Museum of Modern Mythology

Who would think that such cute little characters could cause such bad blood, but apparently Colgate has filed suit against GlaxoSmithKline Plc. Glaxo, the manufacturers of Aqua Fresh, had complained to Colgate that their new ad campaign featuring the characters show above (dubbed “Nurdles” by Colgate), used the phrase “Triple Action,” which Glaxo felt was too much like the “Triple Protection” phrase they use for Aqua Fresh. Colgate’s response? A 76-page complaint filed against Glaxo. Clearly they are believers in the First Strike principle. Even so, the little guy on the left does look quite a bit like Aqua Fresh!

– Jim Morton


Like many Americans—er, well maybe not very many Americans, but most of the rest of the world—I have been intently following the World Cup matches this week. Thanks to the excellent Guardian web site, I learned about a hilarious web site that features famous soccer matches recreated with Legos. The funniest of the lot is the 1966 match between West Germany and England, which is recreated to look like it was shot in black-and-white on grainy old film.

Lego, which started as a plastic building block manufacturer, entered the realm of modern mythology with addition in 1978 of the components needed to make little, movable people. No longer just plastic blocks, Lego sets now offered the ability to create entire narratives. Soon, specific sets were being sold to cater to individual fantasies (pirates, vikings), movie tie-ins (Star Wars, Indiana Jones), and even as objet d’art (Polish artist, Zbigniew Libera’s infamous Lego concentration camp sets).

– Jim Morton

My former Museum of Modern Mythology cohort, Bonny Baldwin, has just created great new website called Beauty and Dust. I’ve always been impressed with Bonny’s aesthetics. This week she explores one of my favorite L.A. area stores, Big Kid Collectible Toy Mall in Sherman Oaks. Whenever I am down in the southland, I try to make a stop here (along with Galco’s in Highland Park). I never buy anything; most of the things I like are out of my price range. But it is a fun store to explore. Thanks Bonny!

– Jim Morton

One of the weirder memes to show up on the Internet is the “Leo Burnett and 4Kids are the Devil” meme.  I first encountered it while listening to Leo Burnett’s brilliant speech to his co-workers at a holiday meeting. Some posts read below the video read: “Leo Burnett and 4Kids are the devil.” That was it. No explanation, no further embellishment.

It turns out that 4Kids, the production company responsible for dubbing and distributing Pokémon and Yu-Gi-Oh! cartoons in the American market, inserted this phrase as a backwards masked message in an episode of Pokémon. It was their own little in-house joke, and I doubt if they expected the world to discover it. Ah, foolish mortals! Don’t you know the Internet knows all and sees all?

Here is the link to the Pokémon scene in question.

– Jim Morton

Neato Coolville has a great collection of advertising character photos on his Flickr account. He has several that were not in What a Character! Check out his other sets of advertising and roadside attractions as well.

– Jim Morton

Tony the Tiger was introduced in 1952 as part of an advertising campaign for Kellogg’s Sugar Frosted Flakes. Reportedly, Kellogg had planned to use a different animal for every letter of the alphabet. If this was true, it never got that far. Although some other characters were created (e.g., Katy the Kangaroo and Elmo the Elephant), it quickly became clear that Tony the Tiger was the best of the lot. Tony’s signature voice came from Thurl Ravenscroft—a man with a voice so deep it sounded like it came from the depths of hell. Besides Tony, he also remembered as the singer of You’re a Mean One, Mr. Grinch, from the Chuck Jones animated cartoon based on Dr. Seuss’ How the Grinch Stole Christmas. Thurl Ravenscroft  died on May 24, 2005. He was interviewed shortly before his death by The Trades.

Milton Train Works is a company that specializes in making train kits, but they also tackled Lego versions of Tony the Tiger, Snap, Crackle, and Pop, and a box of Froot Loops for the Kellogg’s Summer Block Party in 2005. The site includes details on the process of building the giant tiger.

– Jim Morton

Professor Checkerboard appeared on Space Patrol, a remarkably low budget space opera that appeared on TV between 1950 and 1955. Because many of the episodes were kinescoped, the show was later sold into syndication as Satellite Police, although the announcer’s voice-over always started the show by calling it “Space Patrol,” to the confusion of children everywhere.

Space Patrol was sponsored by Ralston, a company that, like Kellogg, got its start in the health movements of the early 20th century. To sell its hot cereal, Ralston created the character of Professor Checkerboard, a stodgy (and, frankly, boring) character that exhorted kids to eat their hot Ralston cereal. Why anyone at any ad agency ever thought this was a good idea is beyond me. I hope that this was simply yet another case of the big guns at Ralston thinking they knew better then their ad executives.

The amazing Ira Gallen (who helped us quite a bit at MoMM in obtaining old commercials) has put on YouTube Professor Checkerboard’s last appearance. This video says it all.

-Jim Morton

October 2017
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