This Is Who Originally Voiced The Pillsbury Doughboy

Few brand mascots are more recognizable — and, arguably, lovable — than the Pillsbury Doughboy. Also known as Poppin' Fresh, the Doughboy was introduced by Rudolph Perz, a copywriter at Leo Burnett agency who had been hired to market Pillsbury's new innovation of refrigerated dough you could pop open and right into your oven (via Bustle). Pillsbury had been specializing in dry goods like flour, cake mix, and pasta since Charles A. Pillsbury bought a share in a flour mill in 1869. 

Poppin' Fresh was born in 1965, the same year as Pillsbury's refrigerated crescent roll dough. General Mills, the company that bought Pillsbury in 2001, writes on its blog that the mascot was originally going to be animated, but was changed to clay-mation after Perz was inspired by the stop-motion credits for "The Dinah Shore Show." Over the years, we've gotten to know the Doughboy well through countless commercial campaigns, his balloon in the Macy's Thanksgiving Day Parade, and even Poppin' Fresh dolls (via Mental Floss). Pillsbury capitalized on Doughboy love in the 1970s by introducing an entire Doughboy family.

It's safe to say, though, that the Pillsbury Doughboy just wouldn't be the Pillsbury Doughboy without his voice. After all, that giggle when someone pokes Poppin' Fresh really sealed the mascot's iconic status. So, who actually provided that voice? It's oddly easy to forget that Poppin' Fresh isn't actually a real nearly-nine-inch chef, but a CGI creation who's been voiced by different actors.

The man behind the Doughboy

According to the Pillsbury blog, over 50 actors auditioned to voice this soon-to-be legendary mascot in 1965. Paul Winchell was one of them, and while you may not know his name, you know his voice: Winchell lent his pipes to Tigger on "Winnie the Pooh" (via The New York Times). Even with that kind of clout, Winchell lost out on the race to play Poppin' Fresh. The first actor to voice the Pillsbury Doughboy, subsequently creating what the character meant to Americans, was Paul Frees.

Paul Frees had a beloved cartoon under his belt, too. He voiced Boris Badenov on "The Adventures of Rocky and Bullwinkle," writes Pillsbury. Among many other roles, Frees would also go on to voice Inspector Fenwick on "The Dudley Do-Right Show" and even provided the voices for lots of attractions at Disneyland (via All Ears). The Pillsbury Doughboy wasn't the only famous mascot on Frees's resume, either: he also voiced Toucan Sam, says The Daily Meal. All Ears notes he had a four-octave vocal range and became known as "the man of a thousand voices." Frees made his first vocal splash as the Doughboy on November 7, 1965. In the mascot's debut commercial, he pops out of a can of dough and exclaims, "I'm Poppin' Fresh, the Pillsbury Doughboy!" A star was born.

Frees died in 1986, and according to Behind the Voice Actors, other performers to play the Doughboy include Jeff Bergman, Peter New, Fred Young, JoBe Cerny, and Jeremy Geller.