Fresh-Up Freddie says 'Right now, you're probably asking yourself, 'How does a sporty sports car driver quench his thirst in a traffic jam?''

FRESH-UP FREDDIE

Original Medium: Corporate spokestoon
Speaking for: 7-up
First Appeared: 1957
Creators: The Leo Burnett Agency
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There was more to classic-era Disney animation than the cartoon shorts stars like Mickey, Donald and Goofy; and the feature players like the various Princesses. There are also a lot of lesser TV guys who were seen in that most despised of venues, television commercials, such as Tommy Mohawk and …

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… Bucky Beaver. The most memorable, at least to judge from the memories of people who watched TV at the time, was an exuberant chicken named Fresh-Up Freddie.

Freddie appeared in commercials for 7-Up, the soft drink that rivalled Coca-Cola without imitating it. His schtick was to appear suddenly on TV screens, telling the viewer "Right now, you're probably asking yourself …," then proceed with a question related to whatever kind of person he was dressed as, the answer to which involved using 7-up. For example, he'd dress as a soda jerk and the question you were probably asking yourself was "What's the scoop on a super treat for summer?" Or he'd be a demolition expert and it would be "What does a dynamite loader drink to quench his thirst?"

In the 1950s, 7-Up's advertising was being handled by The Leo Burnett Agency. Nobody had much experience with animated advertising back then, so Disney's studio did actual production on the commercials. What they came up with has been described as a cross between Panchito (from The Three Caballeros) and the zany Aracuan Bird that's annoyed Donald Duck on occasion. His voice was provided by Paul Frees (Ludwig von Drake). Allegedly, he was named after 7-Up bottler Fred Lutz Jr.

Freddie started in 1957. By '58, he was appearing on Disney's live-action show that licensed the character Zorro from creator Johnston McCulley. An early commercial pitted him against Disney's most versatile bad guy, known just then as Black Pete, who had started in The Alice Comedies and eventually wound up as a neighborhood antagonist in Goof Troop.

Freddie was also appearing in comic books, usually on the back covers of Dell's comics, in 1957 and '58 — another place people remember him from. He was also a minor merchandising phenomenon in his own right, with pin-on buttons, plastic dolls and stuffed figures to his credit.

After a couple of years, 7-Up, today known as "The Un-cola", moved on to other ad campaigns. Fresh-Up Freddie was left in the dust — and in the memories of those who had seen him.

— DDM

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Text ©2009 Donald D. Markstein. Art © 7-up.