Remembering Junk food Cartoon Characters of the ‘90s
What do I remember most about the ‘90s? Well, there’s the obvious stuff like where I lived, TV shows I watched, places I went and friends I made. Food was another big thing.
I vividly recall those weekly trips to the supermarket with my mum and sister. I was pretty small at the time, and the shelves felt massive. I was always drawn to the crisp and chocolate sections – like many children, I loved junk food, and its allure was pretty back strong then. There were obvious things I wasn’t allowed like blue coloured sweets, or shite that might pull my teeth out, but the odd treat or two often made it through the checkout.
I like to think of myself as unsusceptible to the powers of advertising. However, as a kid I was very much under its spell. I developed this weird relationship with junk food through the medium of cartoon, associating lots of things I loved with bright TV characters – usually in animal form. Hands up if you ever bought a packet of Chewits are watching the famous “I like to chew it” advert? I know I did. Okay, strictly it’s a noughties release, but you get my point.
That dinosaur combined with a remix to the tune I like To Move It by Reel 2 Real was a stroke of genius. No wonder so many people remember it to this day.
Recently a group of MPs proposed a ban on the use of cartoon characters in junk food advertising, in bid to bring down child obesity levels. It’s estimated that one in 25 kids in England aged 10 and 11 are severely obese, meaning something drastic needs to be done to stop this spiralling further out of the control.
Were the ban to go through it would mean that cartoon characters that have been with us since forever may very soon be no longer.
This got me thinking: what if I had never grown up with these cartoons in the first place? Might I have eaten less junk food? Would I have been less attracted to it to begin with?
Don’t get me wrong I was brought up on good food (mum, apologies if you’re reading this). I was just a little bit obsessed with sweet things – and, that includes cereals, which, as we know are ridiculously high in sugar.
Here’s a look at some of the junk food cartoon characters of the ’90s I remember most:
The Coco Pops monkey
“I’d rather have a bowl of Coco Pops” – what a catchy line that was in the ‘90s. As for the beloved Coco Pops monkey, he was like the coolest primate ever – always smiling and turning water to chocolate.
Tony the Tiger
If there’s one animal that really gave the Coco Pops monkey a run for his money it’s Tony the Tiger, most famous for his catchphrase “They’re greeeat”. His orange fur is a perfect match for the sugar frosted flakes with their golden glow.
The Laughing Cow
I was never the biggest fan of cheese in the ‘90s, but I can see why the Laughing Cow was so effective. That bright red face is enough to make anyone buy those famous cheese triangles.
Which was your favourite Monster Munch character as a kid? Was it the purple monster, the yellow one, or were you more a fan of the red one? Clever how the different monsters were paired with different flavours.
I love a good milkshake as much as the next person, and, in the ‘90s it was all about Nesquik. That milkshake powder would be nothing without its excitable rabbit, who, curiously, bears a noticeable resemblance to Bugs Bunny.
While not strictly a British snack, Cheetos could be purchased all over the UK. My little sister was (and still is) a big fan. Each packet carried this crazy cheetah who made Tony the Tiger seem, well, normal.
Appearing on the box as a crackpot scientist with crazy hair, Doctor Dreadful was the face of a devilish food lab game involving lots of sugar and god knows what else. Here’s the advert of the game I remember most.
Okay, so that winking face on the BN biscuit packet wasn’t really a cartoon character, per se, but it might as well of have been. It had the same effect. And, boy did I love those biscuits.