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Thursday, January 16, 2014

The Untold Tale of Pow!, the Fourth Rice Krispies Elf, with bonus Rolling Stones Rice Krispies commercial

You’re familiar with the elves, Snap! Crackle! and Pop! Lost in the shuffle, however, was a fourth Rice Krispies elf named Pow! His short life is a time-capsule of an era when everyone was dreaming big.

The history of the three (and for a moment, four) Kellogg's pitch elves begins in 1928 when the cereal first hit shelves and was marketed on radio programs for the way they “merrily snap, crackle and pop in a bowl of milk.”

Pow’s brief stint overlapped with Kellogg's sponsorship of the television program “Space Cadet” with Tom Corbett. Rice Krispies advertisements, like the one below featuring three brothers zipping around on flying saucers, tapped into the culture of the time.  

Many questions remain unanswered: Why did they nix the Pow! character? From a marketing perspective, perhaps the original three brothers sounded better in a jingle? And why was he from outer space? Tim Hollis, author of Part of a Complete Breakfast: Cereal Characters of the Baby Boom Era, says it was common for children’s programs to include space-related characters at the time.

“There's not much to Pow! It's mostly because of the internet that he's even known at all,” Hollis says. “He was always just sort of a footnote...and at that particular time, everything was space oriented.”

Storyboard from a 1955 ad with Pow!:

Here's a 1939 commercial (not including Pow!): they're all in chef's hats, and are fighting off Soggy, Mushy and Toughy:

Bonus 1963 Rolling Stones Rice Krispies commercial:

From Wikipedia, names in other markets:

Denmark - Pif! Paf! Puf!
Finland - Riks! Raks! Poks!
France - Cric! Crac! Croc!
Germany - Knisper! Knasper! Knusper!
Switzerland - Piff! Paff! Poff!
South Africa - Knap! Knaetter! Knak! (Afrikaans)
Quebec - Cric! Crac! Croc!
Mexico - Pim! Pum! Pam!

Related article at Mental Floss: A Second Helping of Cereal Facts

More at Smithsonian.

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