Tuesday, January 22, 2008

The Hepatitis Song from Arizona

Anyone who spent their childhood in the Phoenix metro area (maybe even all of Arizona) during the late 1970s to early 1980s should know the hepatitis song. In fact, a person fitting this description should not only know the song, but they should be able to sing it by heart, to this day, over 25 years later.

I don't know if Phoenix was going through a major hepatitis outbreak or not. Maybe hepatitis was just the "public service announcement" of the year. For whatever reason, the hepatitis song had a heavy rotation during Saturday morning cartoons. I want to say I remember the commercial itself, but all I can remember is flashes of a dark haired little girl in a white dress washing her hands.

I'll remember the lyrics to this song until the day I die. I will admit I have no idea if these are the real lyrics or not - I could just be remembering my own version - but this is how I remember it:

Hepatitis has some symptoms you should learn to recognize.
Like fever, feeling very tired or loss of appetite.
Your tummy hurts,
you feel real sick,
you will not eat a bite.
Your eyes sometimes get yellow,
when they only should be white. (my very favorite line is this one)

So wash your hands after going to the bathroom!
Wash your hands after changing baby too!
'Cause we don't want to spread hepatitis.
And we don't want hepatitis to get you.

Whomever the advertising agency was behind that song - you should give yourself a huge pat on the back for a job well done. I will forever know the symptoms of hepatitis and how to avoid it.


Denise said...

OMG, that's too funny! Strange how those things stick in your head. I was only 7 when my family moved to Denver from Chicago, but I'll always remember the Empire Carpets jingle and the phone number (588-2300). I almost fell off the couch about a year ago when I saw the same commercial here in Denver with the same old jingle. I guess Empire finally expanded and now the phone number is 1-800-588-2300!

Denise said...

I totally forgot about the Shane Company commercials. Yes, I could find that place after 50 years just from that commercial being stuck in my head...open monday through friday til 8, Saturday and Sunday til 5. Do they still do the hours?

Anonymous said...

AND!!!! all the kids in the commercial were retarded, leaving the take away message, for me at least, that washing your hands causes hepatitis, and hepatitis makes you retarded! It's been in my subconscious mind all these years that if I forgot to wash my hands... the consequences could be *dire*!!

Thanks for validating my memory. I just spent half an hour on the phone trying to convince people that this actually happened!

wow. feeling better now!

Anonymous said...

This same PSA used to run in Oregon during this time too. I used to sing it at school.

Does anyone have a video of it? I'd love to see it again!

prairiedweller said...

I think it's actually
"Cause we don't want to catch hepatitis, and we don't want hepatitis to catch you. Who? You!"

And, yes, it was all of AZ. I grew up in Sierra Vista - far south - near Mexico. And we had it there, too.

Must have been some seriously filthy Arizonans back in the day.

Anonymous said...

This was all over Oregon and Washington about the same era, too... and we shall never forget it.

Anonymous said...

My wife, kids and I sang the song and posted it on Youtube under the label Hepatitis Song

Anonymous said...

I remember the ad clearly. I wish I knew where to see the orignial ad on the internet. I was telling some friends about it today as I was washing my 2 yr old son's hands and singing the song...because yes, it is stuck forever in my brain. They thought it was really weird. I want to show them if I can find it.

tyler said...

I grew up in Paradise Valley in the 70's-80's and I still remember the Hepatitis song better than my current phone number.
How, I ask you, HOW can this psa not be available on youtube or any other web outlet?
My parents have some old video tapes of my sister and I on the Wallace and Ladmo show circa 81-82. Maybe if I screen through those tapes I'll get lucky and find this psa and finally bring this long neglected gem to the internet.

EAC EMS said...

We were discussing signs and symptons and disease management of hepititis as part of my paramedic class when one of my students, Natalie, age 38 began singing "The Hepatitis Song". We all laughed and then had to google the song finding your website. We agree, the writer of the jingle is to be commended on his/her talent as Natalie knew the song verbatim.

Anonymous said...

The public service announcement was recorded at Happy Faces Day Care Center on Greenway road. in Phoenix. My parents owned the day care and my son Gabe, 3 at the time & now 33, was the sick kid on the cot in the commercial. By the way the kids were not retarded. Just instructed to act sick. The Song was written by my mom and aunt and given to the state. ksuzzette@hotmail.com

joanna said...

Awesome. 30 years later I'm in PA school learning about hepatitis and that song popped into my mind. Just for the heck of it I Googled the lyrics and found this site. It's true our brains are like sponges when we are little. I grew up in Sierra Vista, Arizona and to this day remember all the lyrics to that song but I can't remember names of people I was just introduced to. Go figure!

joanna said...

I grew up in Sierra Vista and remember this ad vividly word for word. I am in PA School now and learning about hepatitis A. It is funny how our brains are sponges when we are kids. I can remember this song but not the name of someone I was just introduced to. Go figure!!