Welcome, dear readers, to The Takeout Draft, our recurring feature that combines our love of food, fantasy sports, and arguing on Slack.
Every week, we will select a topic of conversation from the food and drink world. Takeout staffers will then field a team via the snake draft format. After five rounds, The Takeout commenteriat will vote on who they believe was victorious in that week’s draft. At the end of the year, the staffer with the most weekly victories will select a charity of his/her choice that The Takeout will make a donation towards.
The winner of last week’s Takeout Draft: Best Cookie, as voted by readers: Kevin Pang!
This week, we’ll be drafting food mascots. Competitors have agreed that the criteria will be based on “awesomeness,” however one is to interpret this. Sub-genres of “awesomeness” include coolness, X factor, ability to fight inside a cage, and magic powers.
The randomizer has selected a draft order:
1. Kevin Pang
2. Kate Bernot
3. Dominick Suzanne-Mayer
Kevin Pang: My first pick: Colonel Sanders. First off, colonel is a senior military position. Second, Harlan Sanders was a real man. Third, he shot a business rival, so we know he doesn’t take no bullshit.
Just based on gravitas, Colonel Sanders commands respect.
Kate Bernot: Do you think he demands to be referred to as Colonel, even among friends?
KP: If I were colonel I’d make everyone call me that.
But I think it’s implicit. Like, would you dare call him Harland?
KB: Well we’ve never met, so.
I’ll have to think about it.
KP: That’s like not bowing in front of a Kim Jong Un statue in North Korea. You’d immediately be sent to a reeducation camp.
And lastly: Colonel Sanders spent $70,000 to fund a children’s mandolin band.
I swear to you I have the record. I bought it while visiting the original KFC in Corbin, Kentucky.
Dominick Suzanne-Mayer: He’s also been portrayed by men, women, and at least one Robocop. A versatile mascot.
KP: Thank you.
KB: Alright, for my first-round pick, I choose the unimpeachable Kool-Aid Man.
Enduring, iconic, bad ass.
He smashes walls. He’s had his own comic book series. He had an Atari video game.
KP: His glass is so strong he can burst through a fucking wall
That’s like presidential motorcade-quality glass
He’s also single-handedly jumpstarted the drywall repair boom
KB: He’s become more popular than the brand he references, I’d argue, which is impressive.
All hail the Kool-Aid Man.
DSM: I still find myself wondering what exactly happens if the Kool-Aid Man were to tip over, but hey, it’s never been a problem for him up to this point.
KP: Dude has a low center of gravity.
DSM: For my first-round pick, I have to go with an institution of the food mascot form: Ronald McDonald. True, he frightens many patrons, and has for decades. But McDonald’s has likewise garnered a reputation it doesn’t always warrant as the years pass by, and what mascot could be more apropos than one of pop culture’s most embattled subspecies: the clown?
KP: Is he the one non-evil clown? I can’t think of another.
DSM: Him, and Bozo of syndicated television fame. That may be the end of the list, though.
KP: Bozo was a drunk though
Delightful but he had a substance abuse problem
KB: Ronald does represent the don’t-judge-me-until-you-know-me crowd of food mascots.
“Oh, you think clowns are creepy? Is this multimillion dollar healthcare charity creepy then?”
DSM: Precisely! And he’s kept a few of his weird friends employed for more than a half century. Ronald never forgets where he came from.
KP: I can’t overlook his association with criminals, though.
I’m talking about this guy:
DSM: Ah yes, who can forget Mayor McCheese’s great land zoning scandal of the late ‘80s.
To kick off the second round, I want to bring a touch of class to this week’s Draft, by way of Mr. Peanut. The monocled face of Planters is known in every household and milliner’s shop the world over. Unlike so many loud, in-your-face mascots, Mr. Peanut takes a more nuanced approach, and we’re better for it.
There are a lot of great mascots, but few which exude such elegance. And just look at those gams.
