There are times when I'm simply relaxing in my day, casually browsing social media to see what my friends are up to, and something crosses my feed that stops me in my tracks. In one of these moments, someone popped up on Twitter, someone I hadn't thought of in decades, that slammed into my mind so hard that I was thrown back into a realm of nostalgia.
Marfalump the Pepsi mascot for Episode I: The Phantom Menace was here.
It's not surprising that he showed up. Episode I is celebrating its 25th anniversary this year, so prequel fans are swimming in the nostalgia pool. Personally, I've been excited for it as it was my first Star Wars movie. I have a big soft spot for the film, Jar Jar and all. Marfalump's arrival brought me back to 1999 when I was 11 again, thanks to user Insane Moments in Star Wars History. @insanestarwars shared, "PepsiCo and Star Wars collaborated on the creation of this alien, Marfalump, as part of the Phantom Menace ad campaign. Marfalump canonically lives in Iowa, and loves Star Wars and Pepsi."
So, who was Marfalump, and why was he made? Our friends at Wookieepedia have an entire entry on the mascot, but here are some highlights.
Created by Industrial Light & Magic Commercial Productions in a team-up with PepsiCo, Marfalump is a 4-armed alien who simply loves two things: Star Wars and Pepsi. He was voiced by legendary voice actor Billy West, whose other works include Fry and multiple characters in Futurama, Bugs Bunny, and the titular characters of Ren & Stimpy. West was no stranger to voicing mascots as he provided the voice of Buzz the Bee with Honey Nut Cheerios, Popeye for Minute Maid, and is still the voice of the Red M&M. Marfalump's first commercial "Landing" aired in 1999 with a cameo from Jake Lloyd in it.
There was even a short documentary created about the making of Marfalump. The roughly 4-minute video called "The Birth of Marfalump" gave a behind the scenes collaboration between ILM and Pepsi.
Senior Art Director at ILM Aaron McBride shared a little insight about his own past with Marfalump on Twitter, stating, "My first day in the ILM Art Department Jan. 4th 1999 I helped out with some concepts for the interior cockpit of the Marfalump's ship.
The love for the Pepsi mascot didn't stop there, as plenty of fans shared their passion for Marfalump while remembering this character from their childhood.
25 years later, Marfalump might be gone but he's clearly not forgotten. I salute you here at Dork Side of the Force, you wonderfully weird soda-loving alien from my childhood.