The episode: “The Projected Man,” ep. 901
The riff: Said slyly by Mike as one British scientist casts a sideways glance at one another while they watch their experiment explode in front of them.
The explanation: Clotted cream is a type of dairy product made by indirectly heating cow’s milk and skimming off the “clots” of cream that form on the surface. It is eaten in a variety of ways but is especially important in Britain as a part of a traditional “cream tea.” That isn’t tea with cream in it, but rather a teatime set-up that includes tea and scones, which are then spread with clotted cream and fruit jams or preserves. Naturally, the British disagree strongly on which preserves are correct to use.
Novelty factor: I can’t say I’ve ever heard of clotted cream in my life, but I find myself wondering now what it tastes like.
The episode: “The Killer Shrews,” ep. 407
The riff: Opined by Joel as an old guy with a mustache cheerily leads a couple of young boys off screen.
The explanation: Joel is impersonating actor Wilford Brimley, who appeared in a bunch of commercials for Quaker Oatmeal in the 1980s. “It’s the right thing to do” was actually a slogan, perhaps the first time I’ve ever heard of a moral imperative as far as breakfast is concerned. They made a ton of these commercials.
Novelty factor: I don’t remember this ad campaign, but I find its insistence on oatmeal-eating to be a little unsettling.
The episode: “What to Do on a Date,” the short in front of “Swamp Diamonds,” ep. 503
The riff: Intoned in an old-timer voice by Joel as the innocuous girl in this dating tutorial picks up a hammer to nail up a sign.
The explanation: This is indeed a dark riff. It refers to the old days of slaughterhouses, where it was traditional to use a specially devised hammer to knock cattle or pigs unconscious before slaughter. Workers had to be skilled with the hammer in an attempt to keep things as humane as possible. Today, animals are typically stunned via electric current or pneumatic pistol before they are killed.
Novelty factor: I knew what they were referring to, but reading about these things took me down a more grisly path than I was hoping. I don’t recommend it, if you want to keep enjoying your steaks.
NOTE: I’m not sure there are any appropriate visuals for this riff, so I’m leaving it blank.
The episode: “Commando Cody pt. 7,” one of two Cody serials before “Project Moonbase,” ep. 109
The riff: Spoken by Tom while the serial’s opening narration is displayed on screen. The reference to Clark Mountain is genuine, but the rest is obscured by the theater seats, so he adds the bit about “Zagnut Valley.”
The explanation: The reference to Clark Mountain made Tom think of the D.L. Clark Company, once one of America’s great makers of candy bars. As previously mentioned here many months back, they were the makers of the Clark Bar, a chocolate and peanut butter candy bar. They also made Zagnut, a similar candy bar that instead had the chocolate replaced with a coconut exterior. Zagnut is still manufactured today by Hershey.
Novelty factor: I’ve never had a Zagnut bar before (I don’t like coconut), but I did recognize the name. Check out this great commercial that pokes fun at the strange Zagnut name.
The episode: “Circus on Ice,” the short in front of “Monster a Go-Go,” ep. 421
The riff: Pined-for by Joel as we see the title card for “Circus on Ice.”
The explanation: Sloe gin is a gin variant that isn’t terribly well known in the United States, because it originates from Britain, the land of gin. It is made with fruit–specifically, the “drupes” of the blackthorn plant, which are soaked in gin to produce a red, fruit-flavored spirit that is then used in a variety of cocktails.
Novelty factor: I’ve never actually had sloe gin before, but I’ve read about it on a number of occasions after being confused by the pronunciation, thinking someone was talking about “slow” gin.
Note: I enjoy this video because the British woman says it’s a “bit of a nartch” to pick the berries. I have no idea what this means.
The episode: “Commando Cody pt. 6,” the short in front of “The Slime People,” ep. 108
The riff: Sung in a bouncy voice by Joel as an old jalopy swings around the corner and zooms past the camera.
The explanation: Joel is singing a snatch from a late 1970s commercial for breakfast cereal, Kellogg’s Graham Crackos. In the commercial, George the milkman would literally bring Graham Crackos to someone’s door along with the milk. As for the cereal, they were obviously flavored like graham crackers. I wonder how similar they would have been to today’s Golden Grahams. We’ll never know, because the brand is long gone.
Novelty factor: No idea at all, but I guessed that it would be from a commercial due to their fondness for them.
The episode: “The Indestructible Man,” ep. 409
The riff: Intoned by Joel in a deep voice as a drip-bag is set up on an IV and slowly drains into the Frankenstein-type creature being constructed by a mad scientist.
The explanation: They’re referring to a well-known series of ads from the 1970s for the California wineries of Paul Masson, an early proponent of California’s wine industry. “We will sell no wine before its time” was the company’s slogan, and the delivery in the commercial is in the style of Orson Welles, who was on-air face of those ads. As with many things involving late-career Welles, there’s a sad twist, as the formerly great director was apparently drunk on the product all the time when he was on set. An outtake even exists where a severely inebriated Welles tries to read his lines.
Novelty factor: Never heard the slogan before, but I’m not surprised at all about the Welles connection. Watching those outtakes made me very sad.