Funny Face is Fun To Drink!
Funny Face was an American brand of powdered drink mix originally made by the Pillsbury Company from 1964 to 1994 (and in the Mid West and New England to 2001). The brand was introduced as competition to the more familiar (and better-selling) Kool-Aid, made by Kraft Foods.
The product came in assorted flavours sweetened with artificial sweetener and was mixed with water to make a supposedly enjoyable-tasting beverage.
The product name came from the packaging and advertising material created by Hal Silverman (Creative Director of the Campbell Mithun advertising agency), where each flavour had its own “funny face” cartoon character.
The original flavours were Goofy Grape, Rootin’ Tootin’ Raspberry, Freckle-Face Strawberry, Injun Orange and Chinese Cherry (although the last two were renamed to Jolly-Olly Orange and Choo Choo Cherry when the ethnic stereotyping was deemed offensive).
Additional flavours were added later, including Captain Black Cherry, Chilly Cherry Cola, Lefty Lemonade, Loud Mouth Lime, Pistol Pink Lemonade, Rah-Rah Root Beer, Rudi Tutti-Frutti, Tart Lil’ Imitation Lemonade, Tart ‘N’ Tangy Lemon, With-It Watermelon, Top Banana and Chug-a-Lug-a Chocolate (which had to be mixed with milk rather than water).
The drink was originally sweetened with calcium cyclamate which was banned in the US in 1970 when a report found that it caused “chronic toxicity” in test animals and a rise in bladder cancer in rats.
In 1970, Pillsbury was still hurting from the cyclamate reports, so free packets of Funny Face were given away at Union 76 gas stations with each fill-up to help bring in new consumers, Unfortunately, the loss of cyclamate took away the company’s edge over Kool-Aid, so over the next decade, Pillsbury had to rely on the popularity of the characters and the promotional premiums.