Food and mascots have an odd relationship. Instead of making a menu that lets their chefs do the talking, there are several big brands who seem convinced that the best way to get us to buy their stuff is with a fluffy animal or cuddly toy, rather than something tasty. Given how many mascots now roam the foodscape, there must be some method in the madness.
For the most part, food companions are nothing more than a bit of harmless fun. However, some businesses have taken it upon themselves to create characters so bizarre that they warrant closer, extremely confused examination. From the depths of food history, here are six of the weirdest mascots of all time.
1. Krinkle the Clown
Despite the fact that generations of children have endured sleepless nights at the hands of these circus devils, people still seem to think that clowns are an appropriate way to sell stuff. Even with the innately creepy connotations of Ronald McDonald, the undisputed king of terrifying food clowns is Post’s 1960s abomination, Krinkle. Looking like Pennywise’s drug dealing cousin, it’s tough to think of a less appetising image to have on a cereal box.
2. The Noid
Even though it was at the centre of one of the most successful marketing campaigns in food history, there’s no escaping the fact that The Noid is one weird mascot. Sent from Mars to prevent pizzas from being delivered hot, The Noid spawned merchandise, music and video games. Unfortunately, it all fell apart when an armed paranoid schizophrenic took a Domino's Pizza joint hostage after apparently being ordered to by coded messages straight from the annoying mascot itself.
3. The Wizard of Fries
Although they’ve been poisoning us for decades, you can’t deny that McDonald’s have a very nifty marketing team. Classic characters like the Hamburglar and Ronald himself have been luring children through the doors since the 1960s. Unsurprisingly, others have tried to muscle in. Burger King’s attempt at a range of equally colourful characters hit rock bottom with this ridiculous idea. A robot powered by chips, the Wizard of Fries is proof that magic and potatoes don’t belong together.
You might think that Kool-Aid struck gold when they decided to centre their business around an anthropomorphic jug. Though the Kool-Aid-Man has certainly stuck around, the idea of a deceptively agile glass beaker pursuing kids with tumblers of strange pink juice is enough to unsettle even the most staunch fast food defender. Whatever his motives may be, the Kool-Aid-Man needs to be watched.
5. Jack in the Box
Sometimes, the most unsettling things are the most simple. The circular smiling face of the Jack in the Box mascot is one of those things. Slender Man meets Jack Skellington in a sinister, soulless caricature that looks as likely to stab you as to serve you food. Why anyone would trust a burger made by this creature is utterly baffling.
Ignoring the fact that Chuck-E-Cheese chose to place a rat at the helm of their food franchise, the brand seem to have gone out of their way to make the eponymous rodent look as threatening as possible. With a face that looks like it belongs in one of the interminable Five Nights at Freddy’s sequels, this is one food mascot that should be taken back to the drawing board.
As long as the food industry continues to want more of our money, we will always have to watch out for silly characters designed to help them get it. However, as the above aptly prove, some ideas are clearly more acceptable than others. Any fast food execs reading should take note - if your creation is more Stephen King than Burger King, it probably doesn’t belong.