For every friendly and chatty Ronald McDonald, there’s a creepy, stoned-faced Burger King, or for every innocuous Maytag repairman, there’s a Kool-Aid Man who comes smashing through the wall. Here are some more ill-advised company mascots.
Cadbury Creme Eggs
Cadbury Creme Eggs have occasionally served as the spokes objects for, well, Cadbury Creme Eggs. The popular candy imitates an egg—instead of a white shell, it’s got a chocolate housing and instead of albumen and yolk inside, there’s white and yellow sugary goo. That goo has made Cadbury a lot of money, and in 2009 it launched a campaign called “Release the Goo.” The near-sentient eggs found themselves getting broken and smashed, which made their goo—essentially their entrails—go everywhere.
Grape-Nuts is one of the oldest cereals in existence, developed in the late 1800s by C.W. Post. (Also, the reason why it’s called “Grape-Nuts” despite containing neither is because it was sweetened with naturally-occurring glucose, which Post called “grape sugar,” and because the end product tasted nutty.) It’s never been the kind of cereal kids clamor for—who usually go for sugary stuff like Cap’n Crunch or Trix—but Post tried in the 1940s with a series of one-page comic strips published in comic books featuring the adventures of Volto from Mars, an alien superhero who wore a red helmet and magnetic powers. Guess what “recharged” his magnetism? Grape-Nuts!
Chuck E. Cheese’s childhood
Chuck E. Cheese is the very familiar and famous face of a chain of “pizza time theaters,” where kids eat a pizza and watch an animatronic band of Chuck E. and his animal friends pretend to play rock songs. The chain hosts a lot of kids’ birthday parties, and that’s all Chuck E. Cheese himself ever wanted…according to the character’s official—and dark—corporate back story. You see, Chuck E. was orphaned as a child, and he never knew when his birthday was, which got him really into the idea of children getting to properly celebrate their birthdays.
Previous eras just weren’t as racially-sensitive as today. That means in 1960, Post saw nothing wrong with launching a sweetened puffed rice cereal called Sugar Coated Rice Krinkles, represented by a mascot named So-Hi. So-Hi was a broad, cartoonish stereotype of an Asian person, depicted on Rice Krinkles with narrow eyes and wearing a gown-like garment. And that name isn’t a drug reference—“So-Hi” meant that the character was really short as in “only so high,” which is another stereotype about Asians. Post got rid of the character in 1968 and instead started using a screaming clown.