Retroville: Funny Face

Welcome to a new segment here in Twinsanity (we told you things were starting to happen here) called Retroville–where we look at toys, products, theme park attractions, live shows and concerts, novelties and other assorted merch that are based on cartoon franchises or feature cartoon characters; not specifically animation, per se, but connected to cartoon culture or at least in a related field, as well as past ad campaigns, retail and restaurant chains, toys and novelty products, hence the name Retroville. On Retroville we’ll be pulling out those kitschy things that make you smile and say…


“Hey, I vaguely recall that!”

Before we start, I have to give credit where credit is due: the Retroville segment was initially the brain child of my brother Jason (Goldstar), so once again Jason has saved this blog from the abyss. Let’s give him a big hand.

Now, on with the show!

-Today’s Retroville looks at Funny Face.

Funny Face

“Fruitzilla’s here, baby!”


If you were a kid in the 60’s or 70’s, you probably know about these Technicolor Fruities. If you don’t, lend me your ears: Funny Face was a kids’ drink product introduced by Pillsbury in 1964, coming in an assortment of 6 flavors, each sporting a different kooky anthropomorphic fruit character with a catchy gimmick and correpsonding name. They were originally created by Hal Silverman at Campbell Mithun Advertising for his daughter; Silverman’s nickname for his daughter was Freckle Face, then the rest of the Funny Face characters just fell into place after that. Four of them, Goofy Grape, Rootin’ Tootin’ Raspberry, Loud Mouth Lime and Freckle Face Strawberry, were innocuously innocent enough, but the other 2, well…..

Injun Orange & Chinese Cherry

Yes, the other 2 Funny Face flavor characters were named Injun Orange and Chinese Cherry. They were funny, because they were ethnic. Hee-larious, right?

Gary Coleman

“Dat’s racist, yo!”

To be fair, Silverman meant no harm; remember this was 1964, and such ethnic caricatures were the norm at the time, but not surprisingly, the Native American and Asian communities weren’t too thrilled with their very cultures being characterized as shtick, so Pillsbury smartly complied and changed those characters to Jolly Olly Orange and Choo-Choo Cherry.

There was also the matter of Funny Face’s artificial sweeteners: The company originally chose a substance called cyclamate, which was deemed dangerous by the FDA (it was discovered to have caused cancer in laboratory rats). Scientists were quoted as saying:

Did I Do That

So after a few years, Funny Face was pulled from store shelves. After a bit of reformulation, the product returned with harmless saccharin in its place, and also offered an unsweetened version so consumers could add their sweetener of choice. Eventually, larger packages of Funny Face were made available that contained sugar.

For a while, the Funny Face crew were riding strong, even rivaling Kool-Aid in popularity for kids’ drinks. They even spawned merchandise, such as toys…

Funny Face Toys


Funny Face Mugs

Drink it in!


Jolly Olly Orange Pillow

…And even storybooks.

funny face 01 COVER

Eventually, the Funny Face roster expanded to include such colorful personalities as Lefty Lemon…

Lefty Lemon

…Captain Black Cherry…

Captain Black Cherry

…With-It (or Way-Out) Watermelon…

With-It Watermelon

“Groovy, babuh!”

…And Rah-Rah Root Beer.

Rah Rah Root Beer


“Weak, dude!”

Peep out these Funny spots from the ancient 1970’s.

Smiley bored 2

“Color me unimpressed.”

Well, those ads were…boring. For a product called Funny Face, you would think their ads would be, you know, funny. The image of a giant anthropomorphic pitcher of juice with a face, arms and legs smashing through a brick wall is something you’ll never forget if you’ve seen it, but these spots were just bland, plus it was weird seeing characters like Goofy Grape and Lefty Lemon speaking with normal voices and acting like regular folks. Where were the antics? Where was the shtick? Where was the FUNNY? I expected a commercial for a product called Funny Face to be more like this:

Evidently, 70’s kids felt the same way: ultimately, Funny Face just couldn’t compete with Kool-Aid, and by the time the 70’s were over, so was Funny Face. Only Kool-Aid remained.

Kool-Aid Man Wrecking Ball


For a brief period in the 80’s Pillsbury tried launching a product called Moo Juice, but it just wasn’t the same. Recently, I came across something interesting: a series of animated shorts starring the Funny Face gang, produced by Renegade Studios.

Now, that’s more like what I would expect from a product called Funny Face. Why couldn’t the 70’s commercials have been more like that? They might still be around now. Plus, Rootin’ Tootin’ Raspberry had a John Wayne sound-alike voice. Nice touch.

(Sidebar: I’m guessing the writers of these weren’t too fond of With-it Watermelon; they just had him get splattered by a truck and he never turned up again. A tad harsh, I think. With-It Watermelon wasn’t that bad a character; he was definitely a better idea than Rah Rah Root Beer. He’s not even a fruit!)

I don’t know what these animated shorts were for, but who knows? Maybe Funny Face can resurface one day. There’s nothing wrong with free enterprise, and if the characters would actually be portrayed as humorous, not bland and boring like in those 70’s commercials, I’d be down.

Goofy Grape

“Stay funny, my friends.”

Ad Nausea: Marvel Visa Commercial

In the midst of the cinematic superhero boom, this ad sprang to my mind recently. This is a unique and funny spot for the Visa check card made around the early ’00’s. A lady in distress gets some assistance from a handful of Marvel superheroes!

