Muppets' Exclusive La Choy Fire Breathing Dragon
March 19, 2009 3:40 PM   Subscribe

Muppets' Exclusive La Choy Fire Breathing Dragon! While on the road to success, Jim Henson's creations were used in the advertising world. The La Choy pitch is a great insight into the workshop's early genius.

Further commercials aplenty.
See Rowlf sell IBM!
*credit to YT uploader batman1971 *
posted by Frasermoo (28 comments total) 35 users marked this as a favorite
Dragon Fire!!!
posted by HopperFan at 3:49 PM on March 19, 2009

Thanks I just spent the last 10 minutes browsing flickr for chow mein I won't be eating tonight, and I didn't even have an obnoxious dragon pestering me.

The Rowlf one was great.
posted by Science! at 3:56 PM on March 19, 2009 can see why the muppets warm, gentle humor has endeared them to children of all ages.
posted by sexyrobot at 3:58 PM on March 19, 2009

That's pretty awesome.

Also, that was some dig at Sperry Rand. Take that UNIVAC!
posted by GuyZero at 3:59 PM on March 19, 2009

The YouTube title says this was made in 1966.

These were the top 10 TV shows in 1966:

1. Bonanza
2. The Red Skelton Hour
3. The Andy Griffith Show
4. The Lucy Show
5. The Jackie Gleason Show
6. Green Acres
7. Daktari
8. Bewitched
9. The Beverly Hillbillies
10. Gomer Pyle, U.S.M.C.


If that was the standard level of comedy discourse at the time, joking with the phrase "sexier than Playboy" - as the Muppets do at the beginning of this splendid find - would seem to make this a fairly "adult" pitch. Or am I failing to take something into account?
posted by Joe Beese at 4:09 PM on March 19, 2009

The level of comedy discourse that's given to the masses, versus what's joked about in Madison Avenue boardrooms, well... it's a pretty different animal.

Also, hearing Rowlf's voice come out of a dragon is weird.
posted by dirtynumbangelboy at 4:16 PM on March 19, 2009 [1 favorite]

My guess is that the intro with the dragon is a long-form piece intended for internal use, the same as with the IBM piece. They're far too long for use as a TV advertisement. They explain who the muppets are and go over the creative process, so I think it was to sell the commericals to the CEO or somesuch. The 3 or 4 30-second spots at the end were the actual La Choy commercials.
posted by GuyZero at 4:17 PM on March 19, 2009 [1 favorite]

And for those wondering what has become of La Choy Chow Mein (like me), I just found a review of the current incarnation of the product.
posted by mrzarquon at 4:32 PM on March 19, 2009

Jim Henson ruled. He is one of my favorite creative minds. The Muppets are probably as close as I get to religion. I am (nearly) serious when I say they are sacred to me.

If the traveling Jim Henson exhibit comes anywhere near you (like within driving distance), go see it. It's amazing. There is a lot of fun early stuff like this.
posted by darksong at 5:15 PM on March 19, 2009 [5 favorites]

Remington Rand typewriters would have been the main competition to IBM typewriters at the time, hence the Sperry Rand dig.

By the way, watch the two Wilson Certified meats pitch films. Genius.
posted by evilcolonel at 5:24 PM on March 19, 2009

That was brilliant.
posted by oddman at 5:29 PM on March 19, 2009

Fantastic. Thanks!
posted by deliquescent at 6:00 PM on March 19, 2009

posted by Severian at 6:15 PM on March 19, 2009 [3 favorites]

Yeah! I can put in a couple of my favorite links.

Here's Jim Henson and Frank Oz with hair and team selling themselves to a meat company as advertisers--in typical Jim Henson style.

Part 1

Part 2
posted by eye of newt at 6:27 PM on March 19, 2009 [1 favorite]

The Beverly Hillbillies and The The Jackie Gleason Show both have many sophisticated and ironic episodes - although nothing as charming as a dragon who literally and unabashedly toots his own horn!
posted by Lesser Shrew at 6:42 PM on March 19, 2009 [1 favorite]

We lost Jim Henson too soon, and the muppets lost their soul when he died. If he were alive today, there would not be this sickeningly sweet, gratingly adorable, infantile "Elmo" thing.
posted by longsleeves at 6:48 PM on March 19, 2009

In the IBM one, where Rolf made his own commercials, he parodies Avon first, Wrigley's Doublemint third, and Timex fourth. But what was the "ten feet tall" thing a take on?
posted by paisley henosis at 6:54 PM on March 19, 2009

"like it's ten feet tall"
posted by eye of newt at 7:08 PM on March 19, 2009 [1 favorite]

Hey, thanks
posted by paisley henosis at 8:32 PM on March 19, 2009

Ooh, ooh, more trivia! The mother in the La Choy spot (the one set in the supermarket) is Beverley Owen, the first Marilyn from "The Munsters." Her husband at the time was Jon Stone, who went on to write/direct/produce Sesame Street.
posted by evilcolonel at 10:06 PM on March 19, 2009 [1 favorite]

The part where the dragon smashes the "dragon fire" sign over the other puppet's head made me laugh so hard I pooped a little.
posted by hifiparasol at 10:08 PM on March 19, 2009

posted by harriet vane at 10:16 PM on March 19, 2009

Speaking of the Muppets: Here is a review, from Ain't it Cool News, of the script for the new upcoming Muppet movie, the working title of which is apparently The Greatest Muppet Movie of All Time!!! (I have not read the article myself because it has SPOILERS and because it is on AICN. But I heard about the review from Muppet News Central, which has a brief piece on it here.)

The new movie is being co-written by actor Jason Segel, a life-long Muppet fan. Those of you who watched Forgetting Sarah Marshall may already be aware that the Dracula-puppet-musical stuff is based on his real-life Dracula puppet musical. (Which gives me hope.)
posted by Karlos the Jackal at 10:27 PM on March 19, 2009


Just keeping the joke goin', folks.
posted by JHarris at 2:12 AM on March 20, 2009

Snappy editing. Makes this kind of humour work so well.
posted by Henry C. Mabuse at 7:48 AM on March 20, 2009

Ahhhh. Muppets. That was most refreshing! I wonder if that full-size dragon was the first such Muppet. I don't remember seeing an earlier one... Today we have Sweetums and Snuffy and a few others, but that dragon predates those, I reckon.

Oh, and... Howdy!
posted by Guy_Inamonkeysuit at 12:16 PM on March 20, 2009

Thanks for this. I had the clearly erroneous impression that the Muppets' start in advertising was post-Hensen, and I was outraged on his behalf. I'm glad to be corrected on that point.
posted by Durn Bronzefist at 1:17 PM on March 20, 2009

No, the full sized dragon was not the first such Muppet, the first was Splurge, who is briefly seen in a street scene shot in one of these ads. He's a big blue furry creature who is best imagined as a proto-Sweetums.

They actually made the full suit before they made the hand operated one you see in most of the commercials. The original idea was to have him in the supermarket setting you see in that last commercial, interacting with live actors. The gag with him being incredibly clumsy is central to that, but for some reason they went with the hand muppets for most of those segments, probably for technical and cost reasons.
posted by Henry C. Mabuse at 10:35 PM on March 20, 2009 [1 favorite]

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