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Oreo Twists its way into the storied history of food mascots and marketing

Updated: Aug 16, 2012 12:32 PM EDT
The Elvis Oreo Twist. (©Kraft Foods Inc.) The Elvis Oreo Twist. (©Kraft Foods Inc.)
Modern versions of Tony the Tiger and Snap!, Crackle! and Pop!. (©PRNewsFoto/Kellogg Company) Modern versions of Tony the Tiger and Snap!, Crackle! and Pop!. (©PRNewsFoto/Kellogg Company)
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By Dan Meade

(WORLDNOW) -- Every so often there is a story of about a piece of toast or a waffle that looks like Jesus, but have you heard the one about the Oreo that looked like Elvis? This creamy and crunchy King was no factory fluke or the result of bad lighting -- Oreo has chosen to celebrate Elvis Week with a portrait of the musical legend done in the style of an Oreo Twist.

These Oreo Twists, cute and timely graphics that celebrate the Mars rover Curiosity, Michael Phelps' Olympics feats and other timely events are part of Kraft's celebration of the 100th anniversary of the little black and white cookie that could. The Twists may be timely, but they are only meant to last for 100 days -- one for each year celebrated during the Oreo's centennial -- meaning that they may eventually be forgotten like so many marketing ideas of the past. Or they might not be. Many a marketing idea has come and gone, but some of them remain with us today, either in a new form or as a faint memory found within the shadow of a stronger idea.

With that in mind, here a four grocery store marketing ideas you may or may remember from the past 100 years.

Snap! Crackle! and Pop!, Kellogg's ­­­onomatopoeic sprites weren't always the peppy characters that they are now. When they first graced boxes of Rice Krispies in the 1930s the trio were drawn as gnomes with exaggerated noses, ears and hats and would stay this way until they evolved into their more human appearances in 1949.

Frosted Flakes' fearless feline Tony the Tiger may be "gr-r-reat" by today's standards, but when his cereal launched in 1952 he was just one part of the Kellogg rotation. Katy the Kangaroo, Elmo the Elephant and Newt the Gnu have all graced the cover of Frosted Flakes cereal, but in less than a year Tony was appearing in LIFE magazine while Newt and friends were on their way back to the zoo.

When General Mills launched Count Chocula, Franken Berry and Boo Berry they weren't the only ghouls in the cupboard. There was also Fruit Brute, a werewolf whose passion for fruit-based cereal was based on "the howling good taste of fruit." After Fruit Brute was discontinued, Fruity Yummy Mummy made a short-lived appearance on store shelves before it too was retired, leaving the supermarket haunting duties to the core trio of the Monsters line.

Poppin' Fresh, also known by his official title as The Pillsbury Doughboy, has had almost as many careers and hobbies as Barbie. Over the years he has been an opera singer, a rapper and a painter on his way towards his most recent obsession -- dancing the robot. Despite the changes in his careers, Fresh's appearance, and giggling catchphrase, has remained essentially the same.

If this look into the back stories of some of these mascots has inspired you, or if you're just a fan of playing with Oreos, you can submit your own Oreo creations to Nabisco. If you already knew all of these stories, there is a name-that-mascot quiz you may want to try that delves a little deeper into food marketing history (the identities are below the graphic).

Dan Meade is the Entertainment editor for Worldnow. You can follow him on Twitter here.

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