By Heather Taylor
Do you believe in elves? Do you believe that only elves can create cookies, crackers, and snacks so filled to the brim with wholesome ingredients that nobody could ever duplicate what they do inside of a quaint hollow tree? If you believe with all of your heart that elves can create uncommonly good treats and there is a pinch of magic in every bite, then you believe in the Keebler Elves.
Ernie’s humble beginnings actually originated inside the ad world’s infamous “critter agency” Leo Burnett. In 1968, Keebler hired Leo Burnett for business. Creative Director Robert J. “Bob” Noel II was responsible for the elves concept to represent the Keebler brand. He also created the earliest artwork of Ernie. In 1970, Ernie made his debut as Keebler’s “chief spokeself.”
But what do we really know about one of Keebler’s most famous icons? Let’s take a look at Ernie’s personality and the role he plays in the Hollow Tree.
1. Nicknamed “Mr. Sincerity,” Ernie may be the head Keebler but he remains generous and modest to a fault. There’s a lot of wonder that can be discovered in elfin baking and Ernie enjoys educating elves and Hollow Tree visitors alike on the process. Ever the worker bee, Ernie supervises the process, stopping to roll up his sleeves and work hard alongside the elves.
2. How old is Ernie, anyway? I’ll tell you a secret — elves are ageless. Keebler Elves in particular enjoy a special genetic quirk where some look older or younger, not because of conventional age.
3. When life gets Ernie down, he responds with his three favorite folksy expressions: “Mercy!” “Gracious!” and “What in tarnation?!”
4. What could possibly trouble our chief spokeself? Ernie’s biggest source of chagrin is that people do not believe in elves. Despite the proof of Keebler cookies, so many have yet to place their faith into elfin magic. In a 1995 commercial spot, Ernie determination to get people to believe sends him packing up and heading out into the “real world.” Next stop? The San Francisco Bay Area!
5. The voice of an elf is full of character. Folksy character actors have portrayed Ernie over the years with one of the most notable being Parley Baer. From 1969-1997, Baer portrayed Ernie in commercial spots. Post-Baer, the magic wand baton has been passed along to Walker Edmiston (1997-2007) and Andre Stojka (2007-2009). As of 2016, Richard Henzel currently voices Ernie.
6. Ernie’s daily ensemble consists of a white shirt with a yellow tie, red vest, and green jacket paired with yellow crop pants and floppy shoes. His white hair can be spotted peeking out from underneath his big red hat.
7. Want to schedule an interview with Ernie? He takes questions from curious visitors from the window above the front door of the Hollow Tree.
8. How tall is Ernie? He stands proudly at the waist height of an average adult, along with the rest of the Keebler elves.
9. Just as Maslow’s Hierarchy of Needs has been established for humans, so has Keebler created “need states” for Ernie. His five biggest needs include socialization, nurturing, relaxation, indulgence, and fun/creativity.
10. “Keebler elves. Cookies, they know. Social media, not so much.” When Ernie isn’t supervising the baking process, he can be found tweeting or posting on Facebook. Having recently discovered Twitter, Ernie is working hard to get up to speed with hashtags, videos, and selfies. Or is it really an “elfie?” Psst, if you follow the hashtag #ErnieLearnsSocial, you can tweet a tip or two to help him out!