One of my earliest Advertising Week articles was about the Pillsbury Doughboy’s family.
For those that do not know, Poppin’ Fresh has an adorable family tree. One of the most prominent members is his friendly, female counterpart Poppie Fresh. Poppie was created by Carol H. Williams at Leo Burnett in the 1970s. She appeared in commercials as “The Little Girl with Big Ideas” throughout the ‘70s. Much like Poppin’, Poppie giggled in commercials. However, she was never poked in the tummy. This was a decision made by Williams and approved by the agency to ensure the tiny, female character did not receive a tummy poke without her consent.
Other family members popped up around the same timeline as Poppie. There’s Granmommer and Granpopper, grandparents to Poppin’ Fresh. Popper and Bun Bun are Poppin’s two children. The family dog is Flapjack and the family cat is Biscuit. Uncle Rollie rounds up the family tree, known for driving a signature blue car.
By the 1980s, almost every member of the Poppin’ Fresh family tree had gone into retirement. Poppin’ Fresh was the fan favorite with audiences.
But what if I told you he wasn’t the only character in the kitchen?
The Pillsbury Doughboy Meets Cold Spell
For years, I’ve heard stories about a legendary character called Cold Spell. This was a character that was designed to look similar to the Doughboy, but was created for Pillsbury with a different purpose.
Dan Heagy was a former Executive Creative Director at Leo Burnett from 1972 until 1999. He worked on the Pillsbury account and shared insight with me about Cold Spell on a phone call in 2015.
According to Heagy, Cold Spell was a character that represented frozen products. Heagy described him as a “little frozen guy.”
“He was a Doughboy-like character that appeared in one or two commericals,” Heagy said.
In this rare 1970s commercial, we can see the Pillsbury Doughboy and Cold Spell together. I pulled as many screencaps as I could in the event this commercial disappears from the site!
The story of Cold Spell, who receives his own little jingle, is that the character is a bit like a wizard. He, and the freezer, act as the bit of magic for the goodness of Oven Lovin’ Cookies. At the time, these cookies were made without preservatives — the reason why they freeze ‘em.
Heagy added that Cold Spell was a buddy to the Pillsbury Doughboy. He’s friend, not foe, and dressed in all the proper freezer attire. Cold Spell wears a scarf, mittens, and a beanie. He carries a wand and has noticeable icicles dangling from his hat.
The other aspect that makes Cold Spell so endearing? We cannot see his eyes. His beanie covers most of his face because brr — it’s chilly in the freezer! But he does have a wonderful pink blush on his face, showing that it’s easy for Cold Spell to warm up once he’s in the kitchen.
A thank you to the late Dan Heagy for sharing the details of this commercial with me. It took a few years for me to find the spot online, but we are happy to share Cold Spell, and Heagy’s, story with the advertising community.
[…] In 1990, the Pillsbury Doughboy, Pillsbury’s beloved brand mascot, was transitioning away from stop-motion animation to CGI animation. But animator Tom Rubalcava, who was hired at Colossal Pictures the same year to work in their animation department, had no way of knowing he would work on some of the Doughboy’s final stop-motion commercials. […]