From 1964 to 1985, and over the course of more than 500 different TV commercials, America got to know nit-picky (and hypocritical) grocery store manager Mr George Whipple. The man’s existence was defined by his need to keep all the customers (particularly women) from squeezing the Charmin toilet paper — something everyone was apparently compelled to do.
The refrain, “Please don’t squeeze the Charmin!” was coined by ad executive John Chervokas, but made famous by character actor Dick Wilson. Wilson — born Riccardo DiGuglielmo in England back in 1916 — had a long and varied career before his death in 2007. Apart from the Charmin commercials, you might also remember the man from his 18 guest spots on Bewitched, in which he played the drunk guy in the bar and other bit parts.
Yes, Mr Whipple was annoying. Sam Mercurio, an advertising executive at radio station WFMD, explained in May 1977 that getting attention and irritating the listener are often one and the same.
“Everybody here knows who Mr Whipple is,” wrote The News in Frederick, Maryland. “And most of you (are irritated at the thought of squeezing the Charmin), but you associate Mr Whipple with Charmin, and when you go to the store to pick out bathroom tissue, you’ll reach for Charmin.” Mercurio added, “Irritation has become an acceptable part of radio advertising.”
So for your viewing pleasure — or viewing annoyance — we found four TV commercials from different times during the campaign’s run. Watch and enjoy… and remember, ladies and gents: Only Mr Whipple gets to squeeze the toilet paper, and don’t even try to sneak in a little squish behind his back. Mr Whipple sees all.
Mr Whipple protecting the Charmin toilet paper, Cowboy-style (1960s)