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Composer Meredith Willson and President John F. Kennedy
Millennials probably find the commercials quaint if not puzzling, but to those like me who started school in the 1960s, Apple’s “Chicken Fat” ads bring back memories of sweaty kids in shorts and sneakers doing sit-ups and jumping jacks in the school gym.

Ahead of the launch of its own health tracking software in iOS 8, Apple is plugging the iPhone’s capabilities as a fitness companion. In a new commercial, a variety of iPhone 5s owners make use of various wellness apps already available for the device, such as the Nike+ Running app, a golfing app that measures an athlete’s swing and a pedometer app. Apple’s own health software, called HealthKit, arrives as part of iOS 8 this fall.

The goofy-but-dead-earnest song featured in the spot is “Chicken Fat.” The song was written and recorded as part of President John F. Kennedy’s fitness program and sent to schools around the country to rouse kids into exercising, and if you think that anything like that attempted today by President Obama would be met with howls of scorn and fury as some kind of socialist mind-control plot I am sure you’d be right. Just consider the relentless criticism leveled at Michelle Obama for daring to suggest American kids might eat more sensibly.

Kennedy showed his commitment to improving the nation's fitness even before he took the oath of office. An article, “The Soft American”, by Kennedy, published in the December 26, 1960, issue of Sports Illustrated, established four points as the basis of his proposed program, including a White House Committee on Health and Fitness, direct oversight by the Department of Health, Education, and Welfare, an annual Youth Fitness Congress to be attended by state governors, and the assertion that physical fitness was very much the business of the federal government. Chew on that a while, right-wing pundits.

Within a month of his inauguration, President Kennedy spoke at the Conference on Physical Fitness of Youth. Under Kennedy, the President's Council would not only spread the word to Americans about the importance of physical fitness for youth but would also conduct youth fitness surveys, publish fitness information, and offer technical advice to schools and communities about how to improve physical fitness not only for youth but for Americans of any age.

While the Council did not have the authority to impose a national physical fitness program, state and local leaders indicated to the Council that they would welcome guidance. President Kennedy selected Charles "Bud" Wilkinson, athletic director and football coach at the University of Oklahoma, as the first Physical Fitness Consultant to the President.

Initiating a national publicity campaign on physical fitness, the administration produced material for print, radio, television, and display advertising. For broadcast alone, 650 television kits and 3,500 radio kits were sent out. The physical fitness theme even appeared in the comics pages, as major syndicated cartoonists, including Charles Schulz, took up the subject in support of the campaign.

The most memorable contribution to the effort, though, surely has to be the "Chicken Fat" song. Upon hearing about Kennedy’s initiative, legendary Broadway composer Meredith Willson (“The Music Man”, “The Unsinkable Molly Brown”) contacted Fitness Council administrator Dick Snider with an offer to write, free of charge, a song that could be used to promote exercise for children. The offer accepted, Willson consulted with Physical Fitness Council director Ted Forbes, to ensure that the song would provide a good workout. Willson tapped “Music Man” star Robert Preston, to sing the number. Preston likewise waived any payment for his performance. Capitol Records agreed to provide musicians, chorus and recording studio time at their expense, as well as picking up the tab for handling the pressing and distribution of the record.

“At a White House reception,” Dick Snyder once revealed, “Kennedy told us he liked the song, but every time he heard it he thought of ‘chicken shit,’ and he wondered if maybe we shouldn’t change the title. We said we’d talk to Willson about it, but we never did.”

Robert Preston
Robert Preston
Recorded in early 1962 during sessions for the soundtrack of the movie version of “The Music Man,” "Chicken Fat" was produced in a 2:12 “Disc Jockey Version” version and a six-and-a-half-minute “School Version” to accompany schoolchildren during calisthenics. Accompanied by an orchestral marching band and full chorus, Preston delivers a knockout vocal performance.
Capitol Records shipped three million copies of the 7-inch, 33 1/3 RPM record (CF-1000, for collectors) to public schools across the United States and also serviced the song to radio stations.

The song didn't get much airplay, but if you went to school through the 1960s and into the 1970s the chorus of "Go, you chicken fat, go!" has been deeply etched into your subconscious.

Unless you lived in Detroit. Delia Hussey, Superintendent of Health and Physical Education for the Detroit Public Schools decreed that "Chicken Fat" sounded “tinny and jazzy”, and “the words are not exactly in good taste for school children.” Citing offensive lyrics such as “nuts to the flabby guys,” Hussey banned the recording from being played in the Detroit public school system. “The record doesn’t fit in with my philosophy of education or with our fine physical education program. No voice recording with a fixed pattern of exercises can leave room for individual growth and day-by-day progression. We like to use a teacher. That’s what they’re for.”  

"Tinny and jazzy"? Whatever. That song has been haunting my brain for 50 years now. Thanks, Apple, for reviving old memories, and for reminding me I’ve got a little chicken fat of my own to attend to. Nuts to the flabby guys, let’s cue up that record!

Touch down
Every morning
Ten times!
Not just
Now and then.
Give that chicken fat
Back to the chicken,
And don't be chicken again.
No, don't be chicken again.

Push up
Every morning
Ten times.
Push up
Starting low.
Once more on the rise.
Nuts to the flabby guys!
Go, you chicken fat, go away!
Go, you chicken fat, go!

9:15 AM PT: Unable to secure the rights to use Robert Preston’s original "Chicken Fat" recording in their commercial, Apple uses a version recorded in 2000 by commercial jingle singer Bernie Knee.  

Originally posted to Richard Riis on Mon Jun 09, 2014 at 07:54 AM PDT.

Also republished by Community Spotlight.

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Comment Preferences

  •  Yep. That was the soundtrack to (15+ / 0-)

    calisthenics in school. I wonder what most people now-a-days think about it? I think the song on the ad is a re-recording though, done by someone other than Preston.

