There are few things better than food from your childhood. Whether they’re still a staple in your home or an offhand purchase for old time’s sake, the animated ambassadors always provide a friendly and familiar face. Oh, Snap! Crackle! and Pop! Get ready to count down the top 10 cereal-ously best food mascots ever (part 3)!
10. Trix Rabbit – Trix Cereals
Introduced in 1959, Tricks, The Trix Rabbit, is a cartoon rabbit who tries to trick children into giving him a bowl of cereal. When the kids inevitably discover his true identity, he is consistently denied his cereal with the slogan: “Silly rabbit! Trix are for kids”. It is unclear just why he isn’t allowed to have Trix (apart from the fact that he’s a rabbit), and he’s actually only ever been seen eating the cereal a total of five times. In these commercials, where he might have been successful in his attempts or was revealed to have a secret stash, the ad closed out with an additional line: “And sometimes for tricky rabbits!” He was created by Joe Harris, a copywriter and illustrator at the Dancer Fitzgerald Sample advertising agency, and voiced by multiple people over the years. 1985 gave us the greatest bunny team-up since Peter Rabbit. Bugs Bunny enters the scene and offers Trix some help with a better disguise—Bugs Bunny himself. (Spoiler Alert! He still doesn’t succeed.) In 1995, Trix was featured in a Got Milk? advertisement. It opens with a man buying several boxes of cereal including Trix. When the cashier predictably tells him “Trix are for kids”, he takes off with the cereal, leaving money on the counter. Back in his apartment, he locks numerous bolt locks and reveals himself to be the Trix Rabbit. After all these years, he’s finally managed to get his hands on the cereal, only to find out that there’s no milk left. This is one trickster who can’t catch a break!
9. Julius Pringles – Pringles Chips
If you’re just now finding out that the moustache guy on the Pringles cans has a name, we’re right there with you. When Julius Pringles was first introduced in 1967, he looked pretty different. His linework was black but his hair, eyes and moustache were filled in red, and he had rosy cheeks—(a little like Jigsaw from the Saw movies, quite honestly.) In 1986, Pringles decided their mascot needed a new look and turned him into a glowy-eyed brunette with a red bowtie instead of the white collar and black bowtie with their logo that the previous version had. The Uncyclopedia Mirror gives Julius an extensive and dark past. The parody website states that he had abnormally high levels of testosterone at the age of ten, which is what led to his increasingly-sizable moustache. He went on to be a builder but quit at the age of twenty-one in order to create Pringles chips which were widely considered “ok, I guess”. Unfortunately, Julius fell into a Pringle addiction a year after they launched on the market, and admitted himself into many rehabilitation centers. After getting the help he needed, Julius became a voice that spoke out strongly against the misuse of his addictive chips. One thing’s for sure: the accurateness of the addictive nature of the chips is not lost on audiences, regardless of its satiric nature. Pringles continues to release novel flavors such as Cheddar Cheese, Dill Pickle, Pizza, Jalapeno, Sour Cream & Onion, and Buffalo Ranch. They also have more common flavors like BBQ, Salt & Vinegar, Ketchup, and a lightly salted version of their Original. Regardless of the flavor, on every can, you’ll find Julius Pringles standing—or maybe more, like, hovering—proudly on the front.
8. Ernest J. Keebler & the Elves – Keebler Company
As the leader, ol’ Ernest J. ‘Ernie’ Keebler gets most of the credit within his elf pack. You might recognize him as the white-haired, floppy-hatted, grinning face of the gang, but he actually isn’t the original leader. It was J. J. Keebler, in 1969, who appeared in the earliest TV commercials followed by Ollie Keebler, a golfing and good-natured elf. It was only in 1970, that Ernie earned the role of “head elf”. He is described as kind, humble, and devoted, making him a beloved mascot for Keebler. Ernie distinguishes the elves as a hard-working and happy species. They are a strain of elves unique to America, whose life purpose is to bake Uncommonly Good Keebler cookies, crackers, and cones in their Magic Ovens within The Hollow Tree Factory. The elves have reportedly been around since the mid-1800s, when Keebler was founded, making Ernie and the rest of his crew the great-decedents of these creatures. The elf fleet is made up of a wide cast, including Fast Eddie, who specializes in wrapping baked goods quickly in order to ensure their freshness; Buckets, whose job is to splash chocolate fudge on cookies; Zack, the Fudge Shoppe supervisor; Flo, the tree accountant; Zoot and J.J., who are known for pizzerias; Doc, the doctor and cookie maker; and, of course, Ma Keebler, who is very proud of her son Ernie. Surely, that must boost Ernie’s elf-esteem!
