As I write this, it’s officially springtime again in the Southeast. Trees are sprouting new leaves and flowers are blooming. The air is filled with pollen and there have been birds singing and squirrels running around the yard.
It’s also “rabbit season” as children eagerly await the arrival of the Easter Bunny with all the treats and toys and the search for plastic eggs. We never used the real dyed eggs for egg hunts in my tradition. Those were just for eating.
Without further ado, here are some of my favorite rabbits and bunnies including cartoon characters, puppets, a Muppet, a live bunny product mascot and a human dressed as a bunny.
1. Bugs Bunny
I had to start this list off with the king of the carrot chompers. Bugs, as played by Mel Blanc, introduced kids to classical music. In the past couple of decades, however, Bugs and many of the other Looney Tunes characters have come under close scrutiny for their depictions of violence and use of racial and ethnic stereotypes.
Bugs fits the archetype of the Trickster, a character who uses their wit and cleverness (and sometimes disguises) to escape would be predators.
2. Tricks, The Trix Rabbit
According to the Wikipedia page on Trix cereal, the Trix Rabbit’s name is actually Tricks. He employed various disguises over the years to get his paws on the fruit flavored cereal of his dreams. Every Saturday morning, we eagerly watched the show between the shows, waiting to see if someone would finally share their Trix cereal with the long suffering rabbit.
My favorite disguises were when he pretended to be a real live bunny and when he went to Bugs Bunny for help. Neither of those disguises worked, but in 1968, 1976, 1980, and 1991, kids voted to allow Tricks to have some cereal.
3. Thumper from Bambi
“If you don’t have anything nice to say, it’s better not to say anything at all.” Thumper’s mother was a very wise rabbit.
Even though this is an article about spring, one of my favorite scenes in Bambi was the ice skating. My other favorite scene when when Bambi, Thumper, and Flower met their future mates and became “twitterpated” in the words of the owl.
4. Quik Bunny- “Quiky”
The Quik Bunny wasn’t introduced with the flagship flavor until the early 1973. A drawing of a pink cartoon rabbit first appeared on the can of strawberry flavored Quik powder when the product was introduced.
We had the Quik Bunny mugs where Quiky’s ears were the handles of the mug. For years we used the cans that required a spoon or butter knife to open the lid, but eventually, our parents bought a plastic jar with a plastic lid.
Eventually, we moved on to chocolate syrup, usually Hershey’s or a grocery store brand knock off, but these days I use Torani chocolate sauce.
5. The White Rabbit and the March Hare in Alice in Wonderland
Two animated rabbits in one movie! On the most recent episode of Bracket Madness, while voting on Tom Petty’s “Don’t Come Around Here No More”, I mentioned that I wrote my senior thesis in college on Alice in Wonderland.
The White Rabbit and his worries about punctuality start off Alice’s adventure as she follows him. Later, at the tea party, she encounters the Mad Hatter and the March Hare. Eventually, the White Rabbit arrived at the party and the Mad Hatter and March Hare “fixed” his watch with butter and jam.
6. Cadbury Bunny
Aside from the time Tricks disguised himself as an actual rabbit, this is the only “live” rabbit mascot. He starts appearing on television not long after Valentine’s Day and the spots run until Easter Sunday.
The Cadbury bunny doesn’t do much. He just sits on a stage next to a basket filled with Cadbury eggs in their multi-colored foil wrappers. I don’t know what kinds of sounds actual rabbits make, but they probably don’t cluck like chickens.
7. Chandler Bing in “The One With The Halloween Party” on Friends
This was the sixth episode of the eighth season of Friends. Lisa Kudrow has been quoted as saying it was the first episode they filmed after 9/11. Monica dressed as Catwoman. Phoebe was Supergirl. Rachel was pregnant and wore a dress she wouldn’t be able to wear once she started showing. Ross dressed as a potato with metal antennae he called “Spudnik”. Joey dressed as Chandler.
Monica wanted to get a brown and white bunny costume for Chandler so he could dress up as the title character from his favorite book, The Velveteen Rabbit. The costume shop only had a pink and white costume, reminiscent of Ralphie Parker’s gift from Aunt Clara in A Christmas Story.
This was actually the second reference to a rabbit on the show. At the end of “The One With the Holiday Armadillo” during the previous season, Monica, Ross (in the armadillo costume), Chandler (in a Santa Claus suit), and Joey (as Superman) are gathered around the menorah.
When Rachel and Phoebe arrive at the apartment, Phoebe says, “I understand why Superman is here, but why is there a porcupine at the Easter Bunny’s funeral?”
Ok, I know Snoopy is actually a dog, specifically a beagle. But this beagle has a fondness not only for small birds like Woodstock, but also for bunnies.
It’s The Easter Beagle, Charlie Brown hasn’t been running on television for over a decade. It’s not as popular as the Halloween, Thanksgiving, and Christmas specials.
9. Peter Rabbit by Beatrix Potter
My pediatrician had Beatrix Potter characters including Peter Rabbit on the walls of the exam rooms in his office. I also remember performing a in play based on the Peter Rabbit story in one of my elementary school assemblies.
10. Hopsalot from Strawberry Shortcake
Apricot’s animal companion, Hopsalot was a white bunny with a peach colored belly. The pair appeared together in a Strawberry Shortcake cereal commercial.
11. The Velveteen Rabbit (Author: Margery Williams, Illustrator: William Nicholson)
Before both Jim Henson’s The Christmas Toy and Disney/Pixar’s Toy Story, there was the story of the Velveteen Rabbit. The Velveteen Rabbit wanted to become real.
This is right up there with The Giving Tree, The Little Prince, and so many other books that will make me cry just thinking about them. I’m going to finish this list with something silly.
12. The Energizer Bunny
Not only was this bunny interrupting Saturday Night Live style parody commercials, he was a parody to begin with. In 1973, their competitor, Duracell had a commercial that featured a pink bunny that competed in various contests, one of them being drumming.
By the late 1980’s, Duracell’s trademark on their bunny lapsed and Energizer made a parody of that commercial with a different pink bunny wearing sunglasses and blue flip flops while pounding a drum that had a the Energizer logo on it.
13. Mister Bunny Rabbit from Captain Kangaroo
Mister Bunny Rabbit was a rabbit puppet who wore glasses and tried to trick Captain Kangaroo out of his carrots. I have vague memories of Captain Kangaroo because I had to go to school while he was on so I only saw him on holidays or when I was home sick.
14. Bean Bunny from Muppets
You didn’t think we could have a pop culture list without a Muppet on it, did you?
In 1986, Bean made his debut in the special, The Tale of the Bunny Picnic. Bean also appears in Muppet Christmas Carol and there was a Baby Bean Bunny in later seasons of the original version of Muppet Babies. Bean Bunny is now mostly a background character. Check out Advent Calendar House for a fun discussion of Tale of The Bunny Picnic.
I started this list with about five retro pop culture rabbits in mind, but as I kept writing, they kept multiplying, just like real rabbits!