Skenazy: The Budweiser kittens

Perhaps you remember Katy the Kangaroo — but probably not. About 60 years ago, Katy was Tony the Tiger’s rival.

 

Free-Range Kids by Lenore Skenazy

Free-Range Kids
by Lenore Skenazy

Katy and Tony were two mascots Madison Avenue dreamed up for Frosted Flakes, and for a very brief moment in marketing history, they both beckoned kids to bowls brimming with Kellogg’s finest. But Tony triumphed so completely at the checkout counter that Katy was yanked almost immediately into oblivion.

All of which got me wondering what other advertising icons had lost out over the years to the blushing Doughboys, guileless geckos and foppish peanut-men. To find out, I did some interviews:

SNAP, CRACKLE, POP & FLOATER: “Floater was always different,” says Snap. “My other brothers and me, we were eager to be crunched and eaten. But Floater would lie down in the milk, real quiet-like, hoping nobody would notice him.” “And then, when someone did,” adds Pop, “he screamed bloody murder! It was like he was being eaten alive. Which, I guess, he was. But he gave everyone the willies.” “So,” says Snap, “they airbrushed him out. Me, Crackle and Pop always called him Zeppo.” “Like the Marx Brother,” adds Crackle.

THE BUDWEISER KITTENS: “Good riddance!” says Clyde, chief Budweiser Clydesdale from 1962 to 1968. “I’m just glad the advertising execs decided they were sending a mixed message. Like, us horses were proud and majestic, and they — the kittens — were fluffy balls of fur. That’s confusing to beer drinkers. Anyway, those kittens were JERKS! I remember one night, one of them — Puffy — raced me to my oat bucket, ate half my dinner, and then threw a dead mouse on top so I wouldn’t want to eat the rest. But we got the last laugh. No one even THINKS about the Bud Kitties anymore.”

AUNT BEN: “I do NOT want to talk about her.” — Uncle B.

THE KEEBLER CRONE: “Initially, the whole campaign was supposed to be about her,” recalls Elf No. 1. “She was our boss. We made her cookies, and then she expected us to put on little shows for her.” “Like a cabaret,” piped up Elf No. 3. “Except there always had to be a finale where we danced around and fed her cookies while she lounged in this, like, silk robe on a divan,” Elf No. 1 added. “And we were supposed to sit in her lap. And one day, we couldn’t take any more. We told the brass, ‘It’s her or us!’ And they threw her out.” “I heard she tried to get a job at Nabisco but ended up working for Hydrox.”

THE ENERGIZER SLOTH: “The creative guys hired me as a joke, I think. Then, when the suits came down and saw me on the set, it got ugly. I was ordered back to my trailer, and I heard a lot of yelling, and the next thing I knew, they handed me an envelope with a considerable amount of cash and told me never to talk about the whole thing. Don’t hold it against the bunny. It wasn’t his idea. I get a card from him every now and then, and there’s usually a $20 in it. But don’t write about this, or he might get mad.”

THE TY-D-BOL SAILOR: “We had some good times,” the Ty-D-Bol man admitted, lounging on his yacht. “Too good!” said the sailor, coming up behind him with two martinis. “It looked … tawdry,” he continued. “Two men. A boat. A toilet. They showed the reel around, and no one felt like, (SET ITAL) ‘This (END ITAL) is what I want happening in my bathroom.’ And so–” “They threw him overboard!” said the Ty-D-Bol man. “Almost literally. But it was too late. We were already an item. So I ended up being the breadwinner.” “And I make the martinis!” said the sailor. “Want one? They’re blue! A toast — to the wonderful world of advertising. Even if I’m only a footnote.”

Lenore Skenazy is a keynote speaker and author of the book and blog “Free-Range Kids.”

Filed in: Latest Headlines, Opinion

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