Breakfast Cereal – Part 2

Philadelphia, PA – 1960s-1970s

Frosted Flakes: These were great. Tony the Tiger as their spokesperson always yelling They’re GRRRReat! Can’t beat him as a pitchman.

Froot Loops: Those colored fruity Cheerios. (They all tasted the same to me)Toucan Sam telling us about how his Nose, Knows that this is a delicious cereal and we should eat it every day.

Apple Jacks: Just another variety of Fruit Loops. But didn’t these have some sort of crystalized dark bits on them or am I thinking of something else? I liked these just the same.

Rice Krispies: Three little chefs named Snap, Crackle, and Pop represent this brand. Remember how if you put your ear to the bowl to listen for that sound? Just little puffs absorbing the milk made that sound. It was more like a hissing sound to me.

Cocoa Krispies: Same thing except with a chocolatey taste added.

Lucky Charms: A sustaining classic. I had these once as a kid and liked them. But I think my dad put the kibosh on this cereal early on. Just more sugary crap! So we didn’t really eat this cereal as a kid. But I would never turn it down if ever offered this as a snack. But here’s the thing. Because the marshmallow stars, moon, hearts, and clovers were large, (The size of m&ms) the dish was very sugary. So if you ate the cereal by itself, it was sure plain and boring. (Like original Cheerios) But who didn’t love the little Leprechaun? Everybody was always trying to steal his Luck Charms to no avail.

Trix: This cereal began as these tiny hollow balls that were different colors like fruit loops. They eventually changed their shape in later years. Maybe the balls became too expensive to make anymore. But How can we forget that screwy rabbit that was always trying to get the cereal away from the kids in the commercial? “Silly Rabbit! Trix are for kids!”

Alpha-Bits: I liked these. A cereal takes on the alphabet soup theme. They tasted just like Honey Comb to me. I used to try to make bad words out of the letters in my cereal bowl. Nothing like starting your day with a nice bowl of Alpha-Bits where you see the word Sh*t floating in there. Kids!

Super Sugar Crisps: These were good but got soggy quickly. Wasn’t the mascot a bear in a striped sweater who acted cool all the time? Did he sing like Bing Crosby or something? Bizarre.

Sugar Smacks: I think this was similar to sugar crisps but were represented by a frog maybe?

Sugar Pops or Corn Pops: This is a good cereal that I like to eat to this day. But aren’t they the same?

Cap’n Crunch: This guy is the CEO of breakfast cereals. I loved these crunchy little squares. They didn’t get soggy, and I could eat bowls of this fine cereal. He was cool, because he had a crew, and there was even a bad pirate in the commercials I think. John La Foote? Lafite? Not sure. But a damn fine cereal and one of my all-time favorites.

King Vitamin: Just when you think they can’t make a cereal that’s better than Cap’n Crunch, they make this cereal. It was exactly the same product as CC, but they were in the shape of little crowns. (They looked more like little gears to me) But, they were crunchier and sweeter than CC. So this became my favorite cereal in the early 70s. I remember the song. “King Vitamin! Have breakfast with the king!”

Franken Berry, Count Chocula, and Boo Berry: Again… flavored Cheerios. Strawberry, Chocolate, and I’m assuming Blueberry. I loved Franken Berry cereal. It was another one of my all-time favorites. I wasn’t a fan of real strawberries but I liked this cereal. I consumed tons of it back in the 70s. One of my favorite things to do was have it as a snack too. My mom would pour it into a bowl and I would eat it dry. But there was a method to my madness. I would first consume all of the cereal and leave all of the tiny marshmallows at the bottom of the bowl. I would then gather them all up in my hands and form them into one big ball with my fingers. It would be a little bigger than a golf ball. I would then proceed to eat it. It was like a ball of candy at the end of your snack. A fitting, sugary dessert to top off your day. I remember the characters referring to the marshmallows in the cereal as “Sweeties” which I thought was weird because it was obvious what they were. They later referred to the sweeties as marshmallows. (Probably got a call from my dad)

I never had Count Cocula, but my friend Wayne used to eat it religiously. He said the only thing was, it turned the milk nearly black at the end and that just seemed gross. Boo Berry? he came late to the game and I never had that one either. Nobody cares about Boo Berry. He’s just a ghost.

Honey Comb: “Come to the Honey Comb hideout. Gonna eat and gonna play. Gonna live in the Honey Comb Hideout! Eatin’ Honey Comb every day!” That was the jingle from the commercial. It would be my dream in life to live in the Honeycomb hideout and eat honeycomb every day, sir. I like this cereal. It was big. Bigger than it probably is now. each bit was bigger than a quarter. It looked like a little beehive and those holes held the milk. Delicious. But that wasn’t the best part of this great cereal.

On the back of each box, they had somehow through the miracle of modern 70s technology managed to press a record on the back of the box. yes, my friends. When you were done eating all of the cereal, you could cut the record off the back of the box and it would actually play on your record player. The first ones were Archie songs but the later ones were by The Monkees! I played the song Mary, Mary by the Monkees so many times once my mother told me if she heard that song one more time she was going to strangle me.

The best part was, I never waited to finish the box of cereal. We would be home from the market and I would convince my mom to dump out the cereal into jars so I could get at that record on the back of the box TODAY!

Thanks for always letting me do that, Mom.

Freakies: This was actually a really tasty cereal. It was O-shaped and sort of tasted like a cross between Cap’n Crunch and Apple Jacks I think. I liked it and in each box, you got a different little Freaky character from the commercial. They were just little plastic figures that were like army men. Boss Moss was green. He was the leader obviously. Grumble was orange and always miserable like Oscar from Sesame Street. I think there was a girl freaky as well. They were cute little creatures and I liked the cereal. I remember we kept getting Grumbles over and over. At one point it was like… “Ahh… another Grumble. (Just pitches him into the trash)

Quisp and Quake: I love this one. I only ate Quisp as a kid. The cereal was shaped like little bowls. (flying saucers) Quisp was a little cartoon alien dude, and Quake was a burly man. In the commercials, they were always trying to prove who was the better cereal. It was a cute marketing campaign. Create a completion between the two brands. But here’s the thing we all knew even as kids. Quisp and Quake tasted exactly the same. They were just different shapes. Who were these clowns fooling? Not us kids!

