Sunny Jim one day was leaping
O’er his fence, and quite in keeping
With his energetic movements
Was the sunny smile he wore; 1
When the Parrot, sadly hopping,
Said, “young man, you’ll soon be stopping
That preposterous performance,
For ‘Your food will cost you more.’

Then Jim started gaily singing
In the intervals of springing,
“You cannot impose upon me.
I have heard of you before.
And they’ve proved it to me clearly,
Beyond doubt, that it is merely
Brain decay that makes you mutter
That ‘Your food will cost you more.

“You may speak till you are weary,
I shall still continue cheery,
Sunny Jim shall still my name be,
As it was in days of yore;
Though you rant, and croak, and rail, you’re
As a prophet quite a failure,
And I simply don’t believe it—
That ‘My food will cost me more.’


Sunny Jim was a character in advertisements for a breakfast cereal, ‘Force’. Initially produced only in North America, the cereal was introduced to Britain in mid-1902 and was promoted via a vigorous advertising campaign. Many of the adverts featured jingles in which ‘Force’ transformed the morose “Jim Dumps” into the cheerful “Sunny Jim”, as in this example from 11 July 1903:

Jim Dumps’ young wife while yet a bride
Some biscuits made with greatest pride.
Jim looked with fear upon the food,
But to a bride one can’t be rude.
“Let’s eat ‘Force’ first, dear, ’tis my whim.”
It saved the life of “Sunny Jim”.

The jingle alluded to in the poem was used on posters and hoardings, and became a catchphrase for ‘Force’:

High o’er the fence leaps Sunny Jim.
Force is the food that raises him.

The jingle had achieved sufficient recognition that it could be alluded to in a humorous article as early as mid-January 1903:

“‘What’s ye’er fav’rite breakfast dish?’ says Joyce. . . . ‘Well’, says he, ‘me favr’rite is Guff’, he says. ‘P’raps ye’ve seen th’ advertisement—“Out iv th’ house wint Lucky Joe; Guff was th’ food that made him go.” Mother prefers Almostfood, a scientific preparation iv burlaps. I used to take Sawd Ust, which I found too rich . . . We all have our little tastes an’ enthusyasms in th’ matter iv breakfst foods, depindin’ in what pa-apers we read an’ what bill-boards we’ve seen iv late. I believe Sunny Jim cud jump higher on Guff than on Almostfood . . .’ ‘Well’, says I, ‘give me a tub iv Guff’, I says. ‘I’ll close me eyes an’ think iv an egg.’”
“Mr Dooley on Oats as Food”, by F P Dunne, Salt Lake Herald, 11 January 1903 

It was also the basis for a cartoon in Punch which depicted Joseph Chamberlain in Sunny Jim’s costume, with the caption:

“Upon the stump leaps Brummy Joe,
It’s taxing food that makes him go!”

Another political parody from 1903 ran:

Jim Dumps is sad and grieves all day:
   And Force no longer makes him sunny.
The tariff trusts that on him prey,
   Have taken all his surplus money.

Jim Dumps will n’er be Sunny Jim,
Till tariff trusts stop robbing him.

The Public: A Journal of Democracy, vol 6, p 494 (1903)

The ‘Force’ brand is now owned by Nestlé. The cereal is still manufactured and sold in UK and the packaging continues to depict a leaping Sunny Jim, but, ironically, given its American origins, it is now advertised as “traditionally British”.

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