I’ve been fascinated by advertising since I was a kid. The colorful box of the Happy Meal, and even before that, the original toy that came with your hamburger from Burger Chef….brilliant. My favorite advertising story came when I was eleven years old in the form of a bb gun….You see, A Christmas Story was about as true to life as it gets for a pre-teen boy.
Around the age of eleven every American boy wants only one thing (no, not that— girls aren’t for a few years), that thing is a bb gun. If you really had parents that trusted you, or didn’t give a crap about you, that bb gun was the Crossman pump-action. The Crossman could be pumped to the point of explosion, and actually could piece a soda can. (Or your little bother’s behind). So the Crossman was completely out of the question for me. I was neither trusted or disregarded, so I had to beg for a gun that was designed to fool my mom…The lever action Daisy Pal.
How could a gun named a Daisy Pal ever cause any problems? Well, it really couldn’t, the lever-action allowed one bb to be loaded in the chamber. It spit each bb out at a pathetic velocity that you could see come out of the gun. If you wanted the bb to go more than 50 feet you had to shoot it with an arc. Water pistols could probably inflict more injury. This didn’t matter to mothers, because the natural predator to the bb gun is a mom.
Daisy knew what it was up against. They knew they had to trick the typical mom. What better way than to name a rifle after a flower, and add the word pal, as the model number. Well, this brilliant marketing trick worked, (along with two solid years of crying for a bb gun by me).
Even at eleven years old I knew it was worth the price to give up on the cool Crossman, and except my fate with my Daisy Pal. I instinctively knew it had a girly name so my mother would allow me to have one. I also knew that perhaps it could be an entry-level weapon that would eventually lead to the coveted Crossman. In the end I had to keep mine at my Grandmother’s house in Northern Maine, and was made fun of unmercifully because everyone else had pump-action rifles….Heck, they lived in Northern Maine for crying out loud–they had bears!
So I have kept the Daisy secret for all these years–That pact that Daisy made with every boy under the age of twelve. The unwritten bond, the wink, the knowing that sometimes you have to accept harsh trade offs to experience everything that life has to offer….for an eleven year old boy anyway.