Would You Buy Cigarettes, Beer or Gasoline From a Parrot?

Would You Buy Cigarettes, Beer or Gasoline From a Parrot?

Last Updated on by Catherine Tobsing

As a mid-20th century child a.k.a. baby boomer I grew up in what would be called a “naïve time”.
Allow me to illustrate.

Our priorities as a nation in the 1950s were much different than in the first quarter of the 21st century.
We didn’t allow ourselves to see or hear things that might hurt us – to bad humanity couldn’t have avoided the internet – we’d be a lot happier, I’m sure.

TV shows like Leave it to Beaver and Ozzie and Harriet supported the notions of idyllic stay-at-home moms.
One thing we were certainly clueless about was birds and parrots as pets.
Actually, it wasn’t really until the turn of the 21st century that we began to accept and understand the brilliance and complexity of companion birds.
Doral cigarette ad with a parrot
A ship’s captain has to trust the opinion of the ship’s parrot especially when talking about cigarettes – right?
Japanese cigarette ad Japanese woman smoking cigarette with 2 budgies on head a canary on shoulder
The only thing I could think of looking at this is “what could she possibly be looking at – hello?”
If I’m at a nerdy networking event my stock answer is “I’m a digital marketer”. That means something like I get asked a bird question and then research cool stuff about birds and push the information to places all over the internet.
Try a parrot cigar poster
You could imagine someone said “let’s name a cigar line after a parrot” – once – I guess.
With the bird (ownership) category paling in comparison to the dog and cat category (in retail sales) birds are not really mainstream yet you’d be surprised how many products birds & parrots have shown up “squawking” their merits over the last 2 centuries.
Dialy habit the cigar of merit parrot ad
Yet marketing many marketing folks and cartoon artists have felt parrots and cigars are a great match. 
What this post really highlights is how dumb we’ve been about the use of birds in marketing. Can you imagine the outrage from the avian community if some of these ads showed up in today’s media?
2 sailors and a parrot enjoying Chesterfield cigarettes
Parrots apparently were valued for their opinion of cigarette mildness at one time to crews and captains.
I actually get paid to find a lot of both smart and silly stuff about birds. In doing so I’ve accumulated a collection of advertising images with of course, parrots.
Because you’re a bird person, would you be more influenced by a large cockatoo than a sports personality in guiding your purchasing decisions?
 Hand holding lit cigarette and 2 budgies
“We perch our case on just one fact” really???? They needed a 911 call to Don Draper (Madmen TV show)


Much like sports personalities and advertising, there’s not a whole lot of relationship between the spokesperson and the product other than compensation.


We do know that certain birds out there work for money but the birds in these ads – well I guess they should have unionized early on.  
Vintage illustration of parrot lighting cigarette on long cigarette holder of beautiful woman
 When clicker and stick training really got results – google “peter driben parrot art” for more of these tasty pics
Lincol Town Car ad with parrot
Parrots were used to sell cars in the last century – but why? 


The connection between cars and parrots totally eludes me. Parrots come with their own mode of transportation named “wings”. Perhaps that’s the “lift” car companies were seeking. And parrots are still being used to sell cars in this century – the question should be:


Sulfur Crest Cockatoo on wgite infinity Q45 steering wheel

Is a Sulfur crested cockatoo the best way to test Infiniti’s Voice Recognition System? Or do you have to squawk commands at the car for it to work?

Ad for Wilshire Poly gasoline


Not only did parrots sell cars but they sold the stuff you put in cars. 
Elabarrate Polys Parrot alcohol bar
You gotta admit this is pretty cool whatever it is/does
Blue Parrot Cranberry tin
Food must be trustworthy if it’s named after a parrot

Clearly, people in marketing back in the day, felt that naming a product after a parrot gave it additional credibility.


Vintage Tin of Parrot lard
 I rest my case
Karo waflle syrup ad with budgie on label
Our birds always asks us about ingredients before they eat something – not.
The creativity of marketing people should never be underestimated especially when it comes to parrots.
I get the whole “Polly wants a cracker thing” but this next commercial for Doritos chips had to of been influenced by a mind-altering substance.
This Super Bowl ad video below takes “Polly wants a cracker” to the next level.


 What do you do with a trained parrot?  Put him in a Doritos commercial


Sheraton hotel commercial with a parrot


OK – so this makes sense because that wher alot of parrots live.
Alcoa Cruise lines ad for Caribbean using parrot
 This poster of a man holding a parrot for the Alcoa Cruise Line has always been one of my faves
Parrot sewing needles
But sewing needles? makes as much sense as cars
nightigale gramophone record needle tin
Oh, wait more birds hawking (pun) needles – really?

le gramophone vintage ad using parrots parrots


I get the concept – birds and sound – but not how the cockatoo got in the picture (think different continents) it’s a mystery.
Bird on phonograph arm using beak as needle to play record
and sometimes the bird IS the phonograph – and its not practical as a beak trimmer we surmise
 Polly wants a cookie made with a baby ruth candy bar
 Before chocolate made it to the “no good for birds” list
Polly wants a cookie made with a Baby Ruth. Here is the classic recipe:
  • 2 sticks butter, softened
  • 1 1/2 cups sugar
  • 2 eggs
  • 1 tsp. soda
  • 1/2 tsp. salt
  • 1 tsp. vanilla
  • 3 scant cups of flour
  • 5 Baby Ruth candy bars, cut up.

Cream together softened butter and sugar. Beat in eggs. Add soda, salt, vanilla, and flour. Fold in chocolate chips and pecan pieces. Drop teaspoon-size dough on an ungreased baking sheet. Bake for 10 to 12 minutes at 350 degrees. Makes about 6 dozen cookies. You’re gonna need a lot of milk.

 Ghirardelli Chocolate Parrot Mascot Painted Wood Advertising Sign, 1930s
A diabetic’s and parrot’s food dream/nightmare – chocolate  
Ad for cellophane using a parrot
Who knew parrots were your go-to source for food safety? Then again this was from a time zoos kept parrots close by using leg chains


The relationship between parrots and alcohol runs deep. We just don’t know why or when it began. We have a small collection of Corby’s “drinking paraphernalia” everything from cocktail pics to bottle pourers and lighting fixtures.


1951 Parrot rings Bell Corby's Blended Whiskey Vintage Print Ad
 Corby’s used parrots to sell its whiskey until they went out of business – hmmmmmm
 Corbys light up parrot sign owned by Windy City Parrot
This sign is part of the Windy City Parrot collection – and if you are looking for a sign “this it is”
Who drinks gin anymore anyway? Once they stopped using parrots to market gin – it got boring


Poll parrot shoes neon sign
  Which animal other than a bird with zygodactyl feet is better suited to sell human shoes than a parrot?
Poll parrot with Howdy Doody comic book Cover
  If you remember this – you’re old
Vintage harly Davidson motorcycle ad with 3 macaw parrots
 Harley got its marketing (and motorcycles) right – but it took 4 or 5 more decades to screw things up.
Hope you enjoyed our trip down memory lane and had some fun.

Written by Mitch Rezman
Approved by Catherine Tobsing
As you all know, it is the bond between humans, motorcycles and parrots that binds the universe – MitchR

This Post Has One Comment

  1. What a hilarious and well-researched blog! American ads have the recurring theme of attributing human consumption of unhealthy products to innocent parrots. I had no idea that my macaws have been craving lard, Karo syrup, Doritos, and many brands of cigarettes!

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