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Cap’n Crunch Gets Important Uniform Adjustment

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Cereal aisle mainstay Cap’n Crunch is turning 60, and parent company Quaker Oats is celebrating by finally bringing his uniform up to spec. As you can see above, the Cap’n now has four bars or rings on his sleeve cuffs — the proper sleeve insignia for a naval captain. The previous three-bar design denotes a commander, not a captain, which has apparently been a bone of contention among Cap’n fans for many years.

But it used to be even worse! According to Wikipedia, “While typically an American naval captain wears four bars on his sleeves, the mascot has been variously depicted over the years wearing only one bar (ensign), two bars (lieutenant), or three bars (commander).” And sure enough, here are some old cereal boxes showing the Cap’n with one and two bars:

(Incidentally, that giveaway bo’sun whistle shown on the first box went on to have some cultural significance.)

The Cap’n’s animated TV commercials were no better. Here’s the cereal’s very first commercial, showing him with three bars:

Here’s a 1971 spot with two bars:

I couldn’t find a commercial showing him with one bar, but you get the idea. These people could’ve used a style guide! (If those commercials look and sound familiar, it’s because the early Cap’n spots were produced by Jay Ward, the same genius who did Rocky & Bullwinkle, Fractured Fairytales, Peabody and Sherman, Dudley Do-Right, and other classic cartoons.)

It’s nice that the Cap’n will finally have a uniform that properly reflects his rank going forward, but it seems to me that the Quaker Oats folks have made another, arguably more significant adjustment to him: If you scroll back up to the old/new comparison at the top of this page, you’ll see that he now has five fingers on each hand. This is completely unacceptable because one of the immutable laws of the universe, as we all know, is that cartoon characters must be four-fingered and that’s all there is to it. If left unchecked, I worry that this may cause a rift in the space/time whatisis!

Fun fact: I have never eaten Cap’n Crunch.

(My thanks to Joe Werner for bringing this important development to my attention, and to our own Jerry Wolper for letting me know about the bo’sun whistle.)



Substack Reminder

In case you missed it on Wednesday: With the Jets unveiling their “New York Sack Exchange” throwbacks two days ago, this week’s Uni Watch Premium article on Substack is a deep dive on the uniforms that inspired the new throwbacks. Like all the other NFL deep dives I’ve recently done (for the Bucs’ creamsicles, the Eagles’ Kelly greens, the Seahawks’ blue/silver set, the Vikings’ original purple set, and the Oilers’ uniforms), this one is jam-packed with obscure fun facts and great vintage photos.

You can read the first part of the article here. In order to read the entire thing, you’ll need to become a paid subscriber to my Substack (which will also get you access to my Substack archives). My thanks, as always, for your consideration.




Can of the Day

I like how the design for this tape can looks like tape on the can. Fun nested typography for “All Weather,” too, although that looks like it might be better suited for the cereal aisle than the hardware aisle.

Comments (57)

    But the tassel on top was eliminated a while ago and has not reappeared.
    I’m still known to buy a box from time to time…prefer a bowl (or bowls) of cereal to ice cream.

    But his eyeballs are now embedded in his head instead of sticking up out of his cheeks like crab eyes.

    I do not think I have had Cap’n Crunch either. While growing up, my household was always off-brand cereal sold in the “plastic pillow case” near the end of the aisle. Even then, we had “crispy rice” and “flakes of corn” and not whatever the knock-off Cap’n Crunch kind.

    Interesting niche topic today. Thanks.

    In “The Simpsons,” God has 5 fingers on each hand. Everyone else – including Jesus – has 4.

    I did a literal laugh out loud when I read that.

    This has to be one of my favorite non-sports entries of the year so far. I love the sports content, but it’s stuff like this that elevates UniWatch to another level. Well done!

    You call it a mishap. I call it a box of diabetes inducing, mouth shredding yummy goodness!

    Cap’n Crunch Berries is still my go-to cereal.

    Per Wikipedia: Any naval officer who commands a ship is addressed by naval custom as “captain” while aboard in command, regardless of their actual rank,

    I’ve always liked to think that Crunch’s title reflected the fact that he commanded a ship at sea. Whatever the rank of the officer in command, he or she is the captain of the vessel. Here is a photo of young John Kennedy, with two bars on his sleeve reflecting his rank of lieutenant. Lieutenant Kennedy was, nonetheless, captain of PT-109.


    In active Navy service, the captain of a vessel often does not hold the rank of captain. For major combat vessels, the captain is most likely to hold the rank of commander, as Crunch did. It’s a little more complex on aircraft carriers, where the ship, the aircraft, and the overall battle group each have independent commanding officers, but the commanding officer of the carrier will usually hold the rank of captain.

    A few more details. Kennedy would have been called “Captain” by the crew as part of custom (not a problem with this). However, a PT boat is not a “commissioned vessel” (such as an aircraft carrier or destroyer). You can tell it is commissioned when it has a name such as USS CARL VINSON. Since not a commissioned vessel, it does not have a “captain.” It does have an “officer-in-charge” or some other such title. Regardless, the crew will always address the top officer as “Captain.”

    As noted earlier, an aircraft carrier will have multiple officers on board that are “captain” in rank. The commanding officer, the executive officer, the reactor officer, often the supply officer etc. in addition to other captains on board as part of the air wing and the battle group.

