Screaming Yellow Zonkers
In 1968 Lincoln Snacks had developed a product similar to their other popcorn products, Fiddle-Faddle and Poppycock. At the time they had no name for it and no concept for promoting it. Lincoln Snacks executives went to Chicago and opened the door to the major ad agencies to pitch their ideas. A small, boutique agency, Hurvis, Binzer & Churchill won the account by naming the product "Screaming Yellow Zonkers and presenting it in a black package with "crazy" copy and illustrations on every panel. Lincoln Snacks asserts that SYZs were the first food item to be packaged in black.
The box contained humorous copy, such as suggestions about what to do with Screaming Yellow Zonkers, or that 8 oz. (226g) = 1/4,409 of a metric ton. (This comic content was provided by Allan Katz and Howie Kraków who wrote the copy on the first several boxes, and the award-winning TV and radio campaigns.) The box was designed by Rollin Binzer, co-owner and creative director of HBC.
While the front of the package was simple and understated, the rest of the Zonkers box was completely covered with absurdist copy, accompanied by illustrations, informing the reader everything from “how to wash Zonkers” to “how to mate them”. The bottom of the box explained how to determine if it were indeed the bottom: “Open the top, and turn the box upside down. If the Zonkers fall out, this is the bottom. If they fall up, this is the top. If nothing happens, this box is empty.”
World-class illustrators became a part of the Zonkers phenomenon. Airbrush artist Charlie White illustrated the front of the Circus box while Seymour Chwast’s work decorated the rest. White also illustrated a giant Zonkers circus poster, inspired by more of Katz’s copy. The poster was offered on the circus box for “$2.95 to include shipping, handling, and profit.” The circus box ended up being displayed in the Louvre in Paris.
- Piersol, Richard (5 September 2007). "ConAgra buys Lincoln Snacks, Screaming Yellow legacy". Lincoln Journal Star. Retrieved 8 June 2015.
- "The Return of Screaming Yellow Zonkers". retroist.com. May 8, 2012.