In many cases, we choose a product simply because we have a bizarre attachment to the cartoon that represents it. There is no shame in trusting, say, a paranoid Leprechaun with a powerful marshmallow lust more than one's own family. These 10 icons are the awesomest in the pantheon of cheap food branding.
10. The Noid
Awesome Because: He's a criminally insane super-villain, like the Joker. The Noid exists to keep Dominos from delivering a piping-hot pizza to your doorstep in 30 minutes or less. Of course, he fails every time, thwarted by his arch nemesis: pizza. Curse you, gluten and bovine mucus discs! The Noid is also notable for inspiring a video game, the goal of which is to get you to buy a Dominos pizza.
9. Jolly Green Giant
Awesome Because: He's jolly, like Santa Claus. He's at least 80 years old. He rocks a tunic made out of leaves. And he's a giant. Named for a brand of large peas made by the Green Giant company in the 1920s, the Jolly Green Giant is a benevolent pitchman replete with subtext: Eat your vegetables or he will stomp you.
8. Kool-Aid Man
Awesome Because: He wants you to drink sugar water, and he wants you to drink it now. He will break down this wall to get you to drink the most amazing thing ever to happen to boring old water. This manic urgency helps the 35-year-old mascot make his compelling argument, best summed by his trademark battle cry of "YEAH!"
7. Hamburger Helper
Awesome Because: The Hamburger Helper knows what it's like to be a harried homemaker, and he just wants to help her. If only a husband had his powers of empathy, ri-iiight ladies? With only three stubby fingers, Hamburger Helper has been helping out Mom and lonely, single men alike, with quick meals that have been stretching budgets since 1971. Truly, he's the best thing to happen to beef since the meat grinder (and the USDA.)
6. Mrs. Butterworth
Awesome Because: She's a magic bottle! She'll open her skull, and pour delicious, golden syrup all over toaster waffles, just like a mother should. And then she'll make charming conversation all day long. Invented by Pinnacle Foods in the late 1970s, Mrs. Butterworth is like Aunt Jemima, only not a stuck-up diva. Mr. Butterworth is a lucky man.
5. Trix Rabbit
Awesome Because: The Trix Rabbit is an existential hero: constantly denied a bowl of fruity Trix, and yet undeterred by the futility of this pursuit. Like Sisyphus. This cruel cycle has been happening since 1954, and one has to admit, this rabbit's burden makes a bowl of dyed, ground corn balls seem pretty tasty.
4. Colonel Sanders
Awesome Because: Any guy who strolls around in a white suit with a bucket of fried chicken is always invited to the party. While not a true military colonel -- he was a Kentucky colonel -- this guy actually existed. His name was Harland Sanders, he created Kentucky Fried Chicken, and he died in 1980. But he lives on as an animated brand, and so does his franchise, an international fast food juggernaut.
3. Pillsbury Dough Boy
Awesome Because: When this famous icon finally comes out of the oven a Dough Man, he'll have a flaky, buttery pastry crust. Hallucinated by an ad man under a deadline, the Dough Boy, also known as "Poppin' Fresh," has been selling biscuits, croissants and pancake mix with his trademark ticklishness since 1965, adding a layer of cuteness to empty carbohydrates.
2. The M&Ms
Awesome Because: They don't hold a grudge against being devoured by their human friends. These animated mascots for Mars strike a perfect balance of adorable and creepy, even going so far as to wink to the fact that they are begging to be sacrificed, politely refusing to scream as they melt in your mouth. Apparently, eating sentient beings made out of chocolate is not cannibalism.
Awesome Because: Grimace is a mystery. What, exactly, is Grimace? Barney the Dinosaur's second cousin? A goofy grape? A mutant eggplant? Originally an "evil" character in the 1950s, Grimace's raison d'etre was to steal milkshakes. After a loving brand lobotomy, the character was transformed into a waddling dufus beloved by thousands.
Cuckoo for the Cocoa Puffs bird or love the Lucky Charms leprechaun? Share your story in the comments below.
John DeVore has written for Maxim Magazine, The New York Sun, Cracked.com, Comedycentral.com, Esquire.com, Playboy.com and for the award winning political parody Whitehouse.org. Follow him at twitter.com/johndevore.