller coaster…
While it’s easy to mock the classic ads for I Can’t Believe It’s Not Butter!, I have two years worth of Retro TV Ad posts that say most commercials from the time were pretty fucked up. What truly makes I Can’t Believe It’s Not Butter! stand out is the name of the product itself. Not only is it an utter mouthful that you’d think would have been reduced to an acronym of some ignorant Kimye type textspeak by now, but the best thing about it is that exclamation point. I Can’t Believe It’s Not Butter! is meant to be shouted at the top of one’s lungs, just like everyone’s favorite 80’s
group duo, Wham!
The naming geniuses behind I Can’t Believe It’s Not Butter! also inspired many hilariously named similar items sold in places out of the eyesight of professional kopykat lawyers who don’t realize that imitation is the sincerest form of uncreativity. Get out your best tofu waffles and prepare to make them even healthier with the following butter importor impostors…
You’d Think It’s Butter!
Butter It’s Not!
Wow! I Totally Thought It Was “Butter”
Could It Be Butter?
What, Not Butter!
Is It Butter?
And my absolute favorite… from Taiwan:
Unbelievable This Is Not Butter
A man who lives by the butter stick , dies by the butter stick. And since we crave that udderly butterly taste on top of our continental breakfasts, The Nest salutes the forgery experts who crafted I Can’t Believe It’s Not Butter! to tickle our taste buds without narrowing our arteries. When it comes to I Can’t Believe It’s Not Butter!, we will accept no imitation imitations, and will only spread the real unreal deal that has more than earned it’s exclamation point on our tongue. In fact, it makes us want to get up and dance to a little I Can’t Believe it’s Not Hot Butter!