Jack and Sonya Palmer of Hermon have millions of YouTube fans, free coffee for life and, this weekend, got to see themselves portrayed by actors on national TV.
All because they could not say the words “buttery, flaky crust” in a 2012 TV commercial for Dysart’s, a landmark Maine truck stop.
A reel of outtakes from that commercial went viral at the time and, on Saturday, was parodied in a skit on “Saturday Night Live,” with comedians Will Ferrell and Kate McKinnon playing “real customers” in a commercial for Dickenson’s Roadside Diner, just as the Palmers are at Dysart’s.
“We thought they did a good job. It was all in good fun,” Jack Palmer, 79, said about the skit, which he learned about when a local TV news station contacted him Sunday. “I went into Bangor (Monday) morning, to Walmart and Dysart’s, and everybody was talking about it.”
The Palmers first gained fame five years ago when the commercial outtakes video tallied 5 million views. In the video, Jack is asked to say that the diner’s chicken pot pie has a “buttery, flaky crust,” which he repeats as “buttery flay crust,” “buttery flavored crust” and “buttery crispy crust” over a series of several takes.
In the SNL skit, Ferrell, dressed in a red checked shirt very similar to the one Palmer wore for his commercial shoot, is asked to say “baked in a crispy pastry crust.” He manages to turn that into phrases that sound like “crispy pastry phlegm,” “baked in my bra” and “baked on my crabby butt.”
“They probably used some language I wouldn’t use,” Jack Palmer said.
“It seems they used some profound language,” his wife said of the skit.
Nobody from “Saturday Night Live” responded to emails asking for comment Monday. But anybody who watches the skit and the Dysart’s bloopers’ video together can see that they are nearly exact matches.
In the SNL skit, McKinnon is wearing a burgundy blouse that just about matches Sonya Palmer’s. The actors had the same hair color and hair styles as the Palmers and were attempting Maine accents. The actors both laugh and get agitated when the other can’t say the line, just as the Palmers did in their commercial.
In the Dysart’s video, Sonya Palmer can be seen getting irritated with her husband’s flubs. But when she’s asked to read the line, she comes out with “baked in a bake” and “baked in a buttery crispy flake.”
In the SNL skit, Dickenson’s Roadside Diner has cream-colored walls and honey-colored woodwork, just like Dysart’s.
No one at Dysart’s was contacted by SNL, said Carole Brooks, manager of the Hermon truck stop and diner, so she and other staffers were completely surprised by the skit. And SNL did not try to contact Sutherland Weston Marketing Communications in Bangor, the firm that shot the commercial and put together the bloopers video, said Cary Weston, a partner in the firm.
But Weston said dozens of TV production companies have contacted his agency over the years asking to use the video in various “funniest videos” and bloopers-type shows. Companies that use the video are asked to make a donation to Cancer Care of Maine, a charity that Dysart’s works with, Weston said.
Jack and Sonya Palmer have been married for nearly 60 years, and going to Dysart’s for coffee has been part of their daily morning routine. He and his wife happened to be at Dysart’s in 2012 when Sutherland Weston was looking for customers to be in a commercial, and someone in the crew who knew the Palmers asked them if they would take part.
Jack Palmer said he had trouble at the start when the director counted down “three, two” and then didn’t say one for filming to begin. So he didn’t start talking.
“We probably had to do it over about 40 times,” Jack Palmer said. “I just couldn’t do it. My wife got a little perturbed, then they asked her to do it. That was fun too.”
Eventually Sonya Palmer said the line correctly, and her husband yelled “yahoo.” Their commercial did air and they’ve been used in others as well.
The Palmers say they don’t mind people recognizing them from the video or asking for their autograph. And they enjoy the free coffee they get at Dysart’s for helping make the place so famous.
But Jack Palmer stresses that he does not want to be called famous. He thinks the video has had such a long life and has now become the inspiration for a television skit because he and his wife came off as very real.
“We were just being ourselves, being natural,” he said.
Ray Routhier can be contacted at 791-6454 or at: