The Mean Men of coffee advertising

Shaun Clayton compiled a collection of scenes from old coffee commercials, which often shared a theme: "men being jerks to their wives about coffee." [via Peter Serafinowicz]


  1. This is wayyy funnier if you replace all of the women’s apologetic statements with, “go fuck yourself and make your own coffee you sexist pig.”

    1. For that one near the end with the finger in the face, I thought she should say: ‘GET THAT FUCKING FINGER OUT OF MY FACE BEFORE YOU LOSE IT!” Hee!

      1. For that one near the end with the finger in the face, I thought she


        I have personal space issues :)

  2. Guy 1: Massive goatse of an asshole
    Guy 2: Less of an asshole
    Guy 3: Unhygienic sexist asshole
    Guy 4: A bit gruff, but sounds like more of a “didn’t mean to offend her” situation
    Guy 5: Does saying it so that no one hears make him an asshole?
    Guy 6: Asshole with bad logic
    Guy 7: Just being honest, not an asshole

  3. I’m surprised that there isn’t a “BoingBoing” flavor. Sorry if that comment is too meta.

    Tips for good tasting coffee

    – Don’t by more than a months supply of coffee at a time, unless you plan on sharing with friends, which would be sweet of you. Freshness = flavor.
    – Grind your own beans at the time of preparation
    – Keep your machine clean
    – Some cinnamon or cocoa added to grounds can take the bitterness out of some stale coffee

    1. Those are definitely the standards for good coffee. I always add maple syrup to my stale coffee brewed with cinnamon, and it’s honestly probably my favorite way to have hot coffee outside of a perfect Americano.

    2. Back in the 50’s and 60’s, most of these requirements wouldn’t have been met in the average household. You’d have stale, pre-ground beans, probably a mix of arabica, robusto and dirt, run through a percolator that overheated and destroyed whatever flavor would have been there. These poor wives never stood a chance!

  4. So is the fact that something on the order of 90% of the husbands shown in commercials these days are complete idiots some kind of revenge?

    1. It’s not dishonesty to avoid outright telling someone that something they did for you (as a favour!) isn’t very good. It’s tact.

      1. I’d have to say that if my own husband were to tell me, in the privacy of my own home, that my coffee was crap (oh the horror) it wouldn’t send me into paroxysms of shame…maybe after 14 years of marrige I’m just more unflappable than that… ;)

    2. Well there’s rude honesty, and tactful honesty that takes into account the feelings of the other party. And in my humble experience, unless you are dealing with a stubborn pain in the ass, the latter works much better than the former, especially when you want to preserve a relationship. OF course there are people who don’t learn from tactful approach and who need to be somewhat emotionally shaken (if they are purposefully being a pain in the ass for the fun of it).

  5. “Sorry dear. They assured me the iocaine was orderless and tasteless. That is what I get for buying the generic brand.”

  6. What WOULD these guys think about a modern, proper cup of espresso? If my old man wasn’t dead I’d make him drink a cup just to see what his percolator-Mr. Coffee-self would think about it.

  7. Wow that’s terrible, I broke out into a surprised laugh at the rudeness of it. Good old advertising, feeding on people’s insecurities, and creating new one’s to exploit. I guess it hasn’t changed all that much, except perhaps it’s a little more subtle. ” But John says he likes my coffee! What if he’s just not as forward as those big chin-d men in that TV ad? Oh dear!” 
    The roles of men and women portrayed in a lot of advertising does seem to have changed somewhat though, at least when a couple is involved… seems that the man will be portrayed as a helpless dunce and the woman as wise and all-knowing, perhaps because some advertisers have figured that when it comes to yogurt and the like, it’s better to have the presumed target (mother of household buying groceries) feel superior and in the know?

    1. Agreed.  It was post-WWII and Rosie the Riveter got sent back home to make way for men who needed jobs.  Up until then, women had never been so prominent in the workforce and in formerly male occupations.  Gender roles were reestablished, with a twist…until the sixties.  I don’t think women ever accepted being shoved back in that little box again – the roles of wife and mother to fulfill their lives. 
      I know women who work and are married and could chose to stay home; their husbands make plenty of money for them to live on.  The women complain about their jobs and I ask, ‘Why don’t you quit and stay home?’  The response is always the same – a mild look of horror and panic.  The reply, ‘I wouldn’t know what to do with myself.  I’d be bored out of my mind.  And besides, I love my paycheck.’  In the look of horror and panic, I can see the influence of the last three generations of women in her family.

  8. My Mom made Maxwell House coffee in a battered old aluminum drip pot. It was great coffee!! Sometimes for larger numbers of guests, she used a percolator. I thought that coffee was nasty. I took a spare aluminum drip pot  to college with me. Everyone laughed at me. I still thought my coffee tasted better than theirs. We called mine “Comrade Coffee” as opposed to their more modern “Mr. Coffee” machines.  Since then, I had a brief stint as a coffee snob. Ground my fresh beans and used a decent coffee pot (a Braun, but similar to the Mr. Coffee design). Then, after a trip to Italy, I got hooked on the espresso-like Moka, and now make my coffee in one of those ubiquitous aluminum Moka pots on the stove top with pre-ground espresso (Cafe Bustelo usually)  Kind of back to Mom’s aluminum drip pot in some ways even if the water flow is backwards.  Plus ca change….

