Funny Face

Funny Face

Nothing says summer like a cold pitcher of powdered drink mix, ready to stave off dehydration and quench the thirst after a day of playing in the hot sun. At mere pennies a serving, these colorful and fruity concoctions have been a favorite of parents and kids alike for decades. Of course, we all know who the leader of the pack is, with their familiar mascot ready to burst through a wall at the first mention of his name, but even a star as recognizable as the Kool-Aid Man had to contend with a worthy competitor in the 60s and 70s, a fondly-remembered drink mix called Funny Face.

Introduced by Pillsbury in 1964, Funny Face came out of the gate strong, offering an assortment of seven flavors, each with their own character on the package. In order to win the approval of parents, the product didn’t contain sugar. Good strategies, both of them, but the product mascots and the choice of sugar substitutes would eventually lead to a fair share of controversy.

Five of the original flavors were innocuous enough – Lefty Lemon, Goofy Grape, Loud-mouth Lime, Freckle Face Strawberry and Rootin’ Tootin’ Raspberry. The other two, Chinese Cherry and Injun Orange, didn’t exactly thrill members of the Asian and Native-American communities. They responded with protests and Pillsbury wisely changed the offending flavors to Choo Choo Cherry and Jolly Olly Orange.

Furthermore, the choice of artificial sweeteners was problematic. The company originally chose a substance called cyclamate, but within a few years, it was deemed dangerous by the FDA and Funny Face was pulled from store shelves. After a bit of reformulation, the product returned with good ol’ saccharin in its place, and also offered an unsweetened version so consumers could add their sweetener of choice. Eventually, larger packages of Funny Face were made available that contained sugar.

For a decade or so, Funny Face rivaled Kool-Aid in popularity, with many a kid preferring the welcoming cartoon faces on each package. In 1972, Pillsbury even added vitamin C to give the drink a little more nutritional value than the competition. Still, there could only be one winner in the powdered beverage wars and, by the end of the 70s, Funny Face was all but defeated. They attempted a comeback in the early 80s, with a flavor called Moo Joice, which was actually a chocolate flavor that you added to milk. It didn’t catch on and that was pretty much the end of the Funny Face brand on store shelves.

Not in the hearts of millions of former kids, however, who still have plenty of fond memories of an ice-cold pitcher of Funny Face on a hot summer day. If you are one of those, we’d love to hear your thoughts in our comments section, as we pay tribute to an extinct drink mix that may be gone, but is certainly not forgotten.

11 Responses to “Funny Face”

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  1. Scott Roberts says:

    I remember Moo Juice appearing in the 60′s. just a little after Funny Face. True, it didn’t stay around long, but it certainly wasn’t as late as the 80′s, unless it too staged a comeback that I missed. Lefty Lemon was not one of the original Funny Face flavors- that one came along a little later.

    • My name is Hal Silverman and I’m the guy who created the brand, and all the characters for Pillsbury. I actually created them for my daughter, Jill, who was about four years old at the time. My nickname for her was Freckle Face—and from that beginning, all the characters just fell into place. Needless to say, my daughter—and all her frieinds— had a wonderful time playing with the names, and pretending to be the characters. I also created Moo Juice.

      Thanks for remembering.

      Hal

  2. CAROL says:

    ANY possibility of bringing this product back? With thought given to it, I believe it could/would make a big comeback. My kids loved it. I loved it. And any company could certainly be successful in marketing a whole line of Funny Face products. Those kids who originally drank Funny Face now have kids of their own. And then there are us grandparents….A new generation, a “new world,” both ready for more Funny Face!

  3. mehrvash says:

    I love it so much and have many memories on this product. but I didn’t know to mix with water!!!!!!!!!!!!!

    • RS says:

      It was great and I can not believe that I am the only nut who still cares…Hey how about a capaign to get Pillsbury to release the drink as a retro limited time only Funny Face???

  4. bridget says:

    Hallo! Does someone of you remember a soft drink mixed called Quench? i remember a purple one, but there were others. my mother worked for the US Army in Germany (early 1970s) and brought it often from work. to us german kids it was very exotical with its purple color; i still rember the taste of it and i try to find information on this Quench stuff, but so far nothing…

  5. Rick Lincroft says:

    After Cyclamate was found to cause cancer in lab rats, the FDA ordered all products containing it to be removed from store shelves.
    Many parents were understandably outraged that companies had been selling poisons to kids, and Funny Face drink mix, along with Fresca soda, (Which were both great!) were singled out in the public’s mind as some of the worst offenders. (Even though Kool-Aid also used it, as did most other “pre-sweetened” drink mixes, and most diet sodas.)
    Of course, the reformulated saccharine sweetened products tasted like chemical crap, (Remember TAB Cola?) and it wasn’t long before they, and even the odd term “pre-sweetened”, soon faded from the marketplace.
    Fortunately, the advent of Aspartame has solved the problem of horrible tasting sugar substitutes, though a residual fear of chemical additives (Remember Red Dye No.2?) seems to have prevented the return of artificially sweetened children’s products. (Probably not a bad thing.)
    An interesting side note; improved testing procedures in the early 1990s determined that Cyclamate wasn’t anywhere near as carcinogenic as had been previously believed.
    This should come as a great relief to an entire generation of kids who grew up loving Funny Face drinks.

  6. Michelle DuPuis says:

    Oh my gosh! We had the plastic mugs that represented each flavor! What fun to see those images again!

  7. Doug says:

    I fondly remember Funny Face and drank it quite often in the late 60s and early 70s. As a kid, I was never infatuated with Kool-Aid and recall never having it in our house. Instead, I remember holding the different flavor packets to my nose and inhaling their scent. Brings back fond memories of the glory days of being a child!

  8. I thought it might be time for me to get the credit for creating the Funny Face brand, as well as all the original characters. I was a Creative Director at Campbell Mithun Advertising when the assignment came from Pillsbury to create a brand for its new drink mix that could compete with Kool Aid. At the time, I was naive enough not to realize that the names Chinese Cherry and Injun Orange could be hurtful to Chinese and Native Americans. My sincere appoogies, at this late date, to anyone I offended.

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