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Easter with... the Duracell Bunny?

The Energizer Bunny was ripped off from a Duracell commercial? The outfits worn by Playboy Bunnies were the first patented work outfits?  No, you're not hallucinating due to a sugar high from all those chocolate eggs and jellybeans. Those facts are true! Here are more details, along with some other information about famous bunnies of the non-Easter variety.

Hef's Bunnies

The Playboy Bunnies who served as waitresses, hostesses, and photographers at the famous chain of gentlemen's clubs were Hugh Hefner's vision of the Perfect Woman, 1960s-style. She was sexy, yet exuded innocence; she had perfectly sculpted hair, healthy glowing skin, and cantilevered cleavage. The Bunny Suit (the first service uniform to be registered with the U.S. Patent Office) was constructed on a Merry Widow corset. Each club employed a full-time seamstress who custom-crafted the wardrobe of each and every Bunny. In order to assure an optimum costume adherence-to-curves ratio, Bunnies were forbidden to gain or lose more than one pound after being hired. The club manager would conduct a weigh-in before each work shift.

Recognize the Bunny above? It's future Blondie lead singer Deborah Harry!

Killer Bunnies

April 1979: Jimmy Carter's presidency had already been beleaguered by setbacks like the Energy Crisis and his admission that he'd committed adultery in his heart (but not with a cigar). So no one could fault the president for seeking solace in a solitary fishing trip near his hometown of Plains, Georgia. Of course, no matter how much privacy he craves, no sitting president is ever truly alone. In this case, several Secret Service agents and a White House photographer were keeping tabs on Carter in a nearby boat. Quite suddenly, what appeared to be an angry rabbit began swimming purposefully toward the President's boat. According to Carter, the bunny hissed loudly, with nostrils flared and teeth gnashing. Carter smacked his oar upon the water in an attempt to frighten the amphibious rabbit, and the bunny switched direction and paddled to shore. The photographer in tow had the presence of mind to snap a few pictures of the incident.

The whole thing might have remained a personal "fish story" for the few who witnessed the event, but Press Secretary Jody Powell unwisely recounted the tale while having lunch with an Associated Press reporter that August. In fact, Carter had barely recovered from the media onslaught of his "killer rabbit" story when 53 Americans were taken hostage in Iran. Ever the optimist, Carter still gamely ran for re-election in 1980.

Cereal Bunnies

General Mills launched Trix, the first fruit-flavored cereal on the market, in 1954. Five years later, Battle Creek's other cereal makers had come up with their own similar cereals in direct competition with Trix. The company turned to ad agency Dancer Fitzgerald Sample to give the brand an "identity," which arrived in the form of the Trix Rabbit.

Joe Harris, a member of the agency's creative staff, came up with the entire concept over a weekend "“ the character, the catch-phrase ("Silly rabbit, Trix are for kids!") and story boards for several commercials. The original voice of the Trix Rabbit was provided by Delo States, who also voiced Stanley Livingston in the Tennessee Tuxedo cartoon series. By the way, the Rabbit did finally get to eat a bowl of Trix in 1976, some 17 years after he first longed for the cereal that originally had just three flavors: raspberry red, lemon yellow and orange orange.

Perpetual Bunnies

Who knew that the Energizer Bunny was actually a knock-off? Such is the power of good ol' American advertising. Way back in 1973, Duracell launched an advertising campaign that compared its batteries to other brands by placing them inside a group of plush pink toy bunnies that played the snare drum. Of course, the bunny that beat his drum the longest was the one with the Duracell battery. That particular advertising campaign was launched worldwide and is still the de facto bunny in Europe and Australia.

In 1989, the Chicago office of the DDB Advertising Agency came up with a parody ad - featuring a "cool" sunglass-wearing pink bunny beating on a bass drum - to promote the long life of Energizer batteries. The Energizer Bunny took on a life of its own and was mentioned in everything from presidential campaigns (Seventy-two year old candidate Bob Dole compared himself to the Energizer Bunny) to TV theme songs (the lyrics to the theme for the final season of Roseanne mentioned "that rabbit with a drum"). Thanks to copyright laws and those execs who were too late to employ them, the Energizer Bunny is basically a North American icon, while Europe and Australia still associate drum-beating rabbits with "copper-top" Duracell.

