Cuts Like A Knife

Happy Friday the 13th, everyone!

Happy Friday the 13th, everyone!

For as long as there have been moving pictures on our televisions, there has been a need by enterprising merchants to sponsor the shows that are rotting our brains.  In the early days of TV, commercials were often tied in to the shows themselves… so you might see Fred and Barney encouraging kids to smoke, or perhaps Lucy and Ethel giving a proper douching demonstration.  The advertising of the small screen’s golden age was much more lighthearted and laid back… just like the Vietnam War era population that sat on the sofa and consumed it.

Hey, Mom! What's an enema?

Hey, Mom! What’s an enema?

friday tvMany of the classics ads on our small screen came from companies whose products found their way to your kitchen table via a neverending series of middlemen.  Those who sold products direct to consumers often found print advertising to be a much more effective way of reaching into your pocket… not only because TV viewers rarely kept a notebook handy to write down the long-winded fucking address they had to send their shopping request to, but because these types of merchants often had to engage in more extraordinary types of salesmanship to grab your attention away from your grocer’s freezer.  This is why to find the real deals out there, you often had to consult magazines, comic books and scandal sheets…

The Buddha has a double your money back guarantee! Order one million Buddhas, send them back, then go tell your broker to get bent.

The Buddha has a double your money back guarantee! Order one million Buddhas, send them back, then go tell your broker to get bent.

In 1978, a company decided to take this high pressure, too good to be true, you gotta fucking be kidding me direct marketing approach to TV in an effort to sell their knives.  Commercial breaks would never be the same afterwards…

After many centuries of keeping their great carving secrets to themselves, the Japanese were finally offering their amazing Ginsu knife to be scooped up by a gullible American public that was tired of using plain old domestic knives to cut through their burnt meatloaf.  With all of the karate chopping and Oriental imagery in this ad, you’d probably never guess that Ginsu knives were made in the ancient Japanese town of Walnut Ridge, Arkansas by a company based in Fremont, Ohio.

Practically in the shadow of Mt. Fuji.

Practically in the shadow of Mt. Fuji.

One of the cool things about Japanese words that have been adopted into our own language is their mystical meanings.  Like how karate actually translates into “empty hand,” karaoke means “really shitty singing,” and hentai is a Japanese word for “you’re a really huge fucking prevert.”  Not only is Ginsu more American than the Dodge pickup you’re driving today, but the word itself was made up by Caucasian company executives who just randomly threw together a few Japanese sounding syllables.  That would probably get you decried as a racist these days…

Just staring at this intimidating looking chef is enough to give me The Vapours...

Time to chop poisonous browfish!

Once all of the formal international apologies are out of the way, what follows is nonstop Ginsu slicing madness that makes the OJ Simpson crime scene look like a SoCal tea party.  Hand models who may or may not still have all of their fingers go to town slicing and dicing whatever the prop handlers didn’t have the sense to keep away from the display table.  It slices a tomato razor thin, while also sawing through that Budweiser can your drinking buddy tried crushing on his forehead!  All of these cutting techniques are demonstrated with complete disregard for the fact that their non-lethal hand is within one careless slip of becoming the next amazing Ginsu demonstration.  This classic Ginsu ad is Safety Unicorn approved!

Hopefully one of those tools is a tourniquet.

Hopefully one of those tools is a tourniquet.

Along with cutting innocent, ordinary objects with reckless abandon, the other element that made this Ginsu commercial so infamous was that it popularized the “But wait, there’s more!” advertising gimmick that always made the offer so absurd, you knew you were going to condemn yourself to tons and tons of junk mail just by ordering it.  Along with the unstoppable cutting power of the Ginsu knife, you were also going to get an entire junk drawer full of useless Ginsu gadgets.  And all of this for just $9.95!  Where do I sign my life away!?!?

Go ahead and stab it with our steely knives!

Go ahead and stab it with our steely knives!

Of course, you have to ask yourself, “If the Ginsu has a 50 year warranty and never needs sharpening… just how many more damn knives like that do I need?”  The answer, of course, is you don’t.  Most of the add-ons thrown in to commercial pitches like this are either completely redundant, or total bullshit.  Unless you plan on turning your kitchen into Hannibal Lecter’s restaurant, you don’t need this much cutting power all at what’s left of your fingertips.  Hell, even Lorena Bobbitt only needed one knife to deal with her husband’s morning wood…



But just in case you wished you could own even more Ginsu slashing power…

The Ginsu World Class can cut the Earth in half, yet still create razor thin potato chips to go with all that hot magma!

The Ginsu World Class can cut the Earth in half, yet still create razor thin potato chips to go with all that hot magma you just released!

Yes, Ginsu thought a knife that could even cut through the space-time continuum wasn’t good enough, so they improved the original to create the Ginsu® World Class­™ in 1992.  Cover up your exposed digits and hide the children as Ginsu unleashes even more showstopping knivery on us…

If watching the Ginsu slicing through a beer can blew you off your couch back in the 70’s, the Ginsu World Class was about to call that knife a little pussy…

I wonder if this is covered by that 50 year warranty?

