Tell ’em Charlie Sent Ya

June 3, 2008

So here is the story that I was telling to my friend Sharon that made her say I should create a blog.

Now, I have been fighting the notion of creating a blog for years– ever since the computer geek dude I was dating years ago would quake with insane intensity while bemoaning a lack of readership.  Maybe, I suggested, if he focused his blog on doing a something like giving tech advice instead of just spitting out the random musings of some random dude, he could increase traffic to his site.  But that wasn’t what he wanted.  That isn’t what most bloggers want.  They want, I feel, to add a sense of import to their otherwise regular lives.  They want people to pay attention to them.

This is not the kind of writer I am.

Part of what I love about being a writer is exactly that anonymity that comes with the job.  Even if I were to become a world famous writer, queen of the sceenplay, my public life would go on much as it does now.  No one stalks writers.  No one interrupts a writer at dinner to get an autograph.  My life stays my own.  I am a storyteller.  I make shit up.

This being said, here I am.  But my reasons are selfish.  We writers are known to procrastinate when the muse is being fickle.  My thinking is that were I to have a blog it would force me to write more regularly– which would truly be a gift to myself.  So here goes.

http://youtube.com/watch?v=vnY6NIcDthw&feature=related

When I was little, I distinctly remember being very confused by the StarKist Tuna commercials.  They upset me on many levels.  First off, and most obviously, it bothered me that Charlie the Tuna wanted so deperately to be caught so that he then could become my lunch.

http://www.foodmarketexchange.com/datacenter/product/seafood/tuna/detail/dc_pi_sf_tuna0306_01.htm

His chipper enthusiasm for the hook didn’t jibe with his morbid desire to meet his end.

But that was just the begining of my befuddlement.  Why, I wondered, were these tunafish wearing hats with dark glasses and smoking cigars?  Why did they have such pronounced mobster accents?  And then the enigmatic last line of the commericals, the envoi, as it were: “Tell ’em Charlie sent ya.”

One night, my family and I were watching a stand-up showcase when a commedian came on making fun of the StarKist commercials by saying he had actually taken Charlie’s advice.  He had gone into a grocery store, approached a guy and said, “Hey, Charlie sent me.”  The punchline: “He hands me an envelope with $500.” Confused, I turned to my parents for an explanation.  I was shocked to learn that the joke was a reference to “protection money.” A brief explantion ensued.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Protection_racket

Now, growing up in New York, the mafia was a known component of life so I was not shocked by my folks’ explanation of protection money.  What struck me was to wonder why on earth Charlie the Tuna was a mobster.  Why had the decision been made to represent a food company with a fish that had it in him to break your knee caps?

I like to imagine the ad meeting:

Ad dude (and yes, he is a dude it was the 70’s): I’ve got it!

Tuna dude: The MASCOT!

Ad dude: Yes! What about…a tuna fish…and we’ll give him a name…something average Joe-like…like Charlie?

Tuna dude: I see it!

Ad dude: Yes, and wait…oh ho ho, this is gold…he wears a hat, see? and dark glasses…

Tuna dude: And smokes a cigar!

Ad dude: Yessssssssssss!!! And let’s give him a Brooklyn accent and drop subtle yet clear hints that he is a made fish…

It puzzles me to this day.  It’s just too…pardon me, but “fishy”…

So ever after I have been a staunch Chicken of the Sea girl.

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One Response to “Tell ’em Charlie Sent Ya”

  1. Greg Says:

    Hello by doing a search on my nick name in Google TunaDude. I saw the stuff you wrote about starkist and tuna fish I got kick out of it and please ill explain who,what,why i’m writing to you.

    First off I own my own business i sell canned tuna fish in south florida i have a van and delivery restaurant size cases of canned tunafish and sell a few other items like Hellman mayo, canned mushrooms, heinze ketchup.

    I have been selling canned tuna fish in south florida since 1994 and i go by the nickname TunaDude. and also Tunamandude. last night i was messin around online and typed my nick in google and saw quite a few response’s. one was yours and i even found quite a few others TunaDude (who are not me) in the search.

    If you go to Costco sams or most walmart grocery stores you can see the size can of tuna fish i sell, they have 4lb2oz on the can, i sell 6 of those in a case and i drive to miami evey week to pick up my supply of canned tuna fish for the week that i sell to my customers!

    as far as starkist brand here is a quick note from a real tunadude!(me) Greg!

    starkist tuna is ok, but when it comes to the larger cans who pack tuna cans not all tuna is the same.

    example would be me! my customers can go to sams,costco,bj’s wholesale and by there tuna fish! (Starksit)

    but when i show them ,my canned tuna fish and how its packed and where its packed country of origin and ingredients they learn somthing and most will by from me.

    My canned tuna fish is imported by Rema Foods inc from englewood cliffs nj via Indonesia, Thailand,Philippines.. Rema Foods inc sells me tunafish that i have them import from hi grade tuna fish packers who pack canned tunafish.

    and also catch them with long line fishing poles so the fish does not suffer. this makes the tuna fish better tasting, and pack the tuna in water and salt only for me. (no additives) there is more tuna fish in the can and is the main reason why my customers by there canned tunafish from me! TunaDude!

    starkist i also grew up with as a kid i grew up in newyork i was born 1960 so that tells you my era.

    well guess i typed a bit much excuse me as you can tell im not a writer or typer but again the stuff wrote when you were growing up with tuna fish and me doing the search on google is how i found ya lol. by the way i do have a last name i just dont like to type it but here is a easy hint it starts with s and has 2 s on the end and a famous piano dude waltz from the 1800’s famous also jeans company has the same name as composor lol also actor on tv named peter s. lol ok now im a mishsugna tunadude.


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