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Saturday Morning Cheese and Ice Cubes

Ugh…What does “Time for Timer!” even mean?!? If you were a child of the 1970’s this phrase is what jarred you from your zombie-like state during Saturday Morning cartoons. That’s right, cartoons were only on Saturday mornings. If you were lucky you might be able to also watch “Tom and Jerry” and/or “The Super Friends” for an hour after school. But I digress. And not everyone was so lucky, so I don’t want to boast here. Nothing is worse than stewed hard-feelings, especially among an online community of people you’ve never seen or met who enjoy reading your blog. But, again, I, regrettably, digress.

Saturday Morning cartoons were a staple of not only my childhood, but the childhood of Generation X. I remember waking up at the crack of yawn to secure my spot in front of our black and white 13-inch television with tinfoil on the antenna, and tune in for a few hours of cartoon-centered kid heaven. I don’t think I’d move an inch and I’m sure my mouth was agape with shock as if I was watching a warped live-action reality from somewhere else in the galaxy.

The cartoons were one hundred percent textbook pieces of 1970’s animation. Bad hairdos, bad fashion and bad color schemes all hustled their way into this art form. Art is an imitation of life, after all. And the musical soundtracks for these cartoons were time capsules as well.  You can almost imagine the musicians: middle-aged, overweight men with polyester pants and white patent leather shoes, probably sipping on some sort of a drink called a “Rusty Side Car” while they played the groovinist notes their wind instruments could bleat. Typical cartoon music of the time: blaring trombones, sneaky xylophones, and numerous sound effects that remain unidentified to this day. Example: Scooby and shaggy startled by another alleged monster start running in place quickly for a few seconds before they finally were able to take off. Also: any music that was a transition between scenes in the Super Friends – eerily creepy, and yet the suspenseful mania it generated was without compare.

But back to “Time for Timer!”  The TV executives in 1970’s must have thought this brief exposure to animation, and it’s associated cereal commercial brainwashing, were too toxic in its pure form. To counteract this poison, Public Service Announcements were played to show kids what a good breakfast would be, or why they need to eat Wagon Wheels – a revolutionary snack idea of cheese and crackers. The little cartoon hero, named “Timer” was a nondescript blob in a top hat, cane and bow tie. He also had some limber gams. He would sing and tap dance his way across the screen as he instructed young minds to fill ice cube trays with juice and tooth picks, eat a bowl of ice with cauliflower on top, or even have a peanut butter sandwich for breakfast. This last tidbit was revolutionary and blasphemous in my house, as we were served breakfasts of plain oatmeal and orange juice with brewers yeast in it. Hey, it was the seventies, and my mom was just keepin’ it natural.

Only in my later years did I realize this nondescript blob was really a stomach personified. A dancing stomach! And in this era we are in of childhood obesity, it is almost hard to believe they had to have PSA’s when I was a kid REMINDING kids to eat breakfast, or have an afterschool snack! So, now, as a parent, I’m thinking  about the consequences of our 24/7 cartoon marathon cable channels, and 24/7 kid centered programming, and the many other reasons kids have today to sit and stare. I’m wondering if there is a connection. Maybe I should put my family on the Saturday Morning Cartoon Diet where once a week we sit and stare at the TV for two hours, and for the entire rest of the week we are so busy playing outside that we might forget to have our after school Wagon Wheels.

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About Fortyteen Candles

oh, let's see...distinguished Gen-X'er, frustrated writer, suffocating in the confines of a small town that thinks it's a big deal. A few years ago we were home to the second largest Walmart in our state, don-cha-know. Oh, and I was voted "Most New Wave" in my senior high school year book. Actually, that last sentence alone is really everything you need to know about me.

25 responses »

  1. Oddly enough, this same song has been bouncing around in my head for the the last two mornings. I’ve traced it back, mentally, to a “spoil your dimmer” statement my wife made. But, both Wednesday and Thursday mornings, as I shut off my alarm…this was in my head. Kind of creepy.

    Reply
    • I think they stay forever in our minds, waiting to pop out at strange times. I don’t know why, but I’ve been thinking a lot about this one, too. Was this all part of the PSA plan? Ha Ha Ha…thanks for your comment. And sorry to bring this back!

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  2. Those Wagon Wheels would not be a snack endorsed by the PSA world today. This has to be completely against the First Lady’s program too.

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  3. I don’t think we had Time for Timer in Canada. Of course, now I’m remembering the cartoons of my childhood, Smurfs, Rocket Robin Hood, Flintstones. Thanks for the memories of the tinfoil wrapped antennae!

    Reply
    • I actually grew up close to the boarder to Canada. I think these were shown on ABC Saturday Morning cartoons. I did see some great Canadian TV shows for kids…I remember my father having us always watch “Tiny Talent Time”…lol. Glad you enjoyed my salute to tin foil antennaes!

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  4. Miss those days, have had the kids watching Jetsons, Scooby Doo & Tom & Jerry this summer (Ninjago just doesn’t resonate for me!). Thx for bringing back the memories.

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  5. I have NO recollection of this. And I was a TV junkie as a kid. Could it have been regional? I think I would remember a dancing stomach. LOL

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  6. Great article! I even watched to cartoon because I had never heard of this one. . .my cartoon days were Felix the Cat, Tom and Jerry, Road Runner and Wile E Coyote. Beep! Beep! Never been caught:>)

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  7. Loved this post. I recognized the photo of the cartoon Timer, but had forgotten the ads. So, I called on my old friend Google and found some ads to refresh my memory. Holy hell! I am older than dirt and, it turns out, I remember every single one of those ads. It is crazy to believe that there was once a time in this country when there were PSAs to convince kids to eat healthy snacks. That sort of thing hardly seems possible today when all advertising is conducted by the conglomerate food machines of high fructose corn syrup and FD&C Yellow No. 6. Thanks for the trip!

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  8. I had completely forgotten that cartoon existed and yet I still remembered all the words. Scary. Thanks for that.

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  9. I took tv and electronics away from my boys quite some time ago. Honestly, in about a week, they learn not to miss it. They are young (5 and 4) and it isn’t hard to redirect them. Occassionally, we have a movie marathon or whatnot. When we do, they are glued to the movie and probably enjoy it much more. I know I do.

    Thank you,

    Naia.

    Reply
  10. I love this post and I have nominated you for the Lovely Blog award…please see more at my site. Congrats Leanne

    Reply
    • Glad you enjoyed this post, Leanne! I’m also glad you stopped by my blog. Thank you so much for your nomination for the One Lovely Blog Award. I did already recieve it a short while back, so I don’t believe I can accept it again. I’m very appreciative of your nomination 🙂

      Reply
  11. Love the Saturday Morning Cartoon Diet!

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  12. I totally remember that one — and like you, I had NO idea it was a stomach! And what about Schoolhouse Rock? I learned the preamble from Schoolhouse Rock. To this day, I can’t say the thing without singing it 🙂

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  13. Boy, that brings back memories. When I saw the pic of the cartoon, I immediately thought “Time for Timer.” I used to love Magilla Gorilla, Grape Ape and that racing show with Penelope Pittstop and Muttley.

    Reply
  14. You really took me back
    on this one! Great article. It was unusual to have a group of overweight kids back then, surely one in the crowd, but I guess we were more active back then, no handheld devices to bog us down. Nope, our bikes and our legs were good enough!

    Reply

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