Eleven years before Pharrell Williams was spotted at the Grammy Awards in a fedora that bore a striking resemblance to the hat featured in the Arby’s logo, the fast food chain was turning heads for their latest advertising campaign. Arby’s introduced an animated character on March 2, 2003 named Oven Mitt to become the new spokes…mitt for the brand. Well before the rise of social media, Oven Mitt was on the scene to give audiences a look at how the sausage — er, beef — is made at Arby’s.
Created by Detroit-based ad agency Doner, the ad campaign primarily focused on revealing how Arby’s beef is made. The beef is neither fried nor grilled, but roasted, showcased in products like the Arby’s Italian Beef and Provolone sandwich. As the ad even notes, roasting the beef in store keeps it juicy instead of greasy. The message was meant to share with audiences that Arby’s is a cut above its competitors.
Then and now, oven roasting was a featured ingredient in their commitment to high quality food. Oven Mitt is so in awe of the new sandwich that he even bursts into song — “Volare” — before being packed away into a drawer by one of the staff members.
Voiced by actor Tom Arnold, the popular Oven Mitt kept it real behind the scenes at Arby’s. Do you ever stop and think about what an actual oven mitt is subjected to at a fast food restaurant? It’s kind of a thankless job. Oven Mitt would give team pep talks while hanging from a hook on the wall. Sometimes he could be seen working with a trainer and doing sit-ups to tone up for a big day at work.
Most of the time though, Oven Mitt was doing grunt work. He might be trapped under a roast beef container in one spot, or wailing aloud if the cycle of endless sandwich making would ever end for him.
Ironically enough, “it” would come to an end — his time as a mascot for the brand. While the Oven Mitt has since been shelved for Arby’s, we’ll always fondly recall his dedication to the hard work that goes into oven roasting beef for their sandwiches.