7. Toucan Sam – Froot Loops
This is one bird who’s been around for a while. Outliving all his toucan friends by about 35 years, Toucan Sam made his advertising debut in 1963. There are some pretty iconic breakfast cereal mascots and Toucan Sam is definitely up there among the most elite. Known for his ability to smell Froot Loops from afar, his marked catchphrase is “Follow your nose! It always knows!” Some versions include “The flavor of fruit! Wherever it grows!”, whereas the late-2000s advertisements modify the tagline slightly to “Just follow your nose!”, with a group of children responding, “For the fruity taste that shows!” Until recently, Toucan Sam was a blue anthropomorphic toucan with a white belly and a yellow, red, pink, and black striped beak. Earlier this year, he was redesigned, much to the dismay of many. This guy brings back nostalgia to at least a few generations, and now he’s got an acid trip for a beak and human teeth (excuse me, what?)! Many artists actually took to the internet in protest, taking it upon themselves to redesign Toucan Sam of their own volition. And, unsurprisingly, every single one of them is better. We’re only hard on you because we care, Kelloggs. But, seriously, bring back our beloved Toucan Sam and we’ll just put all of this behind us. He wouldn’t have wanted this redesign… not like this. Not like this.
6. Punchy – Hawaiian Punch
Ah, yes, the Kool Aid Man’s best friend (probably). Punchy was created in December of 1961 by Martin Mandelblatt who worked for the advertising agency Atherton-Privett. The cartoon character first appeared on television in February 1962, in a 20-second commercial, alongside his pal Opie—commonly referred to as Oaf. You might remember Punchy as kind of a punk – asking Oaf: “How ‘bout a nice Hawaiian Punch?”, and then always delivering a strong blow to his buddy’s face. Oaf, in turn, never learns to say “no” to Punchy’s offerings. However, one commercial from the 1960s reveals Punchy’s vendetta against Oaf. The ad opens with Punchy dribbling a basketball, only for Oaf to steal the ball and bounce it against Punchy’s face until he’s knocked down. Oaf then runs away with the ball (can we get a call on this ref?) and Punchy returns to offer Oaf “a nice Hawaiian Punch”. You can guess what happens next. Punchy makes the shot of the century and goes back to singing. So next time you feel bad for Oaf, remember he had it coming. Other commercials ended with Punchy leaning on a can of Hawaiian Punch, saying his tagline: “Wasn’t that a refreshing commercial?” The characters were used in advertisements well into the 1990s. After this, Oaf stopped making an appearance and Punchy received a more contemporary makeover in early 2003. He still has the signature blue and white striped shirt and red hat, but he was given a tan (from his previously paper-white complexion) and a pair of cut-off jeans. He’s also in 3D now and is most often pictured with a surfboard, gesturing with the “hang ten” sign.
5. Vlasic Stork – Vlasic Pickles
Are you expecting? Pickles, that is. The Vlasic Stork (supposedly named Jovny) is an anthropomorphic stork who delivers pickles instead of babies, playing off the concept that pregnant women sometimes have an unusually high craving for pickles. In one commercial that played on the theme of maternity, the Vlasic Stork mentioned the declining birthrate in comparison to the rise of pickle sales. It’s a pretty weird connection to make, but it somehow also makes perfect sense. This Vlasic Pickles spokesman started his career in 1974, staying exactly the same in appearance over the years. He consistently wears a blue mailman hat with the Vlasic logo on it, a red bowtie, and a tiny pair of glasses quite low over his beak. Although he went through a brief redesign in 2010, where he was slimmed down and given a three-dimensional look, it wasn’t well-received by consumers, so the company reverted to his classic 2D cartoon form. The Vlasic Stork is also well-known for speaking with a voice akin to that of comedian Groucho Marx and holding a pickle like a cigar, often biting into it with a loud crunch!
