The Most Iconic Food Mascots Of All Time, Ranked From Worst To Best

It's no mystery why food mascots are an effective advertising tool. After all, where would Frosted Flakes be without Tony the Tiger's iconic exclamation regarding the cereal's greatness? Would Planter's still be in business more than a century later if a drawing contest hadn't prompted a young boy to create and submit a fancy pants Mr. Peanut back in 1916?

A food product clearly needs to stand on its own two feet to achieve sustained success, but in an overwhelmingly competitive food industry, marketing and advertising departments are crucial. Frankly, it's virtually impossible to overstate the potentially positive impact a well-received food mascot can have on a company's bottom line.

Considering how a seemingly endless number of food mascots have been introduced over the years, it makes sense that some have lingered more prominently than others. Rather than create a simple list of well-known candidates, though — because where's the fun in that? — we decided to rank the 35 most iconic food mascots of all time, from worst to best, for your enjoyment.

We tried to follow some ground rules during the ranking process. Outside of a few notable exceptions, we focused mainly on long-running mascots (those used for decades or more), those created exclusively for a brand (so no Flintstones with Cocoa Pebbles) and omitted mascots based on a real person (like Wendy or Chef Boyardee). Without further ado, here is our ranking of the 35 most iconic food mascots of all time.

35. The Burger King

Let's face it: the actual Burger King mascot is a disturbing creature. That unsettling-yet-unforgettable maniacal grin has been producing nightmares across the U.S. since 2004, when the current, plastic-costumed incarnation was introduced to the world (via Slate). While a cartoon King character was briefly used in the 1970s, the current, undoubtedly creepy version has, for better or worse, left the larger cultural imprint.

Yet, we'd be remiss in assembling a list of iconic food mascots if we didn't include the titular royal figure from the fast food chain, even in last place. So with a face only a mother could love, the Burger King mascot comes in at the very bottom.

34. Big Boy (Bob's Big Boy)

There's a decent chance you've never been to an actual Bob's Big Boy restaurant, given only 74 locations (almost exclusively in the Midwest) were open as of 2022. But that doesn't mean you're unfamiliar with its mascot, Big Boy, thanks to its memorable appearance in the 1997 classic comedy, "Austin Powers: International Man of Mystery."

In the film, Dr. Evil (Mike Myers) uses a giant statue of the famous little boy as a disguised spaceship, leading to an outline of the hamburger-hoisting mascot appearing on a military radar. Though the scene remains funny decades later, it can't overcome the restaurant's regional nature, hence its low ranking on our list.

33. Julius Pringle

To be honest, discovering some food mascots have actual names was a bit of a running theme in our research. For instance, we had no idea the Pringles mascot, who we've generally just called the Pringles guy, is in fact named Julius Pringle (via WYTV-33).

Now, we can't say a name makes the floating head any more endearing in our minds, but it does help cement the mascot's iconic nature. Still, while this list wouldn't be complete without Julius, we can't recall the Pringles mascot ever actually doing anything beyond sit and stare as a logo for the non-potato chip food. Therefore, he comes in near to the bottom in our assessment.

32. Gidget (Taco Bell)

Did you know the Taco Bell chihuahua was actually a female named Gidget (via CNN)? Most people likely don't, considering the exorbitantly popular mascot, who declared "yo quiero Taco Bell" in the late 1990s and early 2000s, was voiced by male actor Carlos Alazraqui. Either way, the teeny dog left a huge mark on pop culture during its fairly short time in the spotlight, justifying its spot on our list.

Of course, the Taco Bell chihuahua's short time as the corporate torchbearer handicaps it in our rankings. There's no denying the four-legged actress's impact on the world, but with such a brief run as the actual mascot, we can't rank the canine any higher.

31. Jack in the Box

Not unlike the Big Boy mascot, the titular Jack in the Box is hurt in our rankings by his lacking ubiquity across the nation. After all, a near-constant deluge of advertisements featuring Jack seem to be shown coast-to-coast. But residents in more than half the U.S. weren't lucky enough to have an actual restaurant location in their state as of 2022, according to the company.

Still, the mascot's globe-headed, kiddie-clown aesthetic — contrasting his alleged CEO role — is undoubtedly amusing, and also universally known. It may not be able to overcome its lack of nationwide reach to rank higher, but no one can deny Jack's merited inclusion on this list.

30. Horatio the Bumblebee (Bumble Bee)

To be perfectly honest, the number of food mascots we couldn't remember ever actually doing anything was fairly surprising — like the recently retired mascot for Bumble Bee Tuna, Horatio the Bumblebee. So while the chef's-hat-wearing, anthropomorphic insect graced the canned seafood's labels until 2020 (via Intrafish), we can't say what Horatio really did besides joyfully smile.