I remember once they decided to have the two characters compete in a race from Long Island New York to Lompoc California. This was to settle who was the better cereal. I followed this competition very closely on TV commercials and the backs of the cereal boxes. Here’s the thing. Neither of them ever made it or completed the race. Quisp was left on the market and Quake disappeared from store shelves. It was bizarre.

Kix: I think I had this cereal once in the late 70s or early 80s. Just another cereal that tasted like puffed balls of Cap’n Crunch. They really only had a few recipes for cereal back then I guess. Just change the shape and the marketing campaign and you got yourself a brand new cereal. Bu the one thing that really stands out in my mind was the jingle on the commercials. I would be watching TV with my friend, and it would come on.  The little kid would start the song, “Kids like Kix for what Kix has got!” and then the mom would finish the line, “Mom’s like Kix for what Kix has not”. (this meant kids liked the taste, and moms liked that it was low in sugar) But when my vile little friends and I would hear this little diddy we’d always change the lyrics to something dirty. I won’t repeat it here, because Google Adsense will probably suspend the advertising on my site. But you get the idea. See what you can come up with…

Oh’s: My favorite cereal of the 80s. I loved this cereal. I should probably see if they still make it. Again. Cap’n Crunch-shaped O’s with some sort of sugary substance in the hole. Loved these crunchy morsels. Great cereal!

Fruity Pebbles: This is just fruit-flavored rice crispies.

Here are some links to some further reading on this subject:

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_breakfast_cereals

https://clickamericana.com/topics/food-drink/40-favorite-breakfast-cereals-1967

https://www.metv.com/lists/lost-breakfast-cereals-of-the-1960s-and-1970s

https://delishably.com/breakfast/Breakfast-Cereal-Favorites-of-Yesteryear

The 50 Greatest  Breakfast Cereal Prizes of all time:

https://www.mrbreakfast.com/list.asp?id=6

 

Thank you for reading my blog. Please read, like, comment, and most of all follow Phicklephilly. I publish every day.

You can check out my books here: https://www.amazon.com/s?k=charles+wiedenmann&ref=nb_sb_noss_1

Friday Night Dinner

Philadelphia, PA – Early 1970s

When I was a kid, several people in the neighborhoods had what they called cookouts. You could smell it in the air when it was happening. I always loved that smell, but my family never did it, nor did we ever attend a cookout. Now it’s called grilling or barbecuing.

I always knew when my friend Michael’s family had a barbecue because it was all over his shirt after dinner.

I always loved that smell of a cookout, but would never even try anything like that until my early twenties. Just that aroma of burgers and chicken sizzling over the fire, slathered in barbecue sauce, smelled amazing. But It just wasn’t something we did as a family back then.

We rarely ever went out to a restaurant as a family when we were kids. I remember my mother telling me that when we were really little if they took us to a restaurant and somebody started fussing, it was over. My parents were very proud and respectable people. They never wanted their kids to be the ones disrupting other people’s dining experience, so we simply stayed home for dinner. Plus, I was a fussy eater, and going out to a restaurant even back then was expensive for a family of six, so it was too much.

But as we got a little older, sometimes on a Friday night my dad would come home from work and we’d all pile in the car and he’d take the family to a place called Burger Chef up on Cottman Avenue.

We loved it. The food was good and it was a fun night out as a family. My mom hated cooking so I’m sure it was nice for her to have a night off. Can you imagine hating to do something, and you had to do it every night for six people for over 25 years? She always told me she’d rather do all of the dishes than have to cook. But my mom was a good soldier and did what was needed for her husband and kids back then.

Years later, some of my fondest memories of my mom was when I was a teenager. She’d wash, and I’d dry the dishes for her. It was a time after dinner for us to bond, chat, and listen to the radio together. I’d tell her who all of the artists were and why they were so good. My mom always loved music, so we always had that in common. Sometimes we’d even sing along together.

Anyway, here’s a link about this remarkable predecessor to Macdonald’s.

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Burger_Chef

I would get a kid’s sized hamburger and we’d all share the french fries. We never had fries like that at home, so I loved them!

We’d all be on our best behavior for obvious reasons. We were all taught early on how important good manners were and how to behave in public. My sisters and I were so well-behaved in public that my mother once told me that people would come up to her and tell her how lovely her children were. What those strangers didn’t know, was the unbridled wrath we would be shown if we ever acted rude or disrespectable in public. We were raised correctly. Sadly, much of that is lacking today. Good manners don’t cost a thing and everyone should practice them every day. If you’re raised properly as a child it will carry you forth through your whole life. But you’ll always have to navigate your way through all of the animals on this planet. But I digress…

We were good kids on our best behavior happily munching our burgers and sipping our delicious milkshakes. You really can’t find a good milkshake anymore in any fast food restaurant. You actually have to go to an old diner where they make it with real milk and ice cream. When you can find a good milkshake it’s a thing of beauty.

We eventually switched from Burger King to MacDonald’s but it was all the same to me. I was just happy to be out munching on delicious fast food!

Look how cheap everything was back then!

Vintage Fast Food Menus That Look Way Better Than Today's

We were just chilling at the table and chatting with our folks, just being our little unit among the other diners. But my sisters and I had bigger hopes for the evening beyond delicious fire-grilled burgers and golden buttery fries. There was something else. Something unspoken between us kids. We quietly prayed that after dinner something else might possibly happen. And if it did… it would be a glorious event.

Because up the road was a magical place.

Even as my father pulled the vehicle out of the parking lot of the restaurant, we would all look out the windows knowing if we were headed home, or if we were headed in a different direction. We would know, and the anticipation would begin to build.

