Why Arby's Oven Mitt Mascot Was A Total Flop

The public has seen a host of food mascots grace their television screens over the years. The Pillsbury Doughboy and his pokable belly, Tony the Tiger and his prolonged r's, Mr. Peanut and his formal attire, and Chester Cheetah and his love of messy orange snacks have become so familiar that it might be hard to believe that they aren't actually real people. 

Some characters people embrace aren't always "cute" either. The Burger King, for example, has a rubber face some people consider frightening, with CBR.com even referring to him as creepy. Ronald McDonald is a clown — and some experts believe as many as one in 10 adults have a fear of clowns, according to the Cleveland Clinic.

In a world where an impossibly posh legume and a nightmare-inducing clown can become household names, it could seem strange that fewer people were willing to show a wide-eyed oven mitt with the singing voice of a 1950s crooner some love. That is the sad story of the Arby's Oven Mitt — the kitchen tool mascot that few took a shine to.

Why the Oven Mitt's life span was cut short

Arby's first introduced Oven Mitt in 2003, according to Pop Icon. The roast beef sandwich chain embarked on an $85 million advertising campaign around this quirky animated character to highlight that the company oven roasts its beef. And, after auditioning celebrities and non-celebrities alike (via The New York Times), Arby's hired actor and comedian Tom Arnold to voice Oven Mitt. 

Oven Mitt's failure was not for the brand's lack of trying. Arby's launched a prolific ad campaign that showed the mascot singing "Volare," doing push-ups and sit-ups to prepare for a new sandwich, going on a joyride with co-workers, getting dizzy from being forced to wave to too many people, and becoming distressed upon learning that he possesses neither ears nor a nose. There isn't much documented opinion of him being ugly or creepy. So why does Oven Mitt no longer grace the small screen? 

Some, like A Progressive Diner, blame its similarity to the Hamburger Helper mascot for the demise. Some, like fight.boredom, say his shape is too similar to the Arby's cowboy hat logo. Some, like blogger Nick Davies, were confused about its name. And the recall of Arby's oven mitt premiums in 2004 (per Chief Marketer) might have contributed to its demise. 

Whatever the reason, Oven Mitt was forced into retirement in 2005, per A Progressive Diner. But it is far from forgotten.