A seven-decade run as the face of the brand — one that started in 1950, according to the company – is nothing to sneeze at. But Horatio's seeming lack of personality (and Bumble Bee's decision to nix him as a mascot) costs him points from our perspective, so he remains in the bottom portion of our rankings.

29. Gorton's Fisherman

It's unlikely Gorton's invented the idea of a rugged fisherman wearing a yellow slicker when it introduced its highly recognizable mascot in 1975. But when tasked with thinking about a fishing professional along the New England coast, the image of Gorton's famous mascot almost instantly comes to mind.

Modern takes on the Gorton's Fisherman have proven his durability, including a humorous set of advertisements from 2017 that tested the mascot's skills outside the sea (via Seafood Source). Yet, we have to admit: We've never been the biggest fans of the frozen seafood company. So, fair or not, this mascot remains in the lower half as a result.

28. Count Chocula

In our eyes, Count Chocula is kind of boring. Sure, the brown, vampire-adjacent character has been around for more than 50 years as of 2022, and certainly outranks the other Monster Cereals often advertised alongside his product. But while the original character was drawn by the same artist who created the Trix Rabbit, well ... there's a reason the Count is lower on our list.

Maybe we simply love the numbers-obsessed Count von Count from "Sesame Street" so much that his chocolate-cereal-beholden cousin suffers by comparison. Either way, while we'd never deny Count Chocula's iconic status, we're bigger fans of several other cereals and their corresponding mascots, so we can't rank him any higher.

27. Quicky the Bunny (Nesquik)

For our money, chocolate or strawberry milk doesn't get any better than Nesquik. We can't quite put our finger on it, but the brand satisfies our flavored milk cravings like no other — and provides young consumers with a long-eared pal in Quicky the Bunny, to boot.

Introduced in 1960 (per the Nesquik website), Quicky is instantly recognizable as the face of the brand. Yet all things considered, we can't help but find the brown bunny a tad underwhelming. The mascot belongs on this list, for sure, but without any sort of slogan or notable quality? It could only rise so far.

26. Vlasic Stork

When you think about the origins of the Vlasic Stork mascot, it's somewhat amazing he exists at all. Because as the website suggests, the Stork may have been introduced as a ploy to juice up slagging birth rates — by using the stork imagery associated with babies to implore baby-making sessions across the nation.

Whatever his true origin, we always get a laugh from the Vlasic Stork. With his vaudevillian voice and delivery, he's a bonafide legend among food mascots. But with no name — and, well, being the mascot for a pickle company, of all foods — we had to keep him closer to the bottom of our list.

25. Twinkie the Kid

Twinkie the Kid is one of the weirder entries on this list. We can't say a living Twinkie who dresses like a cowboy would have been our first idea to entice consumers to buy a cream-filled tube of spongy cake. But there's no denying the mascot's impact over the years, which even spurred a humorous faux obituary in HuffPost, in 2012, in light of Hostess' near closure.

We often enjoy the world's more offbeat creations, yet we can't push Twinkie the Kid any higher in our rankings. Especially not after Hostess' decision to no longer advertise to children in 2022 — meaning Twinkie the Kid has likely headed for greener pastures.

24. Sonny (Cocoa Puffs)

Like several other cereal mascots on this countdown, Sonny the Cuckoo Bird is largely defined by a singular catchphrase: he's "Cuckoo for Cocoa Puffs!" Frankly, it's impossible to imagine anyone born in the past half-century being unfamiliar with the orange mascot's lust for the chocolate-flavored cereal.

But that lack of depth doesn't do Sonny any favors in our ranking, nor does the cultural shift around mental health in recent years. Add in the fact the mascot's original voice actor, Chuck McCann, passed away in 2018 (via Entertainment Weekly), and it's easy to see why Sonny belongs in the lower half.

23. Charlie the Tuna

Some may wonder what lifts Charlie the Tuna above Horatio the Bumblebee on our list. Maybe it's that Starkist consistently outperformed Bumble Bee in tuna sales throughout the 2010s, or that Charlie has an actual catchphrase, as noted on the company website, that sets him apart (it's both).

Realistically, though, the idea that Charlie is shilling tuna for humans to eat — meaning the mascot is somewhat of a murderer — is what we find most endearing. Of course, not everyone shares our twisted sense of humor, so that slightly amusing (if disturbing) fact is also what keeps the cartoon tuna in the middle of our list. Sorry, Charlie.

