Thursday, January 17, 2008

Tony the Tiger Was Cool

Hey check out this fun commercial that I got from Leo Burnett. My friend Ryan Karell is an ad exec there and he likes the same kinds of stuff we all do, so he hunted down this for me (and some other classic spots too).

Why did they ever change this design? It's so kid-friendly!
Boy, he could really chew up a lot of kids with those teeth.

This is what my pet turtle's eyes looked like when he died.

Compare this box to the modern style cereal packaging! So bold! You could see this across the supermarket.
Mmmm, sparkling sugar goodness.

I like when kids acted like Mr. Horse. This one is really thinking about the pleasurable taste sensation happening in his head.
Here's my favorite theory about sugar...that it's good for you and makes you athletic!
Just like cigarettes!

This must be one of the commercial characters Greg Duffel said Phil Monroe developed for Kellogg's.

I don't know who animated it though.
Here's the modern airbrushed, human-proportioned Tony. Fairly well drawn, but I think the old cartoony one is more fun for he has sugar in the title and you can't say sugar anymore, because it's pleasurable and pleasure is bad for you.

They should give away free morals in cereal today too.

What people did who grew up in the Golden Age Of Kid's Life:

Here's an observation I've had for awhile, and I should know, because I watched it all happen.

The best time and place in all of history for kids to grow up was the 50s and 60s in North America.

Science and technology created a whole generation of pretty easy lives. A huge secure and healthy middle class. Major diseases gone. Lots of food for everyone. Kids didn't have to help their parents work the farm. We had no wars on our shores.

Whole industries filled with hugely talented and creative professionals whose mission in life was to bring fun to kids, more fun than they ever had growing up.

We had great inventive and beautifully designed toys-tons of them!
All packaging was done by extremely talented and creative designers.
We had beautifully designed cereal boxes that came with well animated fun cartoon character commercials. The cereals had killer prizes inside them and activities on the backs of the boxes.
We had tons of classic cartoons on TV. Short cartoons in the movie theatres-really well done and funny ones.

The Three Stooges reruns on TV. Get Smart. The Beverly Hillbillies. Local puppet shows on every TV station.

Weird-0h models, Mad Magazine, bubble gum cards, Rat Fink, Barbie, millions of comic books in tons of styles, CHEAP comic books that you could buy in any corner store! Sugar on everything.

It truly was a Golden Age for kids.

So what did the kids who grew up in this blissful atmosphere do when they grew up? How did they repay their good fortune?

They became hippies and ruined everything for the following generations of kids.
The hippies took the prizes out of cereal, hired amateurs to design bland mushy toys, put morals in cartoons-made them realistic, bland and ugly, painted eyes flesh color, got rid of kids' music.

The hippies got older and became corporate executives who used their hippie mysticism to create crazy corporate religious practices-focus testing, market research and on and on. They no longer trusted in natural talent and people who were born to create fun for others. They hired psychologists to help them ruin cartoons.

They came up with the theory of creative democracy, that everyone is equally talented, thus shoving actually talented people to the back of the bus. Skill and professionalism died as amateurs and charlatans invaded fields that just a few short years earlier were peopled by gifted talents and experts in fun.

The people who had the most childhood fun in history saw to it that their descendants would never have that much fun again.

Here's proof that the 70s ruined fun forever.

Vintage Cocoa KrispiesGreat professional design. Fun character. Easy to read across the room. Clarity and confidence. Fun

Modern Cocoa Krispies

Sloppy Cluttered design. Hard to read. Confusing. Amateurish. No fun.


Lluis said...

haha ha Mr Horse!!! Yeah what are people doing today?!! I think back then maybe more instict, not so conceptual talking tossy?
straight lies you could beleive!! not half spoken truths that are meaningless!!

Anonymous said...

"They no longer trusted in natural talent and people who were born to create fun for others."
Remains like this till today... shame. Another thing wich ruined comics and cartoons was the "politicaly correct" stuff. It's complete bullshit. I grew up watching Bugs shooting Daffy with rifles and I'm not a mass murderer today!

Josh Latta said...

The ecology badge is lame, but the toucan isn't SO bad...

Mr. Trombley said...

Dear Sir, I have to disagree with you on certain sections. While it is obvious to anyone with eyes the older design of Tony the Tiger is more handsome, the painful live action bits are everything wrong about TV. Not funny stupid, but annoying stupid.

