BTC: Jim Henson’s ads for Wilkins Coffee

Just a wee bit o’ vintage muppet-on-muppet violence to kick start your morning. The backstory, via Wikia:

In 1957, Jim Henson was approached by a Washington, D.C. coffee company to produce commercials for Wilkins Coffee. The local stations only had ten seconds for station identification, so the Muppet commercials had to be lightning-fast — essentially, eight seconds for the commercial pitch and a two-second shot of the product.

From 1957 to 1961, Henson made 179 commercials for Wilkins Coffee and other Wilkins products, including Community Coffee and Wilkins Tea. The ads were so successful and well-liked that they sparked a series of remakes for companies in other local markets throughout the 1960s.

The ads starred the cheerful Wilkins, who liked Wilkins Coffee, and the grumpy Wontkins, who hated it. Wilkins would often do serious harm to Wontkins in the ads — blowing him up, stabbing him with a knife, and smashing him with a club, among many other violent acts.

7 Responses to “BTC: Jim Henson’s ads for Wilkins Coffee”

  1. kmcleod Says:

    I remember watching them in the DC area; they seemed to come on the same time, around the11 o’clock hour.

  2. Merveilleuse Says:

    That is FANTASTIC. I’d like to see the exact same ads shot in live action and see just how horrific they get. <3

  3. mechever Says:

    There just isn’t enough threat of bodily harm in today’s commercials, is there? Wilkins seems like kind of a proto-Kermit.

  4. Adriano1977 Says:

    I would’t be surprised if Matt Groening had grown up with such ads!
    This is amazing and brilliant, usually this kind of stuff is a satire, not the real… and Henson got away with 179 of them?!?
    He’s a genius!

  5. Infamous Amos Says:

    Hold up a bit… if these spots are “better than coffee”, does that mean that you are daring to say that it is better than Wilkins coffee?

    (Washington monument falls on website)

  6. JoAsakura Says:

    and people say today’s TV is violent :D

  7. Nadya Says:

    Paul sent me this… he writes, “Found these on an image search a while ago. These were vinyl puppets one could order through the mail from Wilkins.”