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|Voiced by||Joel Murray (1986–97)
Pete Stacker (1997–2008)
Johnny Michaels (5 spots; early 2000s)
Adam Leadbeater (2008–present)
|Occupation||Mascot of Cheetos|
Chester Cheetah is a fictional character and the official mascot for Cheetos brand snacks and Chester's Puffcorn. According to an article in The New York Times, DDB Needham Worldwide was responsible for the creation of Chester; however, an episode of Unwrapped claims that the mascot was created by Hawley Pratt, the same man behind the Pink Panther.
1986–2003: Traditional animation
Cheetos' original mascot was the Cheetos Mouse, who debuted in 1971 and disappeared around 1979. In 1986, Chester Cheetah was created by Brad Morgan, who art directed the commercials and designed the character, and Stephen Kane who wrote the original scripts for television commercials. The original 24-frame animation was done by Richard Williams. After Chester's introduction, the sly, smooth voiced cheetah began starring in more commercials and eventually became Cheetos' official mascot. He used the slogan "It ain't easy bein' cheesy" from 1986 to the early 1990s, then "The cheese that goes crunch!" until it became "Dangerously cheesy!" in 1996.
From the mid-1980s to early 2000s, television adverts often featured Chester's desperate attempts to eat other people's Cheetos. The self-described "hip kitty" was often seen sneaking up on an unsuspecting stranger at a beach or public park. The result would always involve cartoon violence in the vein of Looney Tunes, such as Chester riding a motorcycle off a bridge, getting thrown to the top of a coliseum, or plunging miles through the air to unwittingly grab a hang gliding bodacious babe, only to cast her aside in favor of Cheetos. These spots were first directed by Keith Van Allen, and later by Cow and Chicken creator David Feiss.
In 1992, Chester's own television program called Yo! It's the Chester Cheetah Show! was under development for the Fox Kids Saturday morning fall lineup; however, an ethics debate erupted over Chester's status as an advertising character, and likely due to the protests of Action for Children's Television, the show was prevented from airing. Their petition marked the first time that the organization protested something before it actually became a program. Despite this, Chester did star in two video games produced by Kaneko for the Genesis and Super NES video game platforms: Chester Cheetah: Too Cool to Fool in 1992 and Chester Cheetah: Wild Wild Quest in 1993. Chester Cheetah makes a cameo appearance in Archie Comics' Sonic the Hedgehog series. A promotional plush doll was produced, featuring dark sunglasses and lace-up shoes. It was 18" tall. A 10" doll is still available today.
2003–08: Jump to CGI
In 2003, Chester became rendered as a computer generated character in the United States, while he continues to appear in his old animation style in other countries. During this time, the ads began portraying him in a less antagonistic manner.
One particular commercial series in 2006 had Chester defeating rival Chef Pierre, in a baking contest to create Baked Cheetos. This led to an advertising campaign titled Chester Goes Undercover, in which Pierre, disguised in silhouette, steals the Baked Cheetos recipe, and Chester gives chase by finding clues that lead him to Pierre's minions: Twisty McGee, Flamin' Hot Fiona, and The Cruncher. Upon confrontation with Chef Pierre, Chester signaled his agents to appear and apprehend Pierre and his minions, recovering the stolen recipe. These commercials were linked to an interactive online campaign.
2008–present: OrangeUnderground redesign
As of 2008, Cheetos has taken aim at an adult demographic with a recent series of ads featuring the mascot in promotion of OrangeUnderground.com. In this incarnation, Chester (originally a puppet) is computer generated, like his previous incarnation (but now with photorealistic textures/detail) and speaks with a mid-Atlantic accent and encourages people to use their Cheetos in acts of revenge or to solve problems (e.g. plug the nostrils of a snoring man or dirty the cubicle of a neat freak), sometimes referring to himself as "Papa Chester". In this incarnation, Chester is voiced by Adam Leadbeater.