It’s a safe bet to say anyone reading this knows Cap’n Crunch. But did you know the commander of the S. S. Guppy is nearly 700-years-old? And, if he submitted a sample to 23andMe DNA it would reveal he was half Viking and half Native-American? The Cap’n’s mother was a “young Indian girl” named Gidget Running Star.
My latest Cartoon Research mini-book, Jay Ward’s Animated Cereal Capers, presents the Cap’n’s story and the men behind his creation in 1962. It was the first time any cereal company launched a brand named after a character. Cereals had mascots, but to name one after a character was untested water.
Ward is the same team that rolled out Quisp and Quake in another series of animated commercials a couple of years later. And after that, for a few years, produced King Vitaman cartoons.
Quisp and Quake, the alien from another world, and the miner from the Earth’s core, engaged in a popularity battle for over a decade. But it appears Quake was doomed from the start. Ward studios, who created Quisp, tried to come up with his rival but failed. Quake was originally supposed to be a fairy. George Lois of Papert, Keonig and Lois Advertising, created Quake. Ward’s team gave him some artistic flair.
I grew up in the early 1960’s as a fan of the Rocky and Bullwinkle cartoons. Even at a young age, I knew the Cap’n Crunch, and Quisp and Quake cartoon commercials were created by the same folks. To me, they were animated mini-adventures sandwiched in between my favorite Saturday morning cartoons. And, of course, I begged mom to get the cereals at the grocery store.
Many of us have fond memories of how the cereal box stayed on the kitchen table when we ate breakfast. Like zombies, we stared at the colorfully illustrated boxes. Often the back had games, puzzles, or some incredible offer for a premium we could not live without. It’s fair to say I learned to read via cereal boxes and comic books, not from going to school.
The wonderful world of Jay Ward’s animated cereal commercials has become a sidebar to the studio’s history. Some entries provide a few detail, but why not a little book about the Cap’n and his Quaker Oats friends? Was it possible to write a book that wouldn’t get soggy in milk?
Perhaps Allan Burns knows best how a sidebar can become iconic. Tasked with the assignment, on short notice, to come up with an idea, he scribbled out an old navigator and some kids that would sail aboard a ship known as the Guppy. Burns, an Emmy-Award winning screenwriter of “Munsters” and Mary Tyler Moore” fame, is keenly aware nothing in his resume has achieved the global recognition of Cap’n Crunch. And Burns didn’t even like the cereal!
Jay Ward’s animated cereal commercials are a part of the studio’s history. They are the virtually undiscovered cartoons, often not given much thought, but deserving of closer examination. It’s akin to the gold nuggets left behind in an old mine shaft. Let’s put on our Quake hardhats and go back into the cave. There’s still gold in them thar hills!
Jay Ward’s Animated Cereal Capers is now available on Amazon.com
(Cap’n Crunch commercials above courtesy of Mark Kausler)
Please, can we get a restored DVD with the 1960s Jay Ward commercials?
I’d support a GoFundMe effort.
I 2nd this motion!
who were the voice-overs in the commercials?
Joe Flynn (McHale’s Navy) voiced King Vitamin, one of his few cartoon roles.
The live action King Vitaman is actor/photographer George Mann.
I grew up watching the Cap’n Crunch commercials. I remember one had Seadog falling overboard into shark-infested waters, and the good Cap’n threw boxes of his namesake cereal into the water so that the sharks would eat the cereal instead of Seadog. Another one had the crew visiting a Robinson Crusoe-type hermit and giving him a taste of the cereal for the first time.
I hear Daws and June in the commercials; do I also detect Paul Frees?
Jay Ward used all his regular actors on the Crunch spots – Butler, Scott, Foray and Frees.
Also, William Conrad is Quake.
Can somebody please tell me why this book is $7.95 in the US but Jay Ward’s Animated Cereal Capers is $27.42 in Canada????? This is bullshit….I was going to buy it but not at that price!!!!
I’m sure Justin Trudeau has some of that cash going into his deep pockets.
I know this is unrelated but this Fairly Oddparents quote perfectly describes how VIACOM is so reluctant to release the Older Nicktoons, Paramount Cartoons and Terrytoons, that they have in their libary and not give good shows like Harvey Beaks a chance to suceed. I think that we should not wait any more and start writing letters to Viacom. Viacom lets garbage like Breadwinners and Henry Danger and yet they negelect the Older Nicktoons, and the Gene Dietch Terrytoons. I think we need to start releasing their good product before it is too late.
This just shows to go ya how ONE cereal formula (Cap’n Crunch) could sustain an ENTIRE product line. Quisp and Quake tasted exactly like Cap’n Crunch, just in different shapes, and King Vitaman also tasted like Cap’n Crunch, but the taste was a bit ruined by the slightly “vitamin pill” aftertaste. My candidate for the best tasting Cap’n Crunch derivative? PEANUT BUTTER Crunch, what else? Thanks for posting all these rare commercials, Kevin, the Quisp and Quakes are especially scarce.
Quaker pushed it a little too far when the came out with orange”Quangaroos” – that stuff was nasty.
I was partial to Crunch Berries myself.
And the Cap’n’s archenemy Jean LaFoote had his own cereal for a while… Cinnamon Crunch.
Quisps texture is less jaggy.
No love for Smedly the elephant? I still occasionally enjoy a bowl of PB Crunch to this day.
They do need to bring these guys back more!
I like the design of studios like Jay Ward’s – but if it had not been for corporations neglecting these cartoons, we could have saved them for all eternity.
Lest we forget the Waffle Whiffer…
I was a huge fan of Choco Crunch, which of course they discontinued. A friend said, “You can just mix regular Cap’n Crunch with Cocoa Puffs and it’s the same thing.” I replied, “I know that, but it’s the PRINCIPLE of the thing. They always discontinue the stuff I like.” She called me hopeless and hung up.
BTW, at a personal appearance, Burns said he regretted his association with the Cap’n: “That stuff’s been poisoning kids for 50 years.” I told him afterwards I still eat it!
Pretty sure, since I never throw anything away, I still have a couple of the Quisp/Quake mini-comics in my house. Can I find them? No (because…I never throw anything away).
I loved the Quisp and Quake rivavlry.
And speaking of the Cap’n, I seem to recall a big oaf with a club, who introduced himself as “WIlliam the Konker”.
“Don’t you mean Conquerer?” “No! See this club? I like to konk things with it.”
A fragment of a history education and a laugh at the same time.
This looks great and I aims to purchase it, even though by the time I was a kid , in the 80’s, Quisp and Quake didn’t even exist anymore and the Cap’n was busy fighting the Soggies and the Sogmaster! I actually think a huge book about all cereal mascots and all of their eras would be cool to have too. Many of the classics (like the monster cereals) started in the 60’s but the advertising lasted all the way into the early 90’s. Multiple generations of enjoyment!
I added this book for further reading to the Wikipedia entries for Jay Ward Productions, Cap’n Crunch, Quisp and King Vitamin (no entry for Quake, sadly).