To sum up: if the cartoon is a well performed pop song, then the live action part is an excerpt from the Texas constitution.

Car2oon said...

Yeah, what's wrong with the 70's Tucan and Cocoa Monkey? They look simple, vibrant, and attractive. And the Ecolo Badge? Look like fun to collect I suppose.

Dav-odd said...

I was looking forward to finding out who animated that old Tony. Darn! It's pretty good, huh? His facial proportions are nice & childlike, unlike the 'now' Tony, who looks so incredibly wrong in his kerchief. What is he hiding under that thing?? Is it a goiter that spoils his otherwise perfectly ridiculous middle-aged-looking 'rawkin' gym bod?

And that irksome Snap Crackle n Pop cereal box: "Decorate!" Why? Why are you telling me what to do, you airbrushy pre-teen elf? Don't make me come over there and hand-paint you with appealing colors!

Anonymous said...

Holy crap! My very own ecology badge?!?

Yeah. I'm jealous. I had a very enjoyable and imagination filled childhood, but it was through my own doing. Everyone I knew was watching Power Rangers and Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles so I had to make my own fun.

The fifties and sixties have always looked like fun times to me. I know here in small town British Columbia and Alberta times were still tough because progress hadn't reached this far, so everything was still hard work and farming and horse and buggies, but even then it looked great.

And fifties commercial kids are great! How do they do it? It's like the Little can't find kids that can act that good now! They were geniuses and they were six!

Anonymous said...

And those ecology badge kids look like disgusting old British rapists dressed as children.

deadmanswill said...

I think a few years ago is far better than today. These computers have made everything easy. Draw a few circles, splash some colors, batter them until you cannot make head or tail of it and finally slap some funky text and lo, you have a product package! It's become that easy. And this so called consumer psychology has reduced the color palette to pink for girls, blue for detergents, primary colors for kids, wine and browns for adults and so on.

What are supposed to aid you in producing better content has made it very easy for others to produce crap in the name of 'creativity'.

Like Baldin said, we grew up watching violence in cartoons and we are not out in the streets stuffing people into sewer pipes or hitting heads with oars.

Children know cartoons are for fun and today's children are far more intelligent than anybody of use used to be at that age.

jessica m said...

That tony the tiger is so different than the one I know. I like the old one so much better. Cereal executives make horrible decisions.

I.D.R.C. said...

Everything happened that you said happened, except I don't really think hippies did it. There was no hippy movement to destroy fun. There was no hippy interest in destroying fun.

Don't you think pot smokers and mushroom eaters want Bugs Bunny and puppet shows on tv in the afternoon?

Assholes killed fun. The insiders did it for money through devaluation of their audience and the outsiders did it out of ignorance, by mandating that everything for kids be educational.

There are people who get nostalgic over SCHOOLHOUSE ROCK. Kill me now.

Faso said...

Man I gotta say, I read your blog every day and I love it... but it is so much more fun to read when you're as piss ass drunk like I am now. I posted my first blog post about the animation archive just to day so check it out if you want. Or dont, I dont really care tight now. Steve was showing us old school Tony the Tiger stuff when we were there so I thought this pose was cool. Latrer skater.

Chris S. said...

This blog rocks, but make a physical school damn it! Please give me an excuse to quit my job and go there. I want to sit in a classroom and discuss this stuff all day long.

I was born in 74 with all those shitty cartoons and commercials you reference alot. I always loved the the decades before mine. My dad had a jukebox in our basement so I grew up on Fats Domino, Elvis and Jerry Lee Lewis records. We had an old player piano so I used to hum standards like Jeepers Creepers and In the Mood while walking the halls of elementary school. In high school when all my friends were into grunge and flannel I desperately wanted to wear zoot suits and find jazz clubs that looked like something you'd see in an old film with a Cab Calloway-like bandleader, tap dancers, cigarette girls, the works. That's why WB cartoons made more sense to me than the others ... it wasn't until later that I realized it was because they were 30-40 years old.

When I saw the greatest commercial made in my lifetime it was for a product that didn't exist!

JohnK said...

>>but the toucan isn't SO bad...<<

yeah, it's fine, but the PC prize and amateurish and depressing illustration is shocking, considering that everything was fun and professional just a short while before.

Anonymous said...

