Frankly, there is alot of good inside Kellogg’s Pop-Tart Pastries, but the real good was the man inside, Milton the Toaster.
Milton was a friend. A buddy. A bit sassy. And he always delivered the goods, two to a pack. Not too hot, mind you. Or it might burn.
Pop-Tarts still sell without Milton, and they taste good without Milton, but there is no Milton. To a generation of latchkey kids with divorced parents, they were something friendly in the kitchen that might welcome us home, and always be there to give us a treat in flavors like cinnamon, blueberry or strawberry.
Kellogg’s introduced Pop Tarts in 1964; the frosted version arrived in 1967. Milton the Toaster debuted in 1971. The Milton character was defined by the voice of the late actor William Schallert, who was the dad on The Patty Duke Show, and actor in dozens of other TV shows over decades. He was hired for the voice over by Bud Davis, an adman, after auditioning for the part.
According to Ad Age, most of the great Kellogg’s characters were created by the Chicago agency Burnett, including Tony the Tiger for Frosted Flakes (1952), Sugar Pops Pete (1958), Milton the Toaster for Pop Tarts (1971), Toucan Sam for Froot Loops (1963), Dig’Em the Frog for Sugar Smacks (1972) and Cornelius the Rooster for Corn Flakes (1957). Kellogg’s also had a long period with N.W. Ayer.
Schallert made a career out of voice overs in the 1970s, including California prunes, and dozens of other advertising bits, including Era detergent. He told the Archive of American Television he got the voice for Milton because he used to read to his kids, and did voices, including Winnie the Pooh. With Milton, he thought the voice had “got a little bit of New York in him.” He had four lucky sons.
Schallert died in 2016, he was married to his wife actress Leah Waggner from 1949 until her death in 2015.
Milton the Toaster was one of the few cartoon jobs of Schallert; in the interview above he said that he was not able to change voices easily, the mark of a cartoon voice over actor. In the interview, Schallert said that he was known for being able to time his voice overs perfectly, and work quickly, especially in the field of television.
His voice was above all trustworthy and kind, a gentleness not heard so much on the air. The approach was wholesome and friendly, and that sold whatever he talked about.
Schallert, who was also Nancy Drew’s father Carson Drew on ABCs Nancy Drew Mysteries with Pamela Sue Martin, was a familiar voice of the ABC Television Network. Listen below as you can hear him introducing shows that included The Brady Bunch and Partridge Family.