What Ever Happened To Popsicle Pete?

If televisions were to be believed, children saved from the sweltering summer sun had one person to thank: Popsicle Pete. In a series of animated advertisements, such as this 1992 segment found on YouTube, a boy shaped like a double Popsicle arrives on the scene via hoverboard, blasting everyone with beams that give them Popsicles to "chill out" with. It was all very nineties. 

Today, when climate change threatens to render the world as it appears in those commercials, Popsicle Pete is nowhere to be seen. Looking back, all that nineties 'tude with which Popsicle Pete appeared now comes off as a mid-life crisis for a mascot representing a product that had become obsolete. 

Before we head towards such a decline, however, we should establish Popsicle Pete's beginnings. He debuted to deliver the Popsicle message to listeners of the radio show "Buck Rogers in the 25th Century" on April 5, 1939 (via Generic Radio). Having won the "Typical American Boy" contest, Popsicle Pete explained in a message you can read in archived scripts of "Buck Rogers" on Generic Radio that people who saved the bags of their Popsicles, Fudgicles, and Creamsicles could win prizes. Afterwards, he received a visual design which depicted him as a double popsicle with legs made of popsicle sticks and proceeded to appear in various media for the next half century.

A slide into obsolescence

The dying of the light against which Popsicle Pete so raged began its dimming in the eighties. In 1986, The New York Times ran a piece on Popsicle's attempt to rejuvenate itself in the eyes of a younger demographic. The main casualty of the change was the double popsicle design that had defined the brand since the Depression era. In other words, the basis of Popsicle Pete's design was no longer part of the brand. ”People find the twin stick inconvenient,” Rupert Walters, president of Popsicle Industries, explained. ”It falls apart, it's messy.”

Obviously the company must have decided it worthwhile to see if they could keep their mascot going a little while longer. However, they did not feel so passionate as to ensure that the trademark for Popsicle Pete was renewed, as shown by the record of the Popsicle Pete patent held by the United States Patent and Trademark Office. It expired in 1992, the year of Popsicle Pete's last hurrah.

Of course, characters do not experience real death, so Popsicle could theoretically bring back Popsicle Pete. That is unlikely to happen, though, as Unilever, the company that now owns the Popsicle brand, told CBS in 2020 that they will cease targeting children in their advertisements. Popsicle Pete, who in his original 1930s incarnation and his final 1990s one always attempted to represent the way marketers imagined American childhood, cannot find a new career in this environment. His hoverboard will forever be hung, gathering dust.