Tony the Tiger – long-lived mascot of Kellogg’s Frosties

Tony the tiger was (and still is, I believe) a very well-known and often seen mascot for Frosted Flakes Cereal. Firstly, a bit about the cereal.

The Cereal

Kellog's Frosties featuring Tony the Tiger
Kellog’s Frosties featuring Tony the Tiger. Pic in the public domain.
Two useful tags. Click either to see the articles: Toxic to cats | Dangers to cats

As we might know, it is a product created by the Kellogg Company called ‘Kelloggs Frosties’. It is a standard breakfast cereal made of corn flakes and was first introduced in 1952 (or 1955 – see below).  The difference at the time was that the flakes were coated (frosted – made to look like frost) with sugar. The name Frosted Flakes was used in the USA and Canada. In other countries the name was:

  • Frosties (UK and Europe, Commonwealth countries and Middle East countries)
  • Zucaritas (Latin America except Brazil – this is South America and up to Mexico – i.e. all countries speaking languages derived from latin)
  • Sucrilhos (Brazil)
  • Corn Frost (Japan and Korea)

Tony the Tiger

There would seem to be some doubts as to the date of Tony the Tiger’s debut. The Illustrated Encyclopedia of Cartoon Cats says that the Kellogg’s tiger made his debut in 1955. While this website http://fafnir.phyast.pitt.edu/tony/history.html states that Tony began his career in 1952. Perhaps he did begin his career in 1952 but was first seen in 1955 as the full-time mascot of Frosted Flakes. Initially Tony shared package labels with Katy the Kangaroo but Tony was more popular and Katy was phased out after the first year (this implies Tony went full-time in 1953). Also, in 1953 Tony was featured in the August issue of Life Magazine.

Tony the Tiger was a typical tiger colour and pattern except for the blue nose and he would step out of a cereal packet (box) and would then stand at a tiny 7 inches tall. Eventually, he became the strapping and dynamic cartoon cat that we know, at an impressive 6 feet 6 inches tall.

Tony’s most memorable catch phrase (tag line) is, “They’re grrreat!”. Some other tag lines have been:

  • Put a tiger on your team!
  • They’re more than good, They’re great!
  • Bring out the tiger in you!

Tony’s clothing is limited to a red neckerchief, which has his name on the bottom. Tony Jr. was first known as “boy” and “son” and was introduced in early commercials before becoming the mascot of Kellogg’s Frosted Rice cereal.

Before he quietened down to family life in the 1970s, during the 1960s, Tony was involved in some wild commercials in which, for example, he:

  • would fall into a Marineland tank and be tossed around by a dolphin or
  • went skydiving in which he would bounce off the tops of the parachutes of fellow skydivers.

Tony was designed by the children’s book illustrator Martin Provensen. A great asset was the voice provided by Thurel Ravenscroft until he died in 2005. Apparently, Tony was created by Advertising executive Leo Burnett.

Time Line

Date

Event

1952Debut
1953Featured Life Magazine
1958Tony appeared with Hanna Barbera characters, Huckleberry Hound and Snagglepuss and others
1970sHad a family and began to he “humanised”
1975Tony the Tiger’s son Tony Jr. was given a starring role as the mascot for a new product, Frosted Rice
Sine 1981Tony’s face on Kellogg’s hot air balloon
1985New shaped balloon launched
2005Thurel Ravenscroft died and the voice was taken over by Lee Marshall who signed a 10-year contract with Kellogg in 2006.

 

Videos and Photos

The video below features the old version of Tony the Tiger and of course the rich, deep voice of Thurel Ravenscroft. Here is a picture of Thurel:

Thurel Ravenscroft

Health concerns

Tony the Tiger is controversial in one way because he promotes a product which is linked to obesity in kids. A study that was published in the journal Obesity Reviews concluded that familiar media characters such as Tony the Tiger in branding products appeared to be a “powerful influence on children’s preferences, choices and intake of less healthy foods.”

As a consequence, Tony was banned from packaging and advertising in: Chile, Argentina and Mexico according to the Wikipedia authors. Popular cartoon characters such as Tony often promoted products that were high in sugar, saturated fat, salt and fat. Healthy food was less likely to feature child-friendly cartoons.

Furries

Ferries are people who like to identify as animals. Tony’s Twitter account was bombarded with sexual requests by furries and the Twitter account was rebranded as “Frosted Flakes”.

Copyright infringement

12 years after Tony the Tiger was aired as this product’s mascot, Exxon Mobil opened a new business sector and product line using the existing Exxon Tiger to promote it. They opened convenience stores called “Tiger Marts”. They sold food and beverages. Exxon was cleared of copyright infringement. Although Kellogg quickly filed a claim against them.

Tony’s development

The original Tony the Tiger was like an ordinary tiger but he was gradually tweaked into a more muscular, human-like form.

Sources:

  • The Illustrated Encyclopedia of Cartoon Animals
  • Wikipedia®
  • http://fafnir.phyast.pitt.edu/tony/history.html

Photos of Thurel Ravenscroft and Frosted Flakes box – these pictures are published under fair use copyright law. I adopt the arguments in respect of both images of the Wikipedia author on this page.

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6 thoughts on “Tony the Tiger – long-lived mascot of Kellogg’s Frosties”

  1. Hello again Micheal,

    Any help would be greatly appreciated. I loved those sugar frosted flakes commercials from the 60,s where Tony always got tossed around or something would happen to him. I thought you may have access to the Marineland commercial since you mentioned it in your article.

    Thank you for your reply,
    Frank

    Reply
    • I liked them too. I remember them pretty well. Must have made an impact. I’ll do some research today.

      Reply
      • Thank you very much! I’ve seen the one in which Tony was a boxing coach to that little kid, after he gives the kid a bowl of frosted flakes, they go back to the bag in which Tony holds for him, the kid hits it sending the bag and Tony flying across the room. Loved those, but can’t seem to find more. let me know what you find.

        Thank you very much!
        Frank

        Reply
  2. Hello,

    I’d love to see the commercial in which Tony would fell into a Marineland tank and be tossed around by a dolphin. Would you know where I could find that commecial, and all of the wild Tony the tiger commercials from the 1960’s??

    Thank you,
    Frank

    Reply

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