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I Can't Believe I Ate the Whole Thing




Most companies are lucky if they get a single ad slogan into the popular lexicon during their corporate life. Will Wendy's ever top "Where's the beef?" Will Bud ever top "Wazzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzup?" Will the sweet strains of "Heard it through the grapevine" ever again prompt us to slap on some shades and slowly promenade about the room like rhythmically blessed sun-dried fruit? And just where have all the children gone?


Bayer, the unassuming makers of the mild heartburn analgesic Alka Seltzer, ruled the '70s with not one, not two, but three, count 'em, three slogans that for a time were as big as "wazzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzup". Maybe bigger. Try this. Discreetly whisper to someone on, say, a public bus "plop plop" and see if they cannot help but burst into song, completing your cryptic utterance with "plop plop fizz fizz oh what a relief it is". You might have less luck with Alka Seltzer's "Try it you like it" slogan. Some things born in the '70s were actually left there.


Alka Seltzer's all-time-greatest slogan was "I can't believe I ate the whole thing". Being unfamiliar with the slogan, my padewon learner, you might think it's a comment in reference to the two chalky tablets found in a packet of Alka Seltzer. You are, however, mistaken.


Let me explain.


The Alka Seltzer commercial featured a large man displaying signs not of mere heart burn but signs he might literally explode at the dinner table a la Meaning of Life's Mr. Creosole. Before him is a large bowl that once contained a pasta dinner that could have sustained the people of Chad for the greater part of a year. With a look freely mixing one part terror and one part astonishment -- a look not far different from a man who has just impaled himself on a fence post while playing a harmless game of touch football -- our glutton dribbles from his mouth the unforgettable words "I can't believe I ate the whole thing."


Believe it, round boy.


And believe Bayer when they cut to a spiel about the modern miracle of neutralizing acid with sodium bicarbonate. Of course Bayer doesn't tell the viewer its secret formula is baking soda. It just suggests that contained in two little pills of Alka Seltzer there's enough restorative power that even this fat ass with an uncontrollable appetite can receive temporary relief from the effects of his unbounded sinful gluttony.


Have your doubts?


The commercial cuts back to the shameless pig. Much to our surprise, he's not exploded. He's not a bloody mass on the chair. His rib cage is not cleaved open by a powerful internal blast of gastric juices and whatever the Christ he shoveled down his gullet at lunch. We do not see shreds of internal organs hanging from the unnaturally extended chest bones like skinned rabbits drying on sticks in an Indian smoke lodge. No, alas this fate has been reserved for only Monty Python's Mr. Creosole. This pork vacuum is, get this, smiling. He's just imbibed a glass of water in which he's dissolved two regular strength Alka Seltzer tablets. To confirm his fit-as-the-world's-fattest-fiddle condition, he answers his original, painfully put yet rhetorical demi-question "I can't believe I ate the whole thing" with the proud "the WHOLE thing".



-- Karl Mamer





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