Boomer Brands: Iconic Brands that Shaped Our Childhood

Boomer Brands: Iconic Brands that Shaped Our Childhood

by Barry Silverstein
Boomer Brands: Iconic Brands that Shaped Our Childhood

Boomer Brands: Iconic Brands that Shaped Our Childhood

by Barry Silverstein


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Saturday morning TV shows… cereals, soft drinks and snack foods…
cool cars and rock ‘n’ roll…

Boomers will savor the memories with the new book,
Boomer Brands: Iconic Brands that Shaped Our Childhood

Those Saturday morning TV shows entertained Boomer kids, but they were also vehicles for brand advertising. Chances are that’s how Boomers first got to know cereal, soft drink, and snack food brands. The “Boomer Brands” they knew and loved then, they remember to this day.

This unique book is a stroll down memory lane, reminiscing about the beloved brands Boomers first met in the 50s and 60s. Brand maven Barry Silverstein shares “Boomer Brand Cameos” of over fifty of the brands Boomers grew up with: Disney, Kellogg’s Frosted Flakes, Good Humor, Howard Johnson, Hush Puppies, MAD, Ovaltine, Twinkies, WIFFLE Ball and many more. Most of these brands began during the Boomer era and are still around. Plus, Boomers will gain rare insight into how these iconic brands shaped their childhood and have a lasting impact on their life. Boomer Brands is meant be read by Boomers, shared with Boomers, and savored for the memories!


Introduction: Boomer Brands and You
View Tube (television brands)
Bowled Over (cereal brands)
Soda Pop-ular (soft drink brands)
Snack Attack (snack food brands)
Faster Foods (convenience food brands)
Playtime (toy and game brands)
The Dazzle of Disney (Disney brand)
Lookin’ Good, Feelin’ Good (health and beauty brands)
On the Road Again (car brands)
Orange You Hungry? (Howard Johnson brand)
Burgers Galore and More (fast food brands)
Reelin’ and Rockin’ (rock ‘n’ roll brands)
Politics and Protest (consciousness brands)
Green Scene (environmental brands)
Ten Boomer Era Brands with Lasting Legacies
Birth of the Modern Brand
Appendix: The Boomer Era, Year by Year
Boomer Brands Index

Trade Paperback, 192 pages, 55 black-and-white photos

About the Author

Barry Silverstein is a Boomer, freelance writer and retired direct marketing/brand marketing professional. He is the author of numerous non-fiction marketing and small business books, including Branding 123 and The Breakaway Brand. He also writes a blog for Boomers called “Happily Rewired.” Silverstein resides with his wife in the Asheville, North Carolina area.

About the Publisher

GuideWords Publishing publishes books at the intersection of Boomers and business. Boomer Brands is the company’s second book. Its first book, Let’s Make Money, Honey: The Couple’s Guide to Starting a Service Business, is designed to help couples succeed in starting and running a small service business.

GuideWords Publishing
Biltmore Lake, North Carolina 28715

Product Details

ISBN-13: 9780996576031
Publisher: GuideWords Publishing
Publication date: 02/01/2019
Pages: 194
Product dimensions: 6.00(w) x 9.00(h) x 0.41(d)

About the Author

Barry Silverstein is a Boomer, freelance writer and retired direct marketing/brand marketing professional. He ran his own direct marketing agency for twenty years and worked for other leading marketing agencies and organizations during a forty year marketing career. Silverstein is the author of numerous non-fiction marketing and small business books, including Business-to-Business Internet Marketing (the first book on the subject), Internet Marketing for Technology Companies, and The Breakaway Brand. He teaches an online course, "Big Brand Strategies for Small Brands." He also writes a blog for Boomers called "Happily Rewired." Silverstein resides with his wife in the Asheville, North Carolina area. His website is

Read an Excerpt


View Tube

The most influential medium of the Boomer era was undoubtedly television, so that's where Boomer Brands begins. During our childhood, television first appeared. By the 60s, television was the dominant medium in America. Radio was still important, but there were neither video games nor the Internet to compete with America's new audio-visual medium. As a result, Boomer kids were truly the TV generation.

What does this have to do with brands? Pretty much everything. Television was fertile ground for brand marketers to reach more of the American population than any other medium. Channel choices were at first limited to three networks, ABC, CBS, and NBC. That meant a brand marketer could easily saturate the market by advertising exclusively on these networks – quite different from the hundreds of free and paid television channel options available today.