    "The object of persecution is persecution. The object of torture is torture. The object of power is power. Now do you begin to understand me?" ~Orwell, "1984"

    by Lily O Lady on Mon Jun 09, 2014 at 08:04:13 AM PDT

  •  I understand that the kind of phys ed classes (17+ / 0-)

    that were familiar to me as a kid in the 70's are now a thing of the past. We didn't use that song, but we had wonderfully comprehensive gym classes, during school time (something else I understand is going by the wayside) including units on gymnastics, track and sprinting, wrestling, and organized sports and their rules such as baseball, flag football, basketball, and floor hockey (growing up in New England, we were all playing ice hockey in pick-up games in the winter anyway!).

    I hated gym, mostly, but I am grateful that this kind of serious phys ed was a part of our curriculum, and I know that I had JFK to thank for it.


    by commonmass on Mon Jun 09, 2014 at 08:21:11 AM PDT

    •  I learned how to swim (5+ / 0-)

      in junior high PE; I'd been terrified of the water for years (I almost drowned in a friend's backyard pool) and never learned. The PE classes were divided by swimming skill; since I couldn't swim I was in a subgroup of the Beginner Swimmers, the Novice Swimmers. That was the only year I ever got an A in PE, because my teacher was so proud of my learning to swim. Still a bit nervous in deep water, but I can at least paddle around a bit. :-)

      There's only one rule that I know of, babies -- goddammit, you've got to be kind. -- Kurt Vonnegut

      by Cali Scribe on Mon Jun 09, 2014 at 10:22:00 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

      •  Being able to paddle around a bit (2+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        Bugsby, RiveroftheWest

        could save your life someday. When my daughter taught first grade in Baltimore, she arranged for her kids to learn to swim at the local high school pool. She had two motivators- one was her love of swimming, but she was more motivated by the stories that appeared every summer of kids who drowned in local ponds and streams and rivers.
        People forget that urban kids will try to cool off in whatever body of water is available, and the results for kids with no water skills can be disastrous.

  •  This was my grade school morning. (13+ / 0-)

    Incorporated a nice disciplinary regimen at the beginning of every day. I'm not sure how it would go over today though. Lots of childhood obesity thanks to our slavish dependence on processed crap.  Today this would probably result in lawsuits by parents.

  •  I was born in '68 (12+ / 0-)

    and I remember this song in grade school. Put the record on the turntable, next to the PA mic.... Complete with the scratched crackling of the old record.

    When I first heard that Apple commercial it really made me smile. Thanks for this bit of history!

    And, I guess that the home of Motown would be the one city in this country that deserves the right to diss the musical integrity of a song produced by the White House. I wouldn't have minded giving Aretha Franklin a shot. :)

    Mediocrity cannot know excellence ~ Sherlock Holmes

    by La Gitane on Mon Jun 09, 2014 at 08:34:39 AM PDT

  •  maybe they are right (4+ / 0-)

    You experienced it and behold you are now an evil librul.  It worked!  :-)

  •  It's interesting that (9+ / 0-)

    I don't actually have distinct memories of the song; but listening to it lit a few dim bulbs way back in the recesses of my mind.  I must have been exposed to it at some point.

    Thanks for the back story and the diary.  It was fun to hear Robert Preston.

    You can't spell CRAZY without R-AZ.

    by rb608 on Mon Jun 09, 2014 at 08:43:58 AM PDT

    •  same here (5+ / 0-)

      wonder if we deliberately tried to forget this part of our lives.

      •  forget (3+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        prfb, rb608, live1
        same here..... wonder if we deliberately tried to forget this part of our lives.
        I'm damn sure I did!!


        "It's high time (and then some) that we put an end to the exceptionalistic nonsense floating around in our culture and face the fact that either the economy works for all, or it doesn't work AT all." -- Sean McCullough (DailyKos user thanatokephaloides)

        by thanatokephaloides on Mon Jun 09, 2014 at 05:09:25 PM PDT

        [ Parent ]

      •  As far as I was concerned -- (4+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        sagesource, Volt3930, rb608, live1

        and I remember the whole "President's Council on Physical Fitness" craze well -- it was all just a license for the adult bullies and sadists who went into coaching to make us bookish, pudgy kids runs in big circles until we puked.

        Good times.

        •  Absolutely. (2+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          RiveroftheWest, rb608

          Even though I wouldn't call all my PE teachers bullies and sadists, enough of them were to matter. But you could wear them down. After all, they usually had an interest in sports, and would rather be with those who wanted to participate. Sooner or later, nearly all of them got the message, and stopped bothering me to spend their time much more productively with the people who enjoyed such activities.

          They were usually not very bright, though. They found it incomprehensible that I didn't care if I was last in a race, and was positively joyful if neither side would pick me for a team game. I was too poorly coordinated to be anything but a drag on any team, so I gratefully accepted that sort of "rejection" as an affirmation of their common sense.

          Much later in life, I found out that I possessed an inherited quirk of brain chemistry that makes me literally, physically ill if I exert myself strenuously. (Drugs can reduce but not completely eliminate this reaction.) This quirk also makes competition of any sort emotionally incomprehensible for me -- "winning" anything is at best an emotional blank. So don't assume that everyone "naturally" enjoys competitive activities and will "naturally" feel better if well exercised. i certainly didn't.

          This is the landscape that we understand, -
          And till the principle of things takes root,
          How shall examples move us from our calm?

          (Mary Oliver, "Beyond the Snow Belt.")

          by sagesource on Mon Jun 09, 2014 at 10:18:55 PM PDT

          [ Parent ]

        •  prfb - Somewhat true. I went on a 50 mile hike (3+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          rb608, tle, RiveroftheWest

          with the Boy Scouts once (the 50 mile hike was another fad that was part of the Kennedy fitness program.)
             You have to remember that the whole thing was about getting American kids in shape for military duty. Those were the days of the draft, and too many young men were showing up at the draft board too out of shape to serve.