I have to agree, the old cereal mascots were so much better, and the 50s and 60s to me, sounded like the best age to live in.
I was born in the 80s so I never seen this "Paradise" I grew up with all these wars, the war on drugs, gulf, kosovo, iraq, terror, etc etc.
I think you are right, the hippies ruined everything. However, there is hope. For every horrible time, a good time is waiting around the corner. Before all this great stuff happened, there was a depression and things took a while, but America got strong. I dont know, I just feel things balance out, after a while, everyone breaks out the mold and something special happens again. If that wasnt true, we would all be listening to horrible hair metal still =D

Timefishblue said...

Now THIS is a prize!:

Also, I just watched something on tv explaining why the DVDs of old sesame street episodes have warnings on them that they're not for kids. They showed a clip of a kid riding a bike without a helmet, a kid talking to a stranger, and cookie monster eating a COOKIE! Thank god kids are being protected from these corrupting evils today.

amir avni said...

Great post John, you're so right it hurts.

Pete & I just had the same conversation... We were just talking about how we both wished we could have been born earlier. Pete is twice my age so he actually got to taste some great culture, I'm envious of people older than me for that reason!

I second Jay,
I hope the world will take a turn sooner or later.

Mr. Semaj said...

I'm more or less from the generation that had all the fun taken away from, but I tend to remember cereal commercials a little differently.

There's no denying that commercials were much more fun than they are now. The commercials from the 80's and 90's had so much color and versatility. Some had mascots that you could relate to, while others had vivid live-action segments, both of which made you want a box of cereal for breakfast, lunch, AND dinner!

Nowadays, a lot of cereals no longer advertise their product, and those that do either use boring mascots, or make their ads too serious. The current Cinnamon Toast Crunch commercials don't make me want a box of cereal.

Another thing missing from cereals today are their annual Christmas motifs. Remember when Cookie Crisp, Cinnamon Toast Crunch, Trix, and Fruity Pebbles would have their boxes decorated with Christmas colors, and air special commercials each holiday season? Nowadays, all of that color is gone from the breakfast aisle.

Raff said...

Science and technology created a whole generation of pretty easy lives. Kids didn't have to help their parents work the farm.

So what did the kids who grew up in this blissful atmosphere do when they grew up? They became hippies, became corporate executives, ruined everything, etc.

The lesson: Spare the rod......?

Joseph said...

Yeah I grew up with the Hanna Barbera, Kellogg's and Mattel Saturday mornings too.

I thought the downfall of cartoons back then was when a show called the "Hair Bear Bunch" came on. These bears were hippies. Did animation executives meet at the Polo Lounge for a drink and say, "Kids like hippies. Let make a show about hippies."
Reminds me of today all of the hip-hop and gang-banger character designs. You can hear the execs saying, "Kids like hip-hop. Let's make a show with hip-hop."

What was really sad was when I was 7, I saw on live television men walking on the moon. I thought man the future is going to be great!

John I think nostalgia is contagious!

Eshniner Forest said...


Ryan Cole said...

I don't know what you guys are so worried about. Quite frankly I'd love it if the future was watered down to the point of looking like the setting of Demolition Man. Then again, I just plain love Stallone, so my opinions might be a tad biased.

But really, the old generation won't be running things for all that much longer. If we're all artists and we're all bitter about how today's industry has been going, we'll get our chance to change it when we run the industry, the networks and whathaveyou.

I hope that by then, there'll be enough people out there with the skills to do incredible things. Not to mention the passion and the will. People who don't think cartoons will ever be the same way they were 70 years ago are doomed to their own philosophy. Then we'd have a real reason to be bitter.

Jerry Beck said...

Great commercial, John! I've never seen that one. Thurl Ravencroft is Tony and Art Gilmore is the narrator. Two iconic voices of the era. Beautiful design and animation.

Rainer said...

I'm going to disagree with the idea that the 50's and sixties were the best for kids; mostly the sixties, because a lot of kids from that era watched their brothers die in Vietnam. The fifties also had the Korean War, which was bad but not nearly as devastating.

I remember Gore Vidal had a great essay on the American path after World War II. We were on top of the world, being the least damaged nation, with massive wealth. But then we shot it all to hell, with focusing on the non threat call communism. This in turn was a ploy by the corporations to keep us in fear and give them money. That sense of self destruction lead to decrease in quality of life an art, seeping away at the goals of the forties. I do agree with hippie point though.

As usual Frank Zappa comes through great clarity:

Bitter Animator said...

