I highly doubt that when Post Foods introduced their new cereal Happy Jax to consumers in 1948 they ever thought that it would result in the album Presenting the Sugar Bears. Happy Jax believe it or not was an attempt at both a cereal and a snack food and would in 1949 be reintroduced as Sugar Crisp. I believe that original mascots for Sugar Crisp were Handy, Candy and Dandy – three bear cubs who touted the the deliciousness of this new breakfast offering – it also appears that at around that time Post was one of the sponsors for the The Roy Rogers Show. Which I think is certainly evident by checking out this charming 1952 television commercial courtesy of Saturday’s World.
In 1967 the cereal would be renamed Super Sugar Crisp and by this point the likes of Candy, Dandy, and Handy had been replaced by Sugar Bear. And while this is a Retro Records article and not a Toon In post – I feel I must certainly educate you in this little matter about Sugar Bear. He was featured in the 1964 ABC animated series Linus the Lionhearted – who himself was a cereal mascot, first for Heart of Oats and then Crispy Critters. You will assuredly know that Sugar Bear’s way of speaking is patterned on the familiar voice of Bing Crosby. The character in the TV ads and animated show was voiced by Gerry Matthews but the Linus the Lionhearted show also featured the talents of Carl Reiner of The Dick Van Dyke Show, the late and great Jonthan Winters, Jerry Stiller and Anne Meara, as well as Ruth Buzzi as the thorn in Sugar Bear’s side – Granny Goodwitch. Although having said all of that however – take a moment and check out this early Sugar Crisp commercial… Sugar Bear is still likeable but his single-minded determination at getting Granny’s cereal leans to the comically frightening.
Now personally Sugar Bear was one of my favorite mascots when I was growing up – Super Sugar Crisps was not my favorite cereal though, that was and will always be Boo Berry. But it should not shock you that Sugar Bear was popular enough to receive all manner of merchandise, in cereal boxes and otherwise. Which brings us around to talk about 1971’s Presenting the Sugar Bears – an album I was able to pick up a couple of days ago at a local record shop in my neck of the woods. Produced by Big Tree Records and released by Ampex Records – Presenting the Sugar Bears is a surprisingly pleasing collection of bubblegum pop songs obviously aimed at a younger audience but something that the parents could get behind as well.
The kind of amazingly crazy part of Presenting the Sugar Bears is the talent involved on the album – right off the bat you have Kim Carnes providing the voice of Honey Bear. Yes, the same Kim Carnes that would later have her cover of “Bette Davis Eyes” at the number one spot on the Billboard Hot 100 for nine straight weeks. The voice for Sugar Bear on this album was courtesy of Mike Settle – yes – of Kenny Rogers and The First Edition. The great thing is, friends, thanks to Doctor Del‘s YouTube channel you can listen and enjoy the entire album for yourself!