4 classic cereal characters: where are they now?

Food The List
By: Jared Cotter | Todd Covelli Posted: 5:49 PM, Feb 24, 2017

The best part of waking up isn’t Folgers in your cup. It’s the cereal in your bowl! Most of us picked out our brand based on the mascot on the box when we were little ones. Now, it’s time to take a trip down memory lane. Jared Cotter has the origin of four of our favorite characters where they are now.

1.  Sugar Bear

He is the advertising cartoon mascot of Post Super Sugar Crisp cereal where he first appeared back in 1964. Presently, Sugar Bear is being illustrated for the box covers by commercial illustrator, Seymour Schachter.

2.  Tony the Tiger

Kellogg’s pounced on the cereal mascot scene with Tony back in 1952. These days, he's sporting a smartphone and encouraging little ones to get out and be active.

3.  Trix the Rabbit

This famous bunny was introduced in 1959 and has always been on the prowl for free cereal. Fun fact, he teamed up with Bugs Bunny's in the ‘80s in the popular Trix commercials. The rabbit's popularity led him to appear in commercials for other products, such as a Got Milk? advertisement. Trix can still be seen bouncing around the airwaves today.

4.  Lucky the Leprechaun

This famous leprechaun, also known as Sir Charms, and originally called L.C. Leprechaun popped onto the scene in 1963. Nowadays he’s still finding advertising gold. He even teamed up with acapella group Pentatonix to celebrate his 50th birthday in 2014.

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5.  Sonny the Cuckoo Bird

The mascot of Cocoa Puffs is Sonny the Cuckoo Bird, introduced in 1962. In television commercials, Sonny attempts to concentrate on a normal task but ends up coming across some reference to Cocoa Puffs themselves (usually described by the adjectives "munchy, crunchy, chocolatey") and bursts with enthusiasm, exclaiming his catchphrase "I'm cuckoo for Cocoa Puffs!" Sonny was voiced by Chuck McCann from 1962 to 1978, and has been voiced by Larry Kenney since 1978.

Sonny's name comes from the original format of the commercials, in which he was paired with his grandfather (also voiced by McCann). Rather than proper names, they always referred to each other as "Gramps" and "Sonny." When the grandfather was dropped from the ads, "Sonny" remained as the character's name. In 2010, Gramps returned to the Cocoa Puffs ads, with McCann reprising his role as Gramps and Kenney continuing to voice Sonny.

Sonny was designed by Gene Cleaves; animation pioneer "Grim" Natwick, of Fleischers' Betty Boop history, also contributed to the early images of Sonny and Gramps, according to then-contemporaries who collaborated with Natwick during his 100-year career. Sonny was originally depicted as wearing a pink-and-white striped shirt, then in 1995 was redesigned, this time wearing 1990s "extreme" clothes and being given a more Disney-esque appearance. In 2004, he was redesigned in a more simplistic fashion, this time without clothing.

6.  Snap, Crackle and Pop

The gnomic elves characters were originally designed by illustrator Vernon Grant in the early 1930s. The names are an onomatopoeia and were derived from a Rice Krispies radio ad:

Listen to the fairy song of health, the merry chorus sung by Kellogg's Rice Krispies as they merrily snap, crackle and pop in a bowl of milk. If you've never heard food talking, now is your chance.

The first character appeared on the product's packaging in 1933, Grant added two more and named the trio Snap, Crackle and Pop. Snap is usually portrayed with a chef's toque on his head; Crackle often is shown wearing a red (or striped) tomte's tuque or "sleeping cap," and Pop often wears a drum major's shako (sometimes Pop is seen also with a chef's toque, or an odd combination of both a shako and a toque). Corporate promotional material describes their personalities as resembling brothers. Snap is the oldest, problem solver, and known as a problem solver Crackle is an unsure "middle child" and known as a jokester and Pop is a mischievous youngster and the center of attention.

From their original design as elderly gnomes with large noses, ears and hats, Snap, Crackle, and Pop were reimagined with younger and more proportional features in 1949. Some time after 1955, their gnome-ish oversized ears became more proportional yet pointed, as seen in common portrayals of elves. They first appeared as animated characters in the 1960s, targeted toward such children's shows as The Howdy Doody Show. The voices of the original gnomes were provided by Daws Butler, Paul Winchell and Don Messick. More recent voices have included Chris Evans, Keith Chegwin, Chad Doreck, Eddie Deezen, Thom Adcox-Hernandez and Dino Andrade. As of 2009, the three gnomes are voiced by Andy Hirsch (Snap), Danny Cooksey (Crackle) and Mark Ballou (Pop).

The trio were used in conservation messages during World War II and briefly re-imagined as superheroes in the early 1990s, but later returned to their original elf-like form. Likewise, there was briefly a fourth gnome in the 1950s named Pow who represented the claimed explosive nutritional value of Rice Krispies.

Leo Burnett Worldwide assigned Chicago-based cartoonist Don Margolis to do Snap, Crackle and Pop for the Rice Krispies boxes as well as other applications. Davidson Marketing also used him for their Rice Krispies assignments. Don did the three gnomes until the end of 1998.

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