Easily recognized in a crowd, or better yet, on a kitchen countertop, the Pillsbury Doughboy has been giggling his way into our hearts for 50 years. However, as many brand mascots have celebrated their 50th (and beyond) birthdays noticeably the recipients of a refreshing facelift, the Doughboy still looks, and sounds, much like he did in 1965 when he first popped on the scene.
The inevitable dose of CGI aside, no brand icon is ever hand drawn to perfection from the start, right? In 2015 during my visit to the Museum of Broadcast Communications “A Salute to Advertising’s Greatest Icons” exhibit I got a rare glimpse at the Doughboy’s original sketch. Drawn by the late Leo Burnett copywriter (and the Doughboy’s creator) Rudy Perz, it shows us an entirely different kind of Doughboy. Look closely at the photo I snapped above and you’ll know what I’m talking about.
Chef’s hat? Check.
Floppy arms and legs that remind you more of Casper the Ghost than Poppin’ Fresh? Even Perz himself would agree with you there.
While Perz initially envisioned the likeness of the Doughboy, his rough sketch still needed some extra work. Milt Schaffer, a Leo Burnett animation expert, helped Perz to conceptualize Poppin’ Fresh with the design of the Doughboy we see today. Schaffer kept the chef’s hat and friendly grin and added on the neckerchief and height measurements. (7 ½ inches, for those wondering.)
While the Doughboy embraces CGI these days over his stop motion origins, he’s still a friendly face in the kitchen everyone with a culinary streak. But if you ever wanted to know what makes up the heart of the Doughboy, check out this very amusing personality profile created in 1970 that showcases his best characteristics. Not unsurprisingly, Poppin’ Fresh’s hands are helpful, his grin is good natured, and his heart is kind.