Freakies was a brand of sweetened breakfast cereal produced by Ralston and sold in the United States. The cereal entered the marketplace in 1973 and was taken off the shelves in 1975. That same year Ralston sold the remaining toys that were to be inserted into the now defunct cereal to a company that supplied Dime and Grocery stores vending machines. For years you were still able to get Freakies figures for .25 and the turn of a knob.
The Freakies were made up of seven creatures named Hamhose, Gargle, Cowmumble, Grumble, Goody-Goody, Snorkeldorf and the leader BossMoss.
In the mythology of the Freakies, the seven went in search of the legendary Freakies Tree which grew the Freakies cereal. They found the Tree, realized the legend was true, and promptly took up residence in the Tree which then became the backdrop for all the TV spots and package back stories.
Ralston tried to reintroduce the cereal in 1987. It failed twice as fast as the original.
In the mid-80s, after launching several unsuccessful cereals with different characters
(including Casper, the Friendly Ghost), someone at Ralston Purina remembered the Freakies. And, since Ralston owned the rights to the characters, they decided to launch a new Freakies cereal. Ralston gave the assignment back to the advertising agency that had handled the creation of the original Freakies.
Unfortunately, the person who had created the Freakies was no longer at the agency and so other people were assigned to the project.
No one knows why these people decided to change the Freakies. Maybe it was because they wanted to put their own mark on the new cereal. Or maybe it was because no one was left who really understood what had made the original Freakies so successful.
In any event, the cereal was re-introduced with characters that only barely resembled the original Freakies. Their names were now more simplistic and expected. They had lost the quirky aspects of their personalities. Even the environment they lived in had been changed.
If they’d been able to consult anyone who had been involved with the original Freakies, they would’ve known that the success of the Freakies was based on very specific things. For instance, each Freakie was a basic personality type anyone could recognize - but with added quirks and flaws. This made the Freakies more real and more appealing. And it was the interaction of these personalities that made the commercials and the package back stories so interesting to kids.
The names of the Freakies were important, too.
They were as quirky and specific as the Freakies. For instance, Hamhose liked ham sandwiches and lived in a garden hose so he could take long walks all by himself. Grumble had bad feet and so he’s always complaining. Snorkeldorf had a long nose, so snorkel is part of his name. Goody-Goody – well, we all know about Goody-Goody.
In contrast, the Freakies of 1986 didn’t have distinct personalities at all. And so the plotlines of the TV commercial and the package backs were pretty thin. And their names were changed to simple words that - if connected to the character at all - only highlighted an obvious physical trait. So Hamhose became Hugger because of all his arms. Snorkeldorf became Tooter because once, in the 70s, he had blown his nose like a trumpet. Cowmumble became Sweetie because she’s nice. But then, Goody-Goody, that apple-polisher without equal, mysteriously became Hot Dog. And Gargle, the Freakie who could bore an insomniac into a prolonged and restful sleep, became Ace! And equally mysterious, BossMoss and Grumble kept their names.
Finally, the environment of space, with the Freakies riding surfboards in said space, was completely arbitrary with no relation to the characters or the cereal at all. But perhaps more important than all these differences was the fact that the original Freakies material was written to amuse adults as well as children. And the new Freakies didn’t have that edge.
Ultimately, the sales of this new Freakie cereal were so disappointing, Ralston discontinued it before the year was even up.
They Always Come Back:
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