It’s not that Disney has ever been averse to marketing, goodness knows. But straight advertising has always been something of a rarity. It seems Walt wasn’t thrilled at the idea and avoided it as much as possible. I can’t find out why he changed his mind here. It’s for the 1939 World’s Fair, but surely that isn’t reason enough. Is it? Certainly not enough to produce a cartoon where his major and valuable character shills Lorna Doones. Yet here we are.
Minnie wants to make cookies the way Mickey’s mother used to. Only she’s out of the room when her dog, Fifi, knocks popcorn into the bowl. She returns, finishes mixing the cookies, dishes them out, and puts them in the oven. Mickey comes over, and they get to talking—long enough for the cookies to burn. Which sets off the popcorn, sending burnt cookies flying everywhere. Minnie weeps all over everything, and Mickey’s assurance that his mother used to burn cookies all the time Does Not Help. So he and Pluto run off, causing Minnie to sob harder. He returns with a huge box of Nabisco products, including Milk Bones for Pluto and Fifi, of course, saying that it’s the cookies his mother really used to serve.
A minor point, here, but is this the only reference to Mickey’s mother? It’s the only one I can think of. He of course has Mysterious Nephews, but unlike the Duck family, which is fairly details, I don’t know if we know all that much about Mickey’s forebears. It’s an odd thought. Certainly things like preferred foods of cartoon characters tend to be limited to things like Bugs Bunny’s omnipresent carrot, and the idea that he really likes him some Fig Newtons because they’re what his mother used to serve is a bit of a strange one.
I mean, I also think it’s strange that anyone would say Fig Newtons are his favourite Nabisco cookie when Oreos are right there, but I don’t know if I’ve ever talked to anyone who said that Fig Newtons were their favourite, ever. I admit that my fondness for Lorna Doones is probably considered a bit atypical, I grant you, and I also like the Girl Scout shortbread cookies. Still, I wouldn’t say that they’re my favourites by any stretch. And I think most of my friends, if asked, would still prefer Lorna Doones to Fig Newtons.
Another thing left unexplained by my usual sources is why this cartoon is in the public domain. I’m guessing it’s actually owned by Nabisco, not Disney, and they’d quite like as many people as possible to see it on account of advertising. Still, it does mean that this is one of the only Mickey Mouse cartoons that you can pretty well guarantee will not be pulled off YouTube any time soon. Though apparently Milk Bones aren’t owned by Nabisco anymore, something I didn’t know on the grounds of not having a dog.
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