There once was a time when an animated flamenco dancer blossoming from a plant and using her skirt to slice and dice the ingredients for salsa would've been risque when set against prime time sitcoms and whatnot. After all, who equates slamming chips and salsa with a svelte figure? But these days, it isn't. It's a fair representation of a Latin dance used to sell a cultural-related product. And sure, it's a little sexy as far as cartoons go. But that's totally fine...because flamenco dancing is meant to be passionate, spicy and sexy. It's a fair correlation.
But there are a few things that aren't so sexy (in advertising terms), and frankly, don't need to be sexified to sell. Like salt. It seems the first memorable transition to a souped-up, slimmed-down icon was the Morton's Salt girl who in 1914 was basically a toddler under a too-big umbrella spilling salt in the rain. But by 1968, she morphed five times into a mod, slightly coy teen (perhaps) with an oversize box of salt. Comparing 1956's girl to the 1968 one is like watching Don Draper's mind at work.
How about raisins? The Sun-Maid Raisin girl received a makeover not all that long ago that's been well publicized and criticized and, rightfully so. I'm sure the raisin people were looking for the next big thing this side of the California Raisins, but a CGI Evangeline Lilly lookalike isn't it. The Sun-Maid Raisin girl was fine as a modest, wholesome youngster...someone, presumably, representative of the kiddos packing the snack packs in their brown paper sack lunches every day. Next, we'll see that that she has more freedom to pick grapes if her top is a sports bra because her shirt keeps catching on her DD implants.
And what of Aunt Jemima? This one's a little tricky. While it's totally understandable that for the 100th anniversary of the breakfast icon, Quaker Oats would allow her to shed the "mammy" image and take on a more modern, less controversial appearance--one that couldn't be affiliated with archetypes some consider disparaging or racist. Essentially, that would just require losing the headwrap, but instead, Aunt Jemima also shed around 40 pounds and about 15 years. The aim toward a healthful image is a fine thing (though, let's be honest, she's still on a bottle of syrup and an box of pancake mix), but why does she have to get younger?
But it's not just the ladies. Tony the Tiger got a roided-out chest and it's difficult to say that it's "Greeeeaaaat." The Jolly Green Giant has been lifting weights and was made even more masculine. The Michelin Man and Kool-Aid pitcher have slimmed down to a leaner look.
So what's wrong with updating logos and icons? Nothing at all. But why do they have to get the Dora the Explorer treatment. Why can't little girls have chubby calves and why can't drink pitchers be shaped like um, drink pitchers instead of athletically-toned bottles? Can't a man made of tires find acceptance of his fuller inflated figure? It's weird. It's a little obsessive.
Fortunately that Vlasic stork and Coppertone girl can be counted on--for now--to remain relatively unchanged. Sunbeam girl, are you still OK out there?