Smart-Aleck Bunnies

Bugs Bunny was a product of the Warner Brothers Looney Tunes/Merrie Melodies series of animated films. The 1939 animated short Hare-Em Scare-Em was technically the third appearance of the leporine character, but the first to depict him as a grey hare, rather than white, and also the first to mention his name "Bugs" (in honor of animator Ben "Bugs" Hardaway). Director Tex Avery came up with Bugs' catch-phrase "What's up, Doc?", which had been a popular slang greeting at the North Dallas high school he attended. Avery described his vision of Bugs to veteran voice actor Mel Blanc, who decided on a "Flatbush" accent for Bugs "“ a combination of Bronx and Brooklyn dialects. Blanc's characterization gave Bugs' "Ain't I a stinker?" and "Of course you know this means war!" remarks a certain cutting-edge snarkiness that made him an underdog hero to the masses who were feeling the weight of the world on their shoulders as the U.S. struggled to recover from the Great Depression.

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Animals
Why Tiny 'Hedgehog Highways' Are Popping Up Around London
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Hedgehogs as pets have gained popularity in recent years, but in many parts of the world, they're still wild animals. That includes London, where close to a million of the creatures roam streets, parks, and gardens, seeking out wood and vegetation to take refuge in. Now, Atlas Obscura reports that animal activists are transforming the city into a more hospitable environment for hedgehogs.

Barnes Hedgehogs, a group founded by Michel Birkenwald in the London neighborhood of Barnes four years ago, is responsible for drilling tiny "hedgehog highways" through walls around London. The passages are just wide enough for the animals to climb through, making it easier for them to travel from one green space to the next.

London's wild hedgehog population has seen a sharp decline in recent decades. Though it's hard to pin down accurate numbers for the elusive animals, surveys have shown that the British population has dwindled by tens of millions since the 1950s. This is due to factors like human development and habitat destruction by farmers who aren't fond of the unattractive shrubs, hedges, and dead wood that hedgehogs use as their homes.

When such environments are left to grow, they can still be hard for hedgehogs to access. Carving hedgehog highways through the stone partitions and wooden fences bordering parks and gardens is one way Barnes Hedgehogs is making life in the big city a little easier for its most prickly residents.

[h/t Atlas Obscura]

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Big Questions
Where Should You Place the Apostrophe in President's Day?
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Happy Presidents’ Day! Or is it President’s Day? Or Presidents Day? What you call the national holiday depends on where you are, who you’re honoring, and how you think we’re celebrating.

Saying "President’s Day" infers that the day belongs to a singular president, such as George Washington or Abraham Lincoln, whose birthdays are the basis for the holiday. On the other hand, referring to it as "Presidents’ Day" means that the day belongs to all of the presidents—that it’s their day collectively. Finally, calling the day "Presidents Day"—plural with no apostrophe—would indicate that we’re honoring all POTUSes past and present (yes, even Andrew Johnson), but that no one president actually owns the day.

You would think that in the nearly 140 years since "Washington’s Birthday" was declared a holiday in 1879, someone would have officially declared a way to spell the day. But in fact, even the White House itself hasn’t chosen a single variation for its style guide. They spelled it “President’s Day” here and “Presidents’ Day” here.


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Maybe that indecision comes from the fact that Presidents Day isn’t even a federal holiday. The federal holiday is technically still called “Washington’s Birthday,” and states can choose to call it whatever they want. Some states, like Iowa, don’t officially acknowledge the day at all. And the location of the punctuation mark is a moot point when individual states choose to call it something else entirely, like “George Washington’s Birthday and Daisy Gatson Bates Day” in Arkansas, or “Birthdays of George Washington/Thomas Jefferson” in Alabama. (Alabama loves to split birthday celebrations, by the way; the third Monday in January celebrates both Martin Luther King, Jr., and Robert E. Lee.)

You can look to official grammar sources to declare the right way, but even they don’t agree. The AP Stylebook prefers “Presidents Day,” while Chicago Style uses “Presidents’ Day.”

The bottom line: There’s no rhyme or reason to any of it. Go with what feels right. And even then, if you’re in one of those states that has chosen to spell it “President’s Day”—Washington, for example—and you use one of the grammar book stylings instead, you’re still technically wrong.

Have you got a Big Question you'd like us to answer? If so, let us know by emailing us at bigquestions@mentalfloss.com.

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