Favorite Elves (and References to Elves) in Pop Culture


1. Herself the Elf 

Herself the Elf and her friends were characters created by American Greetings. Yes, this is the same company that brought us Strawberry Shortcake, the Care Bears, Madballs, and My Pet Monster. 

While Kenner produced the toylines for Strawberry Shortcake and Care Bears, Mattel had the Herself the Elf license. 

This is the one line where I was actually able to find and get all of the dolls. I did not get any of their their play sets, but they were within the same scale as my Strawberry Shortcake dolls. Later, the smaller dolls would also welcome an otherwise lonely Rose Petal and spend some time with the Princesses of Power. 

These are the dolls in the Herself the Elf line: 

Herself– The leader of the group, daughter of the “Old Elf King”, who gave Herself her wand. Her wand was a flower that opened to reveal a bell in the center. I was five to six years old when I obtained these dolls, possibly from the long defunct stores Venture (in Chicago), Richway or Zayre in Georgia. Since I was so young, these toys were definitely played with. 

Playing with the toys meant pieces got broken or lost and the doll’s hair styles were a little untidy and their faces dirty. I’ve been doing some research on “Dollstagram” looking for the best ways to revive my little treasures. For now, they seem to be content on the shelf where they appear to have befriended my petite Barbie from the Looks line. 

This was originally intended to be an article about the toyline and the movie, but the continuous typing of “Herself” got confusing. I thought it would be confusing to you too and then I thought of even more elves and people who were dressed as (or mistaken for) elves in movies. 

Snowdrop–   Water and Air 

Snowdrop seems to be the elf to call for anything having to do with weather. She is the one with the tight white curls.

Her facial expression also reminds me of a classic Campbell’s Soup Kid.  What’s better on a rainy or snowy day than a bowl of hot soup? Like Strawberry Shortcake and her friends, each doll had a different facial expression. Where Strawberry Shortcake et al. had different mouths, these elves had variance in the way their eyes are painted. Snowdrop looks mischievous. 

Meadow Morn– Animal care taker . She has red-orange curly hair, green eyes and wears a green dress and shoes. In the cartoon movie, her personality is very “go-getter” compared to Snowdrop and Willow Song, who tend to be more cautious. 

Woodpink– This elf has pink hair and is responsible for all of the colors in nature. Woodpink’s personality in the cartoon reminded me of a cross between Frieda (with the “naturally curly hair”) and Violet from the original Peanuts specials. She would definitely be the social media influencer.

Willow Song– 

Willow Song has blue hair in a bun with curly bangs. She is in charge of the sounds of nature, particularly the sounds animals make. This is kind of weird seeing as Meadow Morn is in charge of animals and Snowdrop is in charge of things related to water and air.  

The designer for these elves has a very interesting concept of division of labor because some of their talents and responsibilities appear to overlap. Unless they were more interested in covering various hair colors and each character needed abilities that went with each doll’s aesthetic. 

2. Hermey the Dentist Elf and the great (pre-internet) controversy: Hermey vs. Herbie 

I remember having heated debates at the bus stop every December over the name of  what we agreed to call “The Dentist Elf”. That was the big topic of conversation regarding this special back then. We pretty much accepted that Santa and the others were not nice to the misfits because if they were, there would be no point to the story. 

Anyway, some kids were sure the dentally-inclined elf’s name was “Herbie”, (like the “Love Bug”) while others favored something rooted in classic literature and thought his name was more like a nickname for Greek mythological Hermes. I was Team Hermey, by the way. 

Once closed captioning became a default feature on television sets and official plush toys were available, the true name of the clever elf was revealed. In the late 1990’s, while I was working at MediaPlay, they sold plush toys of the main characters from the Rudolph the Red Nosed Reindeer. 

I had these toys, but unfortunately, I did not get to keep them very long. Hermey and Rudolph were sold as a set, Yukon Cornelius and Bumble were the second set, Clarice (Rudolph’s doe friend) and Santa Claus were the third set. Then the next year, MediaPlay sold a set of the Miser Brothers from Year Without a Santa Claus. 

3. Dudley Moore as Patch in Santa Claus: The Movie 

This and Like Father Like Son with Kirk Cameron were my main basis of knowledge when it came to Mr. Moore. I was too young for Arthur and by the time I was old enough to understand it, In Santa Claus, Patch has the job of exposition, introducing Santa to the substance that will make the reindeer fly. 

4. David Krumholz (Bernard) in The Santa Clause franchise

It’s been a while since I’ve seen these, but Bernard serves a similar purpose of explaining the inner workings of the operation to the new Santa Claus. 

I also really liked Krumholz in Numbers, where he played a math genius who helped his FBI agent brother solve crimes. His father was Judd Hirsch, his brother was Rob Morrow (Northern Exposure), and his mentor was Peter MacNicol (Janoscz from Ghostbusters 2)! 

5. The entire movie Elf

Will Ferrell, Bob Newhart, and Peter Billingsley (Buddy, Papa Elf, Ming Ming) I did not forget Zooey Deschanel/Jovie, but I’ll get to her later. 

I love everything about Elf. I watch it twice every year: once in the summer on my birthday for a “Christmas in July” and then again at Christmas. I usually watch Elf more than once during the season. I know the movie’s release was a little bit outside the 80’s and 90’s time frame, being from the early 2000’s. 

In addition to the Rankin Bass inspired vision of the North Pole, dearly departed television icon Ed Asner played Santa Claus and Bob Newhart played the elf who volunteered to raise Buddy and also served as the Narrator in the framing device of the movie. 