As long as dinner came off without a hitch, we’d be rewarded with a little trip to a second location. A place beyond a child’s imagination. A place rivaled only by what we imagined that the warehouse behind Santa’s workshop at the North Pole looked like.

We would make our pilgrimage to this oasis of sheer joy.

Yes… Kiddie City!

Remembering LIONEL Playworld & Kiddie City stores on Twitter: "EXCLUSIVE: Remembering LIONEL Kiddie City in Rochester New York! 🥰 FOLLOW us on Twitter JOIN us on FACEBOOK @ Remembering Lionel Playworld &

Here’s a couple of actual shots of the place in the 70s.

Kiddie City. Castor Avenue--we got t go here and pick out one reasonably-priced toy each birthday. | Favorite city, Toy store, Childhood memories

Kiddie City | bluesmavin | Flickr

There was a 5 & 10 in our neighborhood. There may have been little toy shops on Rising Sun Avenue near our house in Lawndale. There was even another toy store nearby, called Baby Town. But this place…. this was a gigantic store. A destination. A brilliant building filled with every toy a child could possibly ever want in life. I mean… everything!

Walking into that store and seeing aisle after aisle of every toy you could possibly ever imagine was an amazing occurrence. I think I would never have that level of excitement until Christmas morning. This place was so exciting to kids, but Christmas was pure euphoria.

We’d all wander around the store looking at all of the toys. Our parents were always close by and making mental notes for our Christmas lists. Unlike most families, my parents never got caught up in Black Friday or any of the hustle and bustle of the Christmas shopping crush that most people experience each holiday season. Unbeknownst to us, my folks shopped for toys for us All Year Round.

Do you know anyone who did that? I don’t. They bought for us all year round. They would hide them all in the basement in the back of closets and under tarps in boxes under the pool table. Probably in their own bedroom closets or even at my father’s office. No one was the wiser and my parents were like elves doing Santa’s work on a monthly basis. Which not only was easier on their finances and budget but resulted in the collection of an absolute bounty of toys for us kids.

My father had kind of a crap childhood, and his father, although a great earner at an insurance company, showed little interest in his two sons. He’d rather be at the bar tossing back a few with his buddies.

He’d simply toss a few bucks to his wife and tell her to pick up some toy trains and some other stuff. My father in turn did not repeat his father’s lack of performance. My dad went the other way. He loved Christmas and every aspect of the holiday. He went crazy at Christmas and I’ll cover that in a future post. But let’s just say, I’m surprised my father didn’t have a direct line to the North Pole to the big man himself. (I’m kidding… My dad WAS Santa Claus!)

We’d look at all of the goodies and drool over all the stuff we wanted to get. And… if… IF… we were good, we might even walk away from the night with a little something. Maybe a little doll or a car, but better yet… possibly a book.

We didn’t get many toys throughout the year. I don’t know what other kids got, but in my neighborhood, I’d know if a kid got anything new. But at Christmas, that’s when you got all of the things you wanted the entire year.

So, I’ve always associated fast food with good times with my family. It was a rare occurrence, but when it happened it was magic!

 

Thank you for reading my blog. Please read, like, comment, and most of all follow Phicklephilly. I publish every day.

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The Gift of the Magi – By O. Henry – Part 1

One dollar and eighty-seven cents. That was all. And sixty cents of it was in pennies. Pennies saved one and two at a time by bulldozing the grocer and the vegetable man and the butcher until one’s cheeks burned with the silent imputation of parsimony that such close dealing implied. Three times Della counted it. One dollar and eighty-seven cents. And the next day would be Christmas.

There was clearly nothing to do but flop down on the shabby little couch and howl. So Della did it. Which instigates the moral reflection that life is made up of sobs, sniffles, and smiles, with sniffles predominating.

While the mistress of the home is gradually subsiding from the first stage to the second, take a look at the home. A furnished flat at $8 per week. It did not exactly beggar description, but it certainly had that word on the lookout for the mendicancy squad.

In the vestibule below was a letter-box into which no letter would go, and an electric button from which no mortal finger could coax a ring. Also appertaining thereunto was a card bearing the name “Mr. James Dillingham Young.”

The “Dillingham” had been flung to the breeze during a former period of prosperity when its possessor was being paid $30 per week. Now, when the income was shrunk to $20, though, they were thinking seriously of contracting to a modest and unassuming D. But whenever Mr. James Dillingham Young came home and reached his flat above he was called “Jim” and greatly hugged by Mrs. James Dillingham Young, already introduced to you as Della. Which is all very good.

Della finished her cry and attended to her cheeks with the powder rag. She stood by the window and looked out dully at a gray cat walking a gray fence in a gray backyard. Tomorrow would be Christmas Day, and she had only $1.87 with which to buy Jim a present. She had been saving every penny she could for months, with this result. Twenty dollars a week doesn’t go far. Expenses had been greater than she had calculated. They always are. Only $1.87 to buy a present for Jim. Her Jim. Many a happy hour she had spent planning for something nice for him. Something fine and rare and sterling–something just a little bit near to being worthy of the honor of being owned by Jim.

There was a pier-glass between the windows of the room. Perhaps you have seen a pier-glass in an $8 flat. A very thin and very agile person may, by observing his reflection in a rapid sequence of longitudinal strips, obtain a fairly accurate conception of his looks. Della, being slender, had mastered the art.

Suddenly she whirled from the window and stood before the glass. her eyes were shining brilliantly, but her face had lost its color within twenty seconds. Rapidly she pulled down her hair and let it fall to its full length.

Now, there were two possessions of the James Dillingham Youngs in which they both took a mighty pride. One was Jim’s gold watch that had been his father’s and his grandfather’s. The other was Della’s hair. Had the queen of Sheba lived in the flat across the airshaft, Della would have let her hair hang out the window some day to dry just to depreciate Her Majesty’s jewels and gifts. Had King Solomon been the janitor, with all his treasures piled up in the basement, Jim would have pulled out his watch every time he passed, just to see him pluck at his beard from envy.

