For a puppy who is heading into his golden years, Snoopy is showing no sign of slowing down. The lovable cartoon beagle, created by Charles M. Schulz, will be 47 years old this October.
Snoopy actually made his debut on all fours in the Peanuts comic strip in 1950, which was distributed to seven daily newspapers across America by United Feature Syndicate.
Eight years later, Schulz gave Snoopy two legs to stand on. Since then, the character has been the runaway favorite out of all the Peanuts personalities.
According to a November 1996 Cartoon Q Score survey by Marketing Evaluations, Snoopy consistently ranks among the top 10 classic characters, with 90 percent awareness in the marketplace. The study indicates that the boisterous beagle was named as a favorite character more times than Winnie the Pooh, Sesame Street’s Elmo or the 101 Dalmatians.
In addition, a survey published in the February 1996 issue of The Licensing Letter found Peanuts to be among the top licensing prospects for 1996.
With over 40 animated television specials, 1,400 books selling 300 million copies, four feature films and five Emmys to their credit, it’s no wonder Snoopy and the gang have maintained such a loyal following.
It hasn’t hurt that Peanuts has been licensed to sell thousands of products worldwide. New York-based United Media, which has licensed everything from life insurance in the U.S. to peanut butter in Australia, owns the worldwide licensing rights.
Snoopy has also been licensed to publisher HarperCollins, Buster Brown children’s apparel and Paramount Home Video. You can even find the world’s most famous beagle on Nabisco’s Milk-Bone dog treat packaging and promotional material.
Christmas 1997 promises to be a busy season for the Peanuts gang. Kraft Foods will introduce a holiday macaroni and cheese product featuring pasta shaped like Peanuts characters. The company plans to distribute three million boxes of the macaroni.
New York-based Kurt. S. Adler, Inc. will launch an entire line of Peanuts Christmas products across the U.S., including plush Christmas stockings, ornaments and table centerpieces.
Applause Inc. of California has a U.S. license to make plush toys, banks and other gift items.
Irwin Toy is one of the most recent Snoopy licensees. The Toronto-based company has introduced a line of Snoopy & Friends products for the North American market, which includes plush toys and infant and preschool items.
‘We decided to go with Snoopy because he has appeal with both mothers and children,’ says Debbie Brown, public relations manager at Irwin Toy. ‘With an infant and preschool line, we knew we’d have to attract a character that mothers like.’ Irwin plans to add new items to the line in the future.
Although the cartoon puppy was fashioned after Schulz’s childhood dog, Spike, it was his mother who liked the name Snoopy.
‘I remember my mother saying once that if we ever had another dog, Snoopy would be a good name for it,’ the creator had once written.
Good grief! That might qualify as the understatement of the century.
Here’s a brief look at the many ways that Snoopy has skipped his way into our hearts:
- 1958: The first Snoopy plastic figurine is merchandised. Hallmark follows a year later with a series of Peanuts greeting cards.
- 1965: Snoopy g’es prime time in A Charlie Brown Christmas, which airs on CBS. The animated show wins Emmy and Peabody awards. Schulz will win four more Emmys and a second Peabody for future animated specials.
- 1968: The first plush Snoopy doll hits store shelves. Snoopy is chosen as a mascot by NASA for its Manned Flight Awareness Program.
- 1969: A plush Snoopy accompanies astronauts into space aboard Apollo X.
- 1983: Knott’s Berry Farm theme park in Buena Park, California, opens Camp Snoopy.
- 1990: The Louvre Museum in Paris features the animated beagle in an exhibit called Snoopy in Fashion.
- 1992: Snoopy, The Masterpiece premieres at the Montreal Museum of Fine Arts, while an exhibit called Il Mondo di Snoopy debuts in Rome. Also, Mall of America, located in Minnesota, opens Knott’s Camp Snoopy, the largest indoor theme park in the U.S.
- 1995: The Dog House, the official Peanuts Web site, launches in celebration of the gang’s 45th anniversary.
- 1996: 1,400 Long John Silver’s seafood restaurants across the U.S. run a Christmas kids meal promotion that features pop-up Peanuts character premiums. (The restaurant is running a second Peanuts promotion this spring.)
- 1997: Irwin Toy and United Media sign a licensing agreement to launch the Snoopy & Friends product line for infants and preschoolers. Kraft introduces Peanuts Macaroni & Cheese, and Kurt S. Adler will introduce a line of Christmas products this fall.