Burke Family Grape-Nuts® TV Commercial, 1968 - 70
Mystery Science Theater 3000's Mistaken Memories
“Oh no, Mrs. Burke! I thought you... were a soap commercial! ”
“'Best Brains' Bested By Burkes!”
Hear a “Mystery Science Theater 3000” riff (from 1989 episode 106 - The Crawling Hand)
Hear “Oh no, Mrs. Burke! ...I thought you...you were Dale!” from the 1968 Grape-Nuts TV commercial
When the Burkes informed Satellite News and other 'Mysties' [MST3K fans] that the "Dale" dialogue actually comes from our family's Grape-Nuts commercial, we were met with an onslaught of vehement and most unfriendly rebuttals, even when Dale herself posted on some Mystie forums! After weeks enduring wild allegations and desperate contrivances that seemed to want to re-write pop-culture history by dismissing our family's television commercial experiences, aghast and apparently unable to get our simple and factual story heard, we wrote to Kevin Murphy with our concerns. Within hours, the matter was settled in the form of the posts, such as those below, that appeared on the web. To this day, we fail to understand what all the fuss was about. We see the 'Best Brains' riffs as artful parodies of the genre of '60s and '70s commercials that utilized the mother-daughter mistaken identity theme. So what if the hand parodied the soap commercial, while the catch-phrase came from a Grape-Nuts ad? For our own part, we have greatly enjoyed the continuing attention to our "deathless" commercial! Thanks again, MST3K!*
Q: Moderator: What were all those "I thought you were Dale" lines a reference to?
Mary Jo Pehl: There was a commercial, I wanna say in the 70's?, where because the woman had used Ivory dishwashing soap, that somehow she had been mistaken by her son-in-law, as her daughter because were so young looking [sic].
Mary Jo Pehl: "I thought you were Dale"
(*Special thanks to Kevin Murphy for helping to correct the “Mystery Science Theater 3000” riff info. Subsequently, the following texts appeared on the web...)
Q: In many of the season eight episodes, when
a character's hand was shown or focused on, Mike or one of
the bots say “I thought you were Dale!” or some variation on that phrase. Who is Dale, and what is that a reference to?
Actually, these references are all based
on a mistake by Best Brains. Here's the whole story. Back in
the 1970s, there was a series of commercials for Ivory
dishwashing liquid, in which mothers were mistaken for their
daughters--because the Mom used Ivory and so her hands were
young-looking. At around the same time, there was also a
commercial for Grape Nuts, in which a teenage boy mistakes
teenage girl Dale's mother for Dale and utters the deathless
line: “I thought you were Dale!” Best Brains only vaguely
remembered these two commericials [sic], and apparently mixed them
up in their minds. There were apparently never any Ivory
Liquid commercials in which a character said “I thought you
were Dale!” And the Grape Nuts commercial in which that line
was spoken had nothing to do with hands. So basically they
goofed. But the writers thought
they were making a reference to the Ivory Liquid
The Great "Dale" Misunderstanding
According to Mary Jo Pehl, in a May 14, 1997 online chat. "Dale is the daughter of a woman who a guy thought was Dale cuz her hands were so soft in an old TV commercial." Kevin Murphy echoed this idea. Unfortunately, the writers were mixing up two different commercials.
"Dale" actually appeared in a "Grape-Nuts" cereal commercial, where a boy, who is swimming in a pool with his girlfriend Dale Burke and her mom, says, "Oh, no -- Mrs. Burke! I thought you were Dale!" Mrs. Burke goes on to explain how many people confuse her with Dale because she stays young eating Grape-Nuts, blah, blah.
There *was* a hand-soap (or possibly dish-detergent) commercial in which someone mistakes a mother for her daughter, just as Mary Jo said, but it didn't include Dale. That's right -- they only thought it was Dale!