The holidays had me visiting many, many relatives, many of whom are under the age of 10. I had a wonderful time hanging out with my nieces and first cousins once removed, but invading their domestic spaces, especially their kitchens, has alerted me to the darker side of children's cuisine. The affable mascot is certainly a fixture of kiddie food products, but some of these figures seem more formidable than friendly. Here are five that give me the willies.
5. Disney Princesses. These gals aren't exclusively food mascots, but their nefarious presence in several marketing campaigns earns them a spot on this list. Specifically, their association with Heinz Pasta, for the regal ladies are the literal faces (well, bodies), of the macaroni. I have never consumed this product, but my 7-year-old niece Maya assures me, "It's really gross, really. It's like eating greasy, dead princesses." Ew.
4. Honey Smacks' "Dig 'Em Frog." Where do I begin? First of all, this frog doesn't just "dig" this cereal: he is incurably addicted. But not in that adorable "can't get enough of these cocoa puffs" sort of way. The lengths he will go to obtain the cereal makes him the amphibian analogue to Sick Boy in Trainspotting. Furthermore, in some of the creepier 1980s commercials, Dig 'Em issues this kinky promise: "Gimme a smack and I'll smack you back."
3. Hamburger Helper's "Helping Hand." Self-actualized disembodied parts aren't necessarily weird. I actually found "Thing" on The Addams Family kind of cute. But this hand dons a glove, smiles on its palm, and only has four fingers. I wouldn't want him anywhere near my kids or their dinner.
2. Twinkie the Kid. He looks like a penis wearing boots and a hat.
What, were you looking for a more sophisticated description of this appalling phallic creature? Even Henry James couldn't come up with a euphemism for this bizarre snack cake cowboy. I'd be more reassured if he carried a gun, because the absence of weapon suggests he'll shoot me with his cream. Ugh.
1. The Trix Rabbit. As the victim of a never-ending cycle of violent bait-and-switch, the Trix Rabbit seems increasingly manic in his attempts to procure a bowl of cereal from children who inevitably mock him with the words, "Silly rabbit! Trix are for kids!" My friend Sophie shares my feelings toward these ads:
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"As a child, I was always deeply disturbed by these commercials, as, I suspect, were many others. Some burgeoning sense of...well, decency...made me feel that if a rabbit was capable of walking around and expressing his cereal preferences, you should damned well give him a bowl of Trix."
While I also pity the poor rabbit, I fear more his burgeoning narcissistic rage.