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The Back-to-School Commercial Hall of Fame

Jen Chaney -- who covers topics as varied as movies, DVDs and "Lost" for, contributes to Babble's Strollerderby blog and happens to be the mother of a toddler -- will write occasional posts for OnParenting. Here is her first.

Nothing portends end-of-summer doom quite like the back-to-school commercial. As soon as the first one airs (which usually happens about eight seconds after the July 4th fireworks fizzle out), every kid in America has the same thought: "Fun as we now know it is over." Meanwhile, parents, especially the stay-at-home ones, immediately think: "Thank you, corporate America, for reminding me that this summer too shall pass."

With many children already back in class and plenty more headed there in coming days, this seemed like the perfect time to pay tribute to some particularly outstanding back-to-school ads, otherwise known as the best ones I was able to find on YouTube.

OfficeMax's "Rubberband Man" ad from a few years ago -- featuring Eddie Steeples of "My Name is Earl" in his pre-Darnell days -- has to be the most infectiously danceable back-to-school commercial ever:

Having said that, this Target commercial from last year -- in which two college roommates engage in a decorative dance-off to Enur's "Calabria" -- comes in close second:

Vanessa Hudgens
and Selena Gomez may be the more modern voices insisting that Sears can meet all their returning-to-class fashion needs. But personally, I prefer this fabulously retro spot from the '80s. Why? Because I not only love Toughskins and pleated pants, I also find nothing more useful than "electric typewriters that let you correct mistakes with ease!"

Speaking of retro, JC Penney colossally offended the sensibilities of Gen Xers everywhere by ripping off "The Breakfast Club" in this spot from last summer. John Hughes, if you're watching right now from heaven, please forgive me for embedding this YouTube clip:

Ultimately, though, the company responsible for the sharpest back-to-school commercials has to be Staples. Their ad geniuses have given us one this year that features some classic calculator/snot humor, which, I'm sure I don't need to tell you, can't be found in just *any* commercial:

But even that pales in comparison to this, the granddaddy of all awesome back-to-school commercials.

Which one of these is your favorite? Or is there another one that conveys just the right amount of new-backpack-in-September dread? Tell us by adding a comment.

By Jen Chaney |  August 27, 2009; 7:00 AM ET  | Category:  Entertainment , Schools
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It wasn't until I had school aged children that I finally realized the glory of the "Most Wonderful Time of the Year" Commercial. That one is hard to beat, although Rubberband Man is nice an catchy.

Posted by: BurkeMom | August 27, 2009 7:31 AM | Report abuse

"Which one of these is your favorite?"

Dunno. They are all blocked on my PC by the IT censors.

Posted by: jezebel3 | August 27, 2009 7:34 AM | Report abuse

I have to say that I love the "Most wonderful time of year". The kids suit SS exactly. He hates school and doesn't want to go back.

I am glad that SS is going back to school because I no longer have to drive them in the mornings to the babysitter and I will get my Sunday evenings back to psych myself up for work. Other than that... not too much of a difference for me.

I guess most of all, I can appreciate that most custodial parents are happy that school is starting so that knowledge tickles my funny bone rather than my own personal situation.

Posted by: Billie_R | August 27, 2009 7:39 AM | Report abuse

You missed this one... 'I like backPACKS and I cannot lie..."

Posted by: danielle514 | August 27, 2009 8:22 AM | Report abuse

58008 - 7th graders everywhere know what i'm talking about...

Posted by: 06902 | August 27, 2009 8:30 AM | Report abuse

Loved Rubberband Man -- so I guess once in a while I do miss something good by not having a TV!

Posted by: annenh | August 27, 2009 9:42 AM | Report abuse

You didn't mention the Staples spot with Alice Cooper?!!!

Posted by: inBoston | August 27, 2009 9:45 AM | Report abuse

Not very interesting today. I don't do ad reviews.

Posted by: emily8 | August 27, 2009 10:37 AM | Report abuse

inBoston, that's exactly what I was thinking! But of these, I have to to with the Rubberband Man. Good commercial, GREAT music!

Posted by: OrganicGal1 | August 27, 2009 10:44 AM | Report abuse

"The Most Wonderful Time" of the year will always be a favorite, but a big THANKS to inBoston for posting the Alice Cooper Staples commercial. Rubberband Man is another classic spot.

My 2 kids started school today. There won't be any homework this week, so tonight we're going to sit down and enjoy watching these together. We've had LOTS of fun with YouTube- it's great to be able to share these memories with them.

Posted by: HuckleberryFriend | August 27, 2009 10:58 AM | Report abuse

OT: My oldest daughter turned 18 today. (One down, 3 more to go.) Yipee!

Posted by: WhackyWeasel | August 27, 2009 11:29 AM | Report abuse

I agree with Emily. Plus, the insertion of multiple clips was over the top. Next topic, please.

Posted by: CharmCityMom | August 27, 2009 12:51 PM | Report abuse

Even though my older daughter loves school, the Staples "Most Wonderful Time of the Year" spot is my favorite, hands-down! As a stay-at-home mom, I am one of those who looks forward to back to school because it gives us "me time." Or at least more than 30 seconds to enjoy a clean house....

Couldn't see any of the others...we're still working off dial-up, so obviously we can't download YouTube to save our lives.

Posted by: dragondancer1814 | August 27, 2009 12:57 PM | Report abuse

Funny. Thanks for a chuckle, Jen!

Posted by: nobodyknowhow | August 27, 2009 3:38 PM | Report abuse

Around our house, this is known as PLD. Parent's Liberation Day!

Our youngest has started his senior year so no more trapper keepers next year.

Rubberband Man is the best of the commercials with It's a Most Wonderful Time coming in a distant second.

Come on, how could you NOT love Crabman's socks!

Posted by: Fred_and_Frieda | August 27, 2009 5:49 PM | Report abuse

and HEY "electric typewriters that let you correct mistakes with ease!" was a GREAT thing! If you learned to type in the pre-historic era, like I did, with white out, carbon paper and erasable bond paper and a manual typewrite, you really appreciated the IBM Selectric with its built in correction ribbon.

Posted by: Fred_and_Frieda | August 27, 2009 6:01 PM | Report abuse

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