If you take a stroll down the cereal aisle, you’re bound to find this icon and his cheery grin, white hair, and Quaker hat greeting you from a box of instant oatmeal. He’s Larry, the Quaker man mascot for Quaker Oats, and the second mascot named Larry we’ve profiled on this blog.
In 1877, Quaker made a splash in the news when they registered as the first trademark for a breakfast cereal. Their trademark was a man wearing Quaker garb with the name “Quaker” chosen by former owners Henry Seymour and William Heston as a symbol of honest value and pure goodness. Since his first print ad launch in 1882, Larry has undergone a few alterations in his design but fans will be relieved to hear that the changes have only been made by the spoonful in keeping with his heritage.
Is Larry based on a real Quaker?
Officially, no. While many have thought the Quaker man was designed after William Penn, Quaker has stated he was chosen due to the Quaker faith projecting “the values of honesty, integrity, purity, and strength.”
Image courtesy of Quaker
Unofficially, there was a real person who sat in for one of his redesigns. Designer Jim Nash is responsible for Larry’s black and white 1946 headshot while Finnish-American artist Haddon Sundblom (of Coca-Cola’s Santa fame) painted him in color in 1957 — and Illustrator Harold W. McCauley posed for Sundblom as the Quaker man.
In the 1970s, graphic designer Saul Bass put his spin on the Quaker man with a blue and white stylized new look. Quaker brought back Sundblom’s iconic interpretation with branding and design agency Wallace Church adding the Quaker man to packaging along with a lighter font, Archer, in 2010.
Looking back at 2012’s major redesign.
Image courtesy of Wall Street Journal
2012 saw the dawn of a new Quaker man, but his changes from Sundblom’s vision were very subtle. Part of a larger global campaign made in an effort to globalize the brand and underscore Quaker’s leadership and expertise, it was time to hit refresh on the logo with the help of design agency Hornall Anderson.
The agency noted Quaker’s roots and where they wanted to be in the future — as a heritage brand that provided a healthy breakfast choice — when they set about adjusting the logo. The refresh took a modern approach through elements including color, typography, and texture. The newly revamped Quaker man was slimmer (five pounds thinner), given a haircut, and had prominently displayed shoulders. A bit more youthful in appearance, Larry still kept his crow’s feet and sparkle in his eyes.
Larry wasn’t the only part of the logo getting a touchup. His backdrop was also colored in two shades of red to convey a sense of movement. A band of gold was added to the bottom chevron; along with the year the brand was established to emphasize the brand’s legacy and quality.
While we don’t know exactly what the future holds in store for the Quaker man, we take comfort in knowing he’ll continue to be authentic and true to the brand’s traditions. Personally, we’re fans of Larry’s look — and kinda love that the secret to radiant glow for more than 100 years has been daily oatmeal masks.