November 11, 2023
PINK PANTHER FLAKES
PINK PANTHER FLAKES
The Pink Panther media franchise was conceived by writer/director Blake Edwards and ran as a series of comedy mystery movies centered around an inept French detective, Inspector Jacques Clouseau (Peter Sellers), and beginning with the theft of the titular diamond with an imperfection at the center that resembled a pink panther. While The Pink Panther proved to be a hit upon its worldwide debut in 1964, an even bigger hit was the animated titles featuring a caricature of Sellers being outwitted by a literal Pink Panther. This title sequence was done by animation studio DePatie-Freleng Enterprises.
Encouraged by audience reactions, DFE struck up a deal with The Mirisch Company, the film’s producers, and United Artists, the film’s distributor, to produce a series of 156 6-minute theatrical shorts (of which only 124 ended up being made) featuring Pink working through a given situation—sneaking into an alcoholic’s house to spend the night, working as a secret agent, deciding a pole would look better painted pink instead of blue, etc.—while often being at odds with the Little White Man: a minimalist rounded figure of a person with a large nose and mustache said to be modeled after DFE co-founder and initial short director, Friz Freleng. Each short, played in pantomime outside of the odd side character, was accompanied by Henry Mancini’s catchy theme.
The Pink Panther shorts proved popular enough for DFE to expand their library of offerings. They began working on The Inspector, Roland and Rattfink, The Ant and the Aardvark, Tijuana Toads, Hoot Kloot, The Blue Racer, The Dogfather, Misterjaw and Crazylegs Crane. However, as the 1960s was coming to an end, the age of the theatrical short was beginning to wane. Looking to keep their investment going, Mirisch decided to follow other studios’ leads and import these shorts onto Saturday morning television. Debuting in 1969, The Pink Panther show packaged various combinations of DFE’s shorts during its 11-year run with all-new bridging sequences and the occasional new short being added.
Post Cereals, one of the sponsors of the show, decided to create a cereal tie-in as promotion in 1972. Pink Panther Flakes was essentially corn flakes with pink coloring added, which would also turn the milk pink once it was added. Advertisements for the cereal played out like a typical Pink Panther short: the Little White Man was about to enjoy some Pink Panther Cereal when Pink decided to help himself in some fashion. Part of Mancini’s theme played over them with new cereal-centric lyrics. Among the cereal’s premiums were a 5-in-1 spy kit shaped like Pink (featuring The Inspector on the back), a zip-cord powered “RPX Car” that resembled the Panthermobile created for the show, a pad of “disappearing paper” that could dissolve in water, and a pink ball.