Jim Henson’s homicidal Wilkins Coffee ads resurface on Twitter

Jim Henson's Kermit-like Wilkins character sits in a tree
Hello, weird little baby
Screenshot: The Hall of Advertising (Fair Use)

Twitter is mostly bad, but it does have a way of resurfacing nostalgic pop culture touchstones. That happened over the weekend, when a long-running coffee ad campaign from late Muppets creator Jim Henson reappeared and went viral. Of course, these aren’t just any coffee ads: these are coffee ads that involve a murderous blob and a frog-like creature who pays the price for his limited palate. These are violent coffee ads, and they’re funny

Advertisement

The campaign was for Wilkins Coffee, a coffee and tea firm founded in 1899. As you can see in the video below, it involved two muppet-adjacent Henson creations: a skinny fellow named Wilkins who vaguely resembled Kermit the Frog and his spiteful and murderous counterpart, Wontkins, who is best described as a blob. According to the very impressive Muppet Wiki, Wilkins approached Henson in 1957 and asked for him to create 10-second ad spots with his puppets. The result was a series of spots that always involved the following plot points: Wilkins asks Wontkins a question about coffee; Wontkins explains that he doesn’t like coffee; Wilkins brutally maims Wontkins as punishment for not liking coffee. Please enjoy:

A Washington Post article from 2019 explains that the ads ran for about five years and were a huge hit. Writes the Post: “The TV public, weary of looking at such things as gurgling stomach acids at work, took the Wilkins Muppets to heart. No TV commercial ever has known such popularity.” Given the choice between gurgling stomach acids and killer puppets, I’d also choose the latter. We already know that sex sells, but it would seem that shooting, electrocuting, guillotining, and blowing up a cheerful puppet might be the ticket to true commercial success. Folgers, take notes.

Staff writer @ The Takeout, joke writer elsewhere. Wrangling dogs and pork shoulder in Chicago.

DISCUSSION

agb5
moistened bint

These combined with the release of the original Muppet show on Disney+ have made it a glorious week for Muppets. I’m going to make a Chocolate Moose to celebrate.