So now Della’s beautiful hair fell about her rippling and shining like a cascade of brown waters. It reached below her knee and made itself almost a garment for her. And then she did it up again nervously and quickly. Once she faltered for a minute and stood still while a tear or two splashed on the worn red carpet.

On went her old brown jacket; on went her old brown hat. With a whirl of skirts and with the brilliant sparkle still in her eyes, she fluttered out the door and down the stairs to the street.

Where she stopped the sign read: “Mne. Sofronie. Hair Goods of All Kinds.” One flight up Della ran, and collected herself, panting. Madame, large, too white, chilly, hardly looked the “Sofronie.”

“Will you buy my hair?” asked Della.

“I buy hair,” said Madame. “Take yer hat off and let’s have a sight at the looks of it.”

Down rippled the brown cascade.

“Twenty dollars,” said Madame, lifting the mass with a practiced hand.

“Give it to me quick,” said Della.

Oh, and the next two hours tripped by on rosy wings. Forget the hashed metaphor. She was ransacking the stores for Jim’s present.

She found it at last. It surely had been made for Jim and no one else. There was no other like it in any of the stores, and she had turned all of them inside out. It was a platinum fob chain simple and chaste in design, properly proclaiming its value by substance alone and not by meretricious ornamentation–as all good things should do. It was even worthy of The Watch. As soon as she saw it she knew that it must be Jim’s. It was like him. Quietness and value–the description applied to both. Twenty-one dollars they took from her for it, and she hurried home with the 87 cents. With that chain on his watch, Jim might be properly anxious about the time in any company. Grand as the watch was, he sometimes looked at it on the sly on account of the old leather strap that he used in place of a chain.

When Della reached home her intoxication gave way a little to prudence and reason. She got out her curling irons and lighted the gas and went to work repairing the ravages made by generosity added to love. Which is always a tremendous task, dear friends–a mammoth task.

Within forty minutes her head was covered with tiny, close-lying curls that made her look wonderfully like a truant schoolboy. She looked at her reflection in the mirror long, carefully, and critically.

“If Jim doesn’t kill me,” she said to herself, “before he takes a second look at me, he’ll say I look like a Coney Island chorus girl. But what could I do–oh! what could I do with a dollar and eighty-seven cents?”

 

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The Best Christmas Movies Of All Time

From Home Alone and Elf to classics like Miracle on 34th Street, I’ve made my list of great holiday films and checked it at least twice. Now, to all you nice boys and girls out there, we present the Best Christmas Movies ever!

Christmas has come to represent different things to people over the years, and the movies here reflect that in kind. If you’re traditional and feeling nostalgic, you’ll be pleased to see where It’s A Wonderful Life and Holiday Inn made it on our list of top holiday films. If this time of the year reminds you of sitting around the TV, eagerly awaiting those annual specials, look out for A Charlie Brown Christmas and How the Grinch Stole Christmas. There’s horror (Black Christmas), comedy (Trading Places), horror and comedy (Gremlins), and even a superhero covered in tinsel somewhere (Batman Returns). For those with an independent streak to celebrate, check out Tangerine and Carol. Meanwhile, Netflix has made great strides in the Kris Kringle quadrant with The Christmas Chronicles and Klaus. And if Christmas means traveling somewhere you don’t want to be, stuck in a building with people you don’t like, have we got the ultimate movie for you: Die Hard! Ho ho ho, now we have a complete list of great Christmas movies.

Wondering how we put this Christmas movie list together? Every movie on the list is Fresh and plays around with the spirit of Christmas and the holidays as a central theme. Then we sorted them all by our ranked formula, which factors in the movie’s release year its number of reviews, to make the ultimate list of holiday films that melted even the most cynical critics’ hearts.

And now you’re ready to enter a wonderland of cinematic history, with the 58 Best Christmas Movies ever!

 

#58
Critics Consensus: No consensus yet.
Synopsis: The 1947 holiday classic Miracle on 34th Street is transplanted to the 1990s with few changes in this family-oriented remake…. [More]
Directed By: Les Mayfield

 

THE PREACHER’S WIFE (1996)
60%

#57
Critics Consensus: Solid performances and a steady directorial hand help The Preacher’s Wife offer some reliably heartwarming – albeit fairly predictable – holiday cheer.
Synopsis: An angel wonders if love can be Heaven on Earth in this family-themed romantic fantasy. Rev. Henry Biggs (Courtney B…. [More]
Directed By: Penny Marshall

 

#56
Critics Consensus: Viewers seeking a fresh holiday viewing option — or those simply in the mood for Santa Kurt Russell — should find The Christmas Chronicles well worth a yuletide stream.
Synopsis: THE CHRISTMAS CHRONICLES, a holiday adventure from producer Chris Columbus (“Home Alone”, “Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone”) and director… [More]
Directed By: Clay Kaytis

 

LOVE ACTUALLY (2003)
64%

#55
Critics Consensus: A sugary tale overstuffed with too many stories. Still, the cast charms.
Synopsis: All of London is in love — or longing to be — in Four Weddings and a Funeral writer Richard… [More]
Directed By: Richard Curtis

 

KRAMPUS (2015)
66%

#54
Critics Consensus: Krampus is gory good fun for fans of non-traditional holiday horror with a fondness for Joe Dante’s B- movie classics, even if it doesn’t have quite the savage bite its concept calls for.
Synopsis: When his dysfunctional family clashes over the holidays, young Max is disillusioned and turns his back on Christmas. Little does… [More]
Directed By: Michael Dougherty

 

Critics Consensus: While Christmas Vacation may not be the most disciplined comedy, it’s got enough laughs and good cheer to make for a solid seasonal treat.
Synopsis: This is the third in the “National Lampoon” series about the Griswold family. In this sequel, the Griswolds must deal… [More]

 

Critics Consensus: Still raunchy, still irreverent, and still hit-and-miss, this Harold & Kumar outing also has a Christmas miracle: The audience gets to see the sweeter side of the duo.
Synopsis: Following years of growing apart, Harold Lee (Cho) and Kumar Patel (Penn) have replaced each other with new friends and… [More]
Directed By: Todd Strauss-Schulson

