COUNT CHOCULAOriginal Medium: TV commercial animation
Touting for: General Mills
First Appeared: 1971
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By the 1970s, a trend that had begun in the '50s and accelerated during the '60s reached its full fruition. Children were in complete control of the family's breakfast cereal purchases. Sugar-drenched cereals proliferated. Marshmallows, chocolate
and other odd flavors became part of the mix. Starting with Cap'n Crunch in 1963, cereal companies even began creating their own characters and naming cereals after them. It was in this environment that General Mills (producers of Cheerios, Wheaties and Kix) introduced a sugary, chocolatey product called Count Chocula.
Count Chocula debuted in 1971, the first of a new line of so-called Monster Cereals — i.e., cereals named after the monster characters who starred in the TV commercials that advertised them. Frankenberry followed later that year, then Boo Berry and Fruit Brute in 1973, and finally Yummy Mummy (not officially a part of the line) in 1987. Choc was not just the first, but also the most popular of the bunch.
Choc is a one-fanged cartoon vampire, who has the ability to scare his fellow cereal monsters but is himself scared when he encounters such scary beings as mice and children. His voice was done by Larry Kenney, who also voiced Lion-o in Thundercats and the Commander of the Wild Demons in The Life & Adventures of Santa Claus. For Choc, Kenney did an imitation of actor Bela Lugosi, whose classic rendition of Dracula is still the standard version of the character.
There is an Urban Legend that Chocula used to wear a six-pointed star, but stopped when Jewish groups protested that it looked like he was making fun of the Star of David. In reality, only one Count Chocula box design, produced in 1987, showed a vampire wearing such a star — and in that case, the blood-sucker in question was in fact Dracula, played by Lugosi, making a guest appearance on the box as part of a special promotion.
Count Chocula cereal is still available at grocery stores. And tho he's been re-designed a couple of times, Count Chocula himself is still the character that advertises it.