>>Assholes killed fun.<<

I think I'm with I.D.R.C. on this one. I think your post is spot-on in terms of what was then and what is now but I just can't see it being the fault of the hippies.

Thing is - the hippies lost. All that peace and love, smoking pot in fields and listening to psychadelic music died. Not because the hippies got a bit older and got the positions you're talking about. I think there was a fight with the old school trying to appeal to and appease the hippies, sure (which is where things like that ecology badge would come from).

But I think it all really went tits-up when the yuppies took over. That's something the people who were already in those positions pre-hippy could latch onto. Hippies and their values were killed in favour of money, greed, etc. And it's those people who remained in charge.

Hippies died. Their influence is barely a blip in history now.

But corporate money-hungry committees, shareholders, traders etc - they're the people you need to be looking to. In my opinion, they're the assholes.

If anything, I think we could do with a bit of peace and love right about now.

Pat McMicheal said...

John, You make some GREAT valid points in this post! I was born in 1962....I enjoyed the tail end of those golden years and witnessed the transition into "BLAND". I can remember the cartoons turning to shit and vividly recall how LAME it was!

TONY the TIGER!!!! The first thing I noticed is that they REMOVED his teeth!!!! WTF? He's a tiger for Christ sake!
My job at work is creating designs for elementary school spirit shirts. The people at all these schools have me removing ALL the mascots teeth and claws!!! And every school that had Indians as mascots are changing them to Eagles or Hawks! I even had to remove the "stinger" from one schools' BEE mascot! It's such bullshit!
Thanks for this wonderful post!

Gabriel said...

my problem with current Tony (which is actually kinda old by now) is that he skateboards, mountain bikes, play basketball, surfs, and parachutes from planes. I thought everyone hated that kind of people, i never figured what sort of advertiser would come up with such an obnoxious character. It took years for me to discover that Tony had actually been cool once.

Hey, Rainer, thanks for that Zappa clip, it's really interesting.

ryan said...

hey john.

great post. damn hippies...i'll try to figure out who animated this. and let's bring good, well-done work back!

Ryan Cole said...

>>But corporate money-hungry committees, shareholders, traders etc - they're the people you need to be looking to. In my opinion, they're the assholes.<<

o_o I've never met a shareholder or trader before. Do we keep them locked up? Because every time I hear someone talking about them, they sound like sniveling pus-leaking acts against humanity. They're just people doing their job, dude. Unless you get kicks in life out of throwing dead kittens at orphans and urinate one their parents grave every day, you're really not an asshole on purpose.

Anyone ever talk to these money-grubbing industry destroyers? And I mean civilized discussions. Seems a lot of the time we lack communication with the people who decide what to, y'know, do with our work. Isn't that kinda important?

Where I work, we have a huge production team, all sticking to our rightful groups. I've had the opportunity to work mainly in animation, but for a time in order to meet deadlines, I was forced over to clean-up. Then voluntarily, I worked with the guys at compiling and post-production (their deadline was worse, and their numbers fewer). I learned how what some people were doing in an early phase affected others in the next, which severly affected those in the final phases.

When this happens, work gets harder for everyone, and people from each division start to talk shit amongst themselves, because we never really got together as an entire production and discuss how what one group was doing would affect another. We're lacking in communication, and now no one thinks anyone can do anything right, regardless of whether or not they actually can. It's chaotic in an organized way, and I'll be carrying these points over to a meeting we'll be having in an hour.

My point is if we work for or with anyone; animators, writers, storyboard artists, clean-up artists, Design, Post, directors, networks, shareholders, executives and so on until the end of time, we really have to communicate with them...well maybe not of them, that's of people but still. The problem is no one really can reach all of them, when often times our worlds are too far apart.

What's that you say? With the internet at our disposal we can communicate with anyone we want at any time and place? Now why didn't I think of that?

Lucky for us, this Paul Abdul guy did think of that. Even luckier is that he's acting on it as we speak, and a lot of us are really interested in backing him up. Check out his petition to instate a Professional Association for animators and the like (that includes them evasive money-grubbing network folk) here:

It's a cool idea, and I think we should really give it a shot. I don't know how else to sell that, just put a picture of Tony on the cover and we'll call it quits for today, yeah?

I write too much.

pinkboi said...

