Who doesn’t like eating a big old bowl of Jell-O for dessert after a good meal? It’s been around for over 120 years, has been enjoyed by billions of people in that time and has become a food product that is a major part of American pop culture. When working on blog updates this year, I needed a quick and fun update to fill a small time frame and looking through my comic collection I found my copy of the promo comic The Adventures Of Jell-O Man and Wobbly and knew that I needed to talk about it as it’s a perfect quick update topic about something very weird and yet very fitting for Rotten Ink. Why don’t more companies make promo comics based on mascots of their products? Like why aren’t comics based on say The Burger King, The Green Giant and Chuck E. Cheese? I also always question why Indie Horror Filmmakers don’t make comics based on their films, as many of them would make amazing reads and are a prefect way to promote the fright flick. But let’s not harp on what should be, and let’s talk about what is and that’s Jell-O Man! So if you’re ready for this quick update, I am ready to talk all about this fruit flavored snack.
Pearle Wait created Jell-O in 1897 as he and his wife May found out a way to add fruit flavors to powdered gelatin. In 1899 they sold it off to Genesee Pure Food Company owner Orator Francis Woodward, and thanks to new ways to make, package and store food, he was able to get his new product onto store shelves. At first it was not a hit with shoppers. In the early 1900’s they really started to push the product more, taking out ads and adding new flavors to the line even making cookbooks to hand out that used Jell-O making it increasingly a household name and a must eat for after family meals. And from there it really did become a hit with shoppers. When Genesee Pure Food merged with Postum, they became General Foods and started to add more products to the Jell-O line as well as more flavors and kept really pushing it as a brand that was in many cupboards all over America, and for years this was the case. But starting in the 1960’s and all the way to the 80’s, sales for Jell-O started to decline, and they had to once more use ads and celebrities to bring sales back and to try and bring in a younger clientele…and once more it worked! Over the years Jell-O has had many ups and downs in sales and has lost many of the flavors they used to make, but one thing is for sure, they are not going anywhere soon and still remain a very popular dessert that is now added to all types of other meals. Jell-O has now also become a very iconic brand and has sparked all types of merchandise based around the brand as well from molds all the way to shirts and even a comic book.
When I was a youngster, I can remember that if I was not feeling well my mom would heat up Jell-O and make a hot drink for me that was suppose to help settle my stomach as well as deliver a shot of energy. I can of course remember eating classic Jell-O from time to time and can safely say my favorite flavor was Lime. To this day I get cravings for it! My mom used to also make this multiple layer Jell-O dessert, and man was it fantastic and something that was a joy to eat. It’s very odd to think about, but when I was a kid Jell-O did seem like a very big brand and like it was made just for us kids, but it was also something adults enjoyed. The way this product was marketed was very smart as it made kids crave it and adults think it was a great treat for youngsters. Next I will talk a little about the commercials shown when I was a kid and the celebrity they used.
Growing up Jell-O was everywhere from snack packs that kids in school had while eating lunch, all the way to TV ads that were played during cartoons and kid shows, and at this time, the spokesman was comedian Bill Cosby! Way before he went to jail, he was considered on of the world’s top comedians who entertained young and old alike with the likes of The Cosby Show and cartoon series Fat Albert. Growing up I was a big Bill Cosby fan as I watched not only the two aforementioned shows but also liked him on “The Electric Company” as well as his movies like “Ghost Dad”, “Leonard Part 6” and “The Devil And Max Devlin” and even when I got older, I bought many of his stand up routines on CD. When he was the spokesman for Jell-O, I can remember seeing the commercials and finding myself craving it as a snack as well as wanting to try such things as Jell-O Jigglers that allowed you to eat it with your hands. Plus having Bill Cosby sell the product gave it credit to parents when they wanted to treat their kids to a tasty treat. I don’t want to go too much into it, but let’s just say that I was really disappointed in Mr. Cosby when the terrible things he did came to the light, as he was always an American Icon and was considered Americans’ Favorite TV Dad. But while he turned out to be who he was, the memories of trying to sell me Jell-O when I was watching cartoons will always be a fun, silly and will bring a smile to my face.
Back in 1981, a comedy metal band was created and called themselves Green Jello and toured around performing silly and heavy songs and building a small following. Their big break came in 1992 when they released the song “Three Little Pigs” and metal fans as well as fans of pop rock music went crazy for it! The song was off their Cereal Killer album and because of the popularity of the song, Kraft Foods swooped in and filed a lawsuit against the band as they claimed a trademark infringement on the name Jell-O. Of course the band lost and had to change their name to Green Jelly and all their music releases as well as their merchandise had to have the name change. While the band’s name is one of the factors that made Kraft mad, it was the slogan they used “Green Jello Sucks” that really set them off. The band was a one hit winder with Three Little Pigs being their claim to fame, but keep in mind, they are still a band to this day and still have a cult following. I also want to say that the band was also sued by Metallica for stealing a rift from the song Enter Sandman as well as Kellogg Company for the use of Toucan Sam that they used in art and video and called him “Toucan Son Of Sam”.
