The Most Memorable Food Mascots of My Childhood
But that’s where the food mascots came in. Yes, it always helped fuel my appetite to have a food mascot bouncing around the television set on a Saturday morning, telling me that food tastes Grrreat!, telling me that food is fun, that I should eat food.
Here are a few food mascots that have stayed with me over the years.
1.) Mr. Salty. I once loved salt so much that I would privately binge on Play-Doh under the preschool table. My mother even gave me my own salt shaker, which she placed next to my plate when she set the table — right next to my blood pressure monitor. So Mr. Salty’s very name made my mouth water.
And just look at him. He’s a sailor, he’s salty and he’s adorable. If Mr. Peanut is the standoffish monocle-wearing aristocrat, Mr. Salty is the lovable everyday working bloke.
2.) Mayor McCheese. I love cheese. I want to make-out with cheese, marry it and appoint it Mayor of the Land of Edible Food-like Products. Oh, where have you gone, Mayor McCheese? What have they done with you?
Sadly, Mayor McCheese was last seen fighting to place government regulations on super-sized sodas. He was never heard from in McDonaldland again.
3.) Sonny. I have a theory that Nancy Reagan would’ve fared much better with her drug war had she scrapped the Just Say No campaign and borrowed a lesson from Cocoa Puffs cereal. Call me cuckoo, but I never once touched the chocolatey smack. Because that Sonny scared me straight. Cocoa Puffs looked good, sure, but see what happens when you get your fix?
Here we have a picture of a throwback Sonny seen holding a coke spoon and stumbling out of the old Studio 54.
4.) Birdie. The details are vague. I couldn’t tell you what her voice sounded like, what special mascot powers she possessed, or even what she has to do with McDonald’s. Is she Big Bird’s illegitimate child? Did she lay an Egg McMuffin? What I do know is that Birdie was a pioneer, one of the first female food mascots I recall. (It’s been speculated that Grimace was also female. However, no external sex organs exist to prove this.)
Boys had a role model in the brave and beefy Tony the Tiger. But we girls had to settle for Aunt Jemima — who spent her day in the kitchen. Legal status, questionable. Inappropriateness, undeniable. Whereas Birdie was apparently an airplane pilot. She also had her red hair in braids, which was undoubtedly McDonald’s middle finger to the Wendy’s mascot.
5.) The Kool-Aid Pitcher. Having been raised in Nebraska, home of the inventor of Kool-Aid, I could not fail to include the Kool-Aid pitcher on my list. What is he? He’s the Kool-Aid pitcher. What does he do? He walks around and pours Kool-Aid. And he breaks down walls and stuff.
Okay, seriously, this is the best they could do? A freakin’ pitcher that breaks down walls? Who’s not even close to being as badass as Punchy the Hawaiian Punch guy. A little marketing tip — if you’re dull enough to make your mascot an inanimate food container, at least give him some snappy punchlines like the Parkay margarine tub. You know, make him seem relevant to the conversation.
6.) The Pillsbury Doughboy. It wouldn’t be the same without him, but it almost pains me to put the Pillsbury Doughboy on my list. He’s lame. And I can’t take that people are always poking at him like a pregnant stranger’s belly. Evil-me wants to toss him in a closet with the Hamburger Helper hand to see what would happen. But then, I couldn’t stand hearing that obnoxious giggle again and again.
7.) The Noid. He’s not exactly iconic, he’s not typically memorable, but the Noid was cutting-edge. Hey, he was stop-motion animation, he was claymation for crying out loud! It was the wave of the ’80s! More groundbreaking than the California Raisins? No. But those dudes made raisins sound good. Big deal. The Noid made us forget that Domino’s pizza sucked.
8.) King Halfsies. You’re going, “Who the hell?” Well, I’ll be honest, I really don’t know. I mean, I don’t even know if his name is King Halfsies. I will assume it is, given the fact that he represents Halfsies cereal and rules over Halfsiesland.
Here’s the thing — King Halfsies did what not a darn one of these above mascots achieved. He made me want to eat something that actually qualified as food. He made me want to eat this cereal, this cereal that probably tasted like boiled sweatsocks, this cereal called “Halfsies” because it had “half the sugar of sugar-coated cereals.” But I didn’t know that. I just knew that everyone in the village of Halfsiesland was dressed half different and ate out of half a bowl. And I could half-heartedly get on board with that schtick.
Legend has it that a box of Halfsies cereal remained in my family’s kitchen pantry for over two straight years. It was half-eaten.