KP: He’s filthy rich but he’s like comically filthy rich
Not like Zuckerberg “I still wear hoodies” tech rich
DSM: Yeah, but Mr. Peanut actually speaks to and tips the staff.
KB: He’s much less reviled than Monopoly man, for example. Yet don’t they belong to the same mascot golf club?
KP: Unfortunately it’s Mar-a-Lago
KB: Presented without comment: Mr. Peanut wears a hat and shoes but no pants.
DSM: The fads, they come and they go. But Mr. Peanut is timeless.
KB: Fuck marry kill Mr. Peanut, go.
KP: All three: Mr. Peanut
KB: For my second-round pick, I choose Count Chocula. Some may say he’s creepy—a knee-jerk criticism of mascots—but I think vampires are cool. Also, he’s a count and probably has a badass, cobweb-filled mansion.
According to Wikipedia, his full name is Count Alfred Chocula, but I bet his friends call him Al.
DSM: (Paul Simon horn section intensifies.)
Also, one of his compatriots is a blueberry ghost, so I don’t even think he’s the creepiest in his own circle, let alone the mascot world.
KB: They’re a band of lovable misfits that everyone refers to as “monsters.” What could be more endearing.
KP: What do you think Count Chocula really wanted? Was it just chocolate cereal or something less obvious?
DSM: To perish, as all immortals eventually do.
KB: To be loved.
KP: For my next pick: The California Raisins. They’re just a bunch of traveling grape musicians gigging around the country, hoping to bring Motown back to popular culture. That’s noble.
In my mind I’ve also concocted this lascivious VH1 Behind The Music-like backstory where they’re destroying hotel rooms and hooking up with dried fruit groupies in every town.
KB: Hard to deny they look like animated turds, Kevin.
DSM: Those animated turds cut four studio albums in a two-year period, I’ll just toss that out there.
KP: Stop being grapecist, Kate
KB: I will admit they’re talented, even as I stand by my animated turd comments.
KP: I also love this so much:
KP: “This is offensive to Christians and prunes!”
KB: Readers, once you get Kevin on the subject of California raisins, good luck getting him off it.
KP: My next pick is Tony the Tiger, on account of his tremendous upper body strength and his ability to eviscerate humans in one swipe—though he’d never do that to mankind.
Forget his breakfast positivity, if I were going into a cage fight I’d want Tony in my corner.
KB: He’s very authoritative.
DSM: Yeah, if we were drafting based on physical prowess alone, Tony would rank high. Also, he’s a positive role model despite his meathead leanings. You love to see it.
KB: “They’re great.” What a weak tagline when you think about it. It takes his gravitas to make it work.
KP: Tony is basically Gronk.
KB: Alright, my next pick is the bad boy of the food mascot world: Chester Cheetah
You never quite know what’s going on behind those sunglasses; he’s very mysterious in that way.
He strikes me as the food mascot who could really make it on his own, through scrap and grit and street smarts.
He once challenged Doritos via rap battle:
KP: He looks more chill than dangerous and I want my cheetahs to have a bit more killer instinct.
Or maybe behind those glasses are the eyes of a cold-hearted killer.
KB: That’s what he wants you to think.
DSM: It’s also not often that a mascot becomes a style icon.
KB: Boom. :fire:
DSM: I’m surprised they’ve lasted this long, so I’ll go with the talking, sentient M&Ms. They’re a comparatively new mascot, but just look at the star power behind them. Billy West. Vanessa Williams. David Cross. J.K. Simmons, beginning right around the time he was also on Oz.
Those commercials never, ever fail to make me crave M&Ms, specifically of the peanut butter variety.
KP: Green M&M: hubba hubba
KB: Hey, this is a family website!
Let’s keep it clean over here.
KP: This photo, I believe, is something that M&M actually came up with, and not Photoshopped by some pervert.
DSM: I would ask who this is for, but I am certain that I do not want that question answered.
