Slang and References

I’ve been meaning to post this, and then hullabaloo goes and quotes it, so that was my cue.

This is the greatest advertising opportunity since the invention of cereal.

So I checked. On when cereal was invented. For real, it’s kind of cool:

Will Keith Kellogg was the founder of the W.K. Kellogg Foundation, founded in 1906. In 1894, Kellogg was trying to improve the diet of hospital patients. He was searching for a digestible bread substitute using the process of boiling wheat. Kellogg accidentally left a pot of boiled wheat to stand and the wheat became tempered (soften). When Kellogg rolled the tempered or softened wheat and let it dry, each grain of wheat emerged as a large thin flake. The flakes turned out to be a tasty cereal. Kellogg had invented corn flakes.

Will Keith Kellogg founded the Battle Creek Toasted Corn Flake Company in 1906.

Rice Krispies were introduced by Kellogg in 1929.

(‘It’s toasted‘, btw, was the Lucky Strike tagline since 1917. )

(And the song is really really fun to sing. I’ve taught it to many singers. I like being Pop.)

This has been driving me crazy. I will state right now that I haven’t researched this… I suppose the trick would be to find a book cover from 1960 of Exodus, or even some other best seller from the period that was re-issued while the movie based on it was in production. For my purposes, to find several books. Or print ads for those books.Because in Babylon, when Lily Meyer slides Exodus across the conference room table and over to Don, she tells him that it is “soon to be a major motion picture”. And she says it with the quotation marks as part of her inflection; she is lifting a popular phrase.

My gut, and my gut alone, tells me that turning this kind of phrase was not commonplace. That even if the industry was using it, people were not. People just didn’t lift catch-phrases the way they do today. Especially people to whom English is a second language. I really don’t think that started until the 70’s; I believe it to be a post-modern phenomenon, and in 1960 we were just broaching modern.

Now, Deborah suggests that perhaps she was directly quoting, and not being ironic. Maybe that’s it. But I don’t see why she would be inclined to directly quote rather than rephrase.  (more…)

In New Amsterdam, at the end of the scene where Cooper has just explained to Don and Roger Pete Campbell’s value as a Sterling Cooper employee, Bertram “Yoda” Cooper whistles This Old Man.


What’s it represent?

That this whole thing is a game? Like, a children’s counting game?

Is it a jab at Pete’s being a little brat, squashed by his father but ultimately saved by his mother?

Yup. I’m the one with the blog. And yet I say…


“‘Ya know I can’t believe I even thought about getting back together with you! We are SOOO over!”
~Rachel, re-breaking up with Ross on Friends (Episode 4:01; The One With the Jellyfish)

In a discussion about the possible origins of the term ‘self-worth’, Rondi commented about the anachronistic “1960, I am SO over you“.

First of all, Rondi, don’t second guess yourself. This one is absolutely undebateably out of step with the era. Is it POSSIBLE that a woman in 1960 could have put those words together in that sequence? Sure, it’s technically possible. But it screams Today. It screams it so loudly that I wonder if it was deliberate. (more…)

In the Wheel, Don says, “Bringing in business is the key to your salary, your status, and your self-worth”.

And later, Pete gets in Don’s face with his news about landing the Clearasil account, and closes with, “Self-worth and status. You said it”.

Self-worth seemed a little 1970’s/1980’s to my ear, a little me-generation (’70’s) or even the 12-step recovery years (late ’80’s early ’90’s) but I couldn’t pin it down. According to what I could find, it is 1960 plausible. Technically. Just barely.

Now certainly I have observed ‘corporate speak’ to eventually bleed into the streets. Who doesn’t know what being on the same page means? So perhaps Weiner is thinking that this expression got its start in the board room. Perhaps I could give Mr. W. a little more credit… perhaps his research reaches past (where my research stopped) and he actually knows this to be historically true.

But self-worth just doesn’t sound like something that originated in a conference room or ad agency. And so I remain skeptical.

Here’s a good one. I happened to notice this phrase, “meaning of mad men,” showed up in the search terms for the blog (that is, someone searched on that phrase and ended up here). So I thought that was worth defining. It was explained in caption text at the beginning of the first episode, but of course, many viewers have joined the Cult of Mad Men since then.

In the 1950s and 1960s, the advertising industry was based on Madison Avenue in New York City. In fact, “Madison Avenue” used to be slang for “the ad industry.” Madison/ad men was contracted into “mad men” (no women, of course) by the mad men themselves.