Early on, brand marketers recognized they could not only reach adults with their brand messages, but children as well. Why was advertising directly to children desirable? Because kids were a straight route to adults, who ultimately purchased products on their behalf. Over time, parents grew increasingly uncomfortable with the insidious way brand marketers used television to transform very young children (namely us) into product purchase influencers. But there can be no denying that it worked.

The ideal timeslot to advertise to children was Saturday morning. During the 50s and 60s, Saturday mornings were devoted almost exclusively to children's programming. As you'll see in subsequent sections of this book, television programs aimed at kids were sometimes brazenly designed to be nothing more than vehicles for promoting various brands. Then again, television was "free" because it was supported by advertisers, so who could object? And it sure was nice for busy, tired parents to keep their kids engaged on Saturday mornings just by having them turn on the television.

Product brand advertising aside, the shows broadcast on Saturday mornings were, if not always wholesome, highly entertaining for children. They were also surprisingly diverse. Networks dished up plenty of cartoon shows, of course, but there were also educational shows like Mr. Wizard, participation shows like Howdy Doody, and a host of adventure shows across a number of different genres, including Westerns and science fiction.

Each television show was really a brand unto itself. A Saturday morning television show was just as emotionally impactful to the kids who watched it as the branded products the show advertised.

As television matured, children's programming came under fire. In 1961, newly appointed FCC Chairman Newton Minnow famously called television a "vast wasteland," referring in part to children's television shows. Critics derisively characterized TV as the "boob tube." Nevertheless, Saturday morning shows for kids continued for decades – until the 1990 Children's Television Act effectively changed the nature of children's programming, and advertising to children.

Why We Loved Saturday Mornings

What was as good as opening presents on Christmas morning? (Well almost.) Watching television on Saturday mornings, that's what. There you were, with your bowl of undoubtedly sugary cereal in your lap, just you and maybe your siblings, consuming hours of unadulterated entertainment made for kids. It was heaven on earth.

There was a real emotional connection between us and what we watched. These weren't just shows, they resonated with our young, impressionable minds, allowing us to fantasize. They were aspirational because we felt like we were a part of them. Television shows on Saturday mornings hooked us with humor, pathos, adventure, and a good dose of what today would be regarded as downright corny.

Cartoons may have been mindless, but to us, they were laugh-out-loud funny, with characters who were endearing. The old West held a certain fascination for lots of us: Whether it was Annie Oakley, Hopalong Cassidy or The Lone Ranger, we rode along, imagining ourselves doing good and outsmarting bad guys. We spent considerable time flying up in the air, courtesy of shows like Captain Midnight, Sky King and Superman. We fell in love with puppets from Paul Winchell's Jerry Mahoney to Shari Lewis' Lambchop to Sesame Street's Muppets. We learned valuable lessons through the gentle patience and understanding of Mr. Rogers and Mr. Wizard.

And we belonged. We imagined ourselves part of Howdy Doody's Peanut Gallery. We couldn't wait to get Captain Midnight's decoder ring so we could uncover those special messages during the show. We became card-carrying members of the Rin Tin Tin club. We watched the Mickey Mouse Club while wearing our Mousketeer ears and singing along with the theme song.

We may not have realized it, but every one of those Saturday morning shows was a unique brand. TV shows had their own logos, brand platform, and brand characters. They used brand merchandising to sell us toys, games, and clothes. Television characters made personal appearances. Cereal, soft drink, and snack food brands cleverly wove their products into the shows. (You couldn't get that Captain Midnight decoder ring unless you sent in an Ovaltine proof of purchase.)

Before video games even existed, we had our own novel form of video engagement: television on Saturday mornings.

Some of the popular 50s and 60s Saturday morning television shows are listed here. All of these shows appeared on Saturday mornings, unless otherwise noted. Some shows may have also appeared during weekdays or prime time.

Which ones were your favorites?


The Adventures of Batman and Robin * The Alvin Show * The Archie Show * Atom Ant * The Banana Splits * Beany and Cecil * The Beatles * The Bugs Bunny Show * The Bullwinkle Show * Casper the Friendly Ghost * Deputy Dawg * Fantastic Voyage * The Flintstones * George of the Jungle * The Hardy Boys * H. R. Pufnstuf * The Huckleberry Hound Show * The Jetsons * Linus the Lionhearted * Mighty Mouse * Mr. Magoo * The New Adventures of Superman * Popeye the Sailor * The Porky Pig Show * Quick Draw McGraw * The Road Runner Show * Scooby-Doo * Spider-Man * Tom and Jerry * Underdog * The Woody Woodpecker Show * Yogi Bear

