August 12, 2014 11:36 AM EDT

First devised as a condition of the merger of the AFL and NFL, the big game quickly became the kind of national communion that only TV could make—a day long ritual and feast, an event that you watched because you needed to watch that thing that everyone was watching. And in 1984, with the debut of the Apple Macintosh 1984 ad, the game became a showcase for commercials and seemed to realize its true purpose: to be a massive, expensive, profligate tribute to the desires of America’s consumers and to the full bellies of its warehouses. (Somewhere in all the movie previews and product launches, a game still gets played.) Showy, theatrical and full of talking animals, America’s favorite short-film festival erases the boundary between shopping and entertainment, if there ever was one.

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