    •  I remember hearing this song on a morning TV (2+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      Amber6541, rb608

      exercise program back in the '60s. Not Jack LaLanne... maybe that incredibly fit woman with six cute daughters who did the exercise program every morning? Go, Chicken Fat, Go is all I can remember of it.

    •  Same (3+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      Amber6541, rb608, RiveroftheWest

      I think maybe I'm a few years too young to have been exposed to this at school (started school in 1977) but I too felt the dim bulbs light.  Maybe I got it from friends' older siblings, or scouting, or some such.

      Banana Republic: it's not just a clothing store.

      by northbronx on Tue Jun 10, 2014 at 08:05:12 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

  •  One little appreciated connection here is that (14+ / 0-)

    the Apple iPad is getting computing power into the hands of some seniors who have never before risked a computer. Even a laptop was too expensive or complicate, but I have seen my silver haired parishioners tentatively approach and then embrace iPads for all sorts of purposes.

    This song is just their vintage!

    Is it true? Is it kind? Is it necessary? . . . and respect the dignity of every human being.

    by Wee Mama on Mon Jun 09, 2014 at 08:47:01 AM PDT

  •  Obviously we missed the boat - we should have r... (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    bleeding blue, Alhambra

    Obviously we missed the boat - we should have risen up en masse to protest our tyrannical government imposing fascist fitness standards on us.

    •  My thoughts about PE (7+ / 0-)

      Would be close what is now considered to be a Godwin.

      Let's have the jocks and jock-wannabees make us nerdy kids miserable and feel like damaged goods with the coach's and lots of teachers' encouragement.

      "If this Studebaker had anymore Atomic Space-Age Style, you'd have to be an astronaut with a geiger counter!"

      by Stude Dude on Mon Jun 09, 2014 at 11:26:37 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

      •  I wasn't what you'd call a jock (3+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        Stude Dude, Amber6541, Nespolo

        (unless cheerleading counts), but I looked forward to PE. After sitting and thinking and taking tests all day, it felt good to clear your brain and move. I think kids need it (although they don't need mean coaches or mean classmates).

        •  YOU needed it. (4+ / 0-)

          And despite my own dislike of all organized physical activity, I would never object to you getting it, or to the school district spending money to provide you with buildings, equipment, playing fields, and trained coaching.

          Just don't force it on anyone who dislikes it or has no use for it. That is something that very quickly and easily slides into bullying, official and unofficial.

          You have no right to say "kids need it." All you can say is "kids like me need it, and it should be accessible to everyone in case they develop an interest." If you try forcing it on people, they will reject it so strongly that they will never change their minds.

          This is the landscape that we understand, -
          And till the principle of things takes root,
          How shall examples move us from our calm?

          (Mary Oliver, "Beyond the Snow Belt.")

          by sagesource on Mon Jun 09, 2014 at 10:24:31 PM PDT

          [ Parent ]

          •  Oh for crying out loud- (4+ / 0-)

            I have as much "right" to an opinion as you do. You might not have liked PE, and that's your right, but if you're taking a position that kids have no need for physical activity, you should take it up with the American Heart Association and the entirety of the medical community who have determined that kids do need it for a variety of health reasons:


            Now we can talk about how that physical activity should be presented to kids so that every kid can find an enjoyable way to participate. Probably it should be more unstructured and include options like dancing or free play. IMO it should probably not be graded for anything beyond simple participation, not for skill. And we can certainly look for ways to make it happen without bullying. But it rarely helps to throw away the baby with the bathwater. The benefits of physical activity are real, just as the benefits of nutritious food are real, and not just for kids who are naturally drawn to it.

            •  Encouraging or even requiring some physical (2+ / 0-)
              Recommended by:
              gramofsam1, Stude Dude

              activity every day is fine; requiring competition and being forced into "team sports" (result: bullying and shaming) is unnecessary and often cruel. A huge number of adults will tell you how they detested PE and avoided sports for years afterwards.

              It makes no more sense to require that everyone must hit a ball with a stick than to require that everyone must sing a solo, paint a portrait or study ballet. Why not let kids develop their strengths instead of having to endure years of public humiliation?

              •  I largely agree- as I thought I made clear (1+ / 0-)
                Recommended by:

                in my comment. We were required to choose and participate in one team sport in my school (thank god for basketball- I was never much good at hitting a ball with a stick either), but there was no bullying or shaming involved. I do think there is some value in the team experience, assuming that the adults in charge manage it with care and sensitivity (which I fully understand does not always happen).

                Beyond that, I think it's much more important to provide a host of opportunities for kids to simply move, in whatever way most appeals to them. Most of it should not be about competition, but about learning and enjoying activities that kids can use for a lifetime.

                •  I agree completely, and I didn't mean to imply (2+ / 0-)
                  Recommended by:
                  gramofsam1, Stude Dude

                  that you stated otherwise. I think it's good to expose children to a wide variety of activities whether we're discussing PE, art, music, science or any other topic.

                  I was really surprised to find I enjoyed tennis, though I was never anything but lousy at it. The important thing is to put kids with similar abilities and skill levels together, rather than mixing those with years of practice in with others who've never handled a ball in their lives and so are open to scorn and ridicule. And unfortunately many instructors not only don't stop the bullying, but encourage and even participate in it.

                  I really think there are ways to teach teamwork without forcing those who detest them into competitive team sports.

                  •  All good points- (2+ / 0-)
                    Recommended by:
                    Stude Dude, RiveroftheWest

                    and if you ever want to feel better about your tennis ability, I'll meet you for a match some day. I was so bad that even as an adult, people would fall down laughing at my inability to return a ball. It didn't even bother me- I was so bad I even cracked myself up.

                    There might even be a lesson for kids in that- it's okay to suck at a sport, and you can even have fun with it if you don't take it too seriously.