The new cocoa puffs Sonny isn't too bad. I remembered hating that character (but loving the cereal) as a kid. Me and my sister even joked about how the 80s/90s Sonny was all "be cool! be active! eat cocoa puffs! Don't do drugs!" .. there was even a tape you could get in the mail that was full of generic 80s music. terrible.

If they wanted to give kids something ecological, they should have given them alfalfa seeds. That would've at least been fun! A badge?!! Almost as bad as the .01 cent unit cost paper "toys", the cracker jack "prizes" have become.

Bitter Animator said...

>>I write too much.<<

Quite possibly, Ryan, but much of what you wrote makes a lot of sense.

I would disagree, however, with the sentiment that 'just doing your job' greenlights everything and is a catch-all excuse. If it was someones job to throw those kittens at orphans, would it instantly make that behaviour okay? And I'm sure even the orphan-kitten-throwers can be a decent drinking buddy if you get to know them. For me, not meaning to be an asshole doesn't automatically mean you're not one.

As you say, few people do. Yet the world is full of them.

People used to throw kittens at orphans way better in the 50s. There's just no soul in that profession any more.

Tony C. said...

Not long ago Nate Pacheco pitched the Leo Burnett Agency (who currently does Tony the Tiger) on switching back to the classic version.

He had top designers Lou Romano, Craig Kellman, Miles Thompson,and Conrad Vernon create art for the pitch. Sadly it was turned down.

You can see all the great art on Nate's Blog here.

mike f. said...

Where are the Frosty O's of yesteryear?
No more? Alas!
Whence came the storm?
Whither goest Sugar Pops Pete and Twinkles the Elephant?

Washed up on the shores, whither the tempest hath tossed them.
And we are diminished...

- Shakespeare

I hate hippies.

Raff said...

I gotta ask...

Can you really compare one generation's childhood with another generation's childhood? You only get to experience one in your life.

Will Finn said...

The 'old' Tony Tiger had sharp teeth! Sharp teeth are scary to children--our modern infallible market voodoo proves this! ; )

Anonymous said...

I might just glow a bit of happiness telling that in 70's in Finland and other parts of scandinavia we got loads of beautifull Eastern european animation and russian animation every day in a telly & also fun designs in boxes and really many kind of cereals but the toys were fun.
i think the 50's fun just got late to there... happy me.
is still affecting my animation...

Thaks johnK for fantastic blog!

Totally agree with the -designs going worse- and the- pushing talented people over the cliff- stuff. I suppose creative people are more under a mercy of business customers nowadays who think that
"the pink cinderella bow should be in the middle of the sreen!!!" (ngggh!?!!)

I.D.R.C. said...

I don't care if anybody hates hippies. It just seems that this sense of hippy blame is enlarged and misplaced. That would be unfortunate if it were true. Not for all the hippies who mostly stopped existing already, but because it would mean missing what actually happened.

Zappa agrees with me. His story about the A&R guy didn't happen because he was a hippy, it happened because he was an asshole. Lots of assholes had a tie-dye shirt in '72. It looked fun to go outside, take LSD and blow bubbles. All the hip kids were doing it. After they tried it, they went back inside, had kids and set about evangelically child-proofing everything that wasn't nailed down. Those are hippies?

In my own opinion, disenfranchised moneyless bums, even if many of them were on sabbatical from upper middle-class families, are seldom the root cause of anything.

Pete Emslie said...

Hey John, how about running those great Starkist commercials? Tell 'em Charlie sent ya'...

Michelle said...

And they wonder why there's a rise in depression among teenagers. Well, that's just...depressing!

Hey, wow, Tony The Tiger has opposable thumbs and big muscles. That's just a fit of roid rage waiting to happen.

Kali Fontecchio said...

I really want to eat cereal and watch cartoons right now.

Barbara said...

John, you're hilarious. And thank you, thank you for adressing the hideodorous mess that is modern cereal packaging. I'm an avid cereal enthusiast, and I deplore the crimes being done to once respectable cereal mascots. Those cereal brands are damn lucky that they have prior decades of quality already establishing their good name, because I can't see how fugly Snap, Crackle and Pop could sell one box looking the way they do.

Anonymous said...

