It was 42 years ago today…

From John Lawler via Facebook, a link to my 1971 Linguistic Inquiry squib on manner-of-speaking verbs (like snap in Kim snapped that it was time to leave), along with a captioned image of the Rice Krispies elves:


From Wikipedia:

Snap, Crackle, and Pop! are the cartoon mascots of Kellogg’s breakfast cereal Rice Krispies (Australia: Rice Bubbles.)

The gnomic elves characters were originally designed by illustrator Vernon Grant in the early 1930s. The names are an onomatopoeia and were derived from a Rice Krispies radio ad:

Listen to the fairy song of health, the merry chorus sung by Kellogg’s Rice Krispies as they merrily snap, crackle and pop in a bowl of milk. If you’ve never heard food talking, now is your chance.

The first character appeared on the product’s packaging in 1933, Grant added two more and named the trio Snap, Crackle and Pop. Snap is always portrayed with a baker’s hat and Pop with the military cap of a marching band leader. Crackle’s red or striped stocking cap leaves his occupation ambiguous. Corporate promotional material describes their personalities as resembling brothers. Snap is the oldest and a problem solver, Crackle is an unsure “middle child” and Pop is a mischievous youngster.

The elves have changed over the years. Here they are in 1939, looking more gnome-like:


(Brief mention of the Rice Krispies elves on this blog here and here.)

Wikipedia gives the elves’ names in other markets:

Denmark – Pif! Paf! Puf!
Finland – Riks! Raks! Poks!
France – Cric! Crac! Croc!
Germany – Knisper! Knasper! Knusper!
Switzerland – Piff! Paff! Poff!
South Africa – Knap! Knaetter! Knak! (Afrikaans)
Quebec – Cric! Crac! Croc!
Mexico – Pim! Pum! Pam!

In most of these, only the vowel varies, generally moving from high front to low back (that is, with descending second formant), from “small-sounding” to “large-sounding”.

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