NOTE: This was before the launch of the Marvel Cinematic Universe (MCU) or 20th Century Fox’s X-Men or Sony’s Spider-Man movie franchises, so take a good look: this is probably the only time you’ll be seeing Spidey, Storm and Wolverine standing alongside Captain America and Thor for a considerable while, and definitely the only time you’ll be seeing Wolverine wearing the yellow costume in live-action!


Ad Nausea/Talkin’ Nerdy: Staples Back-To-School Commercial 1996

Goldstar’s recent entry on a fairly recent Staples back-to-school ad caused me to remember this earlier Staples spot from 1996:


I get the obvious joke here, and it is a funny one, so no need to delve into that. As amusing as this spot is, there’s always been one thing about it which has always puzzled me…


“Oompa-Loompa-Dumpity-Dut, I’ve got a can of What-The-What!”

…Namely, why is the parent in this spot a dad and not a mom?

If we’re to have wholeheartedly swallowed the gender myths of our culture, it’s generally assumed that the fathers are the ones who go to work during the day, while the mothers are generally the ones who stay home watching the kids. That being the (presumably) default case, why would a dad be all super-stoked about the kids going back to school when generally speaking, the dads are typically at their jobs during the day and consequently wouldn’t notice the difference between the little brats being home or being at school?

Role Reversal 5

Of course it’s possible that it could be a Mr. Mom/role reversal situation, but if that were the case, then they should have specified that at the start of the commercial. It’s just always struck me as odd. The way Staples did it is fine, it just seems to me that the other way would have been more expected and would have made more sense. It just comes off to me like they used a father here because TV gives everything to fathers, following the archaic and outdated belief that “women can’t be funny”, which I know not to be true.

Of course, it could also be that I’d rather have seen a hot mom dancing and frollicking around smugly in front of her kids instead of some goofy guy, that could also be a factor.

You Don't Say

Yeah, shocker, I know!

Ad Nausea: Discover Card – Twins

By now, I’m sure most of you have seen this ad from Discover Card’s “We Treat You Like You’d Treat You” campaign, titled appropriately, “Twins”.


Now far be it for me to nitpick about a quirky spot featuring cute twins, but….


Sorry, but this would never happen. Why? Allow me to enumerate:

  1. I used to work in customer service (worst job I ever had, but I digress…) and when you work in customer service, the very first thing you’re supposed to do is get the caller’s name so you can bring up their account information, so there’s no way the twin working for Discover would be speaking to her sister for that long without knowing who she was.
  2. You know how when you call a company, the voice on the phone will often say, “Calls may be monitored for quality assurance”? Well, they usually are. Most companies don’t permit their employees to wait on their relatives, as they’re concerned that the employees will give them special treatment. And…
  3. They should have recognized each other’s voices right away. You don’t grow up alongside of someone for your entire life and not be able to instantly recognize their voice over the phone. I’m a twin and every time my twin has called me or vice-versa, we recognize each other’s voices in a nanosecond:

Me: Hello, Mr. Goldstar. My name is Ackbar Mackbar, and I have a wonderful opportunity for you. All I require is $50.

Goldstar: Silverstar, I know it’s you. I already told you, I’m not giving you $50 for that statuette of Big Barda!

So yeah, this ad’s totally busted, but I can still give it a marginal pass since Lisa and Julie are total cutie-pies.

Ad Nausea: Can’t Stop the Music…But We’re Trying

You know what’s been grinding my gears lately?

This ad for the 2016 Honda Pilot:


As you may know, this ad is actually a follow-up to a spot Honda did about 2 years earlier, but it’s the same basic premise: take a once cool rock song and all but ruin it by having a really cornball suburban family belt it out like the sort of bastardized version you’d hear over the PA system of a department store. First it was Black Sabbath’s “Crazy Train”, now it’s Weezer’s “Buddy Holly”. Who’s next? let me just say this: Stay away from Metallica. That’s the line.

I mean, come on, Honda. That youngest daughter looks to be about 6 and the younger son looks about 8, and we’re supposed to believe that these 2 and Gramps even know who Weezer is, let alone know the lyrics to a Weezer song that came out in 1995? I call baloney on that. Maybe the 2 teen kids might have heard the song once or twice as toddlers, but it’s really a stretch to imagine that little Mason and Chelsea are familiar with this novelty alternative rock song which came out at least 2 decades before they were even born, and there’s absolutely no frelling way that Peepop knows the lyrics to “Buddy Holly” unless he’s a retired roadie for the band. Also, how did the young 20-somethings in the other car hear the family singing when their windows were rolled up all the way?

Getting back to this ad’s 2012 predecessor for a second…

…As with the “Buddy Holly” spot, the ad makers went overboard with the casting, placing 7 family members into the Honda in order to show how many people it can seat; when the original spot came out, folks on YouTube went double-live gonzo over the fact that there was a black child riding along with this otherwise all-Caucasian family (guess which one’s adopted??), hitting cyberspace with such zingers as these:



“They probably kidnapped the black kid!”

-Yeah, suburban white families abduct African American kids and force them to accompany them on leisurely jaunts on the road all the time. So…





“It’s racist that the black kid is riding in the back!”

To which I say, Yes, he’s riding in the back of the car…


He’s a KID. He’s riding in the back seat of the car with all of the other KIDS. Would it have made you feel better if they had instead stuffed him inside of the glove compartment or bungee corded him to the roof?

-On top of everything else, the “Buddy Holly” family isn’t even doing the song right. They’re singing it too fast and completely ignoring the beat.

I’ll let the original artists show these folks how it’s done.

And that’s the name of that tune.