Chox Hot Chocolate - Watch the tongue, kid.

Location: Beatrice food, 1948, October was just around the corner, and the weather in much of the country would be turning cooler. It was almost the high water mark for anyone in the heated-sugary-milk industry, and the Chox brand was ready to seize the lion's share of the market.

The executives had entertained proposals from the marketing department. The meeting and deliberation had taken a long time. The board room was filled with cigarette smoke, and the butts were an inch deep on the floor. It was 1948 after all. It was all worth it, because they had the perfect campaign lined up. It wasn't very innovative or clever, but these were not the things that drove the sweetened dehydrated lactic goop market. Tradition. Comfort. Familiarity.Warmth. This is how you got the mother's dollar in the fall.

The director tapped his pen on the desk, deep in thought. They'd need an adult female hand model, aged 30-35 and one boy. This boy had to have that Tom Sawyer "aw shucks" all American look. Definitely a plaid shirt. He'd have to look reeeeally happy about hot chocolate. Hmm. Flipping through headshots. He would be ordering lunch. This could take a while.

Wait. Who was that kid they used for the erector set ad in Boy's Life? The kid with so much energy they had to use high speed film just to keep him in focus? Kevin something. The director's finger stabbed the intercom. "Get me the talent agency. I got our boy!"

Zip pan to photo studio interior. Light is dim, apart from the set, consisting of a kitchen table and one chair. The perspective between the cup of chocolate and the kid meant that the shot would have to be comped later. The foreground elements would be shot separately from the boy so that they both could be in focus. The two shots needed different lenses. That was extra time of course, but the art department had a guy who was a wizard with the x-acto. They'd airbrush the steam in later, as usual.

They were getting the right energy from Kevin, but something was still not there. The kid's hair was a little messy, as if he had just climbed down from his tree house. They tested different angles for the kid's head and messed with the lighting. Eventually they  realized they needed a little backlighting so you could see the chair the boy was sitting in, until then, he looked like he was belly up to a bar or something. Closer, but still not right.

Then the photographer had it. "Yoo-hoo, Timmy or whatever, stick out your tongue, honey, like Wiley Coyote. Farther... more.... yes! Now move it to one side. No. Other side. Bingo! It was horrible, but the director knew it would sell. It was an utterly unntural gesture that no human had ever performed willingly. Mouth wide open in a huge grin. Tongue poked out of the corner of his mouth like he's, what? Licking his lips? Only cartoon characters did that. No boy had ever made that face, and he looked borderline insane. Insane for Chox hot chocolate. "That's lunch, everybody!"


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