Thanx for the Zappa clip, it is complete truth.
These people want to put out the cheapest yet most mediocre crap that they can get away with.
Why do you think your printer can only last 2 years? Ironically that is when the warranty runs out and you have to buy a new one.
Why is my car made of plastic? Not even aluminum anymore. It isnt for those gas miles, its cause its cheap and mediocre. Back in the day they were made of steel....AND THEY LAST FOREVER!
My parents had a tape recorder that last 20 years and was used everyday! Now you buy a dvd player and it breaks in a year.
Cartoons today are angular because it is easier to animate thru computers with angular designs.
There are no more people, just a big machine, but no one wants the machine to win, so it cant last forever.
And yes its all the yuppies fault.

40mph_dan said...

Fully agree with your analysis of the era -- Except for blaming hippies -- We need further explanation if that's the case -- I think the cause is the same old story of the Advertising Machine adjusting to changing times -- Everyone sold out in the 80's, not just hippies turned yuppies...

Annie-Mae said...

Long time reader 1st time commenter but that's because I was so appailed by that last box of Coco Kripies it makes me cry as a graphic artist. The regular coco/rice krispies box is designed a little better but this is painfull, there is no even flow or balance. Snap, Crakle, Pop have horrible poses (look at those large hands and feet) and the food doesn't even look appatising. I can't imagin how anyone could design correctly with such ugly looking pictures. This had to be a real struggle to get to look good enough for the designer to feel satified to say it was done.

I remember in the 90s that I think they still had a monkey for a maskot of coco rice cereal but I don't know if it was Coco Krispies or some other brand(Post?). I remember him being horribly designed, like a realistic monkey with large monkey feet and a face you could say was a bad characiture of W. Bush. As a child I had to choose between Coco Puffs or some Coco Rice with a monkey with big ugly feet. That's one mascot design I'm glad is not longer on sale. This other monkey is really cool, looks real fun. I'd buy a box with him on it.

Selling morals with cereal is a funny thing to because I remember a set of mascots that were for Cookie Crisp who was a Burgler with a dog and a Cop who'd chase and catch them if they stole the Cookie Cripes. They always got caught because the dog would howl for Cookie Crisps. After a while they dropped the Burgler and Cop to just the dog who looked like a fat Sunny Cocobird ("Hungry for COOOkie Cripses" sounds like "COOOCOOO Puffs") and now they changed him to a Coyote. I like the Coyote but now he fallows the same theme as the Trix rabbit, always trying to get the cereal from a bunch of random kids. I miss the burgler...and the Hamburgler for that matter.

Racattack Force said...

Oh my god. I missed out on so much in the 30-something years I didn't exist! Tony thet Tiger was much better then and then those hippies. Why did they destroy everything fun!?

dibujador said...

great way to describe the history of childhood!

This is a great theme of discussion. Think in other countries too.

Chupa said...

Blaming "hippies" is a lame-ass cop-out. I like the stuff you like AND I like "hippies" but I also hate the stuff you hate. Although the Beatles were alot better after they became "hippies" no matter how much you and Uncle Eddie live in denial about that. What you hate are neo-liberals but you're blaming all leftists for the neo-liberals, haha. Most lefties hate neo-liberals too! Read Daily Kos and you'll see that progressives hate Hillary more than Glenn Beck does. And BTW conservatives are more PC than any liberals, and sort of more severe in enforcing their taboos.

I don't blame you for scapegoating tv execs though hahaha

el_lang said...

I rather to have the sugar free cereals ,I mean... I like to add the sugar myself or eat it with yogurt...and I think the problem it is not the pleasure that the sugar produces, but the concept of "eating sugar only because of the pleasure it produces"
I dont like the sixties, I never liked the beatles rollingstones etc, (I dont know is this is clear at all)
y ... creo que la mejor epoca para nacer fue en Buenos Aires a finales del setenta y ocho ,ya que pude crecer viendo mazinger z,dibujos de warner,he-man mazinger, robotech ,agente 86 , tres chiflados mi pequeño pony ,pato donald,y escuchar grunge en la adolecencia ... etc

Jose said...


ah, when TV was good. i miss that. on't forget, also: honeymooners, twilight zone, star trek...

Chip Butty said...

You said it best and first, hippies ruined everything. It's a relativist, empty world now that we're all "equally creative" and people think they have the right not to be offended. Anathema not only to art, but all of humanity.

justinmartyr said...

Hey John,

This commercial was most definitely animated by Ed Love.

T2 said...

Cigarettes also calmed your nerves, just ask all those doctors in the vintage ads.

Jeff Read said...

Here's what I think really happened.

