I was a dangerous kid to bring to the supermarket. When new products were advertised on television, I wanted to try them and was not above begging to get what I wanted. That meant my Mom needed to have a core of iron and patience as deep as the ocean. Both are noble traits, but as an adult, I regret how much she had to apply them to something like Oatmeal Swirlers.
Oatmeal Swirlers showed up in the eighties and were discontinued by the nineties. During their run, they had a very compelling ad campaign, both on TV and in print. The product was simple, it was oatmeal with an extra packet of delicious fruity sugar or chocolate paste. After your oatmeal was heated in the microwave, you squeeze the packet on to the oatmeal and enjoy. Naturally in the commercials, you are also encouraged to have fun with it and make smiley faces or play tic-tac-toe on your oatmeal.
Plus it had the playful fun tagline, “Give it a swirl!”
The one time we actually bought Oatmeal Swirlers, I tried to draw on my oatmeal, but the goo came out messily. So my smiley face looked like the face of a tortured oatmeal homunculus, trying to cling to a life that it knew would be short and painful. By bowl two of the Oatmeal Swirlers, same day as bowl one, I cut out the middle man and just ate the oatmeal with some added sugar and shotgunned the fruity goo into my mouth.
My mother was appalled, not because of my gross eating habit, she knew who I was, but because of how wasteful it was. Oatmeal Swirlers were a lot more expensive than regular oatmeal and I was basically eating it like candy.
So the next trip, when I asked for my Swirlers, she insisted I get standard oatmeal and a jar of strawberry jelly. I whined of course but relented. In the end, it was a much better deal for a sugar fiend like myself.
Instead of a drizzle of sugar paste, I would take huge spoonfuls of jelly and shove it in my oatmeal, until it was more jelly than oatmeal. This too would be short-lived because my Mom thought it was unhealthy for me to eat a jar of jelly in a week. Not what I was hoping for, but it was okay, we still had Hershey’s syrup in the cabinet and I was able to put lots of that in my oatmeal for months without her noticing.
Whenever I see a commercial or print ad for Oatmeal Swirlers, I cannot help but think back to my eighties’ winter breakfasts. Of thick strawberry/oatmeal goo that would make your teeth hurt and of a disapproving mother just trying to figure out this mess of a kid she was raising.
This is a great ad, with late eighties sensibilities and the art direction and music are pitch-perfect for the era. Enjoy.