French memories: A Very Muzzy Childhood
“Un, deux, trois.”
“Yes, that’s French they’re speaking. But no, these children aren’t French – they’re American!”
If you grew up in the USA during the 70s or 80s, you probably recognize this ad for the BBC Muzzy films. This commercial was so often aired that it became a staple of American television culture. Most of my friends can quote all or part of the commercial, and we look back on the days of Saturday morning cartoons and Muzzy ads with a certain wistful nostalgia.
I will never forget the night when I had to inform a friend of mine that all his life he’d been telling French-speakers that he was a little girl. He had learned that key French phrase from the Muzzy commercial and in all his years on the planet, no one had ever told him what it meant. I almost felt bad to burst his language bubble.
It is funny to me to think that this single, oft-repeated ad had such a strangely grand impact on my life. To this day, when I hear someone count to three in French, my brain immediately rushes to complete the TV script.
When I watched the ads as a child, I could never have guessed that I’d grow up to be a French teacher. And now, when someone mentions ‘Muzzy’ or if it pops unexpectedly up in my brain, all I do is smile to myself, happy with the paths my life has taken since I was that little bright-eyed girl in Ohio watching cartoons.
So what about you?
I am curious to know if other people have these little precious language-learning memories. Did your teachers use Muzzy? Do you have a secret love of ‘Petit Nicholas’ stemming from your childhood? Did you watch Téléfrancais as a kid and now desperately miss les squelettes and l’ananas? I only hope your childhood nostalgia brings you as much joy as mine brings me!Image credits: Bethany Untied Auchettl