Last week on National Cereal Day, we shared some of the cereal icons that breakfast wouldn’t be the same without including Lucky the Leprechaun from Lucky Charms. A sprightly, cheerful character, Lucky has never been as interested in the pot of gold under the rainbow as he is in the marshmallow-filled bowls of his beloved Lucky Charms.
For over 50 years, he’s been delighting the world with magically delicious cereal, but what do we truly know about Lucky? In honor of St. Patrick’s Day (and also because we may or may not want to keep talking about cereal), we’ve rounded up seven facts you might not know about Lucky’s sweet past.
1. Lucky’s full name, revealed.
If you’re feelin’ fancy, you can always address him by his formal name, L.C. Leprechaun. In the early 1960s, right around the time of his creation in 1963 and commercial debut in 1964, Lucky was also referred to as “Sir Charms.” Today, he goes by the name we know him as best — Lucky.
2. Those marshmallows are actually “marbits.”
In 1963, John Holahan, a former General Mills Vice President, developed the cereal by adding cut-up Circus Peanuts in with Cheerios. The crunch of the oats combined with the sweetness of the marshmallows was an instant hit with consumers and Lucky Charms had the distinction of being the first cereal to include marshmallow pieces.
If you purchased a box of Lucky Charms in 1963, you would have enjoyed “marbits” which included colorful marshmallows in the shapes of stars, moons, clovers, and hearts. Or, as Lucky gushed about them in commercial spots, they were “lucky stars, magic moons, four-leaf clovers, and pink hearts!”
3. Lucky’s debut was one of the most expensive in advertising.
A charmin’ mascot deserves a big debut! Ad agency Dancer Fitzgerald Sample (now known as Saatchi & Saatchi) pulled out all the stops for Lucky with a pricey ad campaign rollout in 1964. The year prior, Lucky was brought to life by Creative Director Tony Jaffe. He helped supervise, write, and produce presentations on the Lucky Charms account alongside writer Pat McInroy. Lucky got the red carpet treatment with his introduction to the world including animated commercials and full color ads in comic books and Sunday comics.
4. That one time Lucky briefly retired.
Nearly 11 years into his career, Lucky stepped back from the spotlight and Lucky Charms saw a new face adorn their cereal boxes. It was Waldo the Wizard, a kind, slightly forgetful character created by Alan Snedeker at Dancer Fitzgerald Sample in 1975. He wore a green cape and wizard’s hat, declared the cereal to be “ibbledebibbledelicious,” and tested high with New England audiences. However, his appearance was a brief one — Lucky came back for good less than a year later.
5. You could plant a tree with Lucky.
Did you know that Lucky has a passion for the environment? In 1991, Lucky Charms featured a Colorado ‘Blue Spruce’ seedling mail-in offer free with 2 UPCs. In the print ad, Lucky shares why kids should plant trees with great reasons including that trees add oxygen to the atmosphere and help to prevent soil erosion.
That same year, Lucky starred in a commercial spot featuring a forest with all of the trees cut down and no new ones planted. Shedding a tear, he says his magic can’t hide the cereal now, but kids have the power to bring the forest back to life by planting baby trees. To help them remember, Lucky added tiny trees to his boxes of cereal — now that’s a “tree-rific” idea!
6. Lucky celebrated his big 5-0 in style.
Complete with games and prizes, a musical tribute from Pentatonix, and a hashtag #LuckyWasHere to track on the leprechaun’s whereabouts, Lucky’s 50th birthday in 2014 was a day that he — and Lucky Charms fans everywhere — couldn’t stop celebrating!
7. Did you know that Lucky’s actually a film buff?
Just head on over to the Lucky Charms Tumblr and you’ll see what I mean. Marshmallows and movies really are a magical combination!