    1. There’s nothing more refreshing than admitting to a complete lack of taste is there?
      (Would do the clips a bit of good too…)

  9. I’m going to try these, verbatim, at Starbucks for the next week.

    “$2.72 is your change. Thank you.”
    “You’re welcome, darling. But if you could do one thing for me…”

    1. Makes me nostalgic for the days of those *flirty* Tasters Choice ads, with Anthony Head…

      Bad auto-correct!

  10. The Taster’s Choice ads – the same or reshot, I don’t know – were for Gold Blend in the UK from 1987-93; Head’s partner was Sharon Maughan (I assume the same in the US). She appeared in an episode of Inspector Morse (Deceived By Flight, 1989) in the middle of the ad sequence and was a victim/witness given a cup of something. She tastes it, grimaces, and says passionately “I _hate_ coffee!!”.

    Maughan’s daughter is Alice Eve, for completists.

  11. Ah! The good old days, when “men were men and women were thankful”… or
    was that something about sheep being nervous… Anyhow, never have had
    and never will have a cup of coffee, disgusting stuff.

  12. I wonder what home life in the ’50s was really like? What we see represented on TV is probably not really a good indicator.

    It seems to me that the men’s behavior in these commercials is pretty clearly intended to be taken as funny, /because/ they are inappropriate and unexpected. The sexist part is the women’s reactions of ‘oh dear, whatever shall I do?’ instead of ‘fuck you, have it in your lap then’.

    Except the second-to-last, with the petunias. In that one I imagine that the woman’s downward gaze is not chagrin, but rather is her gauging the distance between her knee and the prick’s nutsack. This is why the scene cut happens when it does, a moment after that the guy is writhing on the ground. 

    1. re: “What we see represented on TV is probably not really a good indicator.”

      Of course. TV and movies don’t represent reality today, either. In fact most ‘reality’ shows aren’t reality. Ever watch a fishing show? They have writers for those shows. For fucks sake! And they aren’t the only ones!


      I think probably some of the ads above were meant to have an element of humor in them, they DID use shame in advertising back then. Not just for women, but for men too. Don’t be weak, don’t be smelly, don’t be the shortest man in the room, etc etc.

    2. I hate to break it to you but these were not comedies. This was the atmosphere in the suburbs in the 50’s and 60’s. Women were there to serve men and children. Doesn’t it explain the women’s movement?

  13. *wife looks at husband with an expression of mild distaste*

    “Well. You learn how to give me an orgasm and I’ll learn how to make good coffee.”

  14. I can tell this is going to devolve into a battle of the sexes. Can’t we use the tools of science, reason, and empiricism to promote a greater understanding of both genders, so we can decide objectively which one is better?

  15. Anyone bother to look on youtube at these highly evil and sexist commercials?

    My god I can’t believe the shear arrogance of the producers.  Having the husband be that upset with his wife, and then her learning about Folgers coffee, and finally having him comment her on the excellent coffee and the switch.

    When taken in total context of the video they don’t really seem that sexist.  The extreme reaction by the husband is absurdly offset by the reaction at the end of the commercial.  In reality the original producers probably put the aggressive nature up front as to attract/keep viewers.  Kind of like a shock reaction.  The same way sports or car ads are shot with lots of action up front and then all the info on the back end.

    1. The extreme reaction by the husband is absurdly offset by the reaction at the end of the commercial.

      Sounds like a classic abusive relationship to me. Yell at her until she cries and then treat her like a pet.

      1. Thought that about a friend I have been arguing with,  If I suck up to ya now, that will just make it an abusive relationship.  =)

  16. These ads were followed by a series in which the wife succeeds in brewing quality coffee, and the husband says, “My wife…  I think I’ll keep her.”
    I use that line to this day; can’t imagine why my wife hasn’t run me thru with a kitchen implement.

  17. …and that’s why she is sleeping with the milkman.  Ah…to be a friendly delivery man in the late 50’s early 60’s must have been great.

  18. After the last time he insulted her over the quality of her meatloaf, she started making his coffee by brewing it through his old dirty socks. 

    So now she just smiles when he says her coffee sucks.

  19. Hey, maybe women made really bad coffee back then, who knows? What strikes me as more interesting is the fact that at that time a guy with a job as relatively unskilled as a milkman, mailman, or simple factory worker could buy a house and support a family while his wife stayed home to take care of it. Those commercials showed that because that was the way it was. Now two people have to struggle to keep afloat. We have all come a long way baby!

  20. Antinous: There’s an edit button so that you can correct your typos.
    Thanks, still learning the Discus interface. It’s a little trickier on my phone.
    Brent Kirkham: I suppose it’s the only way to be sure?
    You got to it before I could!
    fnc: *wife looks at husband with an expression of mild distaste*”Well. You learn how to give me an orgasm and I’ll learn how to make good coffee.”
    And fnc wins the thread!

  21. Is it just me, or just for a moment, before you played the video, did you think you were looking at a young Jack Lemmon?

  22. OMG! I thought my husband was the only evil coffee critic! He got a kick out of this :-D I just don’t make his coffee anymore… sick of getting crap for it. 

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