22. Lefty the Glove (Hamburger Helper)

More than 85% of the Western population is right-handed, according to MedlinePlus, so any time the world's oft-neglected left-handed folks are spotlighted, we like to take note. This includes Lefty the Glove, the helpful mascot for Hamburger Helper – which may or may not be an actual hand (via Today).

Regardless of what's under the glove, General Mills' choice to spotlight southpaws with the mascot in 1977 should be celebrated. If we liked Hamburger Helper more, Lefty would rank higher. But the mascot — which somewhat resembles both Chip (Bradley Pierce) from "Beauty and the Beast" and Pennywise's (Tim Curry) hands in "IT" — still earns its keep in the middle of the pack.

21. Snap, Crackle, and Pop (Rice Krispies)

The famed trio of mascots representing Rice Krispies – Snap, Crackle, and Pop — feel like a bit of an anomaly when it comes to cereal mascots. After all, a group of cartoon mascots aimed at children makes sense for more sugary, teeth-rotting varieties, but not the fairly bland flavor found in Rice Krispies.

The three mascots, named for the sounds Rice Krispies make in milk, have been around since Kellogg's introduced them in 1932. While it's certainly fun listening to your cereal try to communicate, we can't overlook the contrast between the food and its adorable, kid-friendly mascots — meaning the three elves rank just outside our top 20.

20. Buzz Bee (Honey Nut Cheerios)

Like several other food mascots, we've always known Buzz Bee, the iconic Honey Nut Cheerios spokes-bee, as just "the bee" from the brand. But our ignorance of the insect's name is somewhat understandable, considering it didn't have a name before a fan contest took place in 2000 (via Business Wire).

Over the years, Buzz Bee has gone missing to raise awareness of the world's declining bee population (via PR Newswire) and partnered with Ice-T to encourage healthier lifestyle habits among Americans (via General Mills). The insect may just barely crack our top 20, but this list clearly wouldn't be complete without Buzz Bee's inclusion.

19. Lucky (Lucky Charms)

Like so many other cereal mascots, Lucky is known for his distinctly insatiable appetite for a product — in this case, Lucky Charms. Since debuting back in 1964 (via General Mills), the rambunctious leprechaun has been extolling the virtues of the magically delicious cereal ad nauseam, with its rotating assortment of marshmallows including clovers, stars, and rainbows.

A 2022 book exploring the fictional mascot's backstory (via Business Wire) helped prove his standing in the public eye. But let's be real here: the non-marshmallow bits in the cereal are sort of disgusting, meaning Lucky takes a deserved spot right in the middle of our list.

18. Chuck E. Cheese

If you grew up eating Chuck E. Cheese pizza at birthday parties while watching the mouse and his animatronic band perform, you understand why Chuck makes our list of iconic mascots. But did you know the character is actually an orphan named Charles Entertainment Cheese who, according to Insider, allegedly opened the business to celebrate kids' birthday parties because he never had the chance growing up?

Frankly, we can't quite comprehend the corporate strategy behind Chuck E. Cheese's depressing backstory. Nor can we decide whether the sad sack background helps or hurts the talking mouse in our rankings — so we'll split the difference.

17. Toucan Sam (Froot Loops)

Like so many other cereal mascots on this list, Toucan Sam struggles to stand out from the crowd. Sure, the cartoon mascot, first seen in 1963 (via Today), has been imploring consumers to follow his lead to a bowl of Froot Loops — by encouraging you to "follow your nose" — for decades.

But a fun catchphrase aimed at children hardly elevates the mascot. Additionally, while the website implies that Froot Loops practically invented multi-colored cereal, we're not so sure about the veracity of that claim. We'd never say Toucan Sam doesn't belong on this list, yet the tropical bird can't quite overcome the glut of cereal mascots to rank any higher.

16. Trix Rabbit

It's not just the long tenure of the Trix Rabbit, which dates back to 1959 (via General Mills), that places it higher than most other cereal mascots in our eyes. Frankly, the fact that its entire tenure has been defined by snotty kids refusing to share their cereal means we're sympathetic to the Rabbit's dilemma. What can we say? We're softies.

At the same time, the fairly narrow marketing angle of the Trix Rabbit keeps it from climbing any higher. We can't recall anything else about the Rabbit other than its oft-denied desire for Trix — a fairly middling cereal, we must say — meaning it can't quite crack our top 15.

15. Polar Bears (Coke)

Before our research, we were under the impression the Coca-Cola Polar Bear mascots were exclusive to holiday season advertisements. Yet we were pleasantly surprised to discover that, according to its website, the Polar Bears have been representing the brand (at least on occasion) since 1922.

