underoosI was going to start this article by assuming that everyone knew what Underoos were, however, when I was talking to people in my entourage it seemed that their existence was not common knowledge. Somehow, I always knew what these things were, despite never owning them personally. I am pretty sure I wanted to own a pair though. I mean, it crossed superheros and Star Wars with the mighty power of underwear. Assuming childhood me had anything in common with grown up me, I definitely wanted these things under my regular clothes.

So, what are Underoos? Well, pretty simply they are a pair of underwear/panties with a little matching undershirt. What makes them special though is that they are themed to comic book and cartoon stars (and also Star Wars).

I’m pretty sure that the general idea here was to make kids feel like awesome superheros or whatever in their day-to-day lives, probably giving a secret confidence boost to a whole generation of nerdy kids. Real superheros wore their costumes under their normal clothes, right? You were no different. You could even be a private school kid wearing a school uniform, but underneath, you were the Goddamn Batman.

One of the things that gets me about the whole concept is in the slogan: “Underwear that’s Fun to Wear!” Does it strike anyone else as a little off that they were marketing “fun” underwear to children? If you make your child underwear too fun, aren’t you sort of encouraging children to show off their fun underwear? “Hey, look at me! I’m Wonder Woman!” You fucking put your clothes back on little girl! Maybe the 70s were a simpler time, a time where you could encourage children to wear fancy fun underwear and not expect them to just dance around and make everyone feel uncomfortable. Or, as evidenced by the commercials I’m about to share with you, maybe not. Maybe the late 70s and early 80s were just super fucking creepy and actively encouraged choreographed go-go dance routines for both boys and girls.

See? Choreographed go-go dance routines might be exactly what the makers of Underoos were hoping kids would do once they got into their Underoos. The absolute weirdest part (underage girls go-go dancing notwithstanding) about this commercial is Spider Woman’s proclamation that she’s brave and tall. I mean, I guess she’s above average height, but “tall” is definitely not one of the top adjectives I’d use to describe Spider Woman. However, that girl in the Spider Woman Underoos seems to feel that it’s super important to feel that way (tall) underneath it all, as she shows off her superior singing voice. Of course, the choreographed dancing wasn’t limited to girls. Oh no, Underoos wanted children of both sexes just dancing around in their underwear:

I’m a pretty big fan of the way Fruit of the Loom handled the fact that Hulk didn’t wear a shirt at all, they just put a little picture of Hulk on a plain white tee (somehow Fred Flinstone seems to have gotten the same treatment, maybe because he doesn’t wear pants?). Would a green muscle shirt be too much to ask for in 1979? Apparently so. Also, Underoos show here that they are not exclusively for white children’s go-go dance parties, as we see the first instance of a black Aquaman just dancing around for fun. One of the crazy parts that I just realized about Underoos is the expansive licencing they were able to acquire. I mean, Hulk, Spiderman, Superman, Shazam and Fred Flinstone are all there, just dancing and posing like they would if they really met in some awesome crossover event. Of course, in 1980 when Empire Strikes Back hit the screen, Underoos would be there to cash in as well:

I mean, of course where Boba Fett is Darth Vader isn’t far behind (?). Also, yes, that’s a Boba Fett doing some choreographed dancing with kids in their skivvies. You know, when I think of what kind of person I would want my child to be emulating underneath it all, bounty hunters and galactic overlords are right up there on the list (I am not even close to kidding about this). I think I’ll do one more of these and stop before I start feeling super ashamed of myself, maybe one where the parent get in on the action? Man, that does not sound right at all.

“Pop that Superman undershirt off Little Jimmy, but don’t you stop dancing!” Followed of course by the “parents” dancing around with all six children featured in the commercial, some of whom cannot be their children. Unless maybe some of them are twins or something. Even if they were slamming these kids out back-to-back there would need to at least be about a 4.5 year age spread across 6 kids. Basically, what I’m saying here is that in the 70s when your kid went over to a friend’s house for a co-ed (!?) slumber party, you could safely assume that the kids were going to strip down to their underthings and dance around with adults.

TIL: The 70s included a lot of children dancing around in their underwear and nobody seemed to give a shit or see anything around with this.

In case you were wondering, Underoos are still made today.