Mad Mascots: Clanky Syrup Spaceman!

Kids of the ‘60s loved astronauts arguably more than anything else, thanks largely to the Space Race. A quick browse through any photo collection of ‘60s toys will show an unmistakable lean on spacemen and rocket ships, and really, the old cliche of kids “wanting to become astronauts” found its foothold more in the ‘60s than any other decade.

If I’m wrong about that, give me a pass. I wasn’t alive.

The point is, if you were targeting children in the 1960s, giving your product a “space theme” was the smartest way to go. So, when you look at this astronaut-shaped syrup bottle, just know that its existence made perfect sense.

His name was Clanky. He divided his time between exploring the cosmos and peddling chocolate syrup.

Was Clanky popular? I’m guessing he was. Hell, I still go ballistic for bottles shaped like Mrs. Butterworth, and that’s just Mrs. Butterworth. This was a cool ass astronaut with sci-fi trappings and accordion legs. How could kids of any decade – let alone the space-crazed ‘60s – not be into Clanky?

The TV commercial was just fabulous, portraying Clanky as a giant cartoon spaceman with an enormous fan club, and rightly positioning the bottles as “toys.” (Though I must admit that a part of me wants to find the “wrong” with a giant astronaut squirting brain syrup at sad children. I can’t figure out what’s so bad about that, but something must be.)

I’m pretty sure that Clanky Syrup (or at least, Clanky Syrup sold in astronaut-shaped bottles) came out in 1964. Determining how long he stuck around for is much harder. Given that the empty bottles are so easily found today, I’m guessing that Clanky was available for a good long while. Probably into the ‘70s. If you’re older and wiser than me, feel free to pick apart this post and mail me your corrections. I’m always up for a good ninja edit.

A spaceman made of chocolate was a beautiful thing, but I bet there were plenty of ‘60s kids who convinced their fathers to spray-paint the bottles. Just imagine Clanky in silver. He’d look like a second place moon trophy. Whatever that is.

It takes something especially great for me to put my neck on the line with a factually-inaccurate post involving a decade that I only know about through sitcoms made twenty years later. And Clanky is especially great.

  • http://www.reviewtheworld.com/ Review the World

    I think I had a nightmare Clanky was giving me an anal probe aboard a starship once.

  • Ziltoid

    I can’t read it completely, but does the copyright at the bottom of the bottle say 1954?

  • pizzaparty

    Any syrup left in old clanky?

  • http://simianidiot.tumblr.com Rev. Clank It On Up 13

    I. LOVE. CLANKY.

    I love everything about him. His KNEES. Clanky is my kind of mascot. I would take one Clanky over a hundred Monster.com monsters. How is this the first time I’m hearing of this guy?

    I don’t usually gush. Let me say that I am being sincere here. This tribute to Clanky (that NAME!!) gets the Rev13 seal of approval. You win the day.

  • Matt

    @Brian: TMI.

    @Ziltoid: It says 1964.

    @pizzaparty: He’s bone dry.

    @Rev: It’s the name that sells him. If he was named, say, Lunaro, I wouldn’t be as interested.

  • http://simianidiot.tumblr.com Rev. Clank It On Up 13

    I like “Lunaro”, too. His exotic Italian cousin with the pencil moustache.

    His name just makes him so approachable. Like he’d be clumsy and always getting into scrapes. Getting his head stuck in things. “Oh, Clanky!”

  • http://vovinyl.blogspot.com/ FangsFirst

    When you said Mrs. Butterworth and I had only skimmed, I was horrified when the kids started saying “Squeeze him and he makes our milk…”

    “SYRUP IN MILK?!” my brain screamed before I put things into the correct places.

  • Another Tom

    Clanky kind of reminds me of a slightly slimmer Bibendum. (Michelin Man) Maybe they are distant cousins, on their mothers side.

  • Buckley

    Since no one has said it yet, I will. I guess we should all be thankful the bottle wasn’t designed to have the chocolate sauce come out of his ass. Thank heaven for minor miracles.

