Morning Musically-Minded, Medically-Minded, Masticators!
(Today’s post is sponsored by the letter “M”)
Over the past 600+ episodes, The Simpsons has taken us on an amazing journey involving music, science, and food to name a few concepts.
And what better way to start your week, than by discussing some of these concepts Monday morning?
So let’s get started this week by talking about a popular 1980’s slogan.
In the sixty ninth episode of The Simpsons, Lisa’s First Word (Season 04, Episode 10), Homer, Marge, Bart, and Lisa are trying to get Maggie to say her first word. When Bart ask what his first word was, Marge recollects that Bart walked in on Marge and Homer mid-coitus and said “Aye caramba”, but then tells Bart she doesn’t remember. But Marge says she remembers Lisa’s first word because it’s cute.
Marge flashes back to the spring of 1983 when Homer, Marge, and Bart are living in an apartment complex on the Lower East Side. Marge tells Homer she is expecting another baby, so they go house hunting. After a few disastrous houses that include one that smells like burning hogs fat and one owned by dozens of cats, they find a beauty at 742 Evergreen Terrace. Unable to afford the house, Homer turns to his Dad for money. Abe agrees to sell his house and give the money to Homer for his growing family. Touched by the generous gesture, Homer offers Abe to live with them.
Flashback Grampa: “All right, son, I’ll sell this dump and write you a check.”
Flashback Homer: “Dad, first you gave me life, now you’ve given me a home for my family, I’d be honored if you came to live with us.”
Flashback Grampa: “Thank you!”
Back in the present, Bart: “So how long before you shipped Grampa off to the old-folks home?”
Homer: “About three weeks.”
After they move in, Marge is pregnant, Bart is experiencing his ‘terrible two’s’, and Homer is busy juggling a pregnant wife, 2 year old son, and 8 hours of TV per day. Eventually Lisa is born. Marge shows a newspaper she saved from the day Lisa is born. The headline reads “MONDALE TO HART: WHERE’S THE BEEF?”.
Marge: “I saved this newspaper from the day Lisa was born.”
Marge presents newspaper which is showcasing the 1984 presidential election
Lisa reading the headline: ““Mondale to Hart: Where’s the beef?””
Bart: ““Where’s the beef?” What the hell that’s supposed to mean?”
Homer laughing: ““Where’s the beef”…No wonder why he won Minnesota.”
Bart becomes quite jealous of Lisa and his behaviour reflects when he starts cutting her hair and shoving her through the Flanders’ doggy door. But when Lisa’s first word is “Bart”, Bart is touched. When we jump to the present, Bart and Lisa are fighting. Homer implores Maggie not to talk, as kids just fight when they talk. But when he leaves her in her crib, Maggie voiced by Elizabeth Taylor says “Daddy”.
But have you ever wondered what the headline ‘Where’s the beef?’ referred to?
‘Where’s the beef?’
‘Where’s the beef?’ is a slogan from a 1984 Wendy’s campaign. Wendy’s used the campaign to differentiate itself from competitors like McDonalds and Burger King. In the commercial featuring three elderly ladies at the ‘Home of the Big Bun’, the ladies are examining an exaggeratedly large hamburger bun. Two ladies poke at it, exchanging bemused comments. “It certainly is a big bun.” “It’s a very big bun.” “It’s a big fluffy bun.” “It’s a very big fluffy…”. As one of the ladies lift the top half of the bun, a comically minuscule hamburger patty with cheese and a pickle is revealed, prompting her to finish the sentence “…bun.” with a much more disappointed tone. The third lady, actress Clara Peller, immediately responds in an outraged tone “Where’s the beef?”.
The commercials became widely popular and made the 81 year old Clara Peller an overnight sensation. She had interviews on a variety of talk shows and news shows.
Clara Peller (August 4, 1902 – August 11, 1987)
The slogan also became associated with the 1984 U.S. Presidential election. During Democratic primaries in the spring of 1984, when the commercial was at the peak of its popularity, Democratic candidate and former Vice President Walter Mondale used the phrase to sum up his arguments that program policies championed by his rival, Senator Gary Hart, were insubstantial.
Walter Mondale (January 5, 1928 – April 19, 2021) and Gary Hart (November 28, 1936 – Present)
This began on a March 11, 1984, televised debate at the Fox Theatre in Atlanta prior to the New York and Pennsylvania primaries. Gary Hart had moved his candidacy from dark horse to the lead over Walter Mondale based on his repeated use of the phrase “new ideas”. When Gary Hart once again used the slogan in the debate, Walter Mondale leaned forward and said, “When I hear your new ideas, I’m reminded of that ad, ‘Where’s the beef?'”. The Mondale/Hart campaigns continually clashed using the two dueling slogans, Gary Hart frequently showing reams of policy papers and retorting “Here’s the beef!”.
Walter Mondale’s strategy succeeded in casting doubt on Gary Hart’s new ideas, and changing the debate to specific details, earning him the Democratic nomination. He went on to the November 6, 1984 Presidential election versus incumbent Republican President Ronald Reagan. President Reagan defeated Walter Mondale in a landslide victory, winning 525 electoral votes to Walter Mondale’s 13 electoral votes. President Reagan won 49 of 50 states, with Walter Mondale only winning 10 electoral votes for his home state of Minnesota which he won by 0.18% (as Homer so aptly pointed out, ““Where’s the beef”…No wonder why he won Minnesota.“) and 3 electoral votes for the District of Columbia.
Now that we’ve learned more about all the slogan ‘Where’s the beef?’, be sure to come back next week when we continue our Monday morning musings with the next episode of The Simpsons.
Did you remember the episode? What’s your favourite flashback episode of The Simpsons? What about your favourite Simpsons historic reference? Were you familiar with the ‘Where’s the beef?’ slogan? What’s your favourite slogan? What’s your favourite restaurant in the burger wars? Sound off in the comments below. You know we love hearing from you.