Animated, hedonistic, and incomparably entertaining, cereal mascots are an invaluable cog in the cereal industry’s $237 million strategy to market their sugar-infested products to today’s youth. While the morality of such shenanigans by multi-billion dollar corporations, such as General Mills and Kellogg’s, are up for debate, there is no denying that these characters, in hindsight, were an integral part of any adult’s childhood, in the same category as Hot Wheels, Nerf Guns, Pogs, and, of course, Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles. Now that the forces of nostalgia are running rampant, below is a list comparing the world of sports to these affable characters:
Tony the Tiger: The God of cereal mascots, Tony the Tiger’s greatness is exemplified through his unparalleled level of athletic ability, and, more importantly, his “servant-leader”-esque leadership. Numerous commercials showcase the legendary character as being that “extra push” that children need to realize their potential and fulfill all of their wildest aspirations.
In the realm of sports, nobody embodies Tony the Tiger better than Canada’s own Steve Nash. Not only because of his status as two-time NBA MVP, but also because of his ability and commitment to bring out the Tiger in those around him. Before his migration to the desert, the Phoenix Suns were a talented, yet unorganized bunch headlined by young phenom Amare Stoudemire and the ultra-versatile Shawn Marion. Nash and his supreme playmaking abilities proved to be the missing piece to the puzzle, thrusting Phoenix to the upper echelon of the NBA, tapping the full potential of Amare, the Matrix, and the rest of the team, and revolutionizing basketball with their “Seven Seconds or Less” offensive philosophy. Nash’s servant-leader like approach is recognizable off the court as well, with the Steve Nash Foundation and his recent work in helping Vancouver inch closer to attaining an MLS franchise.
Sugar Bear: The Bizzaro World cereal mascot. Unlike the prototypical overly-energetic cereal mascot, the Sugar Bear conveys an almost stoner like vibe, and has carved out a recognizable niche in this homogeneous segment.
To make a comparison within a comparison, Sugar Bear is analogous to Sam Jackson’s character of Jules in Pulp Fiction. Cool, calm, and collected, both characters are revered as icons in their respective worlds. While Sugar Bear (probably) doesn’t have Ezekiel 25:17 memorized, he does possess the same swagger and “whateva, I do what I want” attitude as Jules. Also, they both have the ability to inflict substantial pain on adversaries – Jules with his proficiency in silencers (and overall imposing demeanor) and Sugar Bear with his brute force that he exhibits when laying the beatdown on rhinos, tigers, snakes, etc.
Both characters draw parallels to the Big Aristotle – Shaquille O’Neal. Although not the force that he was in his Laker days, Shaq, at a gargantuan 7 ft 1 inch and 325 lbs, still is an intimidating figure and is definitely the last person someone would want to throw it down with. Simply put, Shaq is as composed as both characters, commands the type of respect that Jules does in Pulp Fiction (maybe even on the level of Winston Wolf) , and, for some reason to me, Sugar Bear’s voice sounds like a slightly higher pitched Shaq. So for those of you keeping track at home: Shaq=Sugar Bear = Jules.
Trix Rabbit: Full of angst and constant disappointment, the Trix rabbit is by far the most complex cereal mascot. His sole goal in life is to consume a bowl of Trix cereal, yet he finds himself at a recurrent impasse with his chief adversary, children, who keep him from fulfilling his ambition. Despite innumerable, crushing failures, the Trix rabbit remains persevering and dedicated towards achieving his goal, and, in turn, elicits sympathy from audiences.
The Trix rabbit’s struggles are akin to Jim Kelly’s, the Hall of Fame quarterback who wins the award for the “uber talented individual who failed to win the big one.” The centerpiece of the K-gun offense (one that would usher in the prominent rise of the ever-entertaining hurry-up offense), Kelly took the Bills to 4 consecutive Super Bowls, but could never pull out that elusive victory. A volatile concoction of “America’s team,” the Dallas Cowboys, and his own kicker, Scott Norwood (“Wide Right”), can be considered the children in this analogy, being the barrier that prevents Kelly from achieving champion status.
Note: Thanks to a marketing ploy, the Trix rabbit finally reached the pinnacle of his existence, enjoying Trix cereal in the 80s. However, this is a mere aberration from the fate cast upon him.
Toucan Sam: The Shawn Kemp of the cereal mascot world, for the following reasons:
1. Kemp’s fall from All-Star status was precipitated by his inability to maintain a Slim Jim figure. Similarly, Toucan Sam, and toucans in general, are revered as a large-billed birds, hindering their ability to fly on the same speed level of other bird, a predicament that Kemp knows all too well. Fruit Loops, however, appear to improve your speed if you are indeed a toucan.
2. While Toucan Sam constantly sniffs out sources of Fruit Loops, so does Shawn Kemp seemingly every year in search of any team that will give him the chance to rejuvenate his once enviable career.
3. Both follow their nose…albeit in different ways. Toucan Sam’s goal is to satisfy his insatiable craving for Fruit Loops. Conversely, Kemp’s tendency to follow his nose has led to run-ins with the law in concerns to cocaine possession, merely emboldening his reputation as a cautionary tale to young athletes today.
4. While Toucan Sam shares his expertise in scouring the environment for Fruit Loops with his nephews, Kemp has done away with competing with Travis Henry on who can father the most illegitimate children, and is becoming a true role model for his talented son, who is recognized by scouts as having a legitimate shot at making the NBA, and advising him on avoiding the pitfalls that ruined his career.
Snap, Crackle, Pop: The lifeblood of the Rice Krispies franchise, this cereal mascot squad is the equivalent of arguably the greatest trio in the NBA during the 90s: Michael Jordan, Scottie Pippen, and the one and only Dennis Rodman. In commercials, Snap and Crackle are portrayed as the stalwarts of the team, focused on helping kids realize that Rice Krispies are an intricate part of any complete breakfast. Conversely, Pop is conveyed as the one who is always disappearing, getting into unthinkable predicaments, and, all in all, being that entertaining element that a successful cereal mascot team needs to appeal to their child viewers.
Similarly, MJ and Scottie were the leaders of the Bulls second three-peat of the 90s, counted on to make timely plays and take the key shots. The aforementioned Rodman, with his rebounding and defensive forte, was a key factor in re-establishing the Bulls as the Team of the 90s, and without him, it is conceivable to believe that MJ’s return wouldn’t have been the success that it was. Despite his erratic conduct both on and off the court and the overall imbalance of his eccentricity ratio, Rodman effectively shut down Karl Malone during the Bulls-Jazz Finals rivalry, paving the way for victory. Rodman was that Pop, that proverbial X-factor that propelled the Bulls to dynasty status.
In today’s NBA environment, it seems as if the Houston Rockets are hedging their bets on Ron Artest being that Pop that will propel them past the point of being a perennial 1st round disappointment.
Possible other comparisons:
Count Chocula – Steinbrenners and the Yankees’ “Evil Empire”
Cookie Crisp Crook – Pacman Jones/Chris Henry
Office Crumb – Roger Goodell
Captain Crunch – ?
Lucky Charms Leprechaun – ?
This article has been submitted by Kabeir Dilawri.