4. Snap, Crackle, and Pop – Rice Krispies
Named for the sound of their cereal, Snap, Crackle, and Pop are onomatopoeia legends. They were introduced in 1930, illustrated by Vernon Grant, and were actually named after a Rice Krispies radio ad that described the sound the cereal makes in a bowl of milk. At first, only Snap was featured on the packaging—a tiny gnome wearing a baker’s hat and carrying a spoon. Crackle and Pop followed soon after, but only appeared on the actual Rice Krispies boxes in 1941, looking quite different than they do now. In 1949, the gnomes received their first makeover—their faces were made to look younger and their hats smaller. From that point on, they became the recognizable Snap, Crackle, and Pop we know today. Snap is the oldest and is described as the problem-solver of the group. He’s often depicted as a redhead wearing a chef’s hat. Crackle is the happy-go-lucky middle child who keeps the peace between his brothers. He usually wears a red and white striped stocking cap over his blond hair. Pop typically has brown hair with a drum major’s shako overtop and is known as the mischievous jokester of the gang. The trio have gone through quite a few phases over the years. They were used in conservation messages during World War II and later re-imagined as superheroes in the early 90s. Ultimately, they returned to their classic gnome-selves, both in stop-motion and CGI animation, as well as their original hand-drawn animation. Where Kellogg’s might have paid us dust with a revamped Toucan Sam, we’re giving them props for the tried-and-true look of the Rice Krispies brothers.
3. Helping Hand – Hamburger Helper
This guy’s smile lights up a room. It’s all in the eyebrows. Helping Hand, also named Lefty, is one of the more handsy mascots, despite only having four fingers. He was created in 1977 in order to increase declining Hamburger Helper sales. Lefty is a talking, white-gloved helping hand, with a defining red nose and a shy grin. As with all good things, his friendliness was subverted in Scott Spiegel’s 1979 horror film, Attack of the Helping Hand, which featured Lefty coming to life as a killer glove. In April 2016, General Mills commissioned an EP from a team at St. Paul, Minnesota’s McNally Smith College of Music. It was meant to be an April Fools’ Day prank, parodying the title of Jay-Z and Kanye West’s album Watch the Throne. Thus, it was named Watch the Stove. It comprised five songs about Hamburger Helper and went viral within a couple of days after its release. If there’s one thing we love about Lefty, it’s that he’s always ready to help people, he’s definitely hands-on.
2. Cool Spot – 7 Up
Cool Spot, also known simply as Spot, was pretty appropriately named. He was actually an anthropomorphic version of the red dot in the 7 Up logo, which he usually transformed back into at the end of commercials. He wore sunglasses (hence the “Cool” part of his name), white gloves, and bulky sneakers. Despite his inability to speak, he communicated through high-pitched sounds, often with other identical Cool Spots. He first appeared ads in 1987 and was widely known for his video games in the 90s. His most popular one was creatively named Cool Spot and was released on multiple consoles including the Sega Genesis and Game Boy, among others. In the single-player platformer, Spot had to rescue other Cool Spots from cages, while collecting “spots” (which were essentially just red dots) and dodging enemies. Several other advergames were created after that, such as Spot: The Cool Adventure, Spot: The Video Game, and Spot Goes to Hollywood. Spot had a pretty short time in the limelight (get it? ‘cause… lime… and 7 Up… yeah, okay), and was retired in 1997 after only 10 years of activity. Stay cool, buddy!
1. Mr. Owl – Tootsie Pops
Remember the age-old question? Sure, ya do. How many licks does it take to get to the Tootsie Roll center of a Tootsie Pop? According to Mr. Owl, it was three, but just like everyone else, he would bite into it, so that answer doesn’t really count. The original ad actually featured the boy asking a cow, fox, and turtle, each who referred the boy to the other, before being redirected to the wise Mr. Owl. While he started off closer to looking like a sketch, he was later polished up with color and cleaner linework. His feathering was kept white, while his glasses were colored blue, his beak and feet orange, and his scholar’s hat brown with a white question mark in the middle. If you recognize his voice, that’s because it belongs to Paul Winchell, who is also know as Tigger from Winnie the Pooh, Crackle from the Rice Krispies trio, or any of his other 74 roles in animation. Despite the Tootsie Pop in the original commercial being yellow, Mr. Owl was given a red one in his update. Incidentally, there’s no all-encompassing number to the famous Tootise Pop question. The number of licks it takes depends on several factors such as the size of the lick, the warmth of your mouth, and the amount of saliva you generate. It turns out the announcer was right: the world may never know.