Of course, the CGI Polar Bears that most modern consumers know and love were first introduced in 1993, as a pack of bears enjoying Aurora Borealis while sipping Coke. But while we greatly enjoy the mascots, the largely indistinguishable nature of the Polar Bears and lack of defining characteristics (beyond loving Coke, that is) keeps them from the very top of our list.

14. Cap'n Crunch

Does anyone know what Cap'n Crunch is an alleged captain of? We doubt it. But the purveyor of delightfully-sweetened corn cereal squares — with or without crunch berries — doesn't need to enlighten us to his military rank to secure his position on this list.

The food mascot — whose real name is, almost unbelievably, Horatio Magellan Crunch (via Today) — may not have a catchy slogan. But that, in fact, helps the food mascot's case compared to other entries. After all, to rise to the top of the cartoon cereal mascot tide without a well-known catchphrase is quite the accomplishment — enough to rank in our top 15.

13. Morton Salt Umbrella Girl

While we've ranked some mascots lower for a lack of, well, actually doing anything, the Umbrella Girl mascot used by Morton Salt since 1914 is an exception. Perhaps it's the character's fairly fascinating visual evolution through the years (via History Daily), or the strange image of an umbrella protecting a yellow girl from raining salt.

Regardless, with longevity and memorability to her credit — she was named by all three people we informally polled for this countdown, after all — the Umbrella Girl is an undeniably iconic food mascot. She may not rise into the top 10, but at this point in our list, there are only winners.

12. California Raisins

Similar to the Taco Bell chihuahua, the California Raisins' time as an actual food mascot was relatively short-lived. But in less than a decade as the mascot for (you guessed it) California raisin growers, the claymation version of dried grapes that sang and danced left a monumental mark on pop culture. This included (but isn't limited to) several music albums, an Emmy-nominated Christmas Special, and a Saturday morning cartoon (via Mental Floss).

The considerable production costs for the California Raisins led to the food mascots' eventual disappearance, but their legacy lives on. They can't quite crack the top 10 given their brief time in the spotlight, yet it's clear the Motown-inspired mascots won't soon be forgotten.

11. Keebler Elves

Look, if the image accompanying this slide — a real-life parking placard for Ernie the Elf at Keebler's corporate headquarters — doesn't perfectly illustrate the Keebler Elves' iconic status, we're not sure anything else will. Of course, after more than half a century as the "Head Spokes-Elf" of Keebler (via PR Newswire), he and the rest of the Elves don't need us to justify their place in U.S. culture.

Now, perhaps if the Elves outside of Ernie had more distinctive personalities or traits, the Keebler Elves would rank higher. As it is, there's no shame in being the 11th best food mascot of all time.

10. Little Caesar

We're not exactly sure why we love the Little Caesars mascot so much. After all, what else does the cartoonish character, vaguely modeled after the legendary Roman emperor, do besides say "Pizza! Pizza!" in his joyously monotone way? Whatever the reason, we're confident the pizza chain's mascot (first used in 1962, according to the website) deserves his spot as the 10th best food mascot of all time.

Frankly, we can't say we're huge fans of Little Caesars food. But as the third best-selling pizza restaurant in the U.S. in 2021, it's clear our subjective opinion isn't relevant to the company's — or its mascot's — standing in the world.

9. Chester Cheetah (Cheetos)

Confession: before compiling this list, we thought Chester Cheetah's last name was actually Cheeto. But surname misconceptions aside, without the longtime Cheetos character in the top 10, frankly, there is no list of iconic food mascots.

Interestingly enough, Chester wasn't the original Cheetos mascot, as the cheese snack brand's mascot was initially a mouse (via Atlas Obscura). Once Chester was introduced in 1986, though, the world's embrace ensured that the brand would never look back. The mascot's popularity has even led to a video game, "Chester Cheetah: Too Cool to Fool," being released in 1992 (via GameFAQs), and has also helped inspire a Cheetos restaurant collaboration with Anne Burrell in 2017 (via PR Newswire).

8. Ronald McDonald

In terms of sheer recognizability, Ronald McDonald may have a legitimate claim to the top spot on this list, so his top 10 slot was never really in doubt. But like the mascot of McDonald's rival, Burger King, there's something rather unsettling about the former Mickey D's pitchman, which keeps the clown locked in eighth place.