Live and Film/Video

The Adventures of Kit Carson * The Adventures of Rin Tin Tin * The Adventures of Robin Hood * The Adventures of Superman * Annie Oakley * The Gene Autry Show * The Big Top * Bozo the Clown (weekdays) * Captain Gallant of the Foreign Legion * Captain Kangaroo (weekdays) * Captain Midnight * Circus Boy * Ding Dong School (weekdays) * Fury * Hopalong Cassidy * Howdy Doody * Kukla, Fran and Ollie * Lassie * The Little Rascals * The Lone Ranger * The Mickey Mouse Club * Mr. Rogers' Neighborhood * The Paul Winchell and Jerry Mahoney Show * The Pinky Lee Show * Romper Room (weekdays) * The Roy Rogers Show * Sergeant Preston of the Yukon * Sesame Street (weekdays) * The Shari Lewis Show * Sky King * Space Patrol * Tales of the Texas Rangers * Watch Mr. Wizard * Winky Dink and You

The following trademarks and registered trademarks are the property of their respective holders: ABC, The Adventures of Batman and Robin, The Adventures of Kit Carson, The Adventures of Rin Tin Tin, The Adventures of Robin Hood, The Adventures of Superman, The Alvin Show, Annie Oakley, The Archie Show, Atom Ant, Gene Autrey, The Banana Splits, Beany and Cecil, The Beatles, The Big Top, Bonanza, Bozo the Clown, The Bugs Bunny Show, The Bullwinkle Show, Capitol Records, Captain Gallant of the Foreign Legion, Captain Kangaroo, Captain Midnight, Casper the Friendly Ghost, CBS, Circus Boy, Deputy Dawg, Ding Dong School, Fantastic Voyage, The Flintstones, Fury, George of the Jungle, Green Lantern, Gunsmoke, Hanna-Barbera, The Hardy Boys, Hopalong Cassidy, Howdy Doody, H. R. Pufnstuf, Huckleberry Hound, The Jetsons, Kukla, Fran and Ollie, Lassie, Linus the Lionhearted, The Little Rascals, The Lone Ranger, The Mickey Mouse Club, Mighty Mouse, Mr. Magoo, Mr. Rogers' Neighborhood, Mr. Wizard, Mr. Wizard's World, NBC, The New Adventures of Superman, The Paul Winchell and Jerry Mahoney Show, The Pinky Lee Show, Popeye the Sailor, The Porky Pig Show, Quick Draw McGraw, Rawhide, The Rifleman, The Road Runner Show, Romper Room, Roy Rogers, The Ruff and Reddy Show, Scooby- Doo, Sergeant Preston of the Yukon, Sesame Street, Shari Lewis, Sky King, Space Patrol, Spider-Man, Tales of the Texas Rangers, Tom and Jerry, Underdog, Wagon Train, Watch Mr. Wizard, Winky Dink and You, The Woody Woodpecker Show, Yogi Bear

Cameo: Bozo the Clown

Any product brand would envy the remarkable reach and longevity of Bozo the Clown. The Bozo character originated in 1946 in a unique format: a record plus read-along book. Bozo migrated to television in 1949, played by Pinto Colvig, the same actor who voiced the clown on the record. In 1956, actor/producer Larry Harmon purchased the rights to Bozo the Clown. Harmon developed the franchise idea for a half-hour daily local television show with Bozo performing live in front of children, supplemented with cartoons. Hundreds of Bozos sprung up around the country, as well as in France, Germany, and Japan. Harmon then created "Bozo's Big Top" in 1965 for national syndication. While Harmon himself performed the role of Bozo, numerous others played Bozo the Clown. By the mid-60s, Bozo the Clown merchandising was an operation worth over $150 million worldwide. At least one variation of Bozo the Clown continued to air on television until 2001.

Cameo: Huckleberry Hound

Created by the renowned Hanna-Barbera team, Huckleberry Hound was a mild-mannered animated blue dog character who spoke with a bit of a twang. He was introduced in his own television series, "The Huckleberry Hound Show," in 1958, but the show wasn't Hanna-Barbera's first cartoon series – that was "The Ruff and Reddy Show." Huck found himself in all sorts of situations, facing all sorts of villains, but he always prevailed. Interestingly, he seemed to be something of a time traveler, because he appeared as not just himself but as a Roman gladiator, a Medieval knight, and a rocket scientist. Appearing on Huck's show were various other cartoon characters, most notably, Yogi Bear, who became so popular he eventually had a show of his own. In 1960, "The Huckleberry Hound Show" received an Emmy Award, the first animated program to win television's top honor. As a testament to Huckleberry Hound's lasting brand influence, as recently as 2018 his character was teamed up with super-hero Green Lantern in a comic book special set in the 70s.

