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These New Jersey Commercials From The 1980s Will Take You Way Back

Nearly everyone in New Jersey who was alive between 1971 and 1989 remembers the Crazy Eddie electronics commercials. Just watching this commercial from 1986 will take you back 30 years.

Here’s another from 1982:

And a personal favorite from 1984:

Check out the technology! While you may remember Crazy Eddie, you may not remember how CRAZY his story is. The electronics chain, headquartered in Edison and later, Wayne, had 43 stores throughout New Jersey, New York, Pennsylvania and Connecticut. The prices were low, and the store would beat any competitor’s deals – it was definitely the place to shop for electronics and appliances in the ’80s.

The business started in 1971, but really began to grow in 1975 when the owner, Eddie Antar, hired radio announcer Jerry Carroll for commercials with the catchphrase “his prices are insaneee!” The frenetic, fast-paced advertisements gained an almost cult-like following; there are still fan pages devoted to the ads today. Over 7,500 unique radio and television ads were produced and aired in the tri-state area between 1980-1989. Crazy Eddie became so popular that the ads were parodied by HBO series, Not Necessarily The News and NBC’s Saturday Night Live. But Crazy Eddie had a darker side.

In 1987, the U.S. Attorney for the District of New Jersey began a federal grand jury investigation into Crazy Eddie’s warranty billing practices and the SEC began their own investigation into alleged violations of federal securities laws. What they uncovered was truly shocking, from skimming profits (up to $3,000,000 – $4,000,000 per year) to money laundering, this was one of the biggest white collar crime schemes of the time. Investors lost over $145,000,000 after the company was made public in 1984 as the owners falsified inventory records and profit reports.

An arrest warrant was issued for Crazy Eddie in 1990 after he fled the country while facing prosecution. In 1992, he was arrested near Tel Aviv and in 1994 he was sentenced to 12.5 years in prison for charges including racketeering. The charges were overturned, but in 1997, Eddie Antar was sentenced to 8 years in prison and ordered to pay more than $150 million in fines. While millions were recovered from foreign banks, many investors waited decades for their money to be returned; hundreds and thousands of dollars went unclaimed as many involved had since passed away or were unreachable.

Did these commercials bring you back? Did you ever shop at Crazy Eddie’s? Were you aware of the scandal surrounding this business?

Kristen Koennemann
Kristen is a freelance writer, editor and social-media manager who really loves her state. She's here to share all that New Jersey has to offer with residents and the rest of the world.