Of all the cartoon shows that turned me into the twisted, spontaneous person that I am today, the Ren and Stimpy Show affected me most as a child. Really having no place in the safe, family environment of the Nicktoons lineup that consisted of Doug and Rugrats, I have absolutely no idea how the Ren and Stimpy Show crash landed onto the kid-friendly network known as Nickelodeon.
It was no surprise that young, impressionable me was drawn to the violence, gross out humor, and off-the-wall antics of the dimwitted Stimpson J. Cat and the hot-headed, Peter-Lorre-inspired Ren Hoek. I owe much of my most demented imaginings to this gem of a show, and I vow that I will dedicate a fully-fleshed article to its magnificence at a later date.
Until then, however, I am content just talking about one of my favorite aspects of the Ren and Stimpy Show. This is a love letter to a character whose cameo appearances always left me befuddled, but filled me with laughter all the same. He’s a conundrum wrapped in a breakfast treat. Yes, I’m talking about the unforgettable face of all that is good in the world known as Powdered Toast Man!
Powdered Toast Man is a well-meaning yet oblivious kind-of-superhero who also doubles as the spokesperson and mascot for Powdered Toast, a staple of the breakfast table that is often described as tasting just like sawdust.
Powdered Toast, the product, is exactly what it sounds like–toast that comes in a powder. It comes in a can with a salt-shaker-like apparatus on top that makes it ideal for sprinkling. Once the powder is sprinkled on a plate, the dust magically comes together to form a normal-looking piece of toast.
Interestingly, it is apparent that the Powdered Toast product actually tastes terrible until Powdered Toast Man himself comes back and farts on it, improving its flavor profile greatly. Perhaps a satirical commentary on the over-processed nature of American food, it is nonetheless a part of the Powdered Toast Man legacy.
Powdered Toast Man’s superhuman abilities fall into both the traditional and ridiculous categories when compared against other, more mainstream superheroes. He can fly by releasing flatulence, launching from a nearby toaster after sticking his head in it, or from simply pushing off the ground with massive force.
Primarily, he flies backwards, farts, shoots bullet-like raisins from his mouth, fires corrosive croutons from his armpit, launches pads of butter from his head, and squirts acidic marmalade from his belly button.
Also, much like Spiderman’s “spider sense,” Powdered toast man can be alerted to danger via his tongue phone, inflation of his underpants, toast particles on his head, or distress messages in slices of olive loaf.
Biologically, he is made entirely of Powdered Toast and can produce the product by flicking his wrist or removing one of the two pieces of toast making up his head and scraping it with a butter knife.
As another parallel to traditional superheroes, Powdered Toast Man possesses an alter-ego that he uses to fool the public into thinking he’s just another guy. By day, he goes by the moniker Pastor Toastman, a cool youth deacon who disguises himself in black eyeglasses and a priestly collar.
His catchphrase is “Leave everything to me!” and he often melodramatically shouts his own name when appearing on-screen. Gary Owens, of Space Ghost fame, lends his voice acting talents to the character.
Who knew a superhero made out of reconstituted toast could have such a profound effect on my young life?
Although the Ren and Stimpy show is off the air and its subsequent Spike TV series cancelled, the memories of wacky antics and oddball characters remain. Powdered Toast Man’s legend lives on through YouTube clips and Ren and Stimpy Show DVDs.