So as you can seem Kraft is very protective of their Jell-O brand and have always tried to keep up their family friendly image safe and untarnished, but they cannot stop culture. The rumor going around the campfire is that they dislike the popular party drink called Jell-O Shots that takes the product and mixes it with mostly vodka. This “drink” is very popular at college bars, parties and even Horror, Comic and Anime Conventions. But the thing that bothers them the most is Jell-O Wrestling, a sports entertainment activity that mostly has young women in skimpy cloths rolling around an inflatable pool filled with Jell-O as men cheer. This event goes hand and hand with mud wrestling and is played up as a sexy sport and has even spawned many leagues as well as websites. I just wanted to touch on both of these things as they do go hand and hand with the legacy of Jell-O and is part of American culture.
From Bill Cosby to alcoholic drinks to a comedy metal band, we have talked about many different things connected to Jell-O, and now I feel it’s time we talk about their short lived mascot named Jell-O Man and his trusty dog Wobbly and their comic book adventure. And I think while I read this comic, I am also going to eat some lime Jell-O and enjoy this promo issue. I want to remind you readers that I grade this comic on a 1-4 star scale and am looking for how well the comic stays to the source material, its entertainment value and its art and story. So if you’re ready, let’s see what Wobbly and Jell-O Man are all about.
Adventures Of Jell-O Man # 1 **
Released in 1991 Cover Price FREE General Mills # 1 of 1
“The Outrageous Origin Of Jell-O Man And Wobbly” Dr. Goodtaste along with his friend Snackens and robot Grabby are watching a computer that helps stock all the world’s stores with Jell-O products and this is upsetting Grabby who wants to also be able to eat some of this tasty snack and has an idea to do so and uses the energy from a experimental hologram laser cannon to super power his own robotic energy! Grabby traps his one time human friends in the lab and reroutes all the delivers of Jell-O products to be delivered to him as he wants it all for himself. But in the lab Goodtastse and Snackens watch in wonder as the hologram of the Jell-O logo transformers into to two beings made of the tasty snack, Jell-O Man and his dog Wobbly! Jell-O Man helps the humans escape the lab and returns and tricks Grabby into self-exploding and allowing Goodtaste to set the delivers back on track. “The Natural History Mystery” this story has Mrs. Sherman and her fourth grade class on a field trip to the museum when someone steals all the Jell-O snacks that were for dessert! But one young man calls up Jell-O Man who, along with Wobbly, vows to get their snacks back, and after wandering around the museum, he finds that the dinosaur called Snackosaurus has stolen them and after tripping the beast up is able to take back the snacks and save the field trip. “The Outer Space Case” has Jell-O Man and Wobbly on the planet of Gumongo to introduce them to Jell-O, and unbeknownst to them the evil Shoveler has followed them and steals all the snack from their refrigerators while the aliens sleep. The next day Jell-O Man comes up with a plan to capture The Shoveler and uses Jigglers to do so, as Shoveler bounce around on the giant Jell-O Jigglers the aliens and Jell-O Man bring him down and save their tasty treat from being stolen ever again.
This promo comic features three silly stories featuring Jell-O Man and his dog Wobbly and does its job of making readers think that Jell-O is a tasty treat that all kids love to eat. The three stories are pretty normal, kids comic stuff and has Jell-O Man’s origin as well as takes him to a museum and space to show that people all over the universe love pudding and gelatin. Jell-O man is a cool as ice hero who only worries about making sure people have Jell-O snacks to eat! He also sports cool whip hair and can detach his head and use it as a weapon to take down his enemies. He also talks like a cool hipster of the time and even at one point seems to be hitting on the school teacher as I think he wanted to show her his wobbly jiggler…yeah, I know that’s a cheesy joke. Speaking of Wobbly, he is pretty useless and only runs around and says “Yeah, Yeah” lots, so in other words he is a useless sidekick. Our villains in this comic are the robot Grabby, the purple dinosaur Snackosaurus and the shovel handed freak named The Shoveler, and while they are all bad dudes, none of them are major threats to mankind as all they really care about is stealing Jell-O…but if I had to pick one that I would say could more easily turn rouge and bring down mankind, I would choose Grabby as he seems very power hungry. The over all feel of this comic is fun and upbeat but spends most of each story really hammering home the idea that Jell-O is what we all need to be eating at all times and if you don’t have it, your life is depressing. None of the adventures seem that dangerous nor do the stakes really feel that big making it really just one big commercial ad for the Kraft products. The cover for this one is pretty eye catching and showcases our hero Jell-O Man and his trusty sidekick dog Wobbly. The interior art is done by Richard Howell and has a very simple style to it and yet also very cartoonish in spots and is perfect for this style comic, you long time readers will also remember that Howell did the artwork for The Shadow War Of Hawkman that I covered sometime back. Over all this is a fun promo comic that is nothing special but serves its purpose in delivering a goofy good read for kids and promote the product it was based all around. Check out the artwork below to see the style Howell used for this comic.
Jell-O Man was not a major hit in the world of mascots, and while he starred in some commercials, his main claim to fame is this promo comic as over the years of comic book shopping at stores I have seen this comic in many of .25 and $1.00 bins. And doing this update about a promo comic makes me look forward to covering more of them in the future. My next update will take us away from the world of Jell-O and place us into the world of Horror as for Saint Patrick’s Day we will be re-looking at the one and only Leprechaun! So until next time, read a comic or three, watch a movie or two and as always support your local Horror Host. See you next time for a green beer good time!