Happy 40th birthday, Pillsbury Doughboy

The Pillsbury Doughboy (aka Poppin’ Fresh) looks like the same fresh-faced, dough-eyed dumplin’ that won the hearts of homemakers 40 years ago. But since the days when he was knee-high to a crescent roll, he has traveled far beyond the kitchen counter, joining photo albums, doll collections and trivia sites on the World Wide Web. Looking none the worse for wear, Poppin’ Fresh showed up at a birthday celebration in Times Square on Wednesday, kicking off a series of promo appearances. Born to Rudy Perz, creative director at Leo Burnett, Poppin’ Fresh weighed 14 ounces and measured 8 3/4 inches when he was introduced to the public in 1965. Lending new meaning to the word trivia, these facts are readily available to Poppin’ Fresh freaks: The Doughboy’s place of birth was Minneapolis. He is all dough, wears a baker’s hat and scarf, has blue eyes and loves to bake. The only music he has ever performed is rap, which might explain the disappearance of the wife and two pets he had 20 years ago (does the Doughboy have a dark side?). Although Perz imagined the Doughboy as an animated character, he emerged from the styling salon as a clay figure, according to the J.M. Smucker Co., which acquired Pillsbury last year. After winning Toy of the Year honors in 1972, Poppin’ Fresh rose to become America’s most-loved character in 1987, according to Pillsbury. At the 40th anniversary celebration, children from the Kips Bay Boys & Girls Club helped the costumed Doughboy character blow out candles on a birthday cake, and a city official declared the day Pillsbury Doughboy Day in New York. Today, the Doughboy has his own home page, and you can still buy a Doughboy doll at Pillsbury.com. Oh, yeah, Poppin’ Fresh is rolling in dough.