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Catch De Taste

December 30, 2009

What does it mean to be Canadian? It means you use the metric system instead of some cock-and-balls European thing based on the lengths of various royal family members’ body parts. It means you pronounce your vowels slightly differently from the way Americans pronounce them, which causes everyone in Seattle to think you’re way cuter and quainter than you in fact are. It means you say “washroom,” not “restroom;” “write an exam,” not “take an exam;” “make an exam,” not “write an exam;” and “I do,” not “I like you, but we can’t get married because Leviticus says two people are a legitimate couple if and only if they possess neither more nor fewer than two breasts in total.” And it means you can and will join in when I start singing:

Give me a break;

Make it clean, make it cold.

Give me a McCain…

Anyone who just yelled “ICED TEA BREAK!!!!” is Canadian.

I hang out with my cousins fairly often, and we spend almost all of our time together (a) making fun of things and/or (b) singing. We have, therefore, always been exceptionally fond of McCain commercials, which invariably allow for plenty of (a) and occasionally also allow for some (b). McCain is a Canadian company that specializes in potato products, juice from concentrate, frozen cakes, and ridiculously bad television commercials. The five all-time worst are honoured below. (I tried to find my “favourites” on YouTube but didn’t have much luck – when I Googled “McCain iced tea break” the first hit was adiscussion on Facebook; I clicked on it with some excitement only to discover that I’d landed in a group I created years ago and the panel expert who’d introduced the topic was one of my cousins – so sarcastic descriptions will have to do…)

1. ICED TEA BREAK. McCain doesn’t usually do jingles, but for the sake of their new iced tea from concentrate, they decided to make an exception. Having evidently hired the worst lyricist and songwriter in Canada, they set about composing the least catchy and most obnoxious “song” ever used to sell a product. I don’t remember much of the commercial itself – I assume it consisted of some generic hot-summer-day scene – but the song will remain with me always, if only because I’ve sung it hundreds of times at family gatherings. The lyrics are transcribed in their entirety above. If you want to try to imagine it as a piece of music, the first three lines are performed in a hushed near-monotone; the “iced tea break” ending is yell-sung as loudly as possible. What made them pick the word “clean” over a term that could conceivably apply to a glass of iced tea (If there’s one thing I hate, it’s a drink that’s full of sediment and sewer particulate! There’s got to be a better way! Help me, McCain!) is a mystery for the ages.

2. OVEN ROASTS. I know my aunt in Lumsden is cringing right now. This commercial is her all-time least favourite thing in life. A certain daughter of hers / cousin of mine describes it beautifully in our Facebook conversation:

In case you haven’t seen it, the commercial starts in a boardroom in the morning with a woman getting out her cutting board and starting to clumsily cut potatoes. We’re then taken to her office sometime later where she’s breaking a sweat and looking frustrated as she continues to cut the potatoes (a guy on the phone with her asks what “that chopping noise” is). Finally seasoning is added and she gets the potatoes in the oven at home just in time for dinner (she looks like she’s just run a marathon at this point). Then the announcer tells us how easy it is to use Oven Roasts – I mean, why spend hours and hours chopping potatoes and sprinkling on seasoning when you can just dump a bag onto a tray and get amazing processed potatoes?

I’ve chopped and seasoned potatoes many times in my life and have found that it takes about five minutes. No offense, but anyone who spends eight hours chopping potatoes for a family of four is a total gaytard who shouldn’t even be using cutlery. That woman should probably be fired from her corporate position, because I bet she’s a big fucking timewasting drama queen in that context as well. F minus.

3. THE CAKE WITH THE ICE-CREAMY TASTE. In about 2000, McCain came out with this weird disgusting frozen cake and launched it by means of a commercial with people who weren’t supposed to be eating it sneaking into the fridge one at a time to get a slice. So cheeky! And at the end of the whole vomitous mess a voice twice as saccharine as the ad’s premise and the dessert itself combined says: “The cake with the ice-creamy taste.” This commercial came on at my grandparents’ place one time and my late grandpa, normally quite a low-key, calm guy, had a conniption fit. “‘The cake with the ice-creamy taste’? What? What kind of food is it? If I want ice creamy taste, I’ll eat ice cream. ‘Ice-creamy taste.’ Tell me what that means. That’s two steps removed from ice cream. Nobody would want that.” Well said.

4. IT’S THE SAME WITH WHAT I DRINK. McCain punch was endorsed by some major celebrities over the years, including Roberto Alomar (just wait a minute) and some skier whose name I can’t remember. But I remember her commercial, and I’m about 90% sure it was written by the same Salinger who composed the iced tea break song. First there’s a shot of the famous skier racing some other chick down the slopes. At the end of the run, there she is holding a glass of McCain punch. “I ski for fun,” she explains, “but I race to win. It’s the same with what I drink.”

Huh? What the fuck does that even mean? You drink for fun? You race to drink? You ski to drink? You drink to win? What’s the analogy?

5. CATCH DE TASTE. Picture if you will: Roberto Alomar and some kid are playing ball. After the shenanigans are over, the kid says, “Hey Roberto! What’s the best pitcher you’ve ever faced?” Alomar responds: “De one with McCain punch!” This is the most contrived pun setup in the history of time. I mean it’s 15 years later and I still can’t believe it. The joke could have been written in such a way as to be just really cheesy instead of utterly, incomprehensibly, horrifyingly not funny. But no, they start it with “What’s,” which totally gives away that the kid isn’t talking about a person, and then…augh, I don’t even know what to say. And then at the end of the ad, Roberto holds out a glass of punch and says, “Catch de taste!” Another godawful and meaningless pun-like remark. “Catch the taste?” What? Catch it how?

McCain has graced Canadian television with countless crapstrosities (portmanteau of “crap monstrosities”) over the years; it’s impossible to make fun of them all in a single post, but I do want to give an honourable mention to the Pizza Pockets one with the teenage boys dressed like caricatures of gangsta rappers leaning all “whatever”ly on a car and making fun of McCain commercials (oooh, postmodern!) and the “It’s not delivery, it’s DiGiorno” series where the one idiot just fucking refuses to believe the other idiot about the pizza not having come from a restaurant. Like, assfuck, did you hear the doorbell ring? No? That’s what I thought. And remember ten minutes ago when I put a frozen pizza in the oven? That was this pizza! The one you’re eating now, you fucking twit! Fuck you! I’ve never liked you! Get out of my house!

Give me a break…

2 Comments leave one →
  1. Cheegan permalink
    January 1, 2010 10:17 pm

    Oh no. “I ski for fun but I race to win. It’s the same with what I drink.” absolutely must be number one on your list. It is the most unfathomable of all McCain’s commercials and probably all commercials ever broadcast. I still ponder occasionally what it might possibly have been intended to mean. I haven’t come up with a single theory.

  2. not lucie laroche permalink
    June 20, 2013 3:41 pm

    Lucie Laroche is the skiier:

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