 

#51
Critics Consensus: No consensus yet.
Synopsis: A 1983 animated version of the Dickens classic, with Mickey Mouse as Bob Cratchit and Scrooge McDuck as the miserly… [More]
Directed By: Burny Mattinson

 

THE NIGHT BEFORE (2015)
68%

#50
Critics Consensus: The Night Before provokes enough belly laughs to qualify as a worthwhile addition to the list of Christmas comedies worth revisiting, even if it isn’t quite as consistent as the classics.
Synopsis: Ethan (Joseph Gordon-Levitt), Isaac (Seth Rogen) and Chris (Anthony Mackie) have been friends since childhood, and for a decade, their… [More]
Directed By: Jonathan Levine

 

HOME ALONE (1990)
65%

#49
Critics Consensus: Home Alone uneven but frequently funny premise stretched unreasonably thin is buoyed by Macaulay Culkin’s cute performance and strong supporting stars.
Synopsis: Home Alone is the highly successful and beloved family comedy about a young boy named Kevin (Macaulay Culkin) who is… [More]
Directed By: Chris Columbus

 

FROSTY THE SNOWMAN (1969)
73%

#48
Critics Consensus: Frosty the Snowman is a jolly, happy sing-along that will delight children with its crisp animation and affable title character, who makes an indelible impression with his corncob pipe, button nose, and eyes made out of coal.
Synopsis: This special release celebrates the 45th anniversary of an animated Christmas classic, Frosty the Snowman. First airing on CBS, the… [More]

 

THE BEST MAN HOLIDAY (2013)
71%

#47
Critics Consensus: The Best Man Holiday manages honest laughs out of broad humor, and affects convincing drama from a deeply conventional plot.
Synopsis: After nearly 15 years apart, Taye Diggs (television’s Private Practice), Nia Long (Soul Food), Morris Chestnut (Kick-Ass 2), Harold Perrineau… [More]
Directed By: Malcolm D. Lee

 

SCROOGED (1988)
71%

#46
Critics Consensus: Scrooged gets by with Bill Murray and a dash of holiday spirit, although it’s hampered by a markedly conflicted tone and an undercurrent of mean-spiritedness.
Synopsis: A darkly comic and surreal contemporization of Charles Dickens’s A Christmas Carol, this effects-heavy Bill Murray holiday vehicle from 1988… [More]
Directed By: Richard Donner

 

THE SANTA CLAUSE (1994)
71%

#45
Critics Consensus: The Santa Clause is utterly undemanding, but it’s firmly rooted in the sort of good old-fashioned holiday spirit missing from too many modern yuletide films.
Synopsis: Television sitcom star Tim Allen made his big screen debut with this light, family-friendly holiday comedy. Allen stars as Scott… [More]
Directed By: John Pasquin

 

BLACK CHRISTMAS (1974)
71%

#44
Critics Consensus: The rare slasher with enough intelligence to wind up the tension between bloody outbursts, Black Christmas offers fiendishly enjoyable holiday viewing for genre fans.
Synopsis: Black Christmas is an effective, frightening above average slasher movie with a good cast and a frightening, surprise ending. Barb… [More]
Directed By: Bob Clark

 

THE REF (1994)
72%

#43
Critics Consensus: Undeniably uneven and too dark for some, The Ref nonetheless boasts strong turns from Denis Leary, Judy Davis, and Kevin Spacey, as well as a sharply funny script.
Synopsis: Caroline and Lloyd (Judy Davis and Kevin Spacey) are a married couple constantly at each other’s throats, masters at crafting… [More]
Directed By: Ted Demme

 

Critics Consensus: The poignant humanity on display in Joyeux Noel makes its sentimentality forgivable.
Synopsis: Scottish, French and German troops declare a spontaneous Christmas Eve truce in the trenches of World War I in this… [More]
Directed By: Christian Carion

 

HAPPY CHRISTMAS (2014)
76%

#41
Critics Consensus: Intelligent, well-acted, and satisfyingly low-key, Happy Christmas marks another step in prolific filmmaker Joe Swanberg’s creative evolution.
Synopsis: When Jenny (Anna Kendrick), a hard partying 20-something moves in with Kelly (Melanie Lynskey), a budding novelist, her film director… [More]
Directed By: Joe Swanberg

 

#40
Critics Consensus: It may not be the finest version of Charles Dickens’ tale to grace the screen, but The Muppet Christmas Carol is funny and heartwarming, and serves as a good introduction to the story for young viewers.
Synopsis: Brian Henson, the son of Muppet founder Jim Henson, took over directing duties after the untimely death of his father… [More]
Directed By: Brian Henson

 

#39
Critics Consensus: No consensus yet.
Synopsis: It’s the season of joy, peace, and goodwill… unless you live in Bailey Downs. Last Christmas Eve, two teens came… [More]

 

LET IT SNOW (2019)
81%

#38
Critics Consensus: Comfortably cliché, Let It Snow wears its influences on its sleeve, but works anyway thanks an excellent ensemble and just the right amount of holiday cheer.
Synopsis: When a snowstorm hits a small midwestern town on Christmas Eve, a group of high school seniors find their friendships… [More]
Directed By: Luke Snellin

 

WHITE CHRISTMAS (1954)
77%

#37
Critics Consensus: It may be too sweet for some, but this unabashedly sentimental holiday favorite is too cheerful to resist.
Synopsis: This Christmas classic starring Bing Crosby is a romantic tale that takes place in a Vermont lodge- where it is… [More]
Directed By: Michael Curtiz

 

#36
Critics Consensus: Anna and the Apocalypse finds fresh brains and a lot of heart in the crowded zombie genre – not to mention a fun genre mashup populated by rootable characters.
Synopsis: A zombie apocalypse threatens the sleepy town of Little Haven — at Christmas — forcing Anna and her friends to… [More]
Directed By: John McPhail

