Gee Whillickers!

Politically Correct Plums

One Senator who put her shoulder to the wheel of the renaming crusade explained that she was supporting the cause because: “We’re talking about all kinds of good things that can happen, once we can sell this product as a dried plum!”

Only time will tell what “good things” she might have been referring to or whether a child will one day come running up to his mom after a long swim to show off his dried-plummy fingers.

WARNING: As any good digestive tract will tell you, despite the change, a prune by any other name is still a prune.

Seriously? Yes. If you go to, it will take you to the much lengthier and more image-conscious website


The Pillsbury Doughboy

The Name – In order to promote the Pillsbury line of refrigerated dough, in 1965, Leo Burnett advertising agents became the proud and well-paid parents of the loveable little blob of white dough everybody knows as the Pillsbury Doughboy. However, the miniature chef’s original, official, and now almost urban-sounding name is “Poppin’ Fresh,” the personification of all of the positive qualities of refrigerated dough.

(Doughboy is actually a slang term for American soldiers during World War I.)

The Fame – Within three years, Doughboy achieved an impressive 87 percent recognition factor from the consumer population. His ads have become an indelible part of Americana, featuring animations of the pasty protagonist that invariably concluded with a giggle-inducing poke in the belly. In 1998, our favorite blue-eyed blob received 200 fan letters per week and 1,500 requests for autographed photos—an illustrious achievement for someone who is blatantly fictitious.

Paul Frees, the famous voice-actor and original voice of Poppin’ Fresh.

The Voice – More than fifty actors squeaked their versions of the character in auditions before the famous voice-actor Paul Frees won the job. He was well-known for his Russian-accented and gravelly voiced Boris Badenov from “The Adventures of Rocky and Bullwinkle.” Poppin’ Fresh’s first words were, “Hi! I’m Poppin’ Fresh, the Pillsbury Doughboy,” and then “Nothin’ says lovin’ like somethin’ from the oven, and Pillsbury says it best.”

Today – Wearing only his miniature white chef’s hat and scarf, the loveable 14-ounce, 8 3/4-inch tall, off-white blob of dough has mastered several talents: opera singer, rap artist, rock star, poet, accomplished musician, painter, ballet dancer, skydiver, skater.

For certain, Poppin’ Fresh has proved he is here to stay: in our marketing, our grocery bags and our hearts. Hmm-hmm!

Next Month…

A glossy black orb for a head, this little boy has graced the smooth surfaces of office and school supplies for generations, and has even been made a permanent part of the logo of the company he represents—the Bic Boy.

Gee Whillickers!

“Frosted” Food

In the early 1900s, many people were experimenting with mechanical and chemical methods to preserve food. After years of work on his own process, Clarence Birdseye invented a system that packed food into waxed-cardboard cartons, which were flash-frozen under high pressure, actually locking in their flavor and nutrients. Birdseye also came up with the methods for national distribution, thus making frozen food as we know it a reality and himself a legend.

Clarence Birdseye

’30s freezer display case designed by Birdseye.

When Clarence Birdseye introduced the first frozen food in 1930, there was concern that the word “frozen” would suggest freezer burn and scare away customers. His solution? Calling it “frosted” food.

Then, as today it seems, the meandering path of language was subtly directed by the needs and means of Marketing.

Ad Absurdum!

“Ad Absurdum”—A retrospective of marketing and design that promises to be zany, enlightening or downright unbelievable!

Could it be another regular Rigney Graphics Lunch Meat™ column that we smell? Well, we hope so. Otherwise, please stay out of the breakroom until further notice.

The Battle Creek Health Builder

circa 1930

Ever see one of these? Switch flipped on, jiggling away at some already decidedly jiggly chump of our black and white past.

This ad stresses the importance of keeping fit and extols the virtues of doing so without “wasting time” or expending “effort.” Just “oscillate your way to health”—why bother with that nasty sweat-inducing exercise stuff!

Ayds Vitamin Candy

circa 1940

You bet she’s “Enthusiastic,” She hasn’t eaten anything but vitaminized candy for three days! Add Euphoric, Hallucinating and Palsied to that headline!

Today they have shakes and bars, then they had candy. Ayds Vitamin Candy is a product that bowed off the dazzling stage of Marketing long before it could run into homonymic problems with the contemporary sexually transmitted acronym.

Ayds even ran into legal trouble for, of all things, misleading advertising! For a program that denounced the need for, you guessed it, such activities as dieting and exercising to lose weight.