If you weren’t raised by health fanatics, or had a TV growing up, you will be familiar with the huge, muscle -bound figure of Tony the Tiger.
His catchphrase is legendary, and he is pretty much the king of the advertisement mascots, but how much do you actually know about him?
Well, here at The Fact Site, we pride ourselves on finding out these obscure details so you don’t have to.
Before we start, if you’re still unsure about who Tony the Tiger is, you may recognize him from the cereal aisle on the box of Frosted Flakes or Frosties…
Frosted Flakes or Frosties?
If you live in the U.S., they’re known as Frosted Flakes, and in Europe they’re known as Frosties.
In the U.S., Tony the Tiger served as the mascot for “Sugar Frosted Flakes” all the way until 1983, when the name changed to Frosted Flakes.
This was in answer to the nation’s growing health concerns with sugar.
But Tony doesn’t just sell Frosted Flakes; did you know that he has graced the boxes of several Frosties related cereals such as Tiger Power, and Tony’s Cinnamon Krunchers?
Tony the Tiger Origin Story.
Tony the Tiger burst onto cereal boxes in 1951 after a short competition with 3 other cereal mascots: Elmo the Elephant, Katy the Kangaroo, and Newt the Gnu.
As with all cartoons and adverts, Tony was the product of a collaboration.
His original design was a simple sketch by Eugene Kolkey and Edward Kern of the Leo Burnett ad agency.
Tony’s finalized artwork was supplied by Martin Provensen.
All 4 of the mascots were put to the public vote, and by 1952 Katy, Elmo, and Newt were gone and Tony had been given a makeover by Quartet Films to make him cereal box ready.
Quartet Films was a group of former Disney animators who also created Snap, Crackle, and Pop, and the Jolly Green Giant.
As well as a Disney style makeover, Tony the Tiger was given a son, Tony Jr.
From Cereal Box to TV.
In 1958, Kellogg’s launched a marketing campaign called “Put a Tiger on Your Team”.
This campaign reached out to children’s sports organizations and teams.
This advertisement campaign saw the earlier versions of the Frosted Flakes TV adverts we know today, an animated Tony and Tony Jr. interacting with a live-action world.
Tony’s Family and Personal Life.
Tony Jr. was not the only addition to Tony’s family, in the 1970’s Tony was given a nationality: Italian American.
And with it came Mama Tony, Mrs. Tony, and a young daughter, Antoinette.
There was even a TV ad showing a nervous Tony the Tiger feeding his new daughter Frosted Flakes.
During the 70’s, Tony the Tiger was so popular he even graced the cover of Italian GQ and Panorama.
Tony’s popularity even prompted Kellogg’s to give Tony Jr. a cereal, the short-lived Frosted Rice.
Kellogg’s would go on to use Tony Jr. as its mascot to launch six ill-fated, but very nutritious, breakfast products over the course of the decade.
Design and Appearance of Tony the Tiger.
In order to get ready for the rigorous world of TV stars, Tony had to undergo a certain amount of “surgery.”
In just seven years, Tony the Tiger changed from a small tiger with a football-shaped head who walked on all fours, to a six-foot bipedal tiger.
In this short amount of time, Tony had, among other things: a face lift, an eye color change (from green to gold), and the addition of “whisker bones” for facial contouring.
That’s right – the Kardashians have got nothing on Tony.
Since his first outing on TV, Tony has also hit the gyms considerably, as the ad agency changed Tony’s physique to fit with the nation’s growing obsession with health and fitness.
They gave him the muscles, sick basketball skills, and body-builder frame we all know and love today.
Tony’s been to court…
While Tony isn’t the only tiger to be used as a mascot, he is, arguably, the most popular.
Kellogg’s have been to court over the oil company Esso’s (now ExxonMobil) use of a tiger as its mascot as well as the organizers of the 1988 Olympics over the tiger mascot Hodori.
Both trials alleged copyright infringement and both trials found in favor of Kellogg’s, allowing Tony the Tiger to remain the king of the Tiger mascots.
Who voices Tony the Tiger?
Perhaps even more iconic than Tony himself is his catchphrase “They’re Grrrrrreat!”, and what is a catchphrase without a really good voice actor?
The original American voice actor for Tony, Dallas Mckennon, only voiced him for a year, before the iconic Thurl Ravenscroft took over for all English language versions of the advertisements.
American, English, and Canadian kids alike had the pleasure of listening to Thurl Ravenscroft and his resonant bass voice all the way until 1999.
During this year Thurl lost his wife and became semi-retired, working only to voice Tony in the U.S. commercials.
Thurl Ravenscfort continued to voice Tony in the American ads until his death in 2005.
After his death, he was replaced by his understudy Lee Marshall, who served as Tony till 2014 when the current reigning Tony the Tiger, Tex Brashear, took over.
Other actors took up his mantle for the other English language commercials, in England he was replaced by Tom Clarke Hill, and in Canada he was voiced by Tony Daniels until 2017 when Jim Cummings (that’s right, Winnie-the-Pooh himself!) took over.
So next time you grab a bowl of Frosted Flakes, spare a thought for Tony the Tiger and his family, who, rather worryingly, haven’t been seen since the seventies.