Friday, April 29, 2016


Most of you know the derogatory phrase, "go ahead, drink the Kool-Aid." It's a reference to Jim Jones, the religious fanatic-messiah who dosed his followers. Kool-Aid, which is still with us, was hugely popular when it turned up in the late 50's. It was one of the ages new magical powders. Loaded with sugar (which nobody thought was harmful at the time), it could turn a pitcher of water into lemonade. Or better...lots of other flavors, too.

Inevitably, other companies tried to compete. That's the American way. Nestle logically thought that an alternative should be something KEEN...powder in a jar. Just spoon out enough for an individual glass of your favorite poison. Somehow, this didn't catch on.

Pillsbury figured that instead of the boring "smiling, wet pitcher" that was on the front of Kool Aid packets, they'd have a different "funny face" for every flavor they sold. As you see from the above, they created quite a lot of funny faces.

Except...if you were a freckle-faced kid, you already knew you had a "funny face" and were teased about it constantly. NOT FUNNY. And what's so FUNNY about having slanty eyes like "Chinese Cherry?" Oh, go ask Jerry Lewis, or the obscure team of Noonan and Marshall (their film "The Rookie") or Buddy Hackett of "Chinese Waiter" fame. Pillsbury saw plenty of funny people getting away with Asian comedy. No surprise they made the mistake they did. As for "Injun Orange," well, when the company began to get complaints, that one was brought up, too. But maybe Pillsbury simply made a mistake on the color. "Injun Red?" There's STILL the Washington Redskins.

Pillsbury pulled their most objectionable "Funny" faces, and offered new ones, like “Choo Choo Cherry” and “Jolly Olly Orange.” There was “Loudmouth Lime,” “Lefty Lemon,” and “Goofy Grape,” among others.

The company heavily promoted their line, refusing to give up. There were even premiums, like plastic cups to be used with your favorite drink...

Pillsbury’s infamous Doughboy was voiced by the genius Paul Frees, so for the commercials, they called on him to supply all the voices for the different flavors. An irony is that when I spoke to Paul, I was just a kid, and I had no idea he was the voice of the Doughboy. I could recognize most of his voices (Boris Badenov, Ludwig Von Drake, etc.) but that one was a shock. A few weeks later, he sent his fan a little gift. No, not him voicing the Doughboy, instead a promotional 7 inch record called "Paul Frees Sings for Funny Face." Yes, his talent agency and Pillsbury were trying their best to promote this stuff, and him.

Below, Paul is "Lefty Lemon," singing about his favorite sport. (You noticed the handle of the cup is a baseball bat? How clever.")

Today “sugary drinks” are on their way out. People aren’t too thrilled realizing that every can of soda has about eight huge spoonfuls of sugar in it, or that “diet” drinks are worse with fake sweeteners that can cause diarrhea. Few are that nostalgic about the “Funny Face” plastic drinking cups and other promotional items either. And I kinda doubt anyone on eBay would get a lotta money for any of the "Funny Face" promo vinyl, either. But here you are, for your information, for nostalgia, and of course, for free.

LEFTY LEMON (Paul Frees) Why I Left Baseball


Timmy said...

I love these politically incorrect fun funny drinks of ages past. Did Frees do a song for every flavor? I WANNA HEAR! I WANNA HEAR!!!

Ill Folks said...

I'll try and do a sequel. I'm not sure if they brought him in before or after they revised the funny faces. I don't think he sang as "Chinese Cherry." But for anyone wanting to hear his politically incorrect Asian dialect, he sure did sing "Let it Be" as "RET it Be." He was supposed to be imitating Warner Oland as Charlie Chan, but, awww Paul, it wasn't even close. (The "Paul Frees and the Poster People" album).

Anonymous said...

Pillsbury Funny Face (1964-1980) has a good following. The only known store display of "Injun Orange" with 43 original packs sold for $ 13,000 on EBA.Y