                    •  Thanks, but I'm afraid my arthritic shoulder has (0+ / 0-)

                      ended my tennis career! I used to play early in the morning with a supervisor who was as untalented as I -- it was fun for both of us. Other mornings we would swim laps; we were both much more skilled in the water than on the courts!

                      Those sorts of sports are the kind I'd like to see children learn: the ones that you can enjoy all your life, just as you can keep playing the piano, painting or gardening.

      •  What I'd like more (5+ / 0-)

        in standard PE classes is an emphasis on activity that's not necessarily sports related: recreational swimming, bicycling, walking/hiking, dancing (we had folk dancing in junior high PE and I enjoyed it, though I fake-grumbled about it to fit in with the crowd), other activity. Combine it with quality health/nutrition education, and you'll be equipping the future generations to take care of their own health.

        There's only one rule that I know of, babies -- goddammit, you've got to be kind. -- Kurt Vonnegut

        by Cali Scribe on Mon Jun 09, 2014 at 10:28:11 PM PDT

        [ Parent ]

  •  “tinny and jazzy”? (5+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    gypsytoo, sawgrass727, meg, gramofsam1, Sonnet

    Robert Preston has such a wonderful voice.  Mame & Victor/Victoria are among my favorites.  

    I can see Detroit saying, "we just don't want to use this song, we have other ideas" but to say it's  tinny is imo not an honest assessment.  It's a song for exercising to, not The Music Man.

    I do not demand tolerance, I demand equal rights. --Anna Grodzka

    by VeggiElaine on Mon Jun 09, 2014 at 08:52:28 AM PDT

  •  God how I hated that song. Dick Snyder, quoted (3+ / 0-)

    in the diary was a long time columnist for the Topeka Capital-Journal. I recall a column he wrote outlining his involvement with the program. He also wrote about his experience in the early boom years of the Kansas oil industry. I believe he worked for Kerr McGee and other companies. An interesting guy.

    “Nature uses as little as possible of anything." -- Johannes Kepler

    by Syoho on Mon Jun 09, 2014 at 08:52:34 AM PDT

    •  Syoho, same here (2+ / 0-)

      Actually, the first time I encountered that commercial was at the end of an especially long grueling day.  Late night / early morning, at last, we made it, she and I, time to declare victory for surviving the challenges, and the unneeded reminders of how fortunate she and I to have each other.

      I said goodnight to the parrot, gave the dog one more trip outside, and headed upstairs. She always likes to leave the tv on at night.  Then, after she drifted off, as I reached for the remote to lower the volume, I heard it.  Suddenly, the peaceful end of the day turned into a brief flashback from grade school, and I said (not loud enough to wake her), "You've got to be fucking kidding!"

      Note of gratitude to Pat Boston and the progressive approach to PhysEd and training I learned from her by the time I got to middle school.  Wherever you are, Ms B, I love you.

  •  Well the intersection of people who have (4+ / 0-)

    enough disposable income to afford to pay the premium for apple products and who don't have to work insane hours just to keep their jobs, seems to me to be relatively small. So color me confused over this latest apple Adventure.

    I want 1 less Tiny Coffin, Why Don't You? Support The President's Gun Violence Plan.

    by JML9999 on Mon Jun 09, 2014 at 08:53:42 AM PDT

    •  I'm guessing it's like advent of televisions (4+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      JML9999, gramofsam1, ladybug53, Amber6541

      You don't actually need this type of premium product but it's a trend.  Just read this related article about major health insurance carriers like Cigna and Aetna and UnitedHealth Group are pushing health apps:

      3 Insurers Jumping on the Smartphone Health Care Revolution

      [I]insurers rely more on mobile fitness apps to save money and help patients live healthier lives.

      The number of smartphone users in America is projected to rise from 164 million this year to 220 million by 2018....

      [Estimates are] the global market for mobile fitness apps will grow to $26 billion by 2017 -- representing 61% compound annual growth from 2013. Meanwhile, rising readmissions in U.S. hospitals have forced the Hospital Readmissions Reduction Program, part of the Affordable Care Act, to raise its penalty for excess readmissions from 1% to 2% in 2014.

      When we consider those three facts, it makes plenty of sense for insurers to launch mobile apps to connect to their customers.
      It's easy to see why insurers are releasing more mobile apps these days -- smartphone use is soaring, fitness apps are more popular than ever, and costly hospital readmissions are rising. Promoting better health habits benefits both patients and insurers, which will need to make fewer payments to cover preventable hospital visits.

      I facetiously make the analogy to televisions but I'd be surprised.  The advent of televisions led to couch potatoes, and health apps represent the exact opposite behavior.  It will more than the existence of health apps for people to decide to make vital behavioral and habit changes to get off the couch and improve fitness.
      •  Or SoloFlex/Treadills parked in corner collecting (1+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:

        dust these things will sit in Dresser drawers/closets unused. The sale was made cha-ching.......

        I want 1 less Tiny Coffin, Why Don't You? Support The President's Gun Violence Plan.

        by JML9999 on Mon Jun 09, 2014 at 09:43:32 AM PDT

        [ Parent ]

        •  Actually since it's part of the (2+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          Amber6541, gramofsam1

          operating system, it won't be sitting in a drawer -- it'll be on the phone, ready for use when the device owner wants it. And all the upgrades are free to any device owner if their device is compatible; I have an iPhone 4 that I've had for a few years, see no reason to upgrade yet; I'll be able to get access to this software, and maybe I can work it into my workout program at the gym.

          There's only one rule that I know of, babies -- goddammit, you've got to be kind. -- Kurt Vonnegut

          by Cali Scribe on Mon Jun 09, 2014 at 10:32:23 PM PDT

          [ Parent ]

      •  Actually... (5+ / 0-)
        It will more than the existence of health apps for people to decide to make vital behavioral and habit changes to get off the couch and improve fitness.
        Study after study over the last 20 years has shown that when you allow people to track their fitness with various devices (pedometer, heart rate monitor, long-term weight monitoring, etc) their exercise habits are much better, and health outcomes improve dramatically.