I wonder if this is covered by that 50 year warranty?

The World Class is like the Terminator of Ginsu knives, coming from the not-so-distant future to beat the living shit out of its predecessor.  While the original Ginsu was shown hacking up a few odd inedible objects, the idea that the knife can carve its way through anything is taken a bit to the extreme in the 1992 commercial.  The World Class is flaunted like a World’s Strongest Man competitor who likes to show off how he can haul a shitty little Fiat car for ten miles or lift weights so heavy that they’re measured in something called “stones”… when in reality, the only practical use they’re going to have for their overly ripped muscles is opening up really tightly sealed jars.  The Ginsu World Class is advertised more as some kind of implement of mass destruction rather than a simple kitchen knife you’d use to chop veggies.  What the fuck’s up with that?

My thoughts exactly, Scary German Guy.

My thoughts exactly, Scary German Guy.

But it’s a proven advertising axiom that the more fucked up your commercial is, the more likely it is to be remembered and mocked by me when I actually bother to do a Retro TV Ad post.  And of course over 35 years later, Ginsu knives are still well known today… even though they are no longer heavily hyped on TV nor only available via C.O.D.  So for cutting the mustard and anything else foolish enough to get in the way of its samurai sword power, we at The Nest give a serrated salute to the one and only Ginsu knife.  Thanks to flooding our kitchen with enough freebie carving power to dissect Shamu, our nubby little Band-Aided fingers will always seek out your ever-sharp blade whether we want to just cut the cheese or plow through our neighbor’s sewer line.  And while you may be a slice of all-American pie, your product will never cease to give us The Vapors…


About evilsquirrel13

Bored former 30-something who has nothing better to do with his life than draw cartoon squirrels.
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22 Responses to Cuts Like A Knife

  1. I haven’t seen a Ginsu advert in years, but there are so many others. Garry and I sing along as they say … “But wait! Act now and you can have two for the price of one. But wait! How about 8 for the price of two? All you need to pay is shipping and handling … ” and it’s always so much money, you could actually make the whatever it is from scratch for less. Apparently it costs a LOT of money to have other people handle the stuff you buy on TV! Ah the memories this brings back.

  2. Quirky Girl says:

    That thing looks positively terrifying. I can’t even be trusted with a butter knife, so that sure as hell never would’ve been a viable option.

    • I’ll bet the number of people who made trips to the ER just by touching this dangerous accessory is quite large. Especially the fools who tried to cut through stupid stuff like in the commercial…

  3. Well squirrel, considering that a little over a week ago I nearly amputated my finger with a meat cleaver, the Ginsu is probably a walk in the park for me. I really enjoyed this stroll down memory lane…even if it sentiments struck a little too close to the bone!

    • The Ginsu would have probably severed every one of your fingers and cut a gash through the kitchen countertop. If you stuck a Ginsu knife in the ground, a few days later it would emerge on the other side of the world…

      • Pahahaha! I hear it is a new unit of measure – the speed at which the Ginsu passes through solid rock. It took British and French engineers 6 years to build the channel tunnel. That is 0.62 Ginsu years.

  4. The Vapors! I’m laughing out loud now.

  5. Trisha says:

    I only have the vaguest memory of these commercials. I probably left the room when they came on because I’ve always found sharp knives terrifying. Or, maybe I just didn’t have a need for a knife that can hack up cans or other knives. While I don’t really remember these commercials, your post reminded me of two things that I’ve always found hilarious; the fact that the woman who became famous for hacking off her husband’s penis had the last name Bobbitt and the term morning wood.

  6. The Cutter says:

    Surely I wasn’t the only kid who once actually tried to cut a can with a kitchen knife, right?

  7. Merbear74 says:

    We had a Buddha! It sat in front of the fireplace. It didn’t work though, we still ate government cheese.

  8. draliman says:

    Rub the Buddha? Sounds like a euphemism…
    I hear Saddam Hussein had armouries full of Ginsu knives. That’s why he had to die.

    On the plus side, once you’ve cut your finger/hand off with one of these babies, the cut will be so clean they’ll easily be able to reattach it!

    • I think if you ordered a Buddha and the Ginsu World Class, you could probably take over the world or something. You just gotta make sure you don’t confuse which one of them to rub…

  9. reocochran says:

    I love your Friday the 13th focus on knives, E.S. 🙂

  10. Mental Mama says:

    I prefer Cutco knives myself.

  11. Guy says:

    So when I roll on you rappers, you better be
    Ready to die because you’re petty
    You’re just a butter knife, I’m a machete
    That’s made by Ginsu, wait until when you
    Try to front, so I can chop into
    Your body, just because you try to be basing
    Friday the 13th, I’mma play Jason

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