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Sugar Bear originally appeared as a character in the 1964 Saturday morning cartoon Linus the Lionhearted. Most of the characters in the series, sponsored by General Foods, were mascots for Post cereal products. Sugar Bear proved the most durable of the lot. Gerry Matthews provided the original voice for Sugar Bear which feature qualities similar to Dean Martin's; he portrayed a shallow eyed, easy going character who crooned his cereal's praises to the tune of "Joshua Fit the Battle of Jericho." The original bear was designed by Robert "Bob" Irwin, a graphic designer for Post Cereal. Sugar Bear normally wore a blue turtleneck sweater with his name on the front, and in the 1980s a bite of Super Sugar Crisp would turn him into the muscular "Super Bear" (this alter ego was used to fight monsters who would steal the cereal). Several commercials in the mid 1980s had him using mere casual gestures to outsmart the aggressive tendencies of other animals. Examples include 1987 spots featuring Sugar Bear riding an elephant into a jungle of feisty tigers, playing matador to a raging bull, romping with a rhinoceros, and sparring with irate sharks of the ocean.
His consistent nemesis, however, was an elderly woman called Granny Goodwitch; the two would engage in elaborate contests, often involving trickery, magic, and high technology (often one or more of these methods), in order to determine who would gain possession of a box of the cereal. In the end, Granny Goodwitch would never be angry with Sugar Bear, though. Other nemeses of Sugar Bear included Blob, whose breakfast included pickles and soda; and Sugar Fox, who always tried and failed to keep Sugar Bear from getting his box of Super Sugar Crisp.
The Sugar Bear character was popular enough to have occasional premium toys. A yo-yo and padlock were produced in the 1960s, and even in 1993, a Christmas ornament saw him dressed as Santa Claus. Miniature talking plush dolls were also released in the early 1990s. Most recently, a Wacky Wobbler was released by Funko Inc.
- Sugar bear is also a term of endearment, as in a sweet bear.
- A sugar bear can also be a somewhat lazy and easygoing person used to making easy money.
- A person who has favors and money heaped on him/her for no discernible reason is sometimes called a "Sugar Bear".
- The University of Central Arkansas' women's sports teams are known as the Sugar Bears.
- Elton John, in the chorus of "Someone Saved My Life Tonight", repeatedly refers to "Sugar Bear," by whom he refers to long-time friend Long John Baldry, who convinced him to leave his then-fiancée, Linda Woodrow.
- Also may refer to Sugar Glider, a small gliding possum originating from the marsupial family.
- Sugar Bear is the name used for the hero in the 1999 direct-to-video comedy film Big Money Hustlas.
- Sugar Bear is the nickname of Mike Thompson, father of Alana "Honey Boo Boo" Thompson, in the TLC reality show Here Comes Honey Boo Boo.