Sep 23, 2011 • By

The creation of Poppin’ Fresh

The Pillsbury Doughboy is an American icon. An anthropomorphic embodiment of fresh dough, Poppin’ Fresh has a winning smile, big blue eyes, his signature “belly poke” and payoff giggle. Surveys often find him a favorite product mascot.

So, where did he come from?

The Leo Burnett advertising agency of Chicago was assigned to work on Pillsbury’s refrigerated dough account in 1965.

Rudy Perz, a copywriter at the time, popped open one of the cans and envisioned an image of a doughboy popping out. Martin Nodell, one of the artists in the advertising group, supposedly quickly came up with a sketch of the character.

Perz first thought the character could be animated, but after seeing the stop-action motion technique used in the credits of “The Dinah Shore Show,” he liked that better. So in 1965, the Doughboy was brought to life on television through the ground breaking technological process at Hollywood’s Cascade Pictures, Inc.

Within three years of his debut in 1965 in a crescent roll commercial, the Doughboy had an 87 percent recognition factor among consumers.

Poppin’ Fresh has been featured in numerous commercials over the years. He has been an opera singer, a rap artist, a rock star, a poet, a painter, a ballet dancer, a skydiver and a skateboarder. In addition, he has been seen playing harmonica, accordion, bugle, electric guitar and violin.

The success of Poppin’ Fresh led to the creation of Pillsbury Playthings. Playthings introduced Poppin’ Fresh as a doll in 1972. The vinyl, non-toxic doll was one of the fastest selling toys in the United States and was named “Toy of the Year” for 1972 by Playthings magazine.

A companion doll, Poppie Fresh, was introduced in February, 1973 and was seen in television and print advertising. Granmommer and Granpopper appeared in 1974 along with Uncle Rollie, who drove a car with the license plate “Rollie”. There was also a Fresh family teddy bear, Cup Cake that was produced as a stuffed animal.

In 1974, a white vinyl playhouse that doubled as a carrying case for the Doughboy family finger puppets was introduced. The set included Poppin’, Poppie, their son Popper and daughter Bun-Bun. The family would not be complete without the family’s dog, Flapjack and the cat named Biscuit.

From the beginning he has been dressed in a chef’s hat bearing the Pillsbury logo as well as a white neckerchief, and he still is considered a teacher and friend to cooks of all kinds.

As of 1998, he received 200 fan letters a week, and Pillsbury received 1,500 requests for autographed photos. In four short years, Poppin’ Fresh will reach another milestone in 2015 – his 50th Birthday.

A house smells so nice when you bake in the oven.

You bake something warm and fresh in the oven.

Nothin’ says Lovin’ like something from the oven.

And Pillsbury says it best!

– Nothin’ Says Lovin’ lyrics

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  • Kathryn

    Very interesting!

  • http://www.hobo1964.xanga.com Mark Watson

    Nothin’ say lovin’ like somethin’ from the over… and Pillsbury says it best!

  • http://www.facebook.com/ron.rhodes1 Ron Rhodes

    I had one of the original Poppin Fresh dolls and he moved with us around the world and back before disappearing mysteriously about 10 years ago. I really hope you folks will come up with an anniversary version. We miss him!

  • Cindy

    Why doesnt my 1972 Pillsbury girl have painted eyes nor blue dot on pocket?

  • ForeverAutumn_

    I cannot find anything else alluding to the Caramel Danish Rolls. I do not know when these were discontinued, but these were the perfect roll for a weekend breakfast. I miss these!

  • Marisa Booth

    I have a stuffed Cupcake bear and a vinyl doughboy from the early 70’s.

  • mortgoth

    My father was a copywriter at Leo Burnett’s in the 60s and 70s and worked on the Pillsbury account!

  • Sona Yacobian

    I just love the Doughboy commercials from the late 1980s and early 1990s. I have found most of them on YouTube but there are two I would love to see again and can’t seem to find. One is where he is sitting by an oven with a timer ticking, waiting for something to finish baking. And the other one is when comes dancing out, shaking maracas and wearing colorful decorations on his wrists. They are so funny and I’m hoping that someone might be able to point me to a link where I might be able to see them again. thanks!