        So I'd say your assessment is a bit over-pessimistic.

    •  Really? (4+ / 0-)

      Studies have shown over and over that people who use monitoring equipment (pedometers, heart rate monitors, weight loss tracking software, etc) to track their health are dramatically more faithful to exercise regimens while they are on them, and are also much more likely not to quit them entirely.

      The 'premium for Apple products' is, if you want a decent smartphone, zero (since the Android and Windows phones with similar capabilities to the iPhone 5s cost about the same). And if you want a lower-end model, you can get a refurbished iPhone 5 for $50 with a plan, or an iPhone 4s for $0 with a plan. Yes, the plan itself costs a lot, but that's the same plan you'd get with an Android phone, or whatever else. Of course, there are even cheaper Androids ('get $100 if you buy this phone!') but apparently people sometimes do figure out that you get what you pay for.

      As for 'people who don't have to work insane hours', well, I worked 55 to 60 hour weeks for quite a while, and I still exercised while I was doing so. People do. And if this can encourage people to do so more, then I'm all for it.

      But then, people were saying exactly the same thing as you're saying, in more or less exactly the same words, in 2007 when Apple introduced the iPhone. Last year iPhones of different models were #1, #2, and #4 of the top-selling phone models. In 2012 they were #1, #3, and #4. I guess there are more people who are willing to 'pay the premium' than you suppose.

      •  Hmmm, (1+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:

        might want to look into that refurbished program if AT&T offers it; not sure how compatible iOS 8 will be with my old iPhone 4, and I'm starting to see a few dead pixels.

        And even if all you do is use an app to count your daily steps and set a goal of a certain number of steps a day, that's still exercise. Maybe a few people will get out of their cars and onto public transit in order to increase their daily steps, which not only helps their health, but can help the Earth's health as well.

        There's only one rule that I know of, babies -- goddammit, you've got to be kind. -- Kurt Vonnegut

        by Cali Scribe on Mon Jun 09, 2014 at 10:36:28 PM PDT

        [ Parent ]

    •  Don't let that haterade get in your way (2+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      Stude Dude, gramofsam1

      Apple's "premium" is industry standard - in fact, there are more expensive phones on the market, most of them are Android or WindowsPhone.

      The only thing "premium" about Apple is the experience and even that is "YMMV".  If you don't like it, there are other vendors who offer the same thing.

      The goal of a national workout program is laudable, and I reminisce about my "calisthenics" programs at school that I don't think my kids get today.

      Make sure everyone's vote counts: Verified Voting

      by sacrelicious on Mon Jun 09, 2014 at 03:20:22 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

  •  I remember (3+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    kayak58, bartcopfan, ladybug53

    setting up a pull-up bar in my doorway, and having a rule that anytime I entered or left the room, I would have to do a bunch of pull ups.

    The driver was getting a big blue official looking "Presidential Physical Fitness Award" patch.

    I can't remember if the threshold was 10 or 20 pull ups, but I sure remember getting that patch!

  •  Exercised to that song.... (0+ / 0-)


  •  I went to elementary school in Canada (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    dewtx, sacrelicious

    and I clearly remember this song from gym class.

  •  I'm not sure how, but I had never heard (4+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Sonnet, gramofsam1, PSzymeczek, tle

    the Chicken Fat song before.  I had gym classes all through school, well jr & sr high (elementary grades we just had "recess" and often played kickball or dodge ball, or skipped rope, etc.).  None of my schools used this recording!

    An ounce of mother is worth a pound of clergy. -Spanish proverb

    by Spirit of Life on Mon Jun 09, 2014 at 11:44:10 AM PDT

  •  We endured this song (11+ / 0-)

    in elementary school when we had to have recess inside.

    I hated it then. Still hate it.

    Adore Robert Preston, though.

    •  It was written by Meredith Willson, (2+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      Nespolo, RiveroftheWest

      and Robert Preston's recording was made during the filming of The Music Man.  Meredith Willson was from Mason City, Iowa, and he is buried in the same cemetery with MrSzymeczek's paternal grandparent's, great-grandparents, and great-great-grandparents.

      A great democracy does not make it harder to vote than to buy an assault weapon. -Bill Clinton

      by PSzymeczek on Tue Jun 10, 2014 at 10:50:24 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

  •  Oh great, now I'm SINGING it. Thanks. (4+ / 0-)

    “[Sir Arthur Conan Doyle] created Sherlock Holmes and Dr. Watson - which proves he was way ahead of his time on gay marriage.” - Bill Maher

    by gardnerhill on Mon Jun 09, 2014 at 02:28:13 PM PDT

  •  By Ereshkigal's throne of skulls, (9+ / 0-)

    I loathed this song when I and other elementary school kids had to suffer through it.

    I have hated it for decades.

    I still despise it.

    I refuse to even consider buying an Apple product just because they played it in their ad.

  •  I told my kids just last night (4+ / 0-)

    that the song was, as you said, played during gym while we exercised.

    They cracked up laughing. They are of the era in which songs like that were deemed inappropriate, so they have no idea.

    I thought I was hallucinating when I first heard that commercial -- what a throwback to my childhood!

    Thanks for the fascinating history of the song! I had no idea who wrote or sang it, or the connection to the President's Physical Fitness Council.

    The things one can learn on DKos never ceases to amaze me!

    "The difference between the right word and the almost-right word is like the difference between lightning and the lightning bug." -- Mark Twain

    by Brooke In Seattle on Mon Jun 09, 2014 at 02:56:46 PM PDT

  •  Are there still Presidential Fitness Certificates? (3+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    bartcopfan, Sonnet, PSzymeczek

    I remember back in Elementary school, if you could meet a minimum number of certain exercises and complete a run within a given time, you'd get a certificate or something. I don't exactly remember.