    Ah, thanks for clarifying the difference between commissioned/non-commissioned vessels. I did a scintilla of digging before posting and couldn’t find contemporary references to Kennedy as “captain,” but the only other officer on the boat, an ensign, was referred to by the title of “executive officer” in contemporary documents, so I assumed.

    I was just about to say the same! This design must have been inspired by good old Piet!

    I can see that! The design also reminds me a little bit of Eddie Van Halen’s famous guitar design.

    Made me recall this from my younger days, watching cartoons and eating seemingly endless bowls of Cap’n Crunch ; )


    Paul, all you’re missing by never eating Cap’n Crunch is not having the inside of your mouth shredded at breakfast time.

    The key is to let the cereal soak in the bowl for a minute. But not too long, or it’ll go soggy on you real quick.
    Let it soak for a minute or two, then scarf it down ASAP. That’s the ticket.


    I ‘m surprised you’ve never eaten Cap’n Crunch cereal! What were your top 5 cereals- or were/are you not a cereal eater?

    My top 5:
    1. Quisp – sadly not sold in stores and can be bought only online
    2. Honeycomb
    3. Froot Loops
    4. Apple Jacks
    5. Corn Pops

    Quisp was Cap’n Crunch with a shape that did not shred the roof of your mouth. I am on the last of my 4 box online order. Still ranks #1 for me.

    My default supermarket chain (rhymes with Stop Light) carries Quisp – though it never goes on sale when the other Quaker offerings do. Hmmm….

    I am Dutch, I stick to muesli and yoghurt in the morning. So the big C on his hat stands for Crunch, not for Captain (what I always thought). Otherwise it should have been an A by now.

    If you’re ever stuck in Saturday detention with a pimento loaf sandwich, toss the pimento loaf, and replace it with Cap’n Crunch, and Pixie Stix dust. Press it down really well and you’re good to go.

    Well Marty, this is a very nutritious lunch. All the food groups are represented. Did your Mom marry Mr. Rogers?

    I always thought Eddie designed Frankenstein randomly with that tape
    recently Diamond Dave said he gave Eddie the idea to Chris Cross it
    but I think Paul has stumbled upon his true inspiration and solved a great rock and roll mystery…crazy

    I’d love to have been in the meeting where they decided “we need to lower his eyebrows so they are floating closer to his eyes…but still floating”

    Great, now I’m going to spend my day wondering when the Cap’n lost the tails on his jacket.

    Cap’n Crunch is pretty good. Has a unique flavor (and texture, infamously). Peanut Butter Cap’n Crunch is great as well.

    After seeing the old cereal boxes, Cap’n has worked his way up the ranks and got himself a well deserved promotion. Only took him 60 years to get promoted from Ensign to a Captain.

    Crunch needs a secondment to the Coast Guard, where he can hold the rank of Commodore before promotion to Admiral.

    Stay firm in your milk, never soggy be,
    And you too may be the ruler of the oat navee!

    Paul, this may be my favorite non-sports-uni related post yet!

    PS: I live about a mile away from the Cedar Rapids, Iowa, Quaker factory where the various blends of Cap’n Crunch are made and I can tell you that perhaps the most wonderful thing about living here is how the whole city smells on Crunch Berry Day! We even have shirts:

    However, I think you might like this version even better:

    “cartoon characters must be four-fingered and that’s all there is to it”

    Except God, who is frequently depicted with 5-fingers in cartoons. Perhaps Quaker Oats is trying to tell us something here…

    Yes, God has five fingers at least in The Simpsons. But I was watching Rick & Morty recently and was disappointed to realize that ALL the human characters have five fingers!

    Looking at the still shots, and the commercial, the original Cap’n sure looks like he was drawn by Gamma Productions, who were also responsible for Rocky and Bullwinkle, Tennessee Tuxedo, Commander McBragg, and others.

    Since we’re talking cereal, here are the opinions of a former cereal addict (I’m not totally unserious about that fact) who quit cold-turkey a few years ago. The actual Cap’n Crunch cereal is just mediocre, but the best sweetened cereal ever is Cap’n Crunch Peanut Butter. The title of best overall cereal ever goes to the long-departed Team Flakes, and the best among currently available brands is original Special K. Discuss.

    Little Debbie has New Nutty Buddy Cereal…
    Very different from Reeses or PB Crunch…Very Good

    Paul: It’s nice that the Cap’n will finally have a uniform that properly reflects his rank going forward

    Also Paul: cartoon characters must be four-fingered.

    If I’m not mistaken, wouldn’t historical accuracy suggest that most captains also have 5 fingers? ;)

    Hey Phil and Paul, a couple of posts on here already mentioned how the electrical tape can looks like Eddie Van Halen’s famous red white and black guitar called Frankenstein…
    Eddie built it when he was a teen from other guitar parts because he couldn’t find one that had the sounds he wanted, hence its name..
    It’s always been believed that he used electrical tape and “randomly” designed this one and a couple others afterwards, yellow/black, black/white…
    A recent story has his lead singer suggesting the design back in the day BUT…
    I seriously think you’ve uncovered his inspiration…it’s uncanny…
    You may have unlocked a seriously great mystery from Rock and Roll history
    Thank You

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