Monday, November 11, 2013

Whatever Happened to Mikey?

Future consumer being molded

Hey, whatever happened to that kid Mikey? You know the one from those Life cereal commercials back in the 70s? Didn't he mix Pop Rocks and Coke and then die from internal hemorrhaging? Or was it that he got drafted and sent to Vietnam where he was blown apart while loading mortars? I like to think it was the latter. Somehow imagining little Mikey out there dressed in his combat fatigues and taking on the Viet Cong in defense of freedom and democracy with single-serving boxes of Life cereal hanging from his pack makes me proud. Man does it get more American than that? I don't think so. But as for Mikey, his eventual fate was not nearly as exciting as the crazy adventures the public had dreamed up for him. Turns out he was just this guy:

A businessman
His name is John Gilchrist and after having acted in over 250 commercials over the years, and spending some time at ESPN, he now works as an advertising director for MSG networks. Yawn. He never exploded or fought in a war, but his infamous commercial ran for over 12 years, the longest for any TV commercial campaign, and thus the image of this goofy little kid with his freckles and chubby cheeks was burned into the brains Generation X'ers for life. No pun intended. Here's the original commercial:

John poses for a group of urban legend enthusiasts next to an autographed box

And just to demonstrate the lasting legacy of this 70s nugget of awesome, here's a parody of the commercial from the Jacksons 1976 variety show (nearly four years after the original first aired) starring a kid that did eat too much of something and died, although in his case it was propofol and benzodiazepine, both of which are safe to consume in tandem with soft drinks. Still too soon? Sorry.

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