The kids of the 50s realized that they had dental problems early on and diabetes and other health problems later. It kind of slowly dawned on them that stuffing kids with sugar is not healthy in its own right and tends to encourage poor health habits in the future.

They also looked at the massive amount of energy it takes to grow and process the grain, manufacture the cereal, and ship it to stores across the country. The kind of energy abundance necessary to sustain such an endeavor was taken for granted in the 50s, when there was still plenty of oil in the ground and the U.S. straddled the world with uncontestable military might.

So they became hippies, but only of the most craven sort. The real hippies you don't see; they're still in communes growing their own food, and certainly wouldn't have anything to do with The Man's oppressive sugar-frosted cereals. The ones who made it into the upper ranks of corporate America hated their jobs for what they were doing, but liked the smell and feel of cash money more than they hated their jobs. they thought that by selling kids ecological messages made from petroleum by-products (those little plastic eco-badges or, with a bit more imagination, Captain Planet action figures) they would be doing the world some good.

Personally my heart is with the hardcore hippies here. Cigarette ads used to be fun and cartoony, too, but the health benefits to everybody that have come with the recent smoking bans in the U.S. and U.K. far outweigh the lack of Fred and Barney smoking Winstons. The cereal I eat now tastes like sawdust, but it's good for me with whole grain, fiber, and Omega-3 fatty acids.

Jack Ruttan said...

Lots of mediocre stuff in the 50s-60s. I think time tends to wash away the bad or boring things from our memories, leaving only the good.

BlackCrow said...

I miss those puzzels on the back and the little vintage cars or space craft model kits inside.
I guess though the crappy designs are well matched to the crap inside them.

pappy d said...

Things were better when there was no children's entertainment industry. Disney features were re-released to theaters every 7 years in rotation. TV cartoons were all classics (even
if they were black & white). I even remember seeing WWII WB & Popeyes
that they'd never broadcast today ("I never mets a Jap what wasn't
yellow.") Nothing to watch on Sunday, though; all religious programming. Kids would play outside.

Before the Kennedy assasination boys used to play with toy guns. Today you can't point your index finger with intent in a school yard.

Cars were solid too. There was no such thing as planned obsolescence.
When they made stuff for kids, it was something kids would like. No
one was thinking about marketing kid stuff to moms. The fun went out
of childhood after some marketing genius figured out that it was Mom
who controlled the lion's share of discretionary spending in the family. Not that I blame Mom. It's her job to keep you from having fun.

The 70's were the age of marketing (see "Me decade"). Business freed
itself from the superstitious notion that it was responsible for
anything other than making an optimal return on investment. Maybe before that, self-interest was less enlightened. If you made widgets, you naively focussed on making a better widget & serving customers instead of dominating market share by packaging your widget as a lifestyle choice.

The big fad in behavioral science helped identify the psychological weaknesses of the consumer. Market testing pointed out the gap between our values & how we really spend our money. Car companies paid off Congress to keep imports out & sold shitboxes to a captive market because that's what made the best economic sense.

Studios still trust skilled professionals to entertain kids, but who wants to do that? There's more money in having footage done by unskilled workers in countries with a much more favorable business climate. And quality? Well unless you can quantify it in hard numbers, does it truly exist? Not in a quarterly report on earnings.


Hippies didn't do anything. That's their greatest distinguishing characteristic.


I know it's a shitty illustration, but that wasn't meant to be simmering lust. It's the bliss of mother-wisdom.

Emi said...

My god, you're right. I study amusement park history and came to pretty much the same conclusion. Back then everything was psychological and visceral; dark rides were art and the people who designed them (my god, Bill Tracy!) were founts of talent doing what they loved. Today it's watered down, PC, and devoid of these wellsprings of fun that populated the mid-20th-century.

I was born in 84, so I was fortunate enough to grow up in the cartoon mini-renaissance of the mid-90s among genius like Ren and Stimpy (I truly admire your work!) and the truly surreal revival of Felix the Cat. But every day when I research old parks I lament that I was born too late to enjoy the days before market research when fun wasn't solely for kids and actually meant something.

Vincent said...

Jay Decro, I read your post.

IMO, the reason why the 50s and early 60s felt like a paradise to Americans was because news agencies did not report on wars. Surely there were overseas wars in the 50s and 60s (Iran Coup d'état, colonial struggles in Vietnam, Africa, and elsewhere, and ESPECIALLY Mao Zedong's policies in PR China) - If you talk to a Chinese person (From the PR China) about how peaceful the 50s and 60s are, they will wonder what you are talking about. The book China Road explains that Americans had good lives in the 50s and 60s, but Mao ruined the Chinese during the same period.

