10 Super Bowl Commercials
Some of our favorite food-and-drink ads from games past
By Roxanne Webber
1. Lobster Holds Budweiser Hostage. This 1999 commercial has all the food clichés: chefs in toques, waiters in bow ties, meat cleavers, and a crafty crustacean. When the oddly prescient lobster is pulled from his tank and dangled over the boiling pot of doom, he swipes a Bud from a waiter’s tray and uses it to make his escape.
2. Mullets, MacGyver, MacGruber. Based on a Saturday Night Live skit, this 2009 ad spoofs the mid-’80s action show MacGyver and even has a cameo by the OG MacGyver, who calls out MacGruber for being a Pepsi shill. MacGruber’s response? His legal name is now PepSuber.
3. Giant Mouse Kicks Would-Be Trapper’s Ass. With Carmen playing in the background, an immaculately groomed man cuts a Nacho Cheese Dorito precisely with an X-Acto knife (creepy) and places it as bait for a mousetrap. Then he pulls up a seat in his basement apartment, munches some chips, and watches for the mouse to get its due (creepy, creepy, and, uh, creepy). The mouse, however, has its own plans.
4. Eating Subway Doesn’t Justify the Revival of Van Art. In 2004, Subway ran this ad to clarify that eating a diet of low-fat Subway sandwiches helps make up for eating bad, not being bad. Highlights include a doughnut-lined jacket, a waitress pouring hot coffee on a bad tipper’s crotch, and a dude painting a mural of a Valkyrie on the side of his van.
5. Cat Murderers Get Easy Loans. While this Ameriquest mortgage ad wasn’t for a food product, it centers on spilled spaghetti sauce so we think it counts. The kicker? “Don’t judge too quickly; we won’t.” Maybe the company should have been more discriminating: As one of America’s leading subprime lenders, it was among the first casualties of the credit crunch.
6. Food Mascots Throw a Dinner Party. This MasterCard ad shows a bunch of food mascots, including Count Chocula, Mr. Peanut, and the Vlasic stork, eating dinner. But there’s darkness lurking under the surface: What’s with the cannibalistic undertones of Charlie Tuna serving himself a scoop of tuna casserole? Does Mr. Clean always have to do the dishes? And why did they invite the Jolly Green Giant if he can’t fit in the house?
7. Axes Make Great Bottle Openers. In this spot we learn that picking up a hitchhiker wielding an ax is cool, as long as he has a case of Bud Light under his arm. And if an ax opens a bottle easily, a chain saw has to work even better, right?
8. Beard Comb-Overs Don’t Qualify as Business Casual. Jim Gaffigan’s and Michael Ian Black’s performances make this ad. In the end, even drinking Sierra Mist Free can’t save a man dressed in Daisy Dukes and roller skates.
9. Tabasco: Better than a Bug Zapper. In 1998, Tabasco kept it short and simple: A man sits in the glow of a bug zapper, eating pizza doused in Tabasco sauce. A mosquito evades the zapper to bite the man, but blows up due to the sheer explosive power of his Tabasco-laced blood. Tastier than ingesting bug spray.
10. Emerald Nuts Will Protect You from Robert Goulet. The late singer and actor starred in this 2007 spot for Emerald Nuts, in which he rappels into an office building at 3 p.m. to sabotage workers having an afternoon slump. Goulet manages to look dapper even while eating someone’s Post-it note.