"I like bread and butter, I like toast and Jam. I like the taste of Sunbeam Bread, it’s my favorite brand!"
Those of us who were glued to the television in the 1980’s can most likely sing commercial jingles of that time by memory. One of the absolute favorites — and catchiest tunes — was that of Sunbeam Bread. Who can forget the diner servers and patrons singing “I like bread and butter,” or the follow-up commercial with the kids on stage? It's one of those songs you can't stop singing and sticks with you all day. But did you know that song was originally a 60’s top pop song written by a Nashville songwriter?
Larry Henley was a pioneer of the Nashville rock ‘n’ roll scene and also provided Music City with some of its most iconic songs. Born in Texas in 1937, Larry Joel Henley was the son of country singer Helen Timms. When the rock ‘n’ roll explosion detonated in the 1950s, Henley moved to Southern California dreaming of becoming either a movie actor or a rock star. He won a talent contest in San Diego, which got him a job as an opening act for the R&B revue The Johnny Otis Show.
The singer headed to Nashville and was signed as a solo artist to Hickory Records. There he teamed up with brothers Dean and Mark Mathis to become the vocal trio, The Newbeats. The newly christened act had a smash with its first single, 1964’s million-selling “Bread and Butter.” It introduced Henley’s stylized falsetto singing voice, which was higher than that of Frankie Valli of The Four Seasons. “Bread and Butter” went to number two in the U.S. charts and got them airplay around the world. In 1965 they toured with the Rolling Stones and Roy Orbison. They also appeared on Top of the Pops.
The Newbeats carried on until 1974. As their popularity waned, and the business of incorporating hit songs into TV commercials became the industry standard, eventually “Bread and Butter” was licensed for use in advertisements. “Bread and Butter” went on to become a very popular and successful ad jingle for Sunbeam Bread. The song was even re-recorded by Devo in 1982. And during the 1991-92 TV season, it was the theme song of the ABC series Baby Talk.
Fun Fact: The phrase "bread and butter" comes from an old folk superstition. It's variously used as a kind of "knock on wood" charm to ward off bad luck between two people.