National Sorry Charlie Day - Doodlewash and watercolor sketch of open Starkist tuna can from the 70's

National Sorry Charlie Day

Back when I was a kid in the 70’s there was a series of animated commercials for Starkist tuna that featured a blue fish dressed as a hipster, sporting a Greek fisherman’s hat and coke-bottle glasses. Since Charlie was so hip and cultured he was convinced his “good taste” would make him the perfect tuna for Starkist. Each commercial, however, he was shot down by other sea creatures who would tell poor Charlie, “StarKist doesn’t want tunas with good taste. Starkist wants tunas that taste good.” This was followed by a rejection letter in the form of a note attached to a fish hook with the simple words, “Sorry, Charlie” that went on to become an American catchphrase as well as words that would haunt me throughout my grade school years.

This day invites people to think about the depressing topic of rejection, but happily reflect on what they’ve learned from it. You see, those dumb commercials just kept airing with different scenarios showing how, despite rejection, Charlie refused to ever give up. I found this part comforting in my youth, when met with cries of “Sorry, Charlie!” yelled at me on the playground. I was a chubby kid too smart for his own good and I didn’t always fit in. But that didn’t stop me from always trying to fit in while deflecting the many barbs that people threw my way.

Though sharing my namesake with a tuna was tough, I was mostly just perplexed at the ridiculousness of those commercials. In short, Charlie was an idiot. He was a tuna who was basically campaigning to be murdered, ground up, and stuffed into a can. Though each tiny episode ended with the ultimate rejection of “Sorry, Charlie” one has to wonder about the ghoulish “happy ending” we would have been treated to had Charlie ever gotten his way. To me the real moral here is that oftentimes, not getting what we really want can be a good thing. So on this auspicious day, we can all cheer for Charlie the Tuna, content in the knowledge that sometimes, rejection is the best thing that never happened to you.

Join me any and all days you like during April by celebrating a National or International Day with a doodlewash! Tag your image #doodlewashaday and I’ll feature everyone who played along on at the end of the month! 

About the Doodlewash

M. Graham watercolors: Quinacridone Gold, Azo Green, Quinacridone Gold, Pyrrol Red, Maroon Perylene, Gamboge, and Neutral Tint. Lamy Safari Al Star pen with Platinum Carbon black ink, second pen with sepia ink, and third pen with blue ink in a 5″ x 8″ 140 lb. (300 gsm) Pentalic Aqua Journal

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46 thoughts on “National Sorry Charlie Day

  1. Charlie, I am so sorry to hear the tuna has haunted you in life…..,well they don’t make adverts like they used to back then,used to be so iconic, nowadays they come and go so quick, what a changeable , disposable world we have become accustomed to🤔

    1. Hehe… I do actually miss those memorable, iconic commercials, Rebecca.😃 I guess it only happens like that during a time when we actually all watched commercials! You’re right, now it’s the latest video on YouTube that’s hot this week. Times have sure changed.

  2. Yay! It’s not really sorry Charlie day. Well it is and it isn’t. Let’s face it the tuna was not the sharpest knife in the drawer and it’s a good thing there is rejection even for a tuna. Glad you survived the ridicule Charlie. These days that’s called bullying. Another topic for another day. 🙂

  3. Charlie was a tuna who walked the land
    He didn’t sing opera or play in a band
    but Charlie was smart and knew he was yummy
    It was the starkist man who was the dummy
    In a twist of fate Charlie wasn’t canned
    and didn’t land in someone’s tummy

  4. Very cool Doodlewashed tuna can.
    You certainly didn’t deserve any childhood trauma from The “sorry Charlie” tuna ad. It’s amazing how outside forces can cause such havoc.
    I say “Yeah Charlie” you add very positive force to our lives!

  5. I totally forgot about Charlie the tuna, I was just giggling because of your name being a national day. And I ran with it in my national day sketch.
    Really wonderful job on the sketch!

  6. First – AMAZING doodlewash – the details blow me away! Second – great perspective on the whole “sorry charlie” concept! I am not sorry I have got to know you Charlie! xo Hugs!

  7. I am in awe of how you managed to squeeze an awesome life lesson in along with a fabulous doodlewash (who knew a can of tuna would look so good?!), as well as hilarity (“Charlie was an idiot”…hahaha!). You are amazing! 😆💙

  8. I understand how hurtful words can be to a young child. I was teased in Middle School because I had neck surgery and didnt look like everyone else. It has made me overly self conscious to this day. I realize now that those boys were just a bunch of insecure brats but it wasn’t easy at the time. I like what you learned from those stupid commercials to never to give up! You are very wise my dear friend! 😍💕🎨 And talented too! 🌟🌟🌟

    1. Awww… you’re too sweet Jill! 😃💕 I’ve met a lot of creative people with this same story. We DON’T fit in… and that’s why we’re awesome!! I realize that now. People who totally fit in can be totally boring. It’s not worth it. Let’s just let our freak creative flags fly high knowing we’re actually super rare and cool! 😉💜💚🎨😍

  9. I remember those commercials well. I am so sorry about your childhood experiences. You are certainly a resilient soul. I just absolutely love your gentle heart and your positive attitude. And wow on the doodlewash!

    1. Thanks so much Kari! 😃💕 So sweet of you to say! Glad you liked the doodlewash… it was such an odd subject matter! hehe… I wish more kids learned early that fitting in with the crowd isn’t as cool as standing out from the crowd. It’s what’s unique about us that makes life so wonderful and interesting. 😃

  10. Interesting that a can of tuna brings up such memories. You’ve got lots of friends and admirers now, Charlie.
    I’m thinking also of the ads with the two ridiculous chickens who want to be Foster Farm chickens. Never made me run out to buy chicken but I found the ads funny.

  11. I’m with you Charlie, I too grew up with those commercials and even as a kid questioned why anyone would want their fate to be stuffed in a can. You were one wise kid that pushed ahead to be a kind hearted and very talented and loved artist! Cheers to Charlie O! And a great rendering of a can of tuna!

  12. Nice can! I never saw these adverts of course, but as you say, the concept sounds a bit fishy! (Sorry Charlie.) I can imagine sharing your name with a tuna was harrowing. I of course had Jacob’s Cream Crackers; as it turns out, this is rhyming slang, but we were oblivious to the fact at the time. Of course.

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