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A Brief History About Pillsbury

Mar 20, 2008
It is unlikely that in 1872, when Charles Pillsbury founded the baking products company that bears his name, he foresaw that someday his moniker would be largely associated with a small animated character with an annoying giggle.

Charles and his father, George, had joined with his uncle John Pillsbury to operate a milling plant in 1869, and Charles had used his share of the profits to start C. A. Pillsbury and Company, which sold cereal and baking products with increasing success from the late nineteenth to the mid-twentieth century, including pancake mixes, cereal, and bakery items. But it was in 1965 that Pillsbury graduated from a grocery store staple brand to a pop culture sensation with the introduction in company commercials of Poppin' Fresh, aka the Pillsbury Doughboy.

Dispatched to push Pillsbury's line of refrigerated cookie and biscuit doughs, Poppin' Fresh, a diminutive humanoid blob of dough sporting a cheery smile and a chef's hat, was within three years recognized by an astounding 87 percent of all consumers and is today consistently rated as the number one food character, beating out such luminaries as Starkist's Charlie the Tuna and the Green Giant. Poppin' Fresh's signature giggling falsetto was created for the initial series of commercials by the legendary voice actor Paul Frees, previously known as the gravelly Russian voice of Boris Badenov on TV's The Rocky and Bullwinkle Show.

Since then, other actors have played the voice of Poppin' Fresh, such as Jeff Bergman, the voice of Charlie the Tuna, and today, JoBe Cerny.

One measure of Poppin' Fresh's success is that few consumers probably remember that until his appearance, doughboy was heard only as an antiquated slang term for a soldier or infantryman. There is controversy about the origin of doughboy in the military sense, but one certainty is that the term is much older than most people would suspect. Although it gained currency in popular use during World War I, doughboy first showed up in print in 1847, and General George Armstrong Custer's widow mentioned the term in her memoirs, written in 1887, explaining that "doughboys" were small doughnuts often served to sailors aboard ship. According to Mrs. Custer, the term was subsequently applied to infantrymen because the large brass buttons on their uniforms reminded someone of these naval doughboys. Lending support to at least the culinary aspect of Mrs. Custer's theory is the fact that doughboy has meant "a boiled flour dumpling" to sailors since about 1685.

Today, the doughboy receives more than 200 letters a week, and Pillsbury, over 1500 requests for autographed pictures of the cute moniker.
About the Author
Angela Abbette writes on a variety of subjects, including about articles food and drink articles similar to the ones found at her favorite free article publishing directory.
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