As for conditions within the US, we had murders (Herbert Clutter), gangsters (watched The Blackboard Jungle?), mafia, disasters such as Our Lady of the Angels, etc. It's just that people didn't pay as much attention to that stuff.

So, where does this leave us? As Snopes said regarding a post about immigrants, "Plus ca change, plus c'est la meme chose" - The more things change, the more they stay the same :)

Vincent said...

Bitter Animator said: "
But corporate money-hungry committees, shareholders, traders etc - they're the people you need to be looking to. In my opinion, they're the assholes."

The internet helps us circumvent them :) - Remember Maddox (The Best Page in the Universe)? He has no advertising so he isn't told what to do by companies. His site is very much popular! :)

Vincent said...

Pappy d said: "Before the Kennedy assasination boys used to play with toy guns. Today you can't point your index finger with intent in a school yard." - It's either NERF or nothing! :)

BadIdeaScot said...

I am not trying to justify the continued use of the modern Tony the Tiger mascot, but I assume that he looks muscular to sell the idea that Frosted Flakes are somewhat healthy.

Anonymous said...

This is to Vincent,

I know it sounds stupid to say this, but "ignorance is bliss". Back then we didn't know what was going on, and now we know alot more, and yea, I forgot to mention the cold war, I'm sure everyone was scared of that. I feel Terrorism, is just a continuation of that, you know, government keeping us on our toes.
But you have to admit one thing. People were alot nicer to each other 15 years ago then they are now, everyone on your block new you and your neighbors. Now everyone keeps to themselves, and everyone is to blame, me included, but yea =P

Kiki said...

Oh man -- I just found myself a mug & plate featuring the old Tony, and I could not believe it -- the design literally drew me towards it from the other side of the shop!
Bold colours & fun drawings -- wow!

Why do we have Tony the quarterback now? It's just... unfair!

Lloyd said...

Referenced at:

Captain Napalm said...

Alright, glad I discovered this post, 'cause I have lots of opinions on this and I've wanted to express them for a long time.

I don't think fun died in the 70s. There is no denying that CARTOONS died, but that was the result of years and years of internal problems simply adding up to disaster. As for the rest of media, I think the people who took control were, as IDRC skillfully notes, ASSHOLES, NOT HIPPIES!!!
But people who wanted fun and outrageousness lost control of cartoons....and they went elsewhere. Where? Rock & Roll, for one thing. Think about it: Was Freddie Mercury anything short of a Clampett character come to life? Could the vocal stylings of Patti Smith, Talking Heads and Devo be described as anything OTHER than pure cartoon madness??

And what about movies? I don't personally think Ken Russel's "Tommy" is exactly what you'd call successful in it's execution, but at least as an ATTEMPT to do Tex Avery in live action, it's hard to beat. I think the seventies was a time of truly smashing entertainment - it's just that it wasn't rubbing off on cartoons. Which is a shame.

the plummer said...

designing for commercials now, i realize more and more where you're coming from when you mention the impossibilities to inject any ounce of creativity into drawing for it. there are so many safety measures you have to abide by, and so much of one fun drawing is dumbed down to appeal to someone who thinks things have to look safe to sell. Like you said, no sugar on the box, you can't draw cartoonishly huge proportions of cereal in the bowl in the commercial, cartoon kids and animals have to have perfect teeth, not overweight, proportions safe and smooth in both animation and illustrations, no unnecessary violence towards the characters, the list goes on! these are great shots of tony though; i always love these vintage pieces resurfacing on this blog!

Steve C. said...

Mr.Semaj, your open disclaimer aaside, I have to say the entertainment in 80s at elast was god awful on Sat AM's, and and even movies.

Joseph, right on about the Hair Bear Bunch. And let's not forget the sideways eight [LOL] eyes, or Pebbles and Bamm Bamm at that time.

To Jerry Beck: Many of us knew Thurl Ravenscroft as Tony, but I didn't know that was Art Gilmore asd narrator---he narrated the open to "Highway Patrol" [hijacked by Phil Hendrie for his old Jay Santos bits.] :)

Matzi said...

no sir i don't like it

i like more Sugar Sod Pops!! :)