Rudolph R. Perz, the creator of the iconic Pillsbury Doughboy, passed away this Wednesday at age 89, reports Time.
The cuddly, giggling dough figure first appeared in a Pillsbury crescent roll ad in 1965, according to General Mills, which now owns the brand. The doughboy reportedly has 87 percent brand recognition among American consumers making it almost as synonymous with a company as the Golden Arches are to McDonald’s.
Perz originally used stop-motion claymation to bring the doughboy to life as a happy kitchen helper. It was reportedly also his idea to have the character giggle when tickled playfully in the stomach. The Pillsbury Doughboy has since appeared in numerous events and items including Macy’s Thanksgiving Day, lunch boxes, doll playsets and more. He has also helped sell millions of ready-to-bake rolls and desserts to consumers around the world.
“We are saddened by the loss of Rudy Perz. Nearly 50 years ago, he created one of America’s most loved and adored characters, the Pillsbury Doughboy. Our thoughts are with Rudy’s family during this difficult time,” Liz Nordlie, president of the Pillsbury brand, said in a statement.
A funeral for Perz will be held in the Chicago area this weekend.