 

#35
Critics Consensus: While You Were Sleeping is built wholly from familiar ingredients, but assembled with such skill — and with such a charming performance from Sandra Bullock — that it gives formula a good name.
Synopsis: This offbeat romantic comedy has some rather dark underpinnings that add, rather than detract from the fun. It is the… [More]
Directed By: Jon Turteltaub

 

BAD SANTA (2003)
79%

#34
Critics Consensus: A gloriously rude and gleefully offensive black comedy, Bad Santa isn’t for everyone, but grinches will find it uproariously funny.
Synopsis: The Christmas season just got a lot less joyous in this very dark comedy. Willie T. Stokes (Billy Bob Thornton)… [More]
Directed By: Terry Zwigoff

 

Critics Consensus: The Man Who Invented Christmas adds holiday magic to the writing of A Christmas Carol, putting a sweetly revisionist spin on the story behind a classic yuletide tale.
Synopsis: The Man Who Invented Christmas tells of the magical journey that led to the creation of Ebenezer Scrooge (Christopher Plummer),… [More]
Directed By: Bharat Nalluri

 

BATMAN RETURNS (1992)
80%

#32
Critics Consensus: Director Tim Burton’s dark, brooding atmosphere, Michael Keaton’s work as the tormented hero, and the flawless casting of Danny DeVito as The Penguin and Christopher Walken as, well, Christopher Walken make the sequel better than the first.
Synopsis: In the second of the blockbuster Batman films, the legendary hero does battle against the mysterious Cat Woman and the… [More]
Directed By: Tim Burton

 

THE BISHOP’S WIFE (1948)
84%

#31
Critics Consensus: The Bishop’s Wife succeeds thanks to the strength of winning performances from a stellar cast, which includes Cary Grant and Loretta Young.
Synopsis: A harassed bishop’s prayers are answered when an angel (Cary Grant) is sent from heaven to help him raise money… [More]
Directed By: Henry Koster

 

ELF (2003)
84%

#30
Critics Consensus: A movie full of Yuletide cheer, Elf is a spirited, good-natured family comedy, and it benefits greatly from Will Ferrell’s funny and charming performance as one of Santa’s biggest helpers.
Synopsis: For his sophomore stab at directing, actor/writer/director Jon Favreau (Swingers, Made), took on this holiday comedy starring Saturday Night Live-alum… [More]
Directed By: Jon Favreau

 

#29
Critics Consensus: No consensus yet.
Synopsis: War hero Dennis Morgan becomes the object of a publicity stunt staged by magazine publisher Sidney Greenstreet. The corpulent print… [More]
Directed By: Peter Godfrey

 

A CHRISTMAS CAROL (1951)
85%

#28
Critics Consensus: The 1951 adaptation of Charles Dickens’ timeless classic is perhaps the most faithful film version — and Alastair Sim’s performance as Scrooge is not to be missed.
Synopsis: Widely considered to be the definitive of the many film versions of Charles Dickens’ classic novel is this 1951 British… [More]
Directed By: Brian Desmond Hurst

 

Critics Consensus: A sharp black comedy about a chaotic family holiday gathering, A Christmas Tale is always involving, thanks to an impressive ensemble cast.
Synopsis: The devastating reverberations of a profound tragedy echo through generations of a long-suffering French family in this emotional family drama… [More]
Directed By: Arnaud Desplechin

 

GREMLINS (1984)
85%

#26
Critics Consensus: Whether you choose to see it as a statement on consumer culture or simply a special effects-heavy popcorn flick, Gremlins is a minor classic.
Synopsis: “Don’t expose him to bright light. Don’t ever get him wet. And don’t ever, ever feed him after midnight.” This… [More]
Directed By: Joe Dante

 

TRADING PLACES (1983)
87%

#25
Critics Consensus: Featuring deft interplay between Eddie Murphy and Dan Aykroyd, Trading Places is an immensely appealing social satire.
Synopsis: The “nature-nurture” theory that motivated so many Three Stooges comedies is the basis of John Landis’s hit comedy. The fabulously… [More]
Directed By: John Landis

 

BETTER WATCH OUT (2017)
89%

#24
Critics Consensus: Carried by its charismatic young cast, Better Watch Out is an adorably sinister holiday horror film.
Synopsis: This holiday season, you may be home, but you’re not alone… In this fresh and gleefully twisted spin on home-invasion… [More]
Directed By: Chris Peckover

 

TOKYO GODFATHERS (2003)
90%

#23
Critics Consensus: Beautiful and substantive, Tokyo Godfathers adds a moving — and somewhat unconventional — entry to the animated Christmas canon.
Synopsis: Tokyo Godfathers, the acclaimed holiday classic from master director Satoshi Kon (Paprika, Perfect Blue), returns to theaters in a brand-new… [More]
Directed By: Satoshi KonShôgo Furuya

 

KISS KISS, BANG BANG (2005)
86%

#22
Critics Consensus: Tongue-in-cheek satire blends well with entertaining action and spot-on performances in this dark, eclectic neo-noir homage.
Synopsis: A murder mystery brings together a private eye, a struggling actress, and a thief masquerading as an actor…. [More]
Directed By: Shane Black

 

Critics Consensus: Rare Exports is an unexpectedly delightful crossbreed of deadpan comedy and Christmas horror.
Synopsis: It’s the eve of Christmas in northern Finland, and an ‘archeological’ dig has just unearthed the real Santa Claus. But… [More]
Directed By: Jalmari Helander

 

A CHRISTMAS STORY (1983)
89%

#20
Critics Consensus: Both warmly nostalgic and darkly humorous, A Christmas Story deserves its status as a holiday perennial.
Synopsis: In the 1940’s, in the town of Hammond, 9-year-old Ralphie wants one thing for Christmas — an official Red Ryder… [More]
Directed By: Bob Clark

 