  • http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=CJBleJJZixs Jugendsehnsucht

    If ever a mascot looked like they should have a suction up at the base…

    Actually, the name sounds like some sort of street lingo for Robitussin. “Yeah, he’s been hittin’ the clanky syrup again…”

  • http://vovinyl.blogspot.com/ FangsFirst

    I think we need to make “clanky syrup” lasting and real slang for addictive cough syrup usage.

  • Matt

    I’m with you guys. “Clanky syrup” needs a second, dirty meaning.

  • http://tochiro998.livejournal.com/ Steve H.

    I HAD THAT! I remember having that back in the ’60s. Yes, I was a child of the Space Race.

    I also vividly recall it was crappy chocolate syrup. Had a strange aftertaste. Looking at what was in it I suspect it was the malt that put me off. I lobbied mom to replace the syrup with good old dependable Hershey’s Chocolate Syrup so I could have the best of both worlds but I don’t think she went for it.

  • Daviel McKaye

    Somehow I feel like we’ve just seen Spewey’s spiritual ancestor.

  • keith f.

    One has to wonder how many of these were turned into bongs. The stem would most likely be placed where his wiener would be, so it would be pretty funny, too.

  • Greg Brady

    It’s interesting people bringing up Robitussin abuse, since the most common drug slang for Robitussin (in my experience anyway) is… ‘robo’. I.e. “I’m on robo”, “I’m robo-tripping”… etc.

    Robo is probably Clanky’s no-good cousin, the one who always stumbles around sweatily at family gatherings with massive pupils and an inability to recognise his own relatives.

  • http://boardwalkangel.blogspot.com/ starwenn

    One of your more interesting finds. We used to save empty chocolate syrup bottles to fill with water after a trip to the beach. We’d come home and use them to clear as much sand off as possible before we could come inside. Now that I think of it, Clanky might make a nice beach toy. I can see all of my nephews really going for him. No crab would ever invade a sandcastle guarded by a brown robot with accordion legs.

  • http://www.facebook.com/therealteddyray Teddy Ray

    Wow, it’s pretty rare for you to write about something from the ’60s, isn’t it? Great article, though. I’ve never heard of Clanky, either (the name reminds me of Conky from Pee-Wee’s Playhouse), but I would have loved to have had chocolate syrup in a container like that.

    Also, I LOVE the idea of “clanky syrup” being the new slang term for cough syrup abuse. I don’t have the kind of life where talking about things like that comes up very often, but if it ever does, you best believe I’ll call it “clanky syrup.”

  • SupraGenius

    And as with everything else from that era, is it brought to you by Marlboro?

  • Matt

    @starwenn: Totally, I’d be curious to learn what kids did with him back then. He had to be a hit. There were tons of robot toys, but this guy was out there for cheap and in volume.

    @Teddy: Yup, I think I’ve only written about the ’60s three or four times tops.

    @SupraGenius: Missing from the YT video is the five second tag wherein Clanky chops wood while eating giant cigarettes.

  • http://www.youtube.com/user/tmlfan1977 tmlfan1977

    I’d never heard of Clanky syrup until last year when I bought and watched the “1,001 Classic Commercials” DVD set. Some pretty fantastic stuff on there. It was all before my time as I was born in ’77, but it’s indeed great to see the commercials that my parents would have watched.

  • Nifft

    Clanky Sizzurp maybe? Ride or Die! Fo’Shizzle!

  • Ernest Jackson

    I still have one of the bottles,I liked Bosco better than Clanky,does anybody remember space food sticks?

  • http://www.spookshows.com Richard

    Found this old post months, nearly a year later, but I do remember Clanky. I tried it, but preferred Hershey’s syrup to make chocolate milk. My brothers on the other hand, used up this stuff like crack. My Mom would go to the store and as necessary as it was for her to buy milk, it as equally important that she not forget “The Clanky” I had one of these empty bottles until recently, purchased from ebay.

  • http://www.spookshows.com Richard

    I forgot to say – yes, he was popular and around for many years, at least until the early 70s. He’d be right next to the cocoa and chocolate syrups in the supermarkets.