Remembering Herbie, a skateboarding, corn flakes-eating duck

Like all great skaters, Herbie is unable to resist nibbling his board’s wheels from time to time.

The 21st century has given us its fair share of impressive ducks—like, say, the one that ran the New York City Marathon or the notably lengthy University Of York mascot Long Boi—but no bird magnificent enough to measure up to an Aylesbury duck named Herbie that once delighted 1970s Britain with its love of corn flakes, shopping, and skateboarding.

A clip from the BBC Archive taken from a 1978 episode of Nationwide immediately makes clear why Herbie is such an exceptional fellow. He’s introduced while trailing one of his human friends in the Randall family as she goes shopping in town and then waddling around the grounds of his lavish home in Croydon.

“After his morning constitutional, it’s time for a breakfast of Corn Flakes,” the narrator says. “And Herbie has his own seat at the table.”

Footage shows the Randalls sitting around the breakfast table, their children pouring out bowls of Corn Flakes. Herbie digs into his serving with gusto, splashing milk and cereal all over the place as the family watches on with approval. His morning meal thoroughly annihilated, Herbie then goes outside to play with the Randalls’ dogs (“play” means, here, that he lunges repeatedly at the dogs’ faces) and then spends a little while riding around on a skateboard.

“I don’t believe it. That surely wasn’t Herbie on the board,” the host asks Randall Jr. as he watches the duck sitting on the skateboard. He’s told that it was, indeed, Herbie and that the duck not only terrorizes the Randalls’ dogs, but has stolen the boy’s skateboard, too. We’re then shown a brief montage of Herbie, pea brain sparking with some bizarre avian need for speed, jumping onto and riding the skateboard around for a while as wacky music plays.

Boing Boing tells us that Herbie died in 1983, which is a shame since living a few more years might’ve given him a chance to become an extreme sports elder statesduck. Still, he left behind an impressive legacy that, to our knowledge, has yet to be surpassed. He’s also made it clear that we only have a limited number of decades left to figure our shit out and find a proper 21st century competitor to Herbie—one that can match his sheer coolness by, we don’t know, doing sick BMX flips or rollerblading in a halfpipe.

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