Monday, December 7, 2009

See Sun Maid Girl Do Yoga and Other Makeover Tales

With the makeover of the Sun Maid Raisins girl, I'm looking back at some other makeovers of fictitious spokespeople. For years we were bombarded with Aunt Jemima as fat, benevolent black mammy until Quaker got the message the image offended African Americans. (Knowing this history, among other insults, is why I think the blog name Aunt Jemima's Revenge is so funny.) See Slave in a Box by M.M. Manning.

So, Quaker went from this (lower right) to this (top left):

And here's the one we remember most.

We also saw the Mars company's kindly old black cook or house boy, Uncle Ben of Uncle Ben's rice, go from the kitchen to the front office. Some bloggers gave the company of big fat fail on that one. Carmen Van Kerckhove, writing at BlogHer in 2007 said, "This story is really the epitome of packaging and selling and profiting from blackness.
Basically, they used the likeness of some random black man to represent the real Ben, and went on to make millions and millions of dollars from this brand. And something tells me that neither the maitre d' nor the original Ben ever saw a cent of that fortune. [And by the way, the business unit that produces Uncle Ben's rice is called Masterfoods USA. No comment.]
Yes, Mars is also known as Masterfoods. That's too funny.

But these kinds of changes of black logo faces came about by pressure from ethnic groups. I'm not sure what prompted Sun Maid Raisins to update its raisin girl, especially to something as cold and hideous as a busty CGI image. I guess they think breasts and yoga make her look like she may own the grape farm and that she's not possibly a migrant worker, the same way Uncle Ben now owns his rice fields.

Read Devra's post, "Extreme Makeover: The Sun Maid Raising Girl" at, where she says, "According to the Sun-Maid website, the icon will demonstrate her everywomanliness ..." and then Devra shares a quote about what they think that means, something about yoga and healthy meals.

On that post you'll also see an image posted by HoneyBeast of Betty Crocker's makeovers over the years.


Regina said...

LOL!! Great post! I was unaware that Uncle Ben was now owner and ceo of the rice fields, I missed that memo (probably because I don't eat uncle Ben rice). The raisin girl is crazy looking thanks to the cgi!

Anonymous said...

Okay Nordette,
Did old Aunt Jemima have to have a tooth missing? Seriously!!