But hey, as we get into the later rounds of competition, I’ve realized that most of our mascots so far are for snacks and sweets. It’s harder to pull off a memorable face when selling more essential foods, particularly vegetables. In that spirit, I’d like to show some love to the Jolly Green Giant.
KP: dang it.
KB: One of the few toga’d mascots out there.
DSM: The chiseled jaw and easy confidence are peerless in the mascot realm.
KP: Is JGG the biggest beefcake in food mascotry?
DSM: I’ve always been curious if he’s made of vegetable (kid me always assumed asparagus), or if he just shares their hue.
And yes, he may well be.
It’s tough for a mascot to have hunk energy, but here we are.
KB: Also, he’s healthy but not overly smug about it. I appreciate that.
KP: Unlike Crossfitters
KB: OK, I’m drafting a food mascot that’s a hand with a nose on it—you know it, you love it, it’s: Hamburger Helper glove!
I used to make Hamburger Helper a lot as a kid/in college, so I can say this honestly: If you need assistance deciphering the directions to Hamburger Helper, it is a sad state of affairs.
That said, I like the glove’s supportive spirit.
Really sort of a dinner hype man
KP: Do you know about the skeletal structure of the Hamburger Helper Glove?
KB: I’ve seen this discussed, yes.
DSM: Hey, we’re all terrifying on the inside too.
KB: Just try not to think about that image as you prepare your ground beef-noodle mush.
KP: For my next pick: the Gorton’s Fisherman
Tell me that man isn’t Burt Lancaster-handsome
KB: Oh damn, the Gorton’s Fisherman is kind of a silver fox.
Too bad he smells like cod sticks.
KP: This is the weirdest draft ever
Also my favorite
The man works a demanding and dangerous job all day
And I’ll bet you he’s a generous lover
DSM: I’ll give this to whoever painted him: it’s not often you associate your food mascots with evocative portraiture.
That’s a really lovely piece of art, as much as anything.
KB: He’s trustworthy. Says so in the jingle.
KP: And for my last pick: The Noid!
All joking aside, Domino’s took a big chance on this inscrutable mascot, and we’re still talking about it 30 years later
Not only that, he’s a mascot consumers were actively told to avoid!
It’s counterintuitive, and broke the rules of advertising
And it worked
But for purposes The Noid is the ultimate wildcard
DSM: They gave the Noids away for a while with your order, didn’t they? So you were ordering pizza with the knowledge that you would actively be inviting the Noid into your home.
KP: You don’t know if he’s harmless or if he’ll murder you
KB: Alright, in the spirit of truly weird mascots, a deep cut: the Honeycombs Crazy Craving
KP: oh my god
DSM: Wow, I have not thought about this thing in a very long time.
KB: Basically a manic/rabid gerbil, it was supposed to be hunger personified.
That’s kind of a deep concept, in a way, so it totally went over my head as a kid.
I just liked his deranged energy and the fact that he seemed like what would happen if a Tasmanian Devil did cocaine.
I’m not sure whether this correlated with more Honeycombs purchases, but I did like the commercials.
KP: terrible name for a mascot though
Imagine having a name that’s just what you loved best in life
I wouldn’t want to be known as Ribs Card Tricks Phil Collins
DSM: But that’s an outstanding stage name.
KB: I hope the Crazy Craving went on to a long and illustrious post-Honeycomb career.
KP: He fell into an addiction of smack
Sorry, Honey Smacks
KB: Sounds like he was hanging out with the wrong mascot crowd then.
DSM: To conclude the draft, I am going with one of the weirdest mascot ideas I’ve ever seen a major chain have: the Quiznos spongmonkeys.
KP: OMG you may have just won
DSM: Quiznos was getting their meme dollars when the social media managers of today were still in diapers.
KB: Goddamn that’s a hell of a walk-off pick, Dom.
DSM: I do not know what these are. I just know that to this very day, over 15 years later, I cannot pass a Quiznos location without sing-yelling about their pepper bar from the bottom of my throat.
Who won this week? Please vote now!