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Tuesday, December 1, 2009
Laffy Taffy: Bad Boy Banana Biker
This "a-peeling" slick character could be seen in a TV commercial for Laffy Taffy with other talking produce items and Daffy Duck in the late 1980s/early 1990s. I believe his name was Ben Ana, and I do know they at least made a plastic pen with his likeness (which I really want). Because of the association with Daffy Duck, I always wondered if Warner Brothers designed the Laffy Taffy spokes-characters. This image is from a plastic candy container, and "For Display Only." I'm not sure how I managed to add this to my collection.
*UPDATE on March 21, 2013:
This character is indeed named Ben Anna. He was part of a group called The Laffy Taffy Bunch. Not only did they appear in a TV commercial with Warner Brothers Looney Tunes star Daffy Duck, they could be found in comic books, too. This particular advertisement was in a 1988 Archie Comic.
Besides Ben Anna, there was a Watermelon, Strawberry, Sour Apple, Sweet and Sour Cherry and Sour Grapes. I haven't seen the commercial in many years, but I believe Nancy Cartwright (Bart Simpson on "The Simpsons") may have voiced at least one of the female characters. Daffy Duck, getting short-changed as usual, was not in the comic.
Bananas are funny for many different reasons, so Ben Anna seemed to be a good fit for a joke-based candy mascot. In 1988, Laffy Taffy had a joke contest, and some of the prizes featured the Laffy Taffy Bunch. A Ben Anna pen was 3rd Prize, and to me it seems better than the 1st Prize (a Jar of Laffy Taffy chews).
The Grand Prize was a choice between a Laffy Taffy motorized funny car (cool!) or a custom-built doll house (perfect, I suppose, for a Special Edition Mattel Carmen Miranda Barbie doll). The prize for 2nd Place was a Laffy Taffy T-Shirt.
By 1995, Laffy Taffy became a Concorde Brand (a division of Sunmark, Inc.). The Laffy Taffy Bunch could still be found in comic books, though their commercials were no longer on TV. Some new flavors and characters joined the Bunch, including Pink Lemonade and an Orange.
The Laffy Taffy Bunch got an updated look for this 1995 ad featured in a Disney Gargoyles Marvel Comics book. Vanilla and Fruit Punch flavors are mentioned here, but I don't know if they had corresponding characters.
Eventually, the Laffy Taffy Bunch lost their job as mascots and the candy became a Willy Wonka Candy Company brand released by Nestle. Who's laughing now? Daffy Duck, probably.