LITTLE WOMEN (1994)
92%

#19
Critics Consensus: Thanks to a powerhouse lineup of talented actresses, Gillian Armstrong’s take on Louisa May Alcott’s Little Women proves that a timeless story can succeed no matter how many times it’s told.
Synopsis: This newest version of Louisa May Alcott’s tender novel is considered to be among the best as it chronicles the… [More]
Directed By: Gillian Armstrong

 

EDWARD SCISSORHANDS (1990)
90%

#18
Critics Consensus: The first collaboration between Johnny Depp and Tim Burton, Edward Scissorhands is a magical modern fairy tale with gothic overtones and a sweet center.
Synopsis: Tim Burton’s Edward Scissorhands opens as an eccentric inventor (Vincent Price) lovingly assembles a synthetic youth named Edward (Johnny Depp)…. [More]
Directed By: Tim Burton

 

KLAUS (2019)
94%

#17
Critics Consensus: Beautiful hand-drawn animation and a humorous, heartwarming narrative make Klaus an instant candidate for holiday classic status.
Synopsis: When Jesper (Jason Schwartzman) distinguishes himself as the postal academy’s worst student, he is stationed on a frozen island above… [More]
Directed By: Sergio Pablos

 

Critics Consensus: Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer is a yule-tide gem that bursts with eye-popping iconography, a spirited soundtrack, and a heart-warming celebration of difference.
Synopsis: This stop-motion animagic version of the classic Christmas tale adds a bit of a twist when Rudolph encounters an abominable… [More]
Directed By: Maury LawsLarry Roemer

ARTHUR CHRISTMAS (2011)
92%

#15
Critics Consensus: Aardman Animations broadens their humor a bit for Arthur Christmas, a clever and earnest holiday film with surprising emotional strength.
Synopsis: The 3D, CG-animated family comedy Arthur Christmas, an Aardman production for Sony Pictures Animation, at last reveals the incredible, never-before… [More]
Directed By: Sarah SmithBarry Cook

 

DIE HARD (1988)
94%

#14
Critics Consensus: Its many imitators (and sequels) have never come close to matching the taut thrills of the definitive holiday action classic.
Synopsis: It’s Christmas time in L.A., and there’s an employee party in progress on the 30th floor of the Nakatomi Corporation… [More]
Directed By: John McTiernan

 

REMEMBER THE NIGHT (1940)
100%

#13
Critics Consensus: No consensus yet.
Synopsis: With a deft blending of humor, sentimentality and romance, this Preston Sturges-penned comedy centers on the romance between a caring… [More]
Directed By: Mitchell Leisen

 

BABES IN TOYLAND (1934)
100%

#12
Critics Consensus: No consensus yet.
Synopsis: Two bumbling apprentices to the master toymaker of Toyland try to raise money to help Little Bo-Peep and her sweetheart… [More]

 

TANGERINE (2015)
96%

#11
Critics Consensus: Tangerine shatters casting conventions and its filmmaking techniques are up-to-the-minute, but it’s an old-fashioned comedy at heart — and a pretty wonderful one at that.
Synopsis: A working girl tears through Tinseltown on Christmas Eve searching for the pimp who broke her heart. (C) Magnolia… [More]
Directed By: Sean Baker (II)

 

CAROL (2015)
94%

#10
Critics Consensus: Shaped by Todd Haynes’ deft direction and powered by a strong cast led by Cate Blanchett and Rooney Mara, Carol lives up to its groundbreaking source material.
Synopsis: In this adaptation of the novel “The Price of Salt” by Patricia Highsmith, Therese (Rooney Mara), a young department-store clerk… [More]
Directed By: Todd Haynes

 

MEET ME IN ST. LOUIS (1944)
100%

#9
Critics Consensus: A disarmingly sweet musical led by outstanding performances from Judy Garland and Margaret O’Brien, Meet Me in St. Louis offers a holiday treat for all ages.
Synopsis: Sally Benson’s short stories about the turn-of-the-century Smith family of St. Louis were tackled by a battalion of MGM screenwriters,… [More]
Directed By: Vincente Minnelli

 

LITTLE WOMEN (2019)
95%

#8
Critics Consensus: With a stellar cast and a smart, sensitive retelling of its classic source material, Greta Gerwig’s Little Women proves some stories truly are timeless.
Synopsis: Writer-director Greta Gerwig (Lady Bird) has crafted a Little Women that draws on both the classic novel and the writings… [More]
Directed By: Greta Gerwig

 

Critics Consensus: The Nightmare Before Christmas is a stunningly original and visually delightful work of stop-motion animation.
Synopsis: Despite having recently presided over a very successful Halloween, Jack Skellington, aka the Pumpkin King, is bored with his job… [More]
Directed By: Henry SelickTim Burton

 

Critics Consensus: How the Grinch Stole Christmas brings an impressive array of talent to bear on an adaptation that honors a classic holiday story — and has rightfully become a yuletide tradition of its own.
Synopsis: Chuck Jones’ animated version of the classic Dr. Seuss book How the Grinch Stole Christmas originally aired on television in… [More]
Directed By: Chuck JonesBen Washam

 

#5
Critics Consensus: Deftly directed by Ernst Lubitsch from a smart, funny script by Samson Raphaelson, The Shop Around the Corner is a romantic comedy in the finest sense of the term.
Synopsis: The Shop Around the Corner is adapted from the Hungarian play by Nikolaus (Miklos) Laszlo. Budapest gift-shop clerk Alfred Kralik… [More]
Directed By: Ernst Lubitsch

 

HOLIDAY INN (1942)
100%

#4
Critics Consensus: With the combined might of Bing Crosby, Fred Astaire, and Irving Berlin working in its favor, Holiday Inn is a seasonal classic — not least because it introduced “White Christmas” to the world.
Synopsis: Music by Irving Berlin, songs by Bing Crosby and dancing by Fred Astaire all add up to a really delightful… [More]
Directed By: Mark Sandrich

 

#3
Critics Consensus: Irrefutable proof that gentle sentimentalism can be the chief ingredient in a wonderful film, Miracle on 34th Street delivers a warm holiday message without resorting to treacle.
Synopsis: Edmund Gwenn plays Kris Kringle, a bearded old gent who is the living image of Santa Claus. Serving as a… [More]
Directed By: George Seaton

 

#2
Critics Consensus: No consensus yet.
Synopsis: Christmastime is here. Happiness and cheer. And for Peanuts fans everywhere, it just wouldn’t be Christmas without this classic holiday… [More]
Directed By: Bill MelendezPhil Roman

 

#1
Critics Consensus: The holiday classic to define all holiday classics, It’s a Wonderful Life is one of a handful of films worth an annual viewing.
Synopsis: This is director Frank Capra’s classic bittersweet comedy/drama about George Bailey (James Stewart), the eternally-in-debt guiding force of a bank… [More]
Directed By: Frank Capra

Thank you for reading my blog. Please read, like, comment, and most of all follow Phicklephilly. I publish every day.

