You gotta love advertising icons: The Trix rabbit, Cap’n Crunch, and Tony the Tiger were three of my best buddies when I was a kid. I remember the Keebler Elves, workin’ their elfin magic; Mrs. Butterworth, the talking syrup bottle; and Charlie - the Starkist tuna who just wasn’t good enough.
Hold on - "good enough"? Good enough for WHAT? He wasn’t good enough to be killed and chopped up and crammed into cans and sold 4 for $5 at Kroger.
“Sorry, Charlie”? More like, “Way to go, Charlie! That is, until someone else traps you and feeds you to Morris in the form of 9 Lives...”.
Charlie is the first food icon I can remember that was actually the food itself.
But now, they’re everywhere.
I find myself rethinking grabbing a bag of m&m’s, since each color now has a distinct personality. And that Chips Ahoy chocolate chip cookie. He makes me a little uneasy. In the latest commercial, he and his buddies are snatched out of a moving convertible, leaving the car to run head on into whomever else is driving on that road.
And the Burger King commercial, where the chicken is hanging out with french fries and his buddies give him a hard time about wanting to be a fry. Chicken fries (yet another way to cut up and bread the same chicken).
I remember when the California raisins made their television debut and were all the rage. Did it make me want to eat raisins? HECK NO! Now I had to search every handful of trail mix not only for Mr. Peanut’s top hat, monocle and cane, but for tiny pairs of sunglasses.
I’m sure this comes as no surprise, but I felt really sorry for the gingerbread man in Shrek. I also feel guilty eating Teddy Grahams.
I’m all about truth in advertising and I realize that the cheeseburger I had for lunch was once a live cow. I just don’t need to be introduced to him.
Seriously, who looks at a cute character, laughs at his jokes, and thinks, “Mmmmmm... I wish I could eat that”? Not me. How do we teach our kids not to play with their food when their food is frolicking around and telling jokes?
C’mon people, let’s try to keep food where it belongs - on our plates and in our bellies - and out of our merchandising. Because, you know, I used to eat the hell out of those Goldfish crackers. That is, until they started smiling back.