First appearing in 1963 (via Britannica), Ronald McDonald was nearly as ubiquitous as the fast food conglomerate he represented. That constancy actually makes us wonder whether Ronald McDonald was genuinely beloved, or just everywhere, like McDonald's. In the end, though, it doesn't really matter, and Ronald McDonald's legend is secure either way.

7. The M&M's

While some group mascots have been penalized on our list for a lack of individualized detail, the M&M's mascots don't have that problem. Each mascot (one for every main M&M color) has its own distinct features and personality — something demonstrated by a Q&A with each M&M character on the company website.

The group dynamic keeps them from ranking any higher, but it's still obvious why the M&M's come in as the seventh best food mascot of all time. Additionally, the characters' evolution through the years, including a slight revamp in 2022 (via CNN), likely ensures the M&M mascots — and their candies — will remain prominent in the public eye.

6. Mr. Peanut (Planters)

With his trademark monocle and top hat, Mr. Peanut is easily the most pretentious food mascot on this list. But snob or not, no one can pretend the walking, talking peanut mascot for Planters hasn't earned a spot just outside the top five on our list.

Perhaps the fascinating origin of Mr. Peanut boosts his stock in our estimation. Because unlike the vast majority of food mascots, Mr. Peanut wasn't the brainchild of an advertising executive, but rather an actual child. A drawing by middle-schooler Antonio Gentile, entered into a 1916 contest held by the company to establish a mascot, led to the creation of Mr. Peanut (via Smithsonian). The rest, as they say, is history.

5. Kool-Aid Man

Oh, yeah! The Kool-Aid Man is a big jolly pitcher of sheer, sugar-saturated joy. Few characters, mascots or otherwise, seem more gleeful than the Kool-Aid icon, who's been bursting through walls and offering juice to consumers since the mid-1950s (via History Nebraska).

The character's made numerous pop culture appearances through the years (via Milwaukee Magazine), including an early episode of "Family Guy," and a 2019 "Saturday Night Live" sketch skewering toxic masculinity. As a tool used to increase brand awareness, it's tough to top the Kool-Aid Man, which is why the red, round-bodied mascot kicks off the top five of our countdown.

4. Poppin' Fresh (Pillsbury)

We truly love Poppin' Fresh — or, as much of the world knows him, the Pillsbury Doughboy. Introduced in 1965 (per the Pillsbury website), the incomparable mascot has become an adorable fixture of Pillsbury packages and advertisements. Frankly, if you say you've never mimicked the character's "hoo hoo!" giggle after a poke in the belly, well ... we may call you a liar.

Poppin' Fresh (who actually has family members, too) earns bonus points for his body positive appearances. He's never self-conscious about his soft, pokable tummy, or shamed for having a less-than-perfect physique. It's refreshing to see a character unencumbered by societal pressure, which helps explain why he ranks number four on our list.

3. Tony the Tiger

What makes Tony the Tiger rank so much higher than other cereal mascots? For one, we respect the fact the Frosted Flakes mascot is essentially just a straight-forward, feline pitchman for the sweetened breakfast food. There's no other story; he just loves promoting the cereal. For another thing, we feel that Frosted Flakes is a superior product to other represented cereals on this list.

But really, the most important thing? He's "gr-r-reat!" Add in the interesting tidbit that Tony beat out two other potential mascots upon arrival to become the face of Frosted Flakes in 1953 (via Kellogg's), and we think it's crystal clear why the Tiger ranks as the third best food mascot.

2. Miss Chiquita

The literal dearth of female food mascots can be a bit disheartening in our modern world, but maybe that just elevates those existing few — like the tropical fruit queen herself, Miss Chiquita. Starting with her introduction as an actual dancing banana in 1944 (via the Chiquita website), Miss Chiquita has been the queen bee of all food mascots, hence her placement as the second best of all time.

Called the "First Lady of Fruit," Miss Chiquita may have helped bananas become a staple of the U.S. diet. And the food mascot remains just as relevant to the brand's success in 2022 — even being jokingly credited with running Chiquita's Instagram account.

1. Jolly Green Giant

Any number of food mascots could make a legitimate claim to this spot. But for our money, the Jolly Green Giant takes the cake — or, more appropriately, the bowl of steamed broccoli.

The Jolly Green Giant checks off all the necessary boxes. The enormous, green-skinned mascot is universally known after nearly a century in the public eye (via Hennepin History Museum). And how many fictional creations are honored with a real-life, 55-foot tall statue, like the one constructed in 1979 in Blue Earth, Minnesota (via Roadside America)?

Throw in the fact that he encourages vegetable consumption to our produce-deprived nation, and it's clear why the Jolly Green Giant is the best food mascot of all time.