The Mankato Free Press
---- — 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.
"People remember it," Warrant said.
The jingle was written when he moved the business to the then new Highway 14 bypass, after having erected a large swing sign with a cutout of a female on a swing visible from the highway. "The tire swing was just an advertising thing tied into the idea of an old tire swing."
(Those who saw the original swing sign might recall the female form on the swing was considerably more well-endowed than now. After some comments that it might be too suggestive, Warrant had the steel silhouette bust trimmed down.)
There are other ads that do what they are supposed to, be remembered:
"So get off your @*& call Kato Glass" or "For all your glass, you gotta call Kato Glass."
"North Mankato Family Dentistry, 625-CARE."
While there are many to choose from, I always thought the Meyer & Sons jingle may be the best.
"Relax, it's Meyer & Sons."
It's short and memorable, with a clear message.
Tim Krohn can be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org or 344-6383.