Sure, we all know the adage: "The best things in life are free."
So why doesn't anyone advertise them? We've got ads for deodorant, luxury cars and snacks — why not ads for sunshine, balmy breezes and children's laughter?
That's the question we put to our listeners way back in 1972, challenging them to write some very noncommercial commercials and then producing a handful of our favorites. With a little help from our Research, Archives and Data Strategy team, we dug up that oldie-but-goodie, dusted it off and retooled the challenge for more modern times.
Go ahead, we told you in December, sell us something wonderful we can't buy.
More than 2,000 people responded — with pitches for bonfires, breezes, silence and simple kindness ... the list would last all day. As difficult as it was, though, we could pick only five of our favorites to produce with sound effects and professional narration to broadcast on All Things Considered.
Here are our favorite little nuggets of joy, polished and posted here for your listening pleasure. Scroll down for all of them — or if you'd like to hear just one, click the link on an item below to go directly to its ad.
From Maya Khurana of Chicago
Are plain old knock-knock jokes just not funny anymore? Is the classic "Why did the chicken cross the road?" not getting laughs like it used to?
If so, try puns! Puns come in all types, such as:
What do you call in alligator in a vest?
If a friend starts telling bird jokes, remind him toucan play that game.
Side effects may include:
Groaning, your friends getting annoyed, wanting to make more puns, making puns in random conversation, forgetting other kinds of jokes existed, and people judging you.
Ask your common sense before trying puns, if the situation does not call for them, it may result in many annoyed looks.
If you are in need of a new kind of joke, try puns! They may be cheesy, but the results are grate.
From Carrie Ghose of Columbus, Ohio
Hi! Your dog here. I see you're sitting down, reading a magazine.
Have you given much thought lately to ... Ear Scratches?
Here, let me help you by nosing aside that distraction and positioning my head right under your palm. There ... isn't that better? That article was bumming you out anyway. My silky fur and the way I'm half-closing my eyes in pleasure right now have been clinically shown to bring down your blood pressure — and add years to your life!
Wait, no, don't pick that back up. To get the full benefit of Ear Scratches, doctors recommend continuing for 90 consecutive minutes. Oh all right, how about three? There, much better.
Ear Scratches: Yeah, that's the spot.
From Adam Drake of Broken Arrow, Okla.
I used to worry about what I was breathing in ...
Oxygen? Nitrogen? Carbon dioxide?
And then I discovered Trees.
Yes, natural trees, with their photosynthetic respiration helping to produce just the right blend of breathable atmosphere that our bodies need.
Trees may not be right for everybody. Side effects include tree houses, tire swings, fruit, shade, and woodworking. Please consult your biome before selecting a tree. Not every tree is right for every biome, enjoy trees responsibly.
All-natural, safe and effective: Trees — now with chlorophyll! Available on a planet under you.
From Jennifer Harmon of Belle Isle, Fla.
In a world ... where everyone's on and no one's unplugged.
Where being busy is a badge ... of honor.
Where the race from the gym, to the office, to the carpool and to the kitchen is unrelenting.
When your spouse asks, "what should we do for dinner?" And your boss demands, "I need this ASAP." Every. Single. Day.
And silence and solitude is only achieved When. Your. Phone. Battery. Dies.
We bring you a new kind of hero: Nothing.
**Triumphant music begins**
Yes. Nothing. No phone, no Netflix, no cooking, no laundry. No scrolling, Snapchat, soccer snacks or swiping left ... or right.
Nothing is here to save you. (Seriously though, Nothing. Do it.) Coming to a mind-blown you this February.
From Maggie Monaghan of University Place, Wash.
For a better life, try saying some yummy words.
If you're feeling blue and need a smile, try the fun and fizzy words: schnitzel, papyrus, echinacea, vavavoom!
If winter makes you crave a little warmth, roll the kitchen words around: cardamom, ginger, pepperpot, spice.
Alluring words are always fun, as sensual in your mouth as chocolate truffles: kumquat, redolent, shimmer, dusk.
And don't forget the penny words, small and common: love, thanks, coffee, hello.
Yummy words. Which one will you choose today?
Audio produced by Mallory Yu.
Thanks to NPR's Research, Archives & Data Strategy team (RAD), which has been digitizing NPR's archival content, for uncovering the audio from the original project. That tape — like 150,000 hours of audio from the early days of NPR — had been stored exclusively on reel-to-reel tape and CDs, before our RAD team embarked on a project to preserve it.