Watch Fred Flintstone And Barney Rubble Light Up With Winston Cigarettes
Yabadabadoo! The Flintstones is one of Americana’s most beloved animated series, and there are likely few without some sort of childhood memory involving the cartoon, merchandise or even vitamins featuring Fred, Wilma, Pebbles and the Rubbles. But The Flintstones was actually aimed at adult audiences when it debuted on ABC in prime time in 1960. The Hanna-Barbara production was a spoof of the 50s program The Honeymooners, which Hanna later said was—in his opinion—one of the funniest shows on the air at the time. Airing at 8:30 p.m. after most children had already gone to bed, The Flintstones was the first American animated show to depict a couple sleeping in the same bed, and—believe it or not—the first two seasons were co-sponsored by Winston cigarettes.
As was the custom in the early days of television, the series’ stars pitched the sponsors’ product in an integrated commercial during some point of the episodes. Therefore, Fred and Barney could be seen lighting up a smoke during most episodes of The Flintstones, touting the wonders of Winstons. “Winston tastes good like a cigarette should,” was the slogan, usually spoken by Fred in the black-and-white integrated commercials.
While promoting Winston, Fred and Barney could also be seen acting like… well… cavemen. In one spot in particular, they watched the women slaving away at yard work. When Barney mentioned he felt guilty watching them work so hard, Fred—always the genius—suggested they slip out back and have a smoke so they wouldn’t have to watch. That Fred… always the thinker.
And although it may seem absolutely heinous that the characters who now promote children’s vitamins once promoted cancer sticks, the show’s producers at least had enough common sense to cancel Winston’s sponsorship in 1962 when Wilma got knocked up. At that point, the Welch’s took up sponsorship and the Flintstones—including Pebbles—could often be seen using or asking for Welch’s juice or jellies.
Who knows what might have happened otherwise. We might have been treated to an episode where Fred sees Dr. Stonelung for emflintzema. Interestingly, in 1986 the Flintstones were used to promote the American Cancer Society. Perhaps Barney was diagnosed with lung cancer after all.
The Flintstones weren’t by far the only television program to integrate tobacco advertising before it was banned from television in 1971. Phillip Morris sponsored I Love Lucy for a period of time. The show featured scenes with Lucy and Desi smoking during the program’s intro. In one particular episode, Desi asked Lucy for a cigarette, and she cheerfully fetched a Phillip Morris. “You see how easy it is to keep your man happy?” she said.
Like The Flintstones, Gunsmoke was also sponsored by Winston and used the slogan “Winston tastes good like a cigarette should.” But during Gunsmoke commercials two gun shots were heard during the jingle when the word cigarette was spoken.
The Addams Family was sponsored by Dutch Masters Cigars and included the famous Dutch Masters chorus, “Step up to Dutch Masters, and smile, brother smile!”