iPhone's "Chicken Fat" commercial

What’s the deal?

I saw this commercial Sunday night. Talk about a blast from the past. Suddenly I was in elementary school, attempting to do push ups.

Who else remembers this song?

I had never heard the song, but when I was a kid I read The Real Me, and the girl in the story was upset about having to exercise to that song in class. So I recognized the lyrics and was glad I finally got to hear it.

I didn’t remember it, but I’m sure as hell familiar with it now. I’m a news junkie, so I usually have CNN on as ambient noise while I read.

That damned song is a mood killer, because it refuses to remain in the background and pushes its way to the front of the line to grab my attention.

Not only that, it has another quality to it that pisses me off, the song thinks it’s clever. Yes, you heard me, that song is so full of its self, and brimming with over confidence that I want to strangle it.

It is smarmy and smug, and it reminds me of that fucking rubber tree plant abomination that Frank Sinatra used to sing.

I was in elementary school in Indiana in the '60s and we did that routine over and over. It was a staple when the weather was too bad to go outside.

I was a little guy - a toddler, really, and my mom would play that while exercising. I wonder when iPhones will advertise using the ‘Doo-Bee’ songs I also associate with that time.

Ye gads, Meredith Willson wrote that?

Yeah, I remember hearing it on Morning Edition when I was getting ready for school, except I don’t remember “Go, you chicken fat, go!” It was “Give that chicken fat back to the chickens, and don’t be a chicken again!”

And sung by Professor Harold Hill himself, Robert Preston.

Egads, I was just trying to tell someone about this the other day when that song crawled up into my ear and nested there all goddamn day. And now it’s BACK.

I had never heard of this, so I had to look it up – it was obviously a very professional job. As others have indicated and linked, it was written by Meredith Willson (of The Music Man fame) and sung by Robert Preston (same). It was done in answer to a call from President Kennedy to incentivize physical education among school kids, and apparently the artyists provided their efforts for little or no remuneration. The song was made into records and sent out to public schools. Apparently the original song ran for over 15 minutes.

I never heard about it, I suspect because I went to a private (Catholic) school, and by the time I got to high school, the mania had worn off. But Pepper Mill, who went to a public school, did remember it. Apparently kids learned to hate this, being a call to jumping jacks and other exercises* done to the smiling, upbeat , unwavering voice of Professor Hill. I gather the commercial is playing off that nostalgia for older folks, and is intended to be weird/camp for people too young to know.

*what the hell is a “touchdown”? The first time I heard the commercial I was confused. It seemed to be asking people to play football every morning, and that couldn’t be right.

Yup. When it rained, all of the PE classes in our junior high would meet in the gym. Odds were very good that Chicken Fat would be the first thing that everyone did as one big class. After that it tended to be folk dancing or a Calvinball kind of thing with a net and a really big ball.

A few years ago, I searched and found a downloadable copy online. I inflicted it on my grown children. I was surprised to learn that it was a government sponsored song. It was never presented to us as anything official.

I’ve never thought of it as smarmy. I always thought that it was halfway laughing at itself. Yes, it’s peppy, but how seriously can anyone take a song about chicken fat? Sort of, are you afraid that you’ll look ridiculous if you exercise? Let’s turn that ridiculous up. Embrace the ridiculous!

I always though it was another round of touching your toes.

I assume it refers to the calisthenics exercise we always called simply “touch your toes.”

ETA, dammit, I even checked to make sure I wasn’t ninja’d before submitting the post. You sure are sneaky, Yllaria.

I had never heard it, but the first time it played on that commercial my husband looked up with an expression of wonder on his face and began to sing the entire thing! Apparently when he was in grade school he was part of a group that went to different schools and did exercise demos. TheElf has had a weird life. (as an aside, he was born in '53 and is older than me by 13 years)

I remember a question about this song on Wait, Wait, Don’t Tell Me a few years ago. Peter seemed boggled by the idea, but I knew it instantly.

Yes, except does the version in the commercial sound like Robert Preston? It doesn’t sound like the original to me, and the only thing that could make this commercial weirder is if they had to use a cover.

I vaguely remember it from elementary/junior high gym classes (we had a square dancing unit in junior high that I remember very well)… but mentions of the song and its use in gym classes is burning up the “You Know You Are from X If You Remember…” Facebook group for my hometown that I belong to.

Apparently Apple wasn’t able to license the original Preston recording, and used a cover made in (I think) the 1980s.

We had one teacher who had us do this occasionally outside in front of the classroom. I think it was 2nd grade so 1972.

Wow, it looks like Apple’s advertising has really gone to shit since Steve Jobs died.

We had the 45.