    Damn pull-ups always did me in.

  •  Amen, Brudda! (3+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    thanatokephaloides, Sonnet, Nespolo
    The song didn't get much airplay, but if you went to school through the 1960s and into the 1970s the chorus of "Go, you chicken fat, go!" has been deeply etched into your subconscious. (emphasis added)

    "Push the button, Max!" Jack Lemmon as Professor Fate, The Great Race

    by bartcopfan on Mon Jun 09, 2014 at 03:42:54 PM PDT

  •  Apple uses the "Duck and Cover" video in next ad (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:

    Why not? Seems like they want to appeal to the "I want my America back" demographic when their marketing people drag out a POS like the song that shall not be named.

    Is this really the same company that did the "1984" ad?

  •  Ah, memories! (3+ / 0-)

    We exercised to "Chicken Fat" during my gym class in elementary school in suburban Detroit in the early 70's. My memories of it are now fond, although I at the time I thought it was dumb.

  •  Thanks for dredging up a hideous (5+ / 0-)

    memory... It took me years beyond elementary school and jr. high to get past "Chicken Fat" and to the point where I LIKED exercising - in silence without a marching band nagging at me. I realize that it was all done with the best of intentions, but every so often I have a bad flashback to being about 9 years old and having to exercise to that. It's probably one reason (among many) that I never got into the Suzanne Somers version of "group" exercise.

    When will our consciences grow so tender that we will act to prevent human misery rather than avenge it? Eleanor Roosevelt

    by seefleur on Mon Jun 09, 2014 at 05:03:43 PM PDT

    •  I'm with you on Suzanne Somers, (2+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      seefleur, RiveroftheWest

      and for that matter on most exercise videos. But I make a singular exception for Jane Fonda, who has some really good programs for all levels of fitness, and her manner and voice and even the music she chooses are motivating rather than annoying.
      YMMV of course, but it you're interested a lot of her stuff is free to stream on Amazon Prime, (or almost free to buy used on Amazon or ebay).

  •  I remember that song! (3+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Sonnet, ladybug53, Nespolo

    "Nothing in all the world is more dangerous than sincere ignorance and conscientious stupidity." --M. L. King "You can't fix stupid" --Ron White -6.00, -5.18

    by zenbassoon on Mon Jun 09, 2014 at 05:42:26 PM PDT

  •  Oh, what memories! (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Sonnet, Nespolo

    We did the chicken fat record every time it rained, when we couldn't go outside for recess or PE.  From first grade to 6th (1963-1969), North Miami, Florida.  

    I remember Kennedy's fitness program, too - pink cards, blue cards and the Presidential patch.  I craved one of those patches, but I am a klutz and not the most athletic of people, not overweight, just not strong and don't have much in the way of endurance - never have.  

    Running was OK, throwing a softball, that was OK but my downfall was the "arm flex hang."  Boys had to do pull ups / chin ups and girls had to do the "arm flex hang."  I finally managed, in 7th grade, to hang on long enough to get a pink card.  Oddly, I could do 3 chin ups or pull ups, but that damn hanging there just wasn't one of my talents!  My elbows are inflamed just remembering!  

    "Focusing your life solely on making a buck shows a certain poverty of ambition. It asks too little of yourself. Because it's only when you hitch your wagon to something larger than yourself that you realize your true potential." - Barack Obama

    by Ricochet67 on Mon Jun 09, 2014 at 06:16:23 PM PDT

    •  I managed to earn the consolation prize, (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:

      Which was called the "standard" patch.  My Waterloo was the 600-yard run.  I tried so hard, but I have never been a distance runner.  My best friend managed to get the "Presidential" patch without really trying. Grrr.

      "We *can* go back to the Dark Ages! The crust of learning and good manners and tolerance is so thin!" -- Sinclair Lewis

      by Nespolo on Tue Jun 10, 2014 at 04:23:33 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

  •  grade school phys ed (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Sonnet, Nespolo

    good diary! I just saw this a couple days ago and was almost on the floor laughing. That's a disadvantage for Apple because i never noticed what the ad was for. The slightly older friend watching TV with me didn't get the joke at all, i guess her school never used it.

    "Great is the guilt of an unnecessary war" - John Adams

    by esquimaux on Mon Jun 09, 2014 at 07:01:10 PM PDT

  •  Rainy day P.E. (0+ / 0-)

    Mid-70s. I can still hear the thundering sound of all those jumping jacks!

    You can change the world, in a tiny way. --Coulton

    by Sonnet on Mon Jun 09, 2014 at 07:06:55 PM PDT

  •  Mason City Iowa is what Meredith Wilson and I (0+ / 0-)

    have in common - we were both born and raised there.

    I have to say though, this is the first time I ever listened to the Chicken Fat song.

  •  Yeah, that song brings back hellish memories. (4+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    bdizz, stevemb, edwardssl, seefleur

    They only played it in the girls' gym classes; junior high school, central NJ, early 1970s, miserable blue one-piece gym suits.

    I was a little hippie freak and hated gym class for its authoritarian regimentation. I got my exercise on my own running around and riding a bike.

    curious portal - to a world of paintings, lyric-poems, art writing, and graphic and web design • Drawing Out the Muses now available in e-book

    by asterkitty on Mon Jun 09, 2014 at 07:11:51 PM PDT

  •  I heard the commercial (4+ / 0-)

    A week or so ago for the first time. I was on the other side of the house from where my husband was watching TV but I recognized it immediately. I told him "it's chickenfat"!  Seriously, I started marching in place. He thought it was the dumbest commercial ever, even for Apple. It brought back a lot of memories for me, having gone to grade school in the mid-sixties. Although it was unmistakable, it sounds very little like it did back in 1965 or so. They really cleaned it up for the commercial. My husband swears he never heard it before, despite the fact that he went to grade school at the same time. The difference? I went to a public school, he went to a Catholic grade school. Or maybe he just doesn't remember.

