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Six Bill Cosby Jell-O Commercials That Are Just Awkward Now

When a celebrity is at his brightest, every brand wants to hitch its wagon to that star. But nothing makes a brand drop a spokesperson like a reputation...

Frazer Jones
|Dec 3|magazine10 min read

When a celebrity is at his brightest, every brand wants to hitch its wagon to that star. But nothing makes a brand drop a spokesperson like a reputation-tarnishing scandal (just ask Paula Deen).

This week Bill Cosby stepped down from his position on the Temple University board of trustees—and if he was still in the advertising business, we could probably open up a tally of brand cutting ties. At this point Cosby hasn’t been an active spokesperson for any one brand in quite some time. But years ago, he was busy supplementing his expansive television career by making a fortune for himself in the advertising industry, acting as a spokesman for everything from cigars and cars to Coca-Cola and Bird’s Eye frozen foods. His most well-known and well-remembered partnership has to be the long-running one he had with General Foods brand Jell-O. For almost two decades he was hawking Jell-O in all its forms from gelatin to pudding to Pudding Pops.

Can we look back on those commercials today and remember the cuddly saccharine past without being influenced by what we know now? Or are they tainted forever? Judging by our reactions to these, it’s probably the latter.  

6. The One with the Yakety Sax Soundtrack

This one’s at the bottom of the list because nothing he really does or says here is bad in retrospect. It’s just that, in light of the news lately, there’s something just so impossibly anachronistically cringeworthy about anything with those goofball sped-up motions and wacky sound effects. Wacky motions and sound effects on top of an unpleasant situation only increase the awkward factor.  

5. The One with the Edible Complex

So here we’re playing doctor and Bill Cosby’s just got these urges. Cool. This would be really bad if Cosby was embroiled in a different kind of scandal, but as it stands it’s just maybe a little weird that we’re just throwing Oedipal complex wordplay around willy-nilly here even in a “kids say the darnedest things” kind of way.

4. The One with the Home Run

Cosby really sticks the landing there at the end, growling about how Jell-O Pudding Pops “won’t strike out with mom.” Are we still talking about that Oedipal/edible complex from the last commercial? Is Cosby going to make dead sure that he won’t strike out with mom, either?

3. The One with the Implication

While your right hand is doing this, your left hand can be doing… this… or this… or… you know…” Bill Cosby trails off. No, actually we don’t know and we’re not sure we want to.  

2. The One with the Dungeon

“A veritable feast for the tummy,” Bill Cosby proclaims as he hands a Pudding Pop to a kid building a sand castle by the shore. “And I won’t get thrown in the dungeon!” the kid exclaims, causing Cosby to erupt into a sinister cackle. We’re gonna go ahead and take that to mean that, while sure it won’t be the kid, someone’s getting thrown in a dungeon. Kind of worried for bathing suit mom in the background right about now.

1. The One with the Long Memory

Bill Cosby on childhood: in which Cosby gets real agitated about kids reminding him about that time he said he would make them Jell-O pudding two years ago on August 12th when he was wearing a red sweater. Bill Cosby must really hate people who still remember and bring up dates and details about things he did and said a long time ago.