Tony the Tiger: Mascot of Kellogg’s Frosted Flakes

Retro Staff 1  Comment

Tony The Tiger Kellogg's Frosted Flakes Mascot

Have you ever sat eating a bowl of Kellogg’s Frosted Flakes and wondered why there was a tiger promoting the cereal?

In 1952, there was a contest to decide who would grace the front of the box of Sugar Frosted Flakes. A competition was held between Tony the Tiger, Katy the Kangaroo, Elmo the Elephant, and Newt the Gnu (A wildebeest!). The competition was to see who would be most popular with the American public. Tony the Tiger won, and has been the mascot for Kellogg’s Frosted Flakes ever since.

Martin Provensen, an illustrator of children’s books, created the design for Tony. Originally, the tiger started out with a football-shaped head and he walked on all fours. This was replaced by a Tony figure that walked upright and could sing songs and dance. At this time, the cereal was called Sugar Frosted Flakes, which changed to Kellogg’s Frosted Flakes when sugar started to get a reputation for being unhealthy and leading to obesity.

As the nation became more health conscious, Tony’s physique became stronger and leaner, and he grew in stature from a small cereal box-sized cat to a 6-foot tall figure showing kids how to better themselves through sports.

Kellogg's Frosted Flakes Metal Sign

Early Kellogg's Frosted Flakes "Tony the Tiger" advertisement.

Tony even went through a period where he had a family. His son, Tony Jr., is the best-known family member, but at one time there was a mother, wife, and daughter (Antoinette). These characters fell by the wayside as Tony became the face associated with Frosted Flakes and the Kellogg’s company itself.

Although Tony has been redrawn many times, some things have remained the same. Always present is the red kerchief he wears around his neck and his famous line “They’re Grrrrrrrreat!”

Tony’s signature voice comes from Thurl Ravenscroft, an actor and voice artist also known for his songs in the movie “The Grinch.”

Tony the Tiger is an American advertising icon. He has lasted for 55+ years as the mascot for Frosted Flakes, and shows no signs of slowing down. Nowadays, he is featured in Frosted Flakes commercials as the driving force behind kids achieving their dreams by being active and playing sports.

What are your early memories of Tony the Tiger? Was it on a box of Frosted Flakes? On television? Chime in…

Last updated: Jun 19, 2008
Filed under: Retro Characters Tagged with: retro cereal, Retro Characters