It still occasionally, for no reason, jumps into my head.
"Dine at the sign of the Happy Chef."
There's no getting back to sleep when the old radio advertising jingle creeps in.
If I can push that one out of mind, it only leads to the other longtime ad when the restaurant chain was at its heyday: "Cheer up, at Happy Chef it's good!"
Chris Painter, director of sales at Radio Mankato, said the airwaves used to be dominated by local jingles, but there are fewer as the number of locally owned businesses dwindles.
Business in local jingles was so rich that traveling "jingle peddlers" passed through town trying to get radio stations to make calls with them to businesses to pitch ideas. "A lot of them were real characters. They'd have musical ideas and they'd meet with businesses and mix something and sell it to them. Some of them weren't very good, though."
Painter said the best jingles have a good musical undertow. "Once you hear it come on, you know exactly who it's for, whether you catch the words or not."
Some of his favorites are for Exclusively Diamonds and the high-charged Degroods ad — "Degroods, your electronics and appliance brand source store."
Longtime broadcaster Pete Steiner recalled the jingle for Brett's Department Store, which dominated downtown commerce for more than a century:
"The store to know and shop is Bretts."
But his favorite, stick-in-your-head jingle, was from the Mankato Mall:
"Talk about Mankato Mall, talk about Mankato Mall — a dre-eam co-ome true!"
Tom Warrant, owner of Tire Associates, has at times thought of updating his longtime radio ad — "Get in the swing that you brings you back again, to Tire Assoc-i-ates" — but realizes there's no reason to.