[In 1964], Kellogg signed Jimmy Durante
to launch Corn Flakes and Instant Bananas with an update of one of his standard songs. Seated at the piano, the old vaudevillian belted out, "Yes, we now have bananas…" Sales were brisk for a few months, then dropped like a rock, as store owners like I.J. Salkin complained that the product tasted like "cardboard discs in a box." Burnett commercial director Rudy Behlmer agreed. "Those little banana wafers looked like holy communion wafers. When you put milk on them, they started to look dark and mushy."
In 1966, Kellogg pulled the plug on Corn Flakes and Instant Bananas. "We tested the market carefully, we tried, we failed, and we're getting out of the market," Kellogg's Ken Englert told Consumer Advertising
magazine. Without informing the star of their decision, Kellogg decided to move Durante over from Instant Bananas to Kellogg's main line, Corn Flakes. "Everything was kept quiet until Carl Hixon [a Burnett writer] and myself went to New York to shoot him in a couple of commercials for Kellogg's Corn Flakes," recalled commercial director Rudy Behlmer. "Suddenly he looks at the [story] boards and he says, 'Where are da bananas?' and we said, 'Well, Jimmy… this is without bananas,' and he said, 'No bananas, no Durante.'"
Category: Cereal | 1960s | Bananas