Yesterday’s nostalgic post about kid’s breakfast cereals, and some of the comments, got me thinking about how influential the art on cereal boxes have been over the years in the world of cartooning. I did a quick internet search looking for a book on the subject,
but it appears there is none. There is an out of print 1995 book called Cerealizing America: The Unsweetened Story of American Breakfast Cereal by Scott Bruce and Bill Crawford, but I have no idea if it’s centralized on the cartoon character angle.¬¨‚Ä† Somebody needs to do a “The Art of the Cereal Box” coffee table book. I suppose there might be a few trademark issues there, but you would figure “fair use” would cover a book about the history of cereal box mascots and characters. The creation of cartoon characters as advertising campaigns was and is serious business, worthy of an episode of “Mad Men”.
Animator Jay Ward and Bill Scott, of “Rocky and Bullwinkle” fame, not only designed the characters for “Cap’n Crunch”, “Quisp” and ‘Quake” cereals for Quaker Oats, but they produced a whole series of animated commercials for their advertising campaign. You can probably trace the beginning of cartoon characters on cereal boxes to the advent of television and, more specifically, the advent of Saturday morning kid’s programming. The folks at Quaker were no dummies… they went right to the source of some of the most popular cartoons and had their ad campaigns created in that same style. It must have been hard to tell the difference between the shows and the ads. It’s arguable that Cap’n Crunch is as strong a legacy for Ward as his other animated characters. BTW, legendary cartoon voice actors Daws Butler and June Foray did a lot of the voice work on the Cap’n Crunch ads.
There were a lot of additional characters that were originally part of the Cap’N Crunch cast. Anybody remember…
Jean LaFoote (Cinnamon Crunch):
Smedley the Elephant (Peanut Butter Crunch):
Crunchberry Beast (Crunchberries):
The “Monster Cereals” from General Mills were another campaign that really insinuated itself into pop culture. These characters were developed by General Mills through various illustrators and so the credits for “designing” them are unclear. I met a cartoonist/Illustrator named George Karn when an art student here in the Minneapolis/St. Paul who claimed to have been the original creator of the Trix Rabbit and Count Chocula, but I have never been able to independently confirm that. Lots of Twin Cities illustrators worked for General Mills, which is based here.
Everybody is familiar with Count Chocula, Frankenberry and Booberry:
But does anyone remember these two brief “Monster Cereals”?:
I don’t think ‘Yummy Mummy” was ever an “Official” monster cereal, the character was distinctly different from the others, but it was around for a short time.
The list goes on: Tony the Tiger, Snap, Crackle and Pop, Toucan Sam, The Cocoa Puffs Bird, Lucky the Leprechaun, licensed properties like the Flintstones… Cereal mascot characters have a part in cartooning history, that’s for sure. Somebody should do a book. In the meantime here’s a fun link I found on the many different cereal box characters: Topher’s Breakfast Cereal Character Guide. Enjoy the trip down memory lane.
755 My cover art for the next issue of MAD, exclusive sneak peek from @entertainmentweekly website
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