Cereal Commercials, Part 1
As a child some of my fondest memories are of the colorful, odd characters who inhabited the magical world of cereal commercials. These advertisement spots played out like mini dramas. Each character had his own mythos, his own motives and trials. An as a child you accept everything at face value. Now that I’m a cynical, jaded adult I look back and can’t help but think that some of these commercials are pretty fucked up. For instance…
Froot Loops and Toucan Sam
Toucan Sam is an outlandish bird with a big nose sniffing out flavorful loops of some strange edible substance called ‘Froot’. A hybrid of ‘foot’ and ‘fruit’ no doubt. Sounds fun and tasty. Sam is always leading someone to Froot Loops, which apparently can only be found in dense jungles and remote islands and not at the local super market. And all he has to do is follow his nose, it always knows. (Who writes his prose? It totally blows!)
Can someone please explain to me why Toucan Sam’s beak is shaped like a dildo? Toucans have curved, almost crescent shaped beaks that tapper into a point. No bird in existence looks anything like a cheap sex toy (sorry ladies). And if your going to plan an add campaign about an animal sniffing out your cereal then why not use an animal who can, you know…smell stuff? Birds rarely have a good sense of smell and Toucans certainly aren’t one of the exceptions. I’d scrap the whole dildo bird thing and put a dog wearing rainbow colored lingerie in there or maybe a bear with big tits.
So what are they really saying here? We’ve got a flying dick beaked bird who can sniff out cereal loops. Cereal with holes in the middle. A phallus looking for holes. Really? Kelloggs is selling sex to kids? No it can’t be. Maybe if ‘fruit’ was synonymous with ‘vagina’. Then I could see it maybe. It’s not like a woman’s sexual organs have ever referred to as cherries or peaches or strawberries anything. And never has a womans boobs been called melons or lemons or coconuts. If that was the case then a bird with a rainbow wang on his face would seem very obscene indeed.
And why does Toucan Sam sound normal? Almost suspiciously normal. Notice that he doesn’t speak like any of the other cereal mascots. He’s not zany or wacky or goofy. He has an educated manner about him. His words are all enunciated properly. He sounds like he could be a teacher or a librarian…kind of creepy actually. But I guess if you’re trying to lure children off into the woods you need to sound like a legitimate authority figure.
“Follow my nose!”
“Ok, but like, where are you taking us?”
“Into the forest. Yep, just you and me in the forest…alone. Looking for fruityness with my massive nose.”
“Umm…no. Thanks, but I think we’ve got some old Cookie Crisps at home.”
Trix and the Rabbit
The mascot for Trix cereal is a tall slim rabbit whom General Mills calls…(wait for it)…‘the Rabbit’. All the Rabbit wants out of life apparently is a bowl of Orangey orange, Lemony yellow and Raspberry red Trix. (which kindergarten drop out came up with orangey orange?) Unfortunately the children with whom the Rabbit associates consistently deny him this small pleasure uttering the catch phrase ‘Silly Rabbit, Trix are for kids’ right after screaming ‘Oh my god it’s a giant fucking Rabbit who talks!’ To get this fruity ambrosia the Rabbit will often wear disguises. Thus it can be said that he attempts to obtain the artificially flavored puffed corn with his ‘tricks’ (holy hell these General Mills people are slick with their word play huh?) The Rabbit almost never succeeds but that doesn’t stop him from trying.
Did you ever notice that these cereal spokestoons are usually never skinny? They’re always jolly, well fed plumpsters. Isn’t it odd then that the Rabbit is so scrawny? And I wonder why the kids won’t feed him? Who wouldn’t want to feed a giant anorexic rabbit dressed up like one of the Village People? But of course the answer is obvious. Trix are for kids, moron.
Now to my thinking it would be all right to deny the Rabbit food if he was a blimp who’d been kicked off the Biggest Loser for eating other contestants or something. But he’s thinner than a two dollar crackwhore on an exlax diet. Somebody needs to feed him. Ok, so don’t give him Trix, give him like rabbit feed or something. Maybe a piece of bread, a cracker, something. You never hear a ‘hey sorry not enough Trix to go around but look there’s a soup kitchen around the corner buddy.’ No, these well fed little bastards don’t give a dam about a floppy eared beggar. Their only concern is that he not eat their Trix.
What does this teach kids? It’s obvious that ‘the Rabbit’ is different. He’s not a real person and he’s only slightly better than a common animal. This is a classic example of classism (who’s the wizard of wordiness now General Mills, huh?). Quite simply, some of us deserve good things and some of us don’t. The Rabbit is thin, plain, and doesn’t wear cloths unless it’s a disguise (that he probably steals). Even naked ass Tony the Tiger wears a kerchief at least. The Rabbit has nothing, can’t even afford to buy his own Trix. He’s obviously poor. He tries to act like us. He tries to reach our social class but he’s not one of us and never will be. The fine people who make Trix are telling your kids they shouldn’t help anyone of a lower socioeconomical group. ‘Don’t let that homeless wretch take your food. Silly impoverished slobs, Trix is for elitists.’
Cocoa Puffs and Sonny the Cuckoo
Sonny the Cuckoo bird really really likes Cocoa Puffs. He goes Cuckoo for Cocoa Puffs. So much so in fact that he actually tries to avoid the cereal. Think about that for a moment. He’s the spokestoon for a cereal he’d rather avoid if he could. Their mascot is engaged in a losing battle with his addiction to the product. No matter what Sonny tries his mischievous little friends always find a way to tempt the wacky bird into eating more Cocoa Puffs. After that first bite hilarity ensues (yeah, if your a drug dealer).
Apparently General Mills would like you to think Cocoa Puffs are as addictive as crack. Though it seems Sonny is serious about quitting Cocoa Puffs cold turkey, all of his so-called ‘friends’ are the worst sort of enablers. Each commercial shows dimple cheeked Anglo-Saxon white kids tempting this mocha colored bird to do more Cocoa Puffs. No, there are no racial undertones there. No matter what steps poor Sonny takes to avoid the bad influences of these miscreants he invariably succumbs to peer pressure and trips out on this crunchy, munchy, chocolaty heroin. He’ll then exclaim in a heart-wrenching cry of both ecstasy and shame “I’m cuckoo for cocoa puffs!” The scene always ends with Sonny sprawled out, lamenting his inability to kick the habit while his good friends Joe Whitey and Cracker Kate snickered to themselves.
They want you to associate their cereal with getting high and oppressing minorities? Really? And oh don’t bother trying to get clean because it won’t work. Just look at poor Sonny. No matter where he goes or what he does there’s always a pusher around to entice him. Who writes these commercials, prison inmates? Here’s a fun game kids! Go find a recovered drug addict and wave narcotics around in their face. Kelloggs should change their slogan to “Just give brown people addictive substances and watch them fail!” Maybe the secret prize should be a syringe.