We’re all familiar with the cartoon elves responsible for crafting the various fudge-covered cookies that stock our pantries—Keebler is one of the largest cookie and cracker brands in the U.S., and their elfin workforce has become one of the most recognizable brand mascots ever.
1. IT ALL STARTED IN PHILLY.
While the company’s ads would have you believe their baked goods come from a tree, Keebler actually started in a bakery in Philadelphia. German-born Godfrey Keebler created the first Keebler cookie in 1853 in his small neighborhood shop. Keebler was described as "clear-headed and sagacious, he is, at the same time, always fair and just in his dealings." He took on various business partners before incorporating in 1890, three years before his death. From there, the bakery became part of the United Biscuit Company of America in 1926 and continued to grow. There were 16 Keebler bakeries across the country by 1944.
2. THE FIRST ELF APPEARED IN 1969.
The company’s elf lore began when ad man Leo Burnett created the elves for Keebler in 1969. The first “head elf,” J. J. Keebler, appeared in a TV commercial that year. He was soon followed by a singing, golfing elf named Ollie.
3. THEN CAME ERNIE.
Ernest J. Keebler (known as Ernie) appeared not long after and remains the company’s primary mascot today. Ernie and the others are said to live in the Hollow Tree in fictional Sylvan Glenn.
4. THERE’S A WHOLE ELF WORKFORCE.
Over the years, other elves have appeared in the company’s ads, including Flo, Elmer, Buckets, Roger, Leonardo, Fast Eddie, Sam, Doc, Zack, Casey, Professor, and Zoot. Each has their own role: Flo is the bakery’s accountant, Buckets covers the cookies in fudge, and Zack is the tree’s foreman.
5. THE COMPANY CELEBRATED 150 YEARS THE ONLY WAY THEY KNEW HOW.
In honor of the company’s 150th anniversary in 2003, they baked a 150-pound cookie. Employees celebrated the anniversary—and the creation of the world’s largest Keebler cookie—at the company's headquarters in Elmhurst, Illinois.
6. KEEBLER BAKERIES PRODUCE GIRL SCOUT COOKIES.
The next time you stock up on Samoas and Tagalongs from the local Girl Scouts, know that those delicious treats are connected to Keebler. The cookies are made in two bakeries, one of which is Little Brownie Bakers, a subsidiary of Keebler. Looks like the Girl Scouts owe the elves a few baking badges.
7. KEEBLER EVEN COMPETES WITH THE GIRL SCOUTS.
Keebler makes versions of your favorite Girl Scout cookies year round. For example, their Grasshopper cookies are a version of Thin Mints, and the Coconut Dreams cookies that are drizzled with caramel and fudge? Those are Samoas. Apparently, their year-round versions haven’t hurt the Girl Scout’s sales though. Because even if you crave the taste and can eat them "off-season," waiting a couple of extra weeks for a sweet little Girl Scout to deliver them to your office is worth the effort.
8. PEOPLE STILL PETITION FOR THE RETURN OF PIZZARIAS.
The pizza-flavored chips were popular in the '80s and '90s, but were eventually discontinued after poor sales. However, there are some who still clamor for their return, and there's even a Facebook page dedicated to reviving the snack. The group currently has over 900 likes, and urges its followers to call Keebler and ask for that "radical grub" to be reinstated.
9. KEEBLER WAS RESPONSIBLE FOR ACTUAL TINY ELF DOORS IN TREES.
In 2013, Keebler commissioned artists around the county to craft tiny doors to attach to the base of trees. The project, which didn’t feature any overt Keebler branding, was aimed at spreading a little "elfin magic," as the company says. The doors popped up in cities like San Francisco, Kansas City, Orlando, and Cincinnati, and passersby stopped to take pictures, leave notes in the tree, and speculate on whether elves or squirrels resided in the hollowed trunks.