It was the battle of the breakfast bowls in 1965. Quisp, a zany pink alien, had met his match in Quake, a miner-themed superhero. While the two were technically sister brands from the Quaker Oats Company, only one would win the hearts and stomachs of kids — and as cereal history can already tell you it was Quisp.
As a cereal and mascot, Quake may be gone but he hasn’t been forgotten. Let’s pour one out (milk into a bowl of Quake, that is) with a throwback in his honor.
Created by Jay Ward and Bill Scott of Rocky and Bullwinkle fame, Quake made his commercial debut as “the power cereal from inner space.” As a mascot, Quake was first introduced with big biceps and clad in a yellow hard hat and cape. Actor William Conrad voiced the mascot. Quake made his cereal from inside of the earth’s core. The corn and oat cereal was advertised as being sweet and full of vitamins, bound to give whoever had a bowlful “the power of an earthquake” versus the “quazy energy” found in Quisp.
Only kids could decide which breakfast cereal from Quaker was their favorite. Quake and Quisp started putting in plenty of airtime to star in “Your Breakfast Cereal” commercials where the duo competed to heroically save humans in distress. Quisp flew over from outer space in his spaceship while Quake exploded up from underground, but it was a mystery whether or not they actually saved anyone in distress. Rather, they insisted that the person, who might have been surrounded by ravenous wolves or tied to a log headed for certain doom, pick the cereal they would rather eat. Every episode ended with a cliffhanger. The spots asked kids which cereal they would pick and told them to stay tuned for the next episode where they would find out what happened to those in danger.
As Quisp continued to rise in popularity against Quake, Quaker decided to give the mascot a makeover in 1969. He debuted his new look via a “new and improver machine” featured in a TV commercial. In just a few seconds, Quake was hammered and polished into a whole new character that was slimmer, trimmer, and even had a new white cowboy hat. These changes, as Quake explained, reflected his new cereal. Described as “wonderful wheelies,” the new Quake cereal was neater and sweeter with the taste of honey but still full of earthquake power.
Despite his new look, Quake still couldn’t reach audiences quite like Quisp. Commercials in 1972 encouraged voters to choose Quisp or Quake as their favorite cereal to keep on grocery shelves and Quisp won. Quake cereal was discontinued shortly afterwards, but did enjoy a brief comeback in the 1970s to help advertise the bright orange Quangaroos cereal from Quaker for another short-lived mascot, Simon the Kangaroo.
Artwork credit: Jeff Pigeon