You can check out my books here: https://www.amazon.com/s?k=charles+wiedenmann&ref=nb_sb_noss_1

Listen to Phicklephilly LIVE on Spotify!

21 of our Favorite Holiday Gag Gifts — All from Amazon

I love this crap!

Happy Holiday, Everyone!

 

A warning to those who leave their children unattended in cafes

unattendedchildren

Amazon

“Unattended children will be given espresso and a free kitten” sign, $12.99

Perfect for that friend who owns a cafe and just can’t figure out how to deal with the unbridled children of their caffeine-fiend clientele.

 

A (loudly) screaming goat figurine and booklet

screaminggoat

Amazon

“The Screaming Goat” book and figure, $7.55

If they still can’t get enough of that Screaming Goat video on YouTube, this is as blood-curdling — and annoying — as you might imagine. Trust me, I have one on my desk. My colleagues love me.

Blinker fluid, for the uninclined

blinker fluid

Amazon

Blinker Fluid, $6.95

We can all think of someone who this is for. Maybe they’ll get the message now.

The world’s smallest violin

violin

Amazon

3-Inch Miniature Violin Replica (with case), $11.98

Sorry, no pony this year, either, kiddo. Play it, momma.

A mock video game to drop the hint that it’s time they pull their weight around the house

extremechores

Amazon

Extreme Chores: Motion Controlled Video Game (empty box), $7.49

For little Lord Fauntleroy. Yeah, maybe coal didn’t quite get the message across, but this ought to do the trick. Note that this box comes empty, so you can also fill it with coal, if you so please.

Your face on a pair of socks

facesocks

Amazon

Custom Photo Face Socks, $15.59

Put the mug of their best friend (or worst enemy) on a pair of socks. Either way, they’ll wear them. Trust us.

For those who ask too many questions

'what if? Serious Scientific Answers to Absurd Hypothetical Questions'

Amazon

“What If? Serious Scientific Answers to Absurd Hypothetical Questions,” $11.49

Great coffee table (or commode) material for the coveter of useless information.

Help them slow that little tyke down

toddler tamer gag

Amazon

Toddler Tamers (gag kit), $7.99

Parents, rejoice!

An ice cream lock, so they’ll stop blaming you for being the culprit

icecreamlock

Amazon

Ben & Jerry’s Euphori-Lock Ice Cream Lock, $24.19

For the stingy one who’ll never share their ice cream.

Poems by cats about what cats do best

icouldpeeonthis

Amazon

“I Could Pee on This: And Other Poems by Cats,” $9.89

For your friend, family member, or housemate who’s just a little too in love with their feline and could stand a reality check.

A muffler whistle, to terrorize both them and the neighborhood

mufflerwhistle

Amazon

Muffler Whistles, $8.79

To the know-it-all mechanic(s) in your life: Fix this!

Your face (or theirs) on a real potato

potatoface

Amazon

Potato Pal, $17.99

Your face on a potato. How could they not savor this forever and ever?

One dozen rattlesnake eggs (keep warm for best results)

rattlesnakeeggs

Amazon

(Fake) Rattlesnake Eggs, $7.99

Best delivered incubator-warm.

A bag of “the world’s strongest coffee”

deathwishcoffee

Amazon

Death Wish Coffee Co. Coffee, $19.99

We only hope they’ll get this is a gag.

An impossible-to-solve puzzle

ravensburgerpuzzle

Amazon

Ravensburger Puzzle, $15.68

Something to finally stump that very special whiz kid you know.

A remote-controlled scorpion (be sure to pre-open and gift-wrap this one)

rcscorpion

Amazon

Remote-Controlled Scorpion, $15.99

Have the remote handy for when they open this one; it’ll work a lot better.

A game for the whole family

relativeinsanity

Amazon

Relative Insanity Party Game, $14.16

Think “Cards Against Humanity,” but for some wholesome fun for the whole family.

A personal cleansing wheel (in lieu of the bidet they keep asking for)

rotowipe

Amazon

Roto Wipe Personal Cleansing Wheel, $7.99

So they’ll finally stop pestering you for that exorbitant bidet thing they all love so much over in Europe. (Note: This is just an empty box in which to wrap your real gift.)

Instructions for gracefully approaching (and achieving) senescence

crotchety

Amazon

“How Not to Become a Crotchety Old Man,” $6.39

Dear Dad (or Grandpa)…

Snot (and tear) mittens, for those who work outdoors, or just won’t stop wiping their nose on their sleeve

snittens

Amazon

Snittens, The Original Snot Mittens, $19.99

One side for snot, the other for tears. Maybe after receiving this, they’ll stop wiping their nose on their sleeve, or their bare hands. Probably not. Either way, they actually work!

A practice putting green for the bathroom

toiletgolf

Amazon

Toilet Golf, $9.95

If their Golf Digest subscription just isn’t cutting it on long trips to the john anymore, they can always stand to work on their short game.

 

Thank you for reading my blog. Please read, like, comment, and most of all follow Phicklephilly. I publish every day.

You can check out my books here: https://www.amazon.com/s?k=charles+wiedenmann&ref=nb_sb_noss_1