Thursday, February 17, 2011

Mr. Mixie Dough

In 1933, my father's sister would pop out into the world and among many other treasures that a child is bestowed, my grandmother, her mother, would bring home a book one day for evening bed time stories. The name of the book was Mr. Mixie Dough.

Mr. Mixie Dough was published in 1934 when my aunt was only a year old. The creator, Vernon Simeon Plemion Grant, would give the world his story and illustrations of an elf who lives way up in the sky and bakes all kinds of things for the children who live in "Behind-The-Clouds-Town."

Vernon Grant was born in 1902 in Coleridge, Nebraska to Oliver Simeon Grant and Chloe Barkely Grant. When he turned six, his family would move to South Dakota where they homesteaded. Young Vernon had an early love for art and growing up on the prairies would serve as inspiration for his early paintings.

His family would leave South Dakota when he was a teen moving to California where he would study business law and public speaking at the University of Southern California. By the age of 21, he enrolled in the Art Institute of Chicago and to help pay for this education, Grant created "Chalk Talks" which would become popular acts on the vaudeville circuit.

In the 1930s, a small company consisting of only 44 employees in Battle Creek Michigan came out with a new cereal to rival their top shelf brand of corn flakes. W.K. Kellogg called this new breakfast cereal, Snap®, Crackle® and Pop®. To promote the new product, Mr. Kellogg launched a radio campaign in 1933 around the same time Grant was releasing his new book, Mr. Mixie Dough. Hearing the radio commercial, Grant would approach Kellogg's and present his concepts for what he imagined Snap®, Crackle® and Pop® should look like. It is believed that Mr. Mixie Dough served as the inspiration behind these breakfast cereal icons.

Over seven decades, Grant would become a legend within the creative world of advertising helping launch General Electric, Gillette and Hershey's with his illustrations.

He would continue making art until 1985 when unfortunately he felt his work was not up to his own expectations forcing him to lay the brushes down. He died in 1990 at the age of 88 and the Charlotte Observer noted that although Grant's illustrations would delight people for years, "in the long run his greatest gift to the community may be the standard of citizenship he exemplified."

Vernon Grant represents a time when developing brands was as humble as the companies that needed them. When corporations were all about the dreams that stemmed from great imagination and not so hung up on big egos, human resources and legal departments. It was about the product and the idea behind the product.

Ideas. The good ones are always worth fighting for.

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