Typhoo Tea launched in 1903 by Birmingham grocer John Sumner. Using only the finest tea leaves to ensure great taste, quality, and freshness in every cup, Typhoo was originally sold as a cure for indigestion.
Since 1903, Typhoo Tea has made several significant “firsts” in the tea community. In the 1910s, Typhoo Tipps were the first brand to be sold pre-packaged instead of loose over the counter. Typhoo was also the first tea brand to introduce a green tea blend to the UK market in the 1960s.
Today, Typhoo remains one of Great Britain’s favorite teas. However, we would be remiss not to reflect upon its brief, but memorable, brand mascot: the Typhoo Tea Gnu.
Meet the Typhoo Tea Gnu
The Gnu was created and developed by Tony Cattaneo and Ron Wyatt at the animation studio Wyatt Cattaneo. This studio famously animated and produced adverts for the Tetley Tea Folk, Ribena’s Ribenaberries, Country Life’s Buttermen, and more iconic UK brands and their respective characters.
A gnu (pronounced ‘g-noo’) is a wildebeest animal. The Typhoo Tea Gnu, however, is slightly more refined in nature. Introduced to audiences in 1976, the Typhoo Tea Gnu sits at a piano and plays a little ditty to introduce himself and the tea brand.
I’m a Gnu
With a cup of Typhoo
The most refreshing tea that you can brew
Well, how do you do?
There’s never been anything quite as nice as you.
The Gnu continues singing about how tasty Typhoo Tea is and how sipping each cup perks spirits right up.
Adventures of the Typhoo Tea Gnu
A tagline was also included in later adverts for Typhoo Tea. The tagline states “For the tea that picks you up, pick up Ty-Phoo.” Tea enthusiasts will note that early Typhoo Tea adverts included a hyphen in the spelling of the brand name. Over the years Typhoo Tea would lose the hyphen in its spelling.
Later commercials featuring the Typhoo Tea Gnu featured the Gnu in different places besides the piano bench. An advert from the late 1970s features the Gnu riding a train and drinking an early morning Typhoo Tea brew.
A cartoon advertisement cheekily titled “Tales Old & Gnu” also advertises the Gnu’s first name in print: Norman!
In 1979, the Gnu would drive to Texaco to advertise a special offer from Typhoo Tea. The Gnu advised fans to look for packages of Typhoo Tea that included vouchers for free petrol.
“It’s the only drink and driving that I do,” the Gnu tells the gas station attendant who nods “good lad” in agreement.
The Typhoo Tea Gnu may be retired now, but as with the many iconic characters that came out of Wyatt Cattaneo (and beyond!) we think the mascot is ripe for a comeback.
Anyone else also in the mood to be serenaded by a Gnu while sipping a cup of Typhoo?