Thursday, July 19, 2012

Chiquita Banana (1957-1958)

Good morning!

 It's summertime, and a lot of us (or perhaps, I...) might have squeezing into last year's swimsuit on the brain as the heatwave calls us inexorably towards public swimming pools and other recreational bodies of water. I haven't been to the Wave Country all summer and it is a dang shame. One solution to oh-my-God-have-I-really-been-this-bad-about-my-diet comes from an unexpected source-- United Fruit Company's 1957 Chiquita Banana campaign!

Which implores us to: ENJOYABANANA. I can't make this stuff up!

Loaded with potassium (I admit, rather sheepishly, that I don't actually know what potassium is, but it's in vitamins so you probably need it), low on calories and high on vitality, eat a banana already! Did you know a banana only has 88 calories in it? That poor jugheaded unfortunate, who for some reason of perspective is ten times the size of the doctor's scale against which she is mercilessly pitted, is on the right track in her choice of fruit. Seriously, why is she so big?! It's just mean!

But, if you can read the tiny print of the mid-section of the ad, you can see that "weight-losing diets" are only one of the many diet categories to which bananas are suited! "Infant diets", "growing up diets", "vitality diets", and "geriatric diets" are all banana-friendly. Just look at the next ad: 

This "super spaceman" falls under the "growing up diets" category, I think, and why not. His propeller beanie is just too cute, but you'd better keep the weight-reducing girl from the first ad away from those "choconana milkshakes"...she'll be right back to dwarfing the scale again! Le sigh. How can they tempt me with promises of low-calorie treats and then show me "the good stuff", which I think in no way reflects a low calorie count. I wish I'd had "banana funcakes" for breakfast instead of a freakin' Atkins shake...just look how cute!

This might be my favorite of the bunch (haha), for the details on the thumb-faced elderly woman. Sunday hat with flower embellishment? Check. Clip-on bauble earrings? Check. Lace collar? Check. Lorgnette? Oh you know it. I wish I had a lorgnette and sweater clip to match with my demure braided hair, red lipstick, and position behind a desk at a library. What's the point of having a quirky job if you're not dressing the part!

Speaking of dressing the part, see this nurse's cap and blue gown? I understand the practicality of pajama-like scrubs and Crocs when you're dealing with sick people and bodily fluids all day, but I also kind of miss the formality of old school nurse outfits. When my mom was in nursing school in the seventies', her uniform consisted of blue polyester slacks and a matching blue polyester blazer, from what I can remember., and even that was a step down from the starched white dresses of yesteryear. I think on forties' movies where the kid has caught pneumonia from playing in the rain and they're all bundled up in a hospital bed, with a watchful, biddy-like woman, steel-gray hair pinned neatly under her cap, in all white, down to her hose and shoes, telling Dana Andrews they "can't tell yet; we'll have to wait and see." Costuming is important!

Ok, so thus far, you can enjoy, grab, peel, and choose a banana...did you know you can also SIPABANANA?

The text of this ad is just brilliant. I actually love it. "New treat for kids, Mom n' Pop-ular too!" WHERE IS THE GRAMMAR, AD MAN? WHERE IS THE GRAMMAR. "Bananas...wholesome-- and then some!" does make up for the transgressions of the opening adline. Again, you're going to want to eschew the weight-reducing diet angle of this banana campaign if you continue to tempt me with banana cream pie and other luscious, fruit-based desserts. Don't be a meanie!

"Hungry feelin'? Start peelin'!"= another wild day at that ad agency. LORD! Seeing the bananas in the cornflakes reminds me of my grandma, who would always have a bowl of Kelloggs Cornflakes for breakfast and slice a banana into it, exactly as shown here. I was confused as to why a) there was no sugar coated to the cornflakes (we were a "Frosted Cornflakes" household, and I was a poster child for childhood obesity) and b)what are you doing with that banana?! The combination of fruit and cereal seemed insane to me at the time, and the whole idea of dunking a mushy fruit into a cold milk grossed me out. Now, of course, bananas in oatmeal with a little peanut butter is one of my favorite cold weather things-to-have-for-breakfast, but you couldn't tell me anything then. If only I'd had this ad campaign to set me straight!

You might have missed the campaign's inclusion of Chiquita's mascot, the namesake and calypso-dressed fruit herself:

I cannot lie, I think it's HILARIOUS that they remind you that these little ad ditties are "to be sung to the tune of Chiquita Banana". Did you know that jingle first made its debut in 1944? You can read about its introduction and hear the original song here on Chiquita's website (thanks! I love when you google something and the first thing that comes up is a definitive answer to your question!). I enjoy the little Banana Lady's festive garb and flirty expression. What is not to love!

Do you have a banana for breakfast? Are you some wacked-out, bananas-in-cereal person like my grandma or do you eat them in a normal, healthy manner? What're your thoughts on the Rita Hayworth of the fruit world, Miss Chiquita Banana?

I'm out (I need to go look for a grocery store downtown so I can get an 88 calorie banana, stat!); see you tomorrow for Photo Friday!


  1. My parents are both banana-in-cereal people. It was Frosted Flakes or Chex all the way (or sometimes Pops or Rice Krispies). Lord how I hated breakfast when I was a kid, but I am not a fan of cold cereal. I always liked weekend breakfasts best when there were pancakes or doughnuts.

    I've seen some of these ads before in old magazines and they are totally ridiculous! They're so nutritious--just add ice cream, cake or pie! And, yes, you're totally right about nurses' uniforms.

  2. Fantastic post! I love Chiquita Banana. I'm totally a bananas in cereal girl. And bananas on white bread with mayo. Somebody stop me! My Mom and Dad used to tell me that when they first got married, they were very poor and barely scraping by. When they'd go to the grocery store every week, they'd always get Pepsi in glass bottles, bananas and white bread and a bag of chips. That was their treat every week when they got home - a meal of banana sandwiches with chips and Pepsi. I think that's why the banana sandwich is sentimental to me. United Fruit Company was totally missing out by not making a banana sandwich poster!

  3. OHMYGODYTHISISAWSOME. Seriously, these are so much of what I LOVE about old ad campaigns. The colors, the concept, the weirdly stylized illustrations.

    P.S., Freeze some bananas until they're totally hard, then blend them for many minutes in the food processor, until completely smooth. Then eat it -- IT MAGICALLY BECOMES ICE CREAM. Seriously, there's some kind of chemical magic in the texture of bananas, it becomes creamy deliciousness. They should've put THAT recipe in this campaign! ;)

  4. Hi Lisa!
    I'm just popping in from Lidian & Kitchen Retro and let me tell you, I'm hysterical over here! Simply too much!

    Choosing one of these shots was most difficult for my Bananas Take a Bow Board on Pinterest but I had to go with the "thumb faced elderly woman"!

    Thank you so much for sharing...I'm off to find you on Pinterest!

  5. Ha ha ha! This is great! I love it

    And I REALLY want a banana cream pie now!! Thank you also Cammila, I will be trying to make banana ice cream later on!



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