Cameo: Mr. Wizard

From 1951 until 1965, kids got a first-hand introduction to science on the weekly TV show, "Watch Mr. Wizard." Mr. Wizard (Don Herbert) conducted science experiments with the help of a young assistant. Mr. Wizard was always patient and encouraging, but he also had a flair for the dramatic. The inspiration behind Mr. Wizard was Don Herbert himself. He proposed the idea for a science show aimed at children to a television station in Chicago. The show's timing was prescient, since it coincided with America's first exploration of space. "Watch Mr. Wizard" was loved by millions of children and won a Peabody Award. Herbert also produced videos, wrote books and sponsored toys, becoming a one-man powerhouse in promoting his own brand. Herbert created an updated version of the show, calling it "Mr. Wizard's World," which ran on Nickelodeon beginning in 1983, exposing a whole new generation of kids to Mr. Wizard.

Cameo: Westerns

Westerns have a long and celebrated history in America; in that sense, they represent an enduring brand family. Stories about the emergence of the American West in books and pulp magazines intrigued adults and children alike as early as the 1800s. Westerns naturally made the transition to film, where they enjoyed significant popularity from the 1930s through the 1960s, emerging once again in the 1990s. The Western soon became a staple of American television, both on Saturday mornings and during prime time in the Boomer era. "Hopalong Cassidy" is credited with bringing the Western to TV in 1949. Cassidy was a fictional character from the early 1900s who wore all black (even though he was a good guy). Cassidy was played in more than sixty movies by actor William Boyd. Boyd shrewdly bought the rights to the films, shortened them into television segments, and when they became popular, filmed additional segments as original television shows. Hopalong Cassidy was the first Western TV mega-star, with millions of dollars in brand merchandising, everything from cowboy outfits to lunchboxes to roller skates with spurs. "Hopalong Cassidy" opened the floodgates for other Saturday morning old-time and more contemporary Westerns including "Annie Oakley," "The Gene Autrey Show," "The Lone Ranger," and "The Roy Rogers Show" – and prime time shows like "Bonanza," "Gunsmoke," "Rawhide," "The Rifleman," and "Wagon Train." These shows are still revered by Boomers, who can watch reruns on DVDs, select TV channels and streaming services. Maybe you've even purchased a lunchbox or two at flea markets.


Bowled Over

Breakfast cereals are widely regarded as a 20th Century food, but cereal was invented long before it became "The Breakfast of Champions," as the renowned advertising slogan for Wheaties claimed.

The first hot ground oatmeal cereal was created as early as 1854 by Ferdinand Schumacher, a German immigrant from Ohio, and the first cold breakfast cereal, "Granula" (which had to be soaked overnight for it to be palatable), was the invention of New Yorker James Caleb Jackson in 1863.

So how did cereal brands come to bowl us over during the Boomer era and represent the very heart and soul of the Baby Boomer generation? You can pin that on the brothers Kellogg of Battle Creek, Michigan. (Battle Creek, by the way, is officially known as "the birthplace of cereal." Today, you can pay homage to this beloved breakfast food by attending the annual "National Cereal Festival" there.) John Harvey Kellogg, a surgeon who also ran a health spa in Battle Creek, came up with his own cereal, borrowing the "Granula" name and changing it to "granola" after a legal battle. He then teamed up with brother William and together, they invented Kellogg's Corn Flakes.

William Kellogg, not John, saw the marketing potential of cereal and wanted to build a business around it. You might say he boxed out his brother, buying John's share of their cereal patents. William went on to form the Kellogg Company in 1906. Less than three years later, Kellogg was selling more than a million cases of cereal annually.

Around the same time, a former patient of John Kellogg's health spa named Charles William Post got wind of this cereal thing. He created a cereal called Grape-Nuts, followed by the weirdly named Elijah's Manna, later rechristened Post Toasties (a Kellogg's Corn Flakes knock-off). Guess what? These two products launched the Postum Cereal Company, better known as Post Cereals, a cereal manufacturer that also made its home in Battle Creek.

Fueled by the growing popularity of the new-fangled breakfast cereals, which were originally thought to be healthier than the more traditional egg and meat breakfast of the day, other manufacturers joined the fray.

