2018 marks the 60th anniversary of the debut of Cocoa Puffs, the deliciously chocolatey cereal from General Mills that breakfast enthusiasts have been going cuckoo over for decades. Cocoa Puffs was officially introduced on June 27, 1958 and released nationwide on August 14 that same year. We take chocolate flavored cereal for granted today, but back then it was the only ready-to-eat cereal in the United States that used real chocolate (Hershey’s) in its flavored corn puffs.
Five years later in 1963, the cereal received its very own brand mascot in Sonny the Cuckoo Bird. Designed by Gene Cleaves and initially drawn by Bill Tollis, Sonny was a brightly colored cuckoo bird. From day one, he was crazy for that munchy, crunchy, and chocolatey taste. He loved the cereal so much that he had a zany catchphrase dedicated to it, “I’m cuckoo for Cocoa Puffs!”
Sonny wasn’t the only cuckoo bird to represent the bread either. He appeared with his grandfather, “Gramps,” in the earliest commercials for the cereal. Since he referred to his grandfather as Gramps, he was called “Sonny” in return.
The name stuck well after Gramps was no longer included in commercials in the 1970s. However, audiences missed the humorous Gramps and how he acted as a foil to Sonny. He was brought back into the spotlight in 2010 with the help of Pat Giles, then a Creative Director at Saatchi & Saatchi (now the Chief Operating Officer at Danger Pigeon Studios). Chuck McCann, the former voiceover talent for both Sonny and Gramps’ 1960s commercials, reprised his vocal role as Gramps alongside Larry Kenney, Sonny’s current voice talent.
As Cocoa Puffs celebrates its anniversary, the cereal continues to think outside the cereal box and explore new recipes and flavors. Recent limited-edition flavors have included Hot Cocoa Puffs and Ice Cream Scoop Cocoa Puffs to reflect consumer tastes and requests. There are even more new flavors in the innovation pipeline… But we can’t reveal any further details. All you need to know is that Sonny is just as cuckoo for the chocolatey taste of Cocoa Puffs now as he was back then!