May 09, 2015


This one goes out to loyal reader J.P. who had a memory flashback upon seeing a box on the shelves recently.


Quaker Oats Company

            Quaker Oats had entered into a deal with Jay Ward Productions to conceive of characters they could make new cereals around. In 1965, Jay Ward and Bill Scott provided Quaker with two new characters: Quisp and Quake.

            Quisp (Daws Butler) was an alien with a propeller on his head, who served as the mascot for the same-named cereal that featured “flying saucer shapes” made of sweetened corn. Quake (William Conrad) was a big, burly miner wearing a super hero cape whose same-named cereal were cog-shaped “wheelies” made of sweetened rice. The commercials also sometimes featured Quake’s mother, Mother Lode (June Foray), and Quisp’s sidekick Quunchy (Bill Scott). The advertising campaign featured the two mascots at odds with each other, promoting their cereals and challenging kids to pick their favorite one based on taste and premiums. Paul Frees, another Ward regular actor, usually served as the commercials’ narrator.

            Both cereals were similar in texture and appearance, but Quisp outperformed Quake. Originally attributed to Quake’s imposing appearance and the lack of appeal of things from the ground (as the cereal was said to come from), Ward and Scott attempted to revitalize his image. In 1969, Quake was made slimmer, given an Australian brush hat, and a cowboy-like accent. The change was worked into the commercials and shown on screen. However, Quake’s makeover failed to improve the cereal’s performance.

            In 1972, Quaker made the competition real by asking consumers to vote via mail-in ballot for their favorite of the two, with the loser being discontinued. Quisp won by a landslide, and Quake left store shelves. The following year, Quaker tried a new cereal called Quake’s Orange Quangaroos, and later simply Orange Quangaroos. The cereal stemmed from the orange Kangaroo created by Ward and Scott named Simon (Scott) and came in orange-flavored round pieces. Quake was recycled to be Simon’s sidekick, and the competition with Quisp resumed anew. 

            Unfortunately, the new cereal failed to outperform Quisp as many consumers complained of a metallic aftertaste that the cereal left them. In 1976, Quaker once again held a competition to determine the fate of the two cereals, and Quisp emerged victorious. The victory, however, proved hollow as Quisp itself was soon discontinued due to increasingly dwindling sales. The cereal experienced two limited revivals in the mid-80s and 90s, but again disappeared. 

The all-new Quisp cereal.

In 2001, Quisp became the “first internet cereal,” sold almost exclusively through a website maintained by Quaker. Those boxes came with cartoons whose endings would be finished via Flash animation on the site, produced by John Kricfalusi and Spümcø. Quisp was voiced by Corey Burton, and Matt Danner voiced his new sidekick Quunchy. The cereal also featured limited distribution, appearing in stores in temporary displays until the stock ran out. In 2012, Quisp returned as a regular item in supermarkets, although Quaker still offers it for sale online.

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1 comment:

John P said...

Thanks for the shout out Chris!!! I do remember Quake as well as Quisp. Don't remember Quangaroos though. But you ALWAYS manage to cover all the bases my friend. BRAVO!!!