SE­LECT

The Irish Times - Friday - The Ticket - - SEVEN DAYS - Aoife McEl­wain

THEHISTORYOFFOOD MAS­COTS On­the­sep­a­ges­last week,I shared­myfind­ing­son thesto­ries be­hind­break­fastce­re­al­i­cons, suchasTonyTheTigerandS­nap! Crackle!and­Pop! Th­esechar­ac­ter­sarefeat­sof­food­mar­ket­ing, drawingusin tothe worldof sug­ary­treat­sa­tay­oung age.It’s notjust­break­fast, ei­ther. Fic­tional char­ac­ter­sareused­tosell tinned goods,sweet­sandsyrup­sallover the­world,and­some­ofthe bet­ter­known­char­ac­ter­shaves­im­i­larly in­ter­estin­go­ri­gin­sto­ries.

Last­week,we­learnedthat ThurlRaven­scroft­wasthe voice ofTonyTheTigerinthe US­for 50 years.He­wasal­sothe­firstvoice oftheJol­lyGreenGiant, though ElmerDress­larJr­soon­tookover and­voicedthe gi­ant’sdeep bari­tonecatch­phraseHo! Ho!Ho! in­ter­na­tion­al­ly­for nearly50 years,un­til hediedin 2005.The Min­neso­taVal­leyCan­ning Com­pa­ny­launchedGreenGiant Peasin1925.

The­brand’smas­cot,the gi­ant, had­start­edlifeasacave­man dressedin abearskin un­tila youn­gad­man,LeoBur­nett,gave the­giantanout­fit­madeof leaves and­paintedas­mileon­his­facein 1935.Bur­net­twen­tonto­found one­ofthe­most­fa­mou­sad agen­ciesin the­world.

Don’ty­ou­thinkit’salit­tleodd that­manyof us­fan­ciedan an­i­mat­e­drab­bitwhen­wewere younger?Talk­a­bout­the­p­ower of ad­ver­tis­ing.TheCad­bury CaramelBun­ny­was­draw­nasan at­trac­tive­lap­in­with­wideeyes an­dapret­ty­bow,but it­was ar­guably­her­breathyvoicethat sealedthedeal.Miri­amMar­goyles,akaPro­fes­sorSproutin theHar­ryPot­ter se­ries,was re­spon­si­ble­for theCad­bury CaramelBunny’sdul­cet­tones through­out­theen­tireUK­cam­paign,whichranin the1980sand 1990s.

There­wasanill-judged at­tempt­to­bringherbackin 2009, but­the­com­puter-an­i­mated up­date­had­her­dressedin ashort dress­de­signed­byGiles Dea­con. Some­how­putting­clothe­son her just­made­the­w­ho­lethingeven creepier.

Someof the­most­suc­cess­ful and­long-run­ning­choco­late char­ac­ter­saretheM&Mgang. TheMarsCom­pa­ny­first­launched M&Msinthe1940s,af­terthe founderof the­com­pany,For­rest MarsSr, wen­tonabusi­nesstripto Euro­pe­and­sawsec­ondWorld War­sol­dierseat­ing­choco­late can­dy­coate­d­i­na­sug­ary shell. Some­saythesweet­she­saw wereS­mar­ties,aver­sionofwhich had­been­made­byRown­trees sincethe1880s, and­sol­das Smar­tiess­ince1937.Mar­swent in­to­busi­ness­with­BruceMur­rie, sonofHer­shey’schoco­late pres­i­dent,in 1941, andtheir com­bined­sur­namesled­tothe nameM&M.

Melt­ed­slo­gan

It­wasthe leg­endaryad­ver­tis­ing ex­ec­u­tiveRosserReeves,thought to­beanin­spi­ra­tionfortheDon Drap­er­char­ac­ter,who­cameup with­theM&Mss­lo­gan“meltin your­mouth,notiny­ourhands.”A 1954an­i­mat­edTVad­seestwo M&Mchar­ac­ter­stakingadipin a poolofmelt­ed­choco­late,and tellingus­tolook­forthe “Mon ev­ery­p­iece.”

To­day,theM&Mgangis­made up­of­sixmem­bers.MsBrow­nis one­ofthe­newes­t­ad­di­tion­san­dis voiced­byVanes­saWil­liams, whileGree­nis voiced­byCree Sum­mer,whose­tonesy­oumay knowfromher­role­sasPen­nyin In­spec­torGad­getand Susie CarmichaelinRu­grats.Per­haps mostun­ex­pect­ed­lyis Yel­low, whois cur­rent­lyvoiced­byOs­car­win­ningac­torJK Sim­mons, takingover­the ba­ton­fromJohn Good­man.

Al­soowned­bytheMars Com­pa­nyis Un­cleBen’sRice. Since1946,theUn­cleBen prod­uct­shave­car­ried­pretty muchthe­sameim­a­ge­o­fan el­derly­black­man­dresse­d­ina bowtie­and suit,some­say mod­elle­dona­maitred’ho­tel namedFrankBrown­from Chicago.The­p­ro­duc­tremains know­nasUn­cleBen’sRice,even thoughtheUn­cleter­mis­seenby manyas­ape­jo­ra­tive­wayto de­scribeanelderly­sub­mis­sive black­slave,inthe­sameveinas Un­cleTom.

Per­hapsmore­ob­jec­tion­ableis theAun­tJemi­machar­ac­ter,seen on­bot­tle­sof­pan­cakesyru­pand box­e­sof­pan­cakemix.She­has hadamakeover­sinceshe­first ap­pearedin1889,un­apolo­get­i­callyasa“mammy”.In­the­last cen­tury,sh­elostherred­ban­dana, brightred lip­stickan­dapron, and nows­ports as­marthairdo,and wear­s­pearlear­rings an­dalace col­lar.

Ina2007in­ter­viewonNPR, Mau­riceMan­ring,author ofSlave ina Box:The StrangeCa­reerof Aun­tJemima( 1998)spoke­about theim­pli­ca­tion­sof­dam­ag­ing stereo­types­bein­gusedasa mar­ket­ing­tool,and­shared his thought­son­whyAun­tJemima was­sucha­suc­cess­ful­saleswoman.

Much­liketheWash­ing­ton Red­skins–orourownA­pache Pizza–sure­lyit’stime for­com­pa­niesto­takea­closer­lookatthe fic­tion­al­stereo­type­sused­tosell their­wares. Iun­der­standthat re­brandingis­ariskyand­costly process,but theis­sue­saround their­prob­lem­at­ic­cha­r­ac­ters are on­ly­go­ing­to­be­comein­creas­ingly height­enedas­peo­ple con­tin­ueto wake­up­tomis­rep­re­sen­ta­tion on pack­ag­ing.

Newspapers in English

Newspapers from Ireland

© PressReader. All rights reserved.