Does the supervisor elf Ming Ming look familiar? Next time you watch the movie, I triple dog dare you to pause the movie when Buddy’s supervisor checks in on his progress with the Etch-a-Sketches. There’s a scene where they do a close up of Ming Ming’s bespectacled and disappointed blue eyes and then you realize you’ve seen those blue eyes before in another popular retro Christmas movie.

I do like how the movie subverts the trope and instead of insulting Buddy, the elves try to make him feel better by reminding him of the other ways he helps them. They bring up things like Buddy changing the smoke detector, reaching things on high shelves, and balancing out their choir. The elves come off as warm and friendly and you can tell they really care about Buddy. 

6. Keebler Elves 

One of my favorite parts of Elf is at the very beginning. Papa Elf explains all of the different jobs elves can have before humble bragging about his own job the way only an elf played by Bob Newhart can. 

After assisting shoemakers, Papa Elf mentions baking. Then he points out the potential risk of fire possibly burning down tree-based cookie factories. 

Every once in a while, we would buy Keebler cookies. Some of our favorites were their Pecan Sandies, Fudge Stripes, Swirl-Q’s, E.L. Fudge and the long since discontinued (but still beloved) Magic Middles. Grasshoppers were my go to for mint cookies during the Girl Scout’s off-season. They had Samoa and Tagalog  knock offs for a while too. 

There were certain commercials I would always look for while I was watching daytime television during school breaks: Snuggle Bear, Green Giant and Sprout, Pilsbury Doughboy, the Ocean Spray bog farmers, and the adventures of Ernie and the Keebler Elves. 

Last year, I received this awesome tin from our very own Jason Gross and Mickey Yarber! I’m looking forward to doing our baking soon so I can put some yummy cookies in here and post the Virtual Cookie Plate. 

7. Lord of the Rings 

I’m about to make a big confession here: I have never read the Lord of the Rings books. I may have read part of The Hobbit. 

I haven’t seen the movies either. They came out while I was working at MediaPlay, but at that time, I was also finishing my college course load. 

I do like Liv Tyler in the Aerosmith video for “Crazy” and the movie That Thing You Do. I also like Orlando Bloom in the Pirates of the Caribbean movies. 

8. Prep and Landing 

Before ABC gave the Disney special time slot to the Frozen cast, Prep and Landing used to make up the special block along with Toy Story That Time Forgot. 

Prep and Landing featured the voice of one of my favorite comedy actors, Dave Foley (Kids in the Hall and Newsradio). Dave plays an elf named Wayne. His department arrives at a child’s house ahead of Santa to get everything ready for his arrival. 

9. John Michael Higgins in Fred Claus (as “Willie”) 

I first saw John Michael Higgins since NBC’s short lived American version of Kath and Kim, where Higgins played the love interest of Kath (Molly Shannon), but I actually became a fan of when I saw him in another Vince Vaughn movie called The Break-Up. In The Break-Up, Higgins is the host of a dinner party and leads the characters in singing an a cappella version of “Owner of a Lonely Heart” by Yes. My favorite line is when Higgins is coaxing Vaughn’s character, “Come come with the kick drum, Gary.” I was very excited to see him featured in this movie as Willie the Elf. 

10. SNL Glengarry Glenn Ross parody “Always Be Cobbling”

I’ve never seen Glengarry Glen Ross, but I watch this sketch every year when it shows up on the SNL Christmas compilation show. Probably because Amy Poehler and Seth Meyers are in it. 

Honorable Mentions: 

1. Elves in A Christmas Story 

As a kid, I always wondered why these elves were so mean and angry. Next time you watch the movie, look at where the bell is placed on their hats. It is right between their eyes. After two years of wearing masks, I can now understand why these elves are so over it and want the store to close. They want to take off that horrible hat and those shoes. 

2. Marv and Harry (Home Alone) 

Remember the scene when Marv tries to get Kevin to open the door by identifying himself and Harry as “Santy Claus and his Elf”? I love Pesci’s enthusiastic nod in this scene, but I wonder which one is supposed to be Santa and which one is supposed to be the elf. Is that something they worked out off-screen? 

3. Jovie in Elf 

Zooey Deschanel has a really nice singing voice and excellent chemistry with Will Ferrell in this movie. She’s also working as an elf in a department store. Thankfully, she has a nicer costume than the Christmas Story elves. Hopefully it was more comfortable too. 

4. Ethan O’Fallon (Randall/Embry) in All I Want for Christmas 

While Ethan is accompanying his sister for her visit to Santa Claus, he sees the class bully is also in the store. The last place a thirteen year old boy wants a classmate to see him is in the department store Santa line. 

A store employee dressed as an elf offers Ethan a lollipop. He makes a sarcastic remark but takes the lollipop and runs off to pretend to look at a display of toy airplanes. The bully tells him he saw him in the line. 

Ethan tries to give the lollipop to a little boy who is standing nearby and the child “recognizes” him as an elf. The fact that Ethan’s coat was mostly green with red and gold accents probably didn’t help his case. Ethan tries to explain to the little boy that he is not an elf, but the child calls him on his bluff, giving the bully even more material to needle Ethan. 

Ethan sarcastically remarks that he’s not just “an elf”, he’s “the elf king”. Ethan does get revenge on his enemy later, fixing him up with a girl who is obsessed with Nazis hiding in plain sight while Ethan and a girl he does like literally dance right out of Ethan’s cotillion. 

Hopefully you found a favorite elf or two in this collection of characters. Are there any I missed? Let me know in the comments! Happy Holidays, everyone!

About Karen Flieger 75 Articles
I was born in the late 1970’s, spent my childhood in the 1980’s, and my pre-teen and teen years in the 1990’s. I graduated from Kennesaw State University in 2001 with a B.A. in English. I collect various forms of media (books, music, movies, and television shows) as well as plush toys, dolls, and Funko figures.

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