Food History

Anyone Remember Sydney, the First—and Best—Dunkaroos Mascot?

December 14, 2016

Are Dunkaroos discontinued in America? It’s a question that seems to be particularly vexing for some, and it's always relevant. I'm going to set the record straight here. The answer is yes. Some still doubt this, even my colleagues in Food Media™ (show me the receipts!, my boss shouted at me across the office), so I searched for proof.

“Dunkaroos were discontinued in June 2012 in the United States,” a representative from the General Mills media line named Mike wrote me earlier this week.

Well, there you have it. He's cleared it up.

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Now that we've settled the score, let's talk about how much I hate this. It's been four and a half years since General Mills discontinued Dunkaroos, and I’ve been smarting ever since. I am not alone. Dunkaroos have formed the backbone of many a “90s babies only” listicles, and these cookies seem to conjure up a highly specific memory from yesteryear for most—ah, yes, I had Dunkaroos after swimming practice. On my walk home from school. In the lunchroom, alone.

I don’t have any of these anecdotes to share, I'm afraid. All I remember is that Dunkaroos were good. They had a sweetness unlike any other processed cookie-and-cream combination I'd known thus prior. Of its many flavor offerings, I preferred the plain cookies dipped in vanilla frosting with a cabal of rainbow sprinkles.

The disappearance of Dunkaroos from American grocery stores even inspired General Mills in Canada to mount an aggressive, cheeky "Smugglaroos" campaign last month. This campaign encouraged travelers from Canada to stuff Dunkaroos in their luggage for Americans to eat. (The website for the campaign is now defunct.) It was very much a move born out of corporate desperation: The product doesn't seem to be doing quite well in Canada, either. Still, if you're in the States, imported Dunkaroos are readily available through Amazon, where the prices are inflated.

I just don't have the money for these imported Dunkaroos, so I've resorted to spending my nights going through a trove of old commercials for Dunkaroos, hoping it'll jolt my memory palate. Give me a taste of that cookie. Mmm. Scrumptious. Today, we're here to "saunter" down memory lane through revisiting these commercials, so that's what we'll do.

Will you look at him, this Sydney mascot here? He's a kanga cutie. Sydney represents the product in its earnest infancy. The commercial is no-frills, animated as if it's been lifted directly from line-drawn cels. Sydney finds himself in places he didn't suspect—like the body of a man! Hilarious. He's a character to root for. To borrow a turn of phrase from Barbra Streisand, he's lovely, Hubbell.

Dunkaroos commercials for the next few years would look a bit different from this initial one. They'd begin with Sydney introducing Dunkaroos to viewers before surveying kids eating this cookie in a variety of ways, often contorting their limbs. Isn't that exciting?

Notice how, even as Sydney aged, he still maintained this appealing vivacity. His lust for life. He seemed genuinely interested in the kids—how furtively they dunked, dipped, and slid these cookies into shallow pits of frosting. He cared. He wanted to foist delight upon them. And that's what he did.

However, in 1996, Betty Crocker decided to mix it up by changing the Dunkaroos mascot. They even held a contest—the "Dunkaroos Kangaroo Kanga-Who Search"! Unbelievable. And the contest was won by a kangaroo named Duncan, markedly different in make from his predecessor, more muscular, less goofy. Serious. Duncan was the mascot I grew up with, the Dunkaroos figurehead I knew. Truth be told, I couldn't stand him—patting himself on the back for his showmanship, the schoolyard braggart. A daredevil? More like a real show-off, that one. Enough!

Journalists have tried in earnest to piece together what, exactly, killed Dunkaroos in America, and they've been met with public relations legalese doled out by General Mills in repsonse. Hm. Something they're not telling us. My guess? I bet General Mills saw a dip in sales after the switch from Sydney to Duncan. That was the product's undoing. If we must bring back Dunkaroos, bring back Sydney, too—yes, he was good. And now, he's no longer with us. Bye, Sydney. Miss you!

Have a Dunkaroos memory of your own that I don't? Who'd you like better—Sydney or Duncan? Let us know in the comments!

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    Mayukh Sen
Mayukh Sen is a James Beard Award-winning food and culture writer in New York. His writing has appeared in the New York Times, the New Yorker, Bon Appetit, and elsewhere. He won a 2018 James Beard Award in Journalism for his profile of Princess Pamela published on Food52.


Liam F. December 14, 2016
Dunkaroos still well and truly available in Australia - shall I forward a box to F52 office?
PhillipBrandon December 14, 2016
Only if they've got Sydney on the box, to be sure.
Mayukh S. December 14, 2016
Yes, agreed