    I never realized it was Robert Preston singing the song, and I've seen the Music Man many times. That's how unintelligible the song was on those old record players.

  •  I still hate that song. (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    stevemb, JanetT in MD

    I don't know what was worse - that song or the stupid blue "gym uniforms" we had to wear.

    “Judge: Are you trying to show contempt for this court? Mae West: I was doin' my best to hide it.” ― Mae West

    by Rogneid on Mon Jun 09, 2014 at 07:20:45 PM PDT

  •  Meredith Wilson was an amazing composer (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:

    I don't recall hearing this song, but it's definitely the kind of  music he was so good at.

    "No special skill, no standard attitude, no technology, and no organization - no matter how valuable - can safely replace thought itself."

    by xaxnar on Mon Jun 09, 2014 at 07:32:54 PM PDT

  •  My Dad Was A Conservative Goldwater Republican (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:

    and he loved that song and played it for us a lot. It goes to your point about it being a different time as far as partisanship goes today. Did not realize until the last few days that it was in conjuction with JFK's fitness program. Did not bother him at all. He would never vote for a Kennedy. But our family was large, Irish and sports loving so there was a lot in common with the Kennedy's and he liked them. Just not their politics.

    My sister and I were joking about the song being featured in the ad now. We didn't realize our late Fatherwas so cutting edge. He liked Mitch Miller too. If he becomes popular again than my father was apparently a hipster ahead of his time. Not holding my breath on that one.

    •  I loved Mitch Miller growing up (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      Leo Flinnwood

      Remember watching that on our old black and white Zenith (my dad wouldn't buy any other brand; it wasn't until after he died that we got our first color TV and it was a Sony).

      For all the people who have bad memories of this song and calisthenics, watch the ad closely; it shows how far beyond simple jumping jacks we are when it comes to being active. And you know that people are listening to other songs than that when working out (I've got a pretty long workout tunes playlist -- ranges from "Shake A Tail Feather" from the Blues Brothers movie (with the late great Ray Charles) to Peter Gabriel's "Steam" to Doobie Brothers' "Takin' It to the Streets" and Pharell's "Happy" (from Despicable Me 2).

      There's only one rule that I know of, babies -- goddammit, you've got to be kind. -- Kurt Vonnegut

      by Cali Scribe on Mon Jun 09, 2014 at 10:46:16 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

  •  That record was in use far after the 60s (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Nespolo, RiveroftheWest

    in my school district. And so many of my peers were BAFFLED when I tried to describe the song/doing these exercise in gym class in 1st-3rd grade.

    Finally, just a few weeks ago, found the entire thing on YouTube and sent it to work colleagues, who thought it was hilarious... and odd.

  •  Strange (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:

    I distinctly remember that song from first or second grade in 1955-6.  

    "The good Earth — we could have saved it, but we were too damn cheap and lazy." Kurt Vonnegut - "A Man Without a Country", 2005.

    by BOHICA on Tue Jun 10, 2014 at 07:19:08 AM PDT

  •  Amazingly, I never heard that song - it might be (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    gramofsam1, RiveroftheWest

    that I was older than the target group. I was headed to high school when the song was recorded. Thanks for reminding us about Kennedy's fitness push, though - I do remember that. Can you imagine corporations acting that selflessly now?

  •  I recall kids couldn't pass p.e. in some schools (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:

    unless they could do whatever this program called for.

    If Obama tried that........ well.

    I must be dreaming... (3764 forever!)

    by murphy on Tue Jun 10, 2014 at 09:09:59 AM PDT

  •  I had never heard this song (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:

    and yet vividly remember the JFK years.

    I couldn't figure out what in the world "chicken fat" was about when I first heard the commercial the other day-- or where they would get such a hokey thing !  When I actually watched it, I saw it was about exercise/apps, but I still think the song is dumb.        

    I must be dreaming... (3764 forever!)

    by murphy on Tue Jun 10, 2014 at 09:14:38 AM PDT

  •  Hmmm.... I have a pretty good memory (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:

    for music, and I don't recall ever hearing it before.  And I grew up in the sixties.  I was in second grade in California when Kennedy was shot.  Maybe its use was more regional.

  •  I remember it well (4+ / 0-)

    I was born in 1960. I remember several exercise records we had in gym class.

    I was always pretty klutzy and didn't like gym that much although I didn't mind that record because you were all doing things together not competing.

    But the whole story about Kennedy and the song made me sort of nostalgic for the day when we thought of ourselves as a country rather than a collection of individuals and our anti authoritarianisim had not become malignant yet.

    I mean Michelle Obama tries to make kids eat better which would have been conservative back in the day and the modern day conservatives try to legislate junk food just to give her the black eye.

    It's really sad what we've come to. We want everybody to be fat, poorly educated and low paid. Country is going down the tubes.

  •  I remember "Chicken Fat" (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:

    Every word of it!  We used it in gym class in second and third grade, which would have been around 1970-72.  It's a hoot to hear it again, though I will always prefer Robert Preston's performance.

    "We *can* go back to the Dark Ages! The crust of learning and good manners and tolerance is so thin!" -- Sinclair Lewis

    by Nespolo on Tue Jun 10, 2014 at 04:17:50 PM PDT

  •  I was in grade school in the 70's (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:

    I don't recall ever hearing the song. We did however, have a record of it at home. It got played along with a number of novelty songs, like the "Kooky Tunes" records from K-Tel.

    The wolfpack eats venison. The lone wolf eats mice.

    by A Citizen on Tue Jun 10, 2014 at 04:26:35 PM PDT

  •  When I was in Elementary School (0+ / 0-)

    in the '60s, one of my Gym teachers used to play that at the beginning of class. I was a little pudgy then (probably still much thinner than today's kids), and some of the kids used to ridicule me for it when that song was one.
    I HATE that fucking song.

