Back in the 1990s and early 2000s, growing up in Chicago and its surrounding suburbs was truly undefeated. As a proud product of Evanston, I can remember my very first ride on the “L,” visiting Navy Pier and riding the original ferris wheel, and of course, watching “The Bozo Super Sunday Show” before leaving the house for church service. Technology was rapidly advancing, but there was still an aroma of old-school Chicago lingering in the air. Millennials were the last generation to truly appreciate it.  

While our sports teams, architecture and food are world-renowned, nothing quite compares to the caliber of advertisements created by Chicagoland businesses. Not only are they catchy, but they do an incredible job of capturing the true essence of our big, eclectic and multi-dimensional city. 

For example, co-owner of Andrianna Furs, Sohrab Tebyanian wrote the lyrics to the company’s jingle, and got help from NBC Radio to find the group in Atlanta to sing the jingle. 

“Sohrab wanted the jingle to have a soulful and jazzy melody modeled after legendary singer Diana Ross,” Andrianna Furs co-owner Cherry Gregorio told The TRiiBE. The goal was to market specifically to Black women – attracting them to comfort and luxury of stylish furs, leathers and other accessories – and it worked. 

“The company started to include the jingle in advertisements in 1990, and it has been a big impact on every year’s sales,” Gregorio continued.   

For Michelle Thames, an online business and marketing strategist who grew up in south suburban Richton Park, the Andriana Furs commercial has done a great job of humanizing its product of luxury fur coats and accessories. Established in 1987, Andriana Furs is the city’s top furrier, and has had the same showroom on West 95th Street since it opened 35 years ago. 

I loved Andriana Furs because the women in the commercials made those coats feel and look like luxury,” Thames said. “Brands that evoke emotion in their marketing and advertising make it memorable, and when you’d see an Andriana Furs coat and hear that jingle, you would want to feel it too.” 

Kamal Collins is a senior art director at Translation/UnitedMasters, a Black-owned creative agency that has produced forward-thinking and culturally sound ads for global companies such as Beats by Dre, Budweiser, McDonald’s and many others. 

“Music has always been an incredible form of expression and a way to reach people,” he said. “We’ve seen instances where brands have gone beyond the jingle and created whole songs, TikTok dance videos and podcasts in order to target their audience.” 

Growing up in the Austin and Rogers Park neighborhoods, Collins most enjoyed commercials for Empire Carpet, a national flooring company, and Moo & Oink, a local meat market and grocery store.

“With jingles, there’s a simplicity, charm and ability to evoke some emotion–most likely joy,” he explained. 

In no particular order, here’s a quick walk down memory lane with 10 of Chicago’s most bop-worthy and memorable television and radio ads.

1. Andriana Furs. If you’re ever in the market for a mink coat that will drop jaws and turn heads, this is the only place you need to go. Open year round, Andriana Furs has been Chicago’s number one fur retailer since 1987. Whether you need to restore your raccoon-trimmed coat or cop a fox head and scarf combo for the fall, Andriana Furs will ensure that you always “feel the warmth and luxury that you deserve.” 

2. Moo & Oink. From hot links and baby spare ribs to chitlins, catfish and chicken wings, Moo & Oink was the place to get the freshest cuts of meat and fish. Almost everyone (including the cow and pig mascots) were grooving to a rap track in the commercial. There was something oddly satisfying about seeing (mostly) Black people having a good time while grocery shopping. While the chain closed all of its stores in 2011, the jazzy “Moooooo and Oink!” will forever be in our hearts.

3. Walter E. Smithe. If you dream it, they will indeed build it. This family-owned furniture company has been around since 1945, and has 10 Chicago area locations, and a forthcoming location in Naples, Florida. For years, its advertisements featured the Smithe Brothers (“That’s Smithe, with an ‘E’”), mostly promoting deals from their luxurious showroom and sometimes giving themselves room to be funny and light-hearted. Since 2017, the fourth generation of Smithes — the daughters of Walter Smithe III — have picked up where their dad and uncles left off and continue to showcase how their products can bring beautification and comfort to your home.

4. Jewel-Osco.  As the most recognizable and long-standing grocery chain in Chicago, Jewel-Osco’s desire to “work together and serve you better” has never gone out of style. Many of Jewel’s advertisements show off fresh produce, succulent cuts of meat and poultry, and the helpful people at the store who will make sure you get the best deals. 

5. Empire Today. Even if you had no need for carpet in your home, you knew who the Empire Man was and how to get in contact with him. Portrayed by the late Lynn Hauldren, the Empire Man — with his round, black frames, salt and pepper hair and signature blue Empire shirt — was helpful, welcoming and wanted to roll out the most stylish and affordable carpet into your home. Since its humble Chicago beginnings in 1959, the company has expanded and has more than 70 locations nationwide.

6. Luna Carpet.  If you weren’t buying your carpet from Empire, then you probably were heading to Luna. With promises of low prices on the top designer carpet and next-day installation, you wouldn’t even have to shop in the showroom — they would bring the samples to you! Today, the company still has locations in Oakbrook Terrace, Deerfield and Naperville. 

7. DebtStoppers. Whether you hear it on the radio or happen to catch the commercial on TV, you can’t help but groove to the sounds of the woman encouraging you to call Debtstoppers (a bankruptcy law firm) to help stop foreclosures, repossessions and wage garnishment. 

8. United Auto Insurance. From former B96 deejays Eddie and Jobo (remember them?!) making cameos in the TV commercials to the classic radio ads making sure you knew what number to call, UAI works hard to make sure that everyone is riding around insured. And you get a free quote in minutes! They’ve got you covered, Chicago!

9. Golf Mill Ford. Sick of that put-put not getting you where you need to go? Just do like Stu and push it, pull it, or tow it all the way to Golf Mill Ford…in Niles. OK, so that might be a long way — but if you’re in the market for a car and could get money for your trade in, why not?

10. The Bedding Experts. Mattresses are expensive, but The Bedding Experts — known for their love of Sealy and really good deals — wanted customers to have a sound night sleep. Not only could you come in and try your bed out, but they would throw in a few free pillows too! Unfortunately, the Bedding Experts is permanently closed, but once upon a time, this was truly the place where dreams came true.  

is a freelance contributor for The TRiiBE.