Everything about Fruit Stripe Gum is delightful, especially when you’re a kid growing up alongside the brand. There’s the gum itself, easy to chew and pop bubbles with its five delicious, fruity flavors. The colorful Fruit Stripe packaging made it easy to spot this gum in the candy aisle. And, of course, we can’t forget about the awesome freebie inside each pack. Fruit Stripe famously packaged wet ‘em and wear ‘em tattoos and encouraged bubble gum lovers to collect all of ‘em.
Cool, fake tattoos and candy? Totally a kid’s paradise!
Kid me and adult me have never forgotten the friendly face of the Fruit Stripe Zebra mascot, Yipes. Surprisingly, there is not much information available online about this character. Mentions of Yipes are few and far in between, with most websites only in agreement about the brand mascot basics. Fruit Stripe Gum has a mascot, it is a Zebra, and the Zebra’s name is Yipes.
Here at PopIcon, we’ve got a special place for the story of Yipes. I was lucky to get the inside scoop from Christ Kallas, Associate Brand Manager at Ferrara Candy Shop, about fan favorite Yipes and the character’s personality in and out of the office. I also got a peek at the first-ever Fruit Stripe Gummy Candy and asked the big question everyone that grew up on Fruit Stripe is dying to know: do washable tattoos still come with the gum?
Can you share a bit about the history of Fruit Stripe Gum with us?
Christ Kallas: Fruit Stripe Gum made its debut in 1969 with five fruit-forward flavors: lime, cherry, lemon, orange, and mixed fruit. It really took off in the 1970s, at which point Yipes was the front-runner to be the solo mascot for the brand.
There were originally a few characters that advertised Fruit Stripe, known as “The Stripes Family Animals.” These included a Zebra, tiger, elephant, and mouse. What do we know about this short-lived family of mascots?
Christ Kallas: Fruit Stripe originally had several different animal characters represent it over the years, but Yipes took the leading role due to his authentic connection to the brands namesake striped appearance. After Yipes was selected to be the solo mascot for Fruit Stripe, the other animals stayed with the company until they retired. While they are in retirement now, it is possible they could come back for a future reunion tour.
How did Yipes, the Zebra, emerge as the fan favorite to represent Fruit Stripe?
Christ Kallas: This is a question for the ages and has unfortunately been lost to time as the Fruit Stripe brand transitioned between a few different corporations before finding a home with Ferrara. Though we do not know the exact reason for the original Fruit Stripe animal mascots, a good guess would be that they were chosen due to their friendly appearance and demeanor.
As for why Yipes is the fan favorite, the truth is in the stripes! Fans like the striped appearance of our gum and a striped mascot are a natural fit.
How would you describe the personality of Yipes?
Christ Kallas: I have in office and out of office (OOO) responses for this one.
- In the Office: Yipes is a consummate professional with an eye for fashion. You can always count on him to have a styled mane and vintage threads. Despite his world-renowned success he is still the same down-to-Earth Zebra he was when he first started.
- Out of Office: Yipes loves to play many different sports including soccer, football, surfing, skating, and tennis. He is an outdoorsman who loves to be in nature when he is not dominating opponents in a game of one-on-one.
What can you tell us about the new Fruit Stripe Gummy Candy?
Christ Kallas: Fruit Stripe’s first-ever Gummy Candy builds on the growth and heritage of the iconic Fruit Stripe Gum.
Fruit Stripe Gummy candy comes in three delicious flavors – Cherry, Lemon and Tangerine – swirled into a striped gummy candy version of the Fruit Stripe Mascot, Yipes the Zebra. This will be the first time Fruit Stripe and Yipes expands beyond gum into the fabulously fun and growing gummy space. Fruit Stripe Gummy Candy will be available nationwide starting March 2022 in a 3.25oz Peg bag.
Do washable tattoos still come in Fruit Stripe Gum packages?
Christ Kallas: Absolutely! They are still available in Fruit Stripe Gum packs.
Throughout the 1980s and 1990s, Yipes is active in commercials and as a mascot. We miss him! Is Yipes planning a commercial comeback?
Christ Kallas: While Yipes is not currently surfing the airways, he has been busy innovating at Ferrara. He has been attending trade shows as well as inspiring creativity in the Ferrara home office, which is how we were able to develop Fruit Stripe Gummies.
Fruit Stripe, and Yipes, will be back in the commercial spotlight again eventually. While he will not be re-debuting in commercials in 2021, be on the lookout for him on Ferrara social media in 2022 and beyond.