8 Advertising Mascots That Followed Millennials From Childhood Through Present-Day

These beloved characters are fan favorites

Some of our favorite mascots have followed us through childhood into adulthood. Illustration: Dianna McDougall; Source: iStock

Advertising mascots are a tricky thing. Some of them are quickly forgotten, destined to become relics of the distant past, while others are beloved by the public and stay around in one form or another for generations. These mascots have stood the test of time and are particularly endearing to millennials, bringing back cherished childhood memories of the late ‘80s and early ‘90s or entertaining them today.

Energizer Bunny

Created in 1988, the Energizer Bunny quickly became a household name. One of the biggest reasons this particular mascot became so popular is that, for all intents and purposes, the 100-plus commercials featuring the bunny were set up as one long advertisement, with the Energizer Bunny rolling though other commercials (both real and fake) and never running down his batteries. Because of the humorous ads and the timing of their rollouts, the Energizer Bunny rolled his way through the childhood of millennials everywhere and just kept going and going and going…

Pillsbury Doughboy

Also known as Poppin’ Fresh, the Pillsbury Doughboy is one of the most adorable mascots of all time. Created in 1965, he remained a staple of Pillsbury commercials in the 1980s and 1990s and continues to appear in ads to this day. Ask any millennial and they will give you their best impression of the noise Poppin’ Fresh makes when you poke his belly—hoo-hoo!

Geico Gecko

Although the Geico Gecko didn’t find his way on air until 2000, this mascot quickly made his way into the hearts of millennials. Essentially a dad joke come to life, this tiny lizard provides some much-needed comic relief.

Tony the Tiger

Tony the Tiger was created in 1951, but his upbeat baritone announcement telling everyone to buy Frosted Flakes—because “They’re grrrreat!”—made him a multigenerational success. Millennials loved seeing him on the commercials during Saturday morning cartoons and on their cereal boxes.

Colonel Sanders

Being able to poke fun at yourself is a trait that’s valued by millennials, and the Kentucky Fried Chicken mascot has it in spades. KFC has rebranded Colonel Sanders to appeal to millennials, and it has been a smashing sensation. Everyone remembers Colonel Sanders from KFC ads while they were growing up, but over the last few years, celebrities like Jim Gaffigan and Reba McEntire have portrayed humorous versions of the Colonel in television commercials that are perfectly crafted for a millennial audience.

Snuggle Bear

Brought to life in 1983, the Snuggle Bear mascot for Snuggle fabric softener was immediately beloved. After all, what child wouldn’t immediately fall in love with a talking teddy bear? Snuggle Bear’s child fans have grown into the millennial generation. Close your eyes and picture that friendly stuffed bear gently bouncing on a clean pile of laundry.

Snap, Crackle and Pop

Rice Krispies have been a favorite among children for generations, thanks in no small part to their mascots Snap, Crackle and Pop. This trio of elves made sure you never forgot that theirs was the cereal you could hear. What makes these guys special to millennials is that prepackaged Rice Krispies Treats became available in 1995, doubling their exposure to these loveable onomatopoeias.

Jolly Green Giant

As any parent can tell you, getting kids to eat their vegetables is tough. Sugary treats and fast food are tasty and come with mascots, making them that much more tantalizing to kids. Enter the Jolly Green Giant! His friendly smile, leafy toga and larger-than-life size gave peas and green beans a fighting chance on the dinner table, which means that millennials appreciated him as kids and appreciate him now that they have hungry children of their own.

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Rachael Brennan is a freelance writer for Adweek.