Sunday, June 27, 2010

Candy Yum Yum + Regretsy - Michael Jackson = Tootsie Pop Owl

There are times when I think, okay, I'm pretty creative. I've got it going on. And then there are times when I think, wow, now that's why I'm not famous. Like whenever I read Regretsy. With her rapier wit and razor-sharp sense of what makes something craptastic, April Winchell is one of my bloggy heroes. Her site, in which she showcases handmade items of questionable quality, was the kick-start for her newly-released book, seen here. (Don't click to look inside because nothing will happen. Go to Amazon for that bit of magic.)At a recent book signing, one of her fans was wearing a T-shirt with the Tootsie Pop owl on it. She writes, "I thought it was intentional, but he didn’t even know: my father was the voice of the owl in this commercial. And it was the day before Father’s Day, and just a few days from the 5th anniversary of my dad’s death. So it was a little weird."Weird, yes, but also fascinating. I had to know more. April kindly agreed to an exclusive interview with Candy Yum Yum about this amazing bit of candy history.

CYY: In a recent Regretsy post, you revealed that your father was the voice of the owl in the iconic Tootsie Pop commercial from the 1960’s. Does that mean you’re rich?

AW: Sadly no. My father didn't leave his money to his children.

CYY: That’s a really cool piece of family trivia and I’d brag about it to everyone. Do you take advantage of the opportunity or do you save that gem until you’re deep into a relationship?

AW: I don't talk about my dad too much. It's not that I'm not proud of his accomplishments, because I really am. But I never wanted to feel like I was trading on his name, or getting undeserved favors from people because of their affection for him. I just got used to being discreet about it. When I got older and made a name for myself, I relaxed about that, and it became interesting personal trivia about me, as opposed to something I threw around to open doors for myself.

CYY: Was it your father’s idea to pronounce the “two” like “a- two-whoo”? Cuz that’s really cool.

AW: Well that's hard to say. I've done cartoon voice over work for over 30 years, and it tends to be a fluid, collaborative thing. I can't really remember where ideas come from; good directors bring interesting things out of you.

That being said, the voice he used for the owl was very similar to voice he used for a puppet on his TV show. The puppet was named Snitchy, and it was a very proper, almost British sounding snail. He had been doing Snitchy for so long that the "a-two-whoo" probably just came out of his mouth naturally.

CYY: Did you get a lifetime supply of Tootsie Pops? If not, have you ever considered contacting the company and asking for some kickbacks?

We did not get a lifetime supply of Tootsie Pops, but then, they probably had no idea how long the spot would run. It turned into an incredibly iconic, classic piece of advertising. He recorded that in the 60's, and people still love it.

My dad actually had a very long association with the Tootsie Roll people. Before I was born, he had a prime time variety show that was sponsored by Tootsie Roll. They invited him to tour the factory, and my mother still talks about it. This was over 50 years ago, and standards were very different then. She said people were smoking while they rolled out the candy! She didn't let us eat Tootsie Rolls for years.

CYY: I used to own a kick-ass Mini Cooper. It was blue with white racing stripes and I had a Tootsie Pop Owl on my antenna. Then I had a kid and there went the car. Would it be really lame to put the owl on my Hyundai Sonata?

AW: On the contrary. I think putting the Tootsie Roll Owl on a Hyundai would elevate it considerably.

CYY: If you could invent a Tootsie Pop flavor, what would it be?

AW: Gin. With an olive in the middle.

CYY: Is there anything else you'd like to say to all the candy lovers of the world?

AW: Only that it's the greatest thing on earth.Thanks April! If you're ever in town, I'll bring you a pair of Lederhosen made from Tootsie Pop wrappers.


Jen said...

This is a fun bit of history to stumble onto! I love April's bit about the old Tootsie Roll candy factories. I can't believe workers used to smoke while making Tootsie pops! (Well, I can believe it because it was a different time period, but I still get surprised about these things.)

Candy Yum Yum said...

I know! I'm so glad I didn't work in newsrooms when people used to smoke. I can't imagine what it must've been like, having to choke your way through the day!