    "Socialism never took root in America because the poor see themselves not as an exploited proletariat, but as temporarily embarrassed millionaires." - John Steinbeck

    by Bulldawg on Wed Jun 11, 2014 at 04:20:45 AM PDT

  •  GymFail (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:

    I was lucky to get at least the tail end of this craze.  Most of my school gym experience was an experience in social Darwinism in which we were forced to play contact sports with bullies who would beat us up under the guise of "blocking" or whatever.  

    Seems to me, doing noncompetitive workouts that actually helped students get into shape would have been so much better. I do remember the song, heard it real young, worked out real young, and when those routines went away and were replaced with tackle football and dodgeball (played with basketballs thrown at my head hard enough to break my nose while the PE coach (who was in good shape only if you like spheres) praised the accuracy of the bully who hit me), it became aversion therapy that taught me to loathe sports and jocks and everything associated with physical activity.

    Then I went to college, discovered the weight room, and learned to enjoy my body again.  Not quite sure how that happened, but post-chicken-fat secondary school did it really, really wrong.

    "The law, in its majestic equality, allows the poor as well as the rich to donate unlimited funds to the politicians of their choice." ---attributed to Anatole France

    by AdmiralNaismith on Mon Jun 16, 2014 at 09:59:27 AM PDT

  •  It was on Wonderama on every Sunday! (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    belinda ridgewood

    Bob McAllister sang it, though eventually it was replaced by the much more boring "Exercise" in the 70s (maybe they couldn't afford the fee to use Chicken Fat anymore?)

  •  Mad Magazine (0+ / 0-)

    had one of their movie parodies around then.  The main character was an winning writer of commercial jingles.  His hit jingle (IIRC) was Can you boil your head in chicken fat?

    ...there is NOTHING--absolute nothing--half so much worth doing as simply messing about in boats. - Ratty

    by John Q on Mon Jun 16, 2014 at 01:16:55 PM PDT

  •  Never Heard Of It (0+ / 0-)

    I went to a Catholic school that didn't have any gym or PhysEd program.  After all, the body was only a tool of Satan.

  •  You know what's funny about that? (0+ / 0-)

    The joke at the time was, there's no fat on chickens.

    Because, in the 1960s and prior to that, chickens were lean.

    Of course, biologically, chickens always had fat.   But they didn't have the big, billowy yellow blobs of fat that modern chickens have.  Just a subcutaneous film.

    It's actually one of the reasons they're so good to fry. They don't exude much fat to ruin the breading or slow the cooking, while they get a fattier texture from the cooking oil itself.

    But then things changed and farms started manipulating their livestock (actually, technically, according to the USDA, chickens aren't livestock; but that's industry pettifogging), and chickens and pigs got positively obese from overfeeding on cheap grain to boost profits to take advantage of expensive meat prices.

    Then people hollered, especially about the pork, and it went the other way.  Now ham comes in extremely lean by default, and chicken is almost back to where it was but not quite.  But, they haven't given up their profit pumping. Now they just do it with "a solution" of some sort and make you pay for artificially adulterated product.

    So while the song is still cute, it's not nearly as funny as it was when I was 5 and in gym class...

  •  My mom had or has a copy of the original record (0+ / 0-)

    so hearing and seeing this commercial gave me a flashback to 1970. *Shiiiivvvvveeerrrrrrrr*  I still remember the words and that kinda creeps me out.

  •  Oh the horror... (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:

    Standing in the aisle next to my desk, surrounded by skinny little girls and boys, trying to keep up with this horrid little ditty. One more way to add insult to the injury of being fat. I will always hate that stupid tune!

    Thank God I've finally found low carb. Go, you chicken fat, go!

  •  I remember this piece of ... (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    belinda ridgewood, prfb

    I was in 7th grade, a kid struggling with, among other things, when some a-hole of a teacher dug this piece of excrement out of whatever bin it had been tossed into ... and yes, I hated it. So did all the other kids struggling with their weight. Well, instead of 'encouraging' us to exercise, it just made us angry, and we lashed out at the teachers and the students who thought it was funny. Fights broke out almost daily for a week, until someone wised up and put the record back in the fecal heap it came from. I only regret that I didn't get the chance to put my foot in the butt or crotch of everyone who thought it was funny to call me 'chicken fat'.

  •  Chicken Fat (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    a gilas girl

    As a child of the 60's in a suburb of Detroit, Chicken Fat was an every day workout in Physical Education class.  I loved it!!  I'm not sure some of the kids lost weight doing the 6 minute drill, but it kept a lot of us lean and mean.  (I think we actually went for 10 minutes. The teacher used to restart the record...)

    When my children did not have Physical Education on a daily basis, only Once A WEEK, I was trying to find a recording of Chicken Fat to play at home to keep them moving and motivated.  This brings back many memories.  Thanks!

    •  Throwback Thursday came on Monday this week, (0+ / 0-)


      I have very strong memories of The President's Physical Fitness Tests (every year at the end of the school year from 3-7th grades). We would strive to get that badge, even though the President who started the program was long dead.
      (The sit-ups were the worst, you had to do 100!)

      Thanks for joining our dk conversation. Hope this helps you navigate the site a bit:

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      Words can sometimes, in moments of grace, attain the quality of deeds. --Elie Wiesel

      by a gilas girl on Tue Jun 17, 2014 at 07:58:41 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

  •  And the Ear worm is back! (0+ / 0-)

    The smell of the school gym and the squeak of sneakers on the floor as that song was relentlessly played on a scratchy hi-fi. I remember it well!

  •  I love it. (0+ / 0-)

    My mother was a school teacher then and brought the record home.  I have such fond memories of my family being gathered together each morning following the chicken fat instructions.  Now, the song, long ago forgotten, is stuck in my head!

  •  A failure (0+ / 0-)

    Americans were in far better shape when this initiative started and this song came out.  Right-wing pundits would have a field day with it.

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