In the first four decades of the 1900s, the Quaker Oats Company created Puffed Rice and Puffed Wheat, the Washburn Crosby Company (which later became General Mills) produced Wheaties, the Ralston Purina Company came out with Shredded Ralston (the forerunner of the Chex brand), and General Mills introduced Cheerios, originally known as "CheeriOats." All along, Kellogg was expanding its cereal line, adding such brands as Kellogg's Rice Krispies.

Cereal would become permanently embedded in our lives as the leading American breakfast food.

Why We Loved Cereals

You might say everything changed in the cereal world with the addition of one essential ingredient: Sugar. Oh, and there was another key "ingredient" ... you and me, the Baby Boomer kids, who craved sugar.

In 1952, when the first Boomer was around six years old, Kellogg's Sugar Frosted Flakes hit the grocery store shelves. This cereal was really nothing more than the company's flagship Kellogg's Corn Flakes brand with a sugary sheen. That sweet little product introduction dovetailed very nicely with the advent of television. (Eventually, of course, TV was accused of being as bad for the Boomer brain as sugary cereals were for the teeth.)

Television networks quickly recognized that a demographic earthquake was occurring in our country, so they rushed to create programs for families with children. TV followed the model of radio: The programming was free because it was supported by advertising. Millions of little Boomers became a very attractive target audience for children's programs — and what better product to pitch to kids than breakfast cereals?

A lot of children's television programming took advantage of the affection kids had for comic books and cartoons. It was a natural fit for cereal manufacturers, who shamelessly promoted their brands directly to us kids. The manufacturers advertised primarily on children's television shows and often employed animated mascots and cartoon character tie-ins. TV and cereal went together like, well, cereal and milk.

From the very start, cereal manufacturers were brilliant at branding and packaging, reaching their zenith during the Boomer era. Not only did they come up with catchy brand names, cartoon mascots, colorful boxes, and promotional gimmicks – they even gave us unlimited choices by producing those cute little single-serving packages. (Mom or Dad had to cut the thing open, but remember the thrill of pouring milk right into the box?) No wonder cereal brands still occupy the most shelf space of any class of products in modern day grocery stores.

Let's face it. We loved cereal. We still love cereal. Some of the popular Boomer era cereal brands are listed below. Which ones were your favorites?


Excerpted from "Boomer Brands"
by .
Copyright © 2019 Barry Silverstein.
Excerpted by permission of GuideWords Publishing.
All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.
Excerpts are provided by Dial-A-Book Inc. solely for the personal use of visitors to this web site.

Table of Contents

Introduction: Boomer Brands and You

View Tube (television brands)

Boomer Brand Cameos:

Bozo the Clown

Huckleberry Hound

Mr. Wizard


Bowled Over (cereal brands)

Boomer Brand Cameos:

Frosted Flakes




Soda Pop-ular (soft drink brands)

Boomer Brand Cameos:

The Cola Wars

Fruit Juice Frenzy


Snack Attack (snack food brands)

Boomer Brand Cameos:

Bubble Gum

Good Humor



Faster Foods (convenience food brands)

Boomer Brand Cameos:

Cheese Whiz



Playtime (toy and game brands)

Boomer Brand Cameos:

Board Games




The Dazzle of Disney (Disney brand)

Boomer Brand Cameos:

Mickey Mouse Ears

Disney Parks and Resorts

Disney Merchandising

Lookin’ Good, Feelin’ Good (health and beauty brands)

Boomer Brand Cameos:



The Pill

Virginia Slims

On the Road Again (car brands)

Boomer Brand Cameos:




Orange You Hungry? (Howard Johnson brand)

Boomer Brand Cameo:

HoJo Brands

Burgers Galore and More (fast food brands)

Boomer Brand Cameos:

Kentucky Fried Chicken


Pizza Hut

Reelin’ and Rockin’ (rock ‘n’ roll brands)

Boomer Brand Cameos:

American Bandstand

The Monkees


Politics and Protest (consciousness brands)

Boomer Brand Cameos:

Black Panther Party

Eugene McCarthy


Green Scene (environmental brands)

Boomer Brand Cameos:

Keep America Beautiful

Tom’s of Maine

Whole Foods Market

Ten Boomer Era Brands with Lasting Legacies


Credit Card


Holiday Inn

Hush Puppies

Microwave Oven

Radio Shack



Trader Joe’s

Afterthought: Birth of the Modern Brand

Appendix: The Boomer Era, Year by Year

(1946 - 1964)

Boomer Brands Index

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