At age 25, the Pillsbury Doughboy is on a roll.
To celebrate the Doughboy's 25th birthday today, the downtown Pillsbury Center atrium was transformed today into "Doughland," with entertainer Steve Allen on hand.
A new series ads on television shows the pudgy figure playing "air" guitar, wailing on a harmonica, rapping and zipping around on a skateboard.
"This is a guy having fun doing what he's doing," said Craig Evanich, vice president of marketing in Minneapolis-based Pillsbury Inc.'s prepared-dough division.
But other than updating his song repertoire, the Doughboy, also known as Poppin' Fresh, hasn't changed much since he first popped out of a can of ready-to-bake dough in 1965.
The Doughboy was created when an advertising executive fantasized about what would pop out of a tube of refrigerated dough.
Ads show the white Doughboy as a kitchen helper.
"He's not an authority. He doesn't come in the kitchen and tell people what to do," Evanich said.
For the last 16 years, the Doughboy's voice has been provided by JoBe Cerny, a Chicago-area actor. Cerny said he tries to infuse some of his own personality into Poppin' Fresh.
"He's warm, cute and just a likable guy. My job is to try and help keep him that way," Cerny said.
Poppin' Fresh has become a part of pop culture. In 1972, Playthings magazine named him "Toy of the Year" after Pillsbury introduced a doll Doughboy, and in 1987, Advertising Age declared him America's most-loved character.
The Doughboy's elfish personality is like that of the magical helpers of ancient myths, said Ellen Havre Weis, founder and executive director of the Museum of Modern Mythology in San Francisco.
"It's very symbolic of the home and hearth," Weis said. "He's dough brought to life.'