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YouTube

10 Parents, Kids and Spouses of Popular Advertising Characters

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YouTube

You know the Pillsbury Doughboy, Elsie the Cow and Tony the Tiger, but many of the advertising mascots we know and love have lesser-known wives, husbands, kids and even parents. Pop a breath mint and be on your best behavior, because it's time to meet the families—and one who probably is family, paternity test pending.

1. The Pillsbury Doughboy has a huge family, all with awesome, pun-tastic names. The Doughboy himself is actually named Poppin' Fresh and his wife is named Poppie Fresh. They have two roly-poly children named Popper (the son) and Bun Bun (the daughter). There's also GrandPopper and GrandMommer, plus Biscuit the cat and Flapjack the dog. Every now and then, Uncle Rollie makes an appearance, and once, Poppin' Fresh's mother made him crescent rolls in a commercial.

2. Geoffrey the Giraffe has been instrumental in getting your kids to demand a stop at Toys "R" Us since the 1960s. Gigi is Geoffrey's wife. Geoffrey's daughter, Baby Gee, was introduced in 1973, followed by son Junior (a.k.a. Geoffrey Junior) in 1979.

An ad from 1965. Jamie via Flickr // CC BY 2.0

3. Sonny the Cocoa Puffs bird (you know, he's cuckoo for Cocoa Puffs) gets his name because when he first appeared in commercials, he was accompanied by Gramps, an elderly bird who liked to tease him with the chocolate-y cereal. Gramps was eventually replaced by kids who tormented Sonny instead.

4. Elsie the Cow from Borden Dairies was "married" to Elmer the Bull from Elmer's Glue. Seriously! They were real-life animals at the Borden company that ended up representing Borden products. They even had babies, including Beulah, Beauregard and twins named Larabee and Lobelia.

5. Snap, Crackle and Pop, the Kellogg's Rice Krispies elves, have another brother named Pow. Pow was supposed to represent the explosive nutritional value of the cereal, but four elves proved to be too many cooks in the kitchen, and Pow was, um, detonated.

6. Tux, the adorable Linux penguin, has a female companion. Unsurprisingly, her name is Gown.

7. Jack Box (of, you guessed it, Jack in the Box) has been married to his lovely wife, Cricket, for many years, and they have a son named Jack Jr. and dog, Max.

8. Tony the Tiger has quite the family we don't often hear about. Right from the start, Tony had a son named Tony Jr., but we weren't introduced to the rest of the fam until the '70s, when Mama Tony, Mrs. Tony, and daughter Antoinette (not pictured) were given air time. Tony Jr. graduated to become the face of his own cereal in 1975—Frosted Rice—but it didn't last long.

Getty

9. RCA has been using Nipper the dog since way back when Nipper was hearing "His Master's Voice" come out of an Edison-Bell phonograph. He was based on a real dog by the same name (so-called because he bit everyone, which is charming) who died in 1895. Nipper's "son" Chipper started appearing in RCA ads in 1991.

10. As far as we know, Sprout is not the Jolly Green Giant's son. He's just an apprentice. An apprentice who happens to look like a miniature version of the big man himself. Hmm. There aren't exactly a lot of green giants running around the world for Sprout to have come from, and the other characters in the classic commercials are usually human farmers. Seems suspicious.

This piece originally ran in 2010.

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How Frozen Peas Made Orson Welles Lose It
Rebecca O'Connell (Getty Images) (iStock)
Rebecca O'Connell (Getty Images) (iStock)

Orson Welles would have turned 103 years old today. While the talented actor/director/writer leaves behind a staggering body of work—including Citizen Kane, long regarded as the best film of all time—the YouTube generation may know him best for what happened when a couple of voiceover directors decided to challenge him while recording an ad for Findus frozen foods in 1970.

The tempestuous Welles is having none of it. You’d do yourself a favor to listen to the whole thing, but here are some choice excerpts.

After he was asked for one more take from the audio engineer:

"Look, I’m not used to having more than one person in there. One more word out of you and you go! Is that clear? I take directions from one person, under protest … Who the hell are you, anyway?"

After it was explained to him that the second take was requested because of a “slight gonk”:

"What is a 'gonk'? Do you mind telling me what that is?"

After the director asks him to emphasize the “in” while saying “In July”:

"Why? That doesn't make any sense. Sorry. There's no known way of saying an English sentence in which you begin a sentence with 'in' and emphasize it. … That's just stupid. 'In July?' I'd love to know how you emphasize 'in' in 'in July.' Impossible! Meaningless!"

When the session moved from frozen peas to ads for fish fingers and beef burgers, the now-sheepish directors attempt to stammer out some instructions. Welles's reply:

"You are such pests! ... In your depths of your ignorance, what is it you want?"

Why would the legendary director agree to shill for a frozen food company in the first place? According to author Josh Karp, whose book Orson Welles’s Last Movie chronicles the director’s odyssey to make a “comeback” film in the 1970s, Welles acknowledged the ad spots were mercenary in nature: He could demand upwards of $15,000 a day for sessions, which he could use, in part, to fund his feature projects.

“Why he dressed down the man, I can't say for sure,” Karp says. “But I know that he was a perfectionist and didn't suffer fools, in some cases to the extreme. He used to take a great interest in the ads he made, even when they weren't of his creation.”

The Findus session was leaked decades ago, popping up on radio and in private collections before hitting YouTube. Voiceover actor Maurice LaMarche, who voiced the erudite Brain in Pinky and the Brain, based the character on Welles and would recite his rant whenever he got the chance.

Welles died in 1985 at the age of 70 from a heart attack, his last film unfinished. While some saw the pea endorsement as beneath his formidable talents, he was actually ahead of the curve: By the 1980s, many A-list stars were supplementing their income with advertising or voiceover work.

“He was a brilliant, funny guy,” Karp says. “There's a good chance he'd think the pea commercial was hilarious.” If not, he’d obviously have no problem saying as much.

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How Google Chrome’s New Built-In Ad Blocker Will Change Your Browsing Experience
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If you can’t stand web ads that auto-play sound and pop up in front of what you’re trying to read, you have two options: Install an ad blocker on your browser or avoid the internet all together. Starting Thursday, February 15, Google Chrome is offering another tool to help you avoid the most annoying ads on the web, Tech Crunch reports. Here’s what Google Chrome users should expect from the new feature.

Chrome’s ad filtering has been in development for about a year, but the details of how it will work were only recently made public. “While most advertising on the web is respectful of user experience, over the years we've increasingly heard from our users that some advertising can be particularly intrusive,” Google wrote in a blog post. “As we announced last June, Chrome will tackle this issue by removing ads from sites that do not follow the Better Ads Standards.

That means the new feature won’t block all ads from publishers or even block most of them. Instead, it will specifically target ads that violate the Better Ad Standards that the Coalition for Better Ads recommends based on consumer data. On desktop, this includes auto-play videos with sound, sticky banners that follow you as you scroll, pop-ups, and prestitial ads that make you wait for a countdown to access the site. Mobile Chrome users will be spared these same types of ads as well as flashing animations, ads that take up more than 30 percent of the screen, and ads the fill the whole screen as you scroll past them.

These criteria still leave room for plenty of ads to show up online—the total amount of media blocked by the feature won’t even amount to 1 percent of all ads. So if web browsers are looking for an even more ad-free experience, they should use Chrome’s ad filter as a supplement to one of the many third-party ad blockers out there.

And if accessing content without navigating a digital obstacle course first doesn’t sound appealing to you, don’t worry: On sites where ads are blocked, Google Chrome will show a notification that lets you disable the feature.

[h/t Tech Crunch]

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