Wednesday, September 11, 2019

Quaker Oats quietly touches up its iconic oatmeal man

Out with the old, left, in with the new and slightly different. 

     Maybe because we’re both gents from Ohio who ended up working in downtown Chicago. Maybe because we’re men given to chubbiness and self-promotion.
     But the Quaker Oats Man is on my radar. Always has been. So when my wife came home with a container, the moment it was removed from the Sunset Foods bag I noticed something amiss. I set the old and new cylinders together on the counter.
     The new Quaker Oats man is different. Windblown, for starters, his white neckerchief flapping in the breeze. His complexion paler, with rosier cheeks; his predecessor had a uniform, peach quality. The image a little smaller, his face a little thinner too, more of a distinct chin. Behind him, a faint image of farmland has been worked into the deep red background.
     Could I have missed the big announcement? Online, there was nothing but a brief mention in a trade magazine earlier this year. I found more hoopla from 2012, when they last fiddled with his image. Trimming five pounds, according to Quaker, which let slip that in-house, they call him “Larry.”
     “Larry”?
     Seven years is awfully quick to redo Quaker’s icon. Calls and emails were fired at Quaker — headquartered in Chicago — and PepsiCo, which bought the brand in 2001.
      While waiting, I started to dig, beginning with Quakers. Formed in Britain in the 1650s, George Fox called his sect “The Society of Friends.” They immediately got in trouble for failing to bow and scrape to officialdom, and were beaten and jailed. After Fox told a judge he should “tremble at the word of the Lord” the judge called him a “quaker,” derisively. Eventually the sect started calling themselves Quakers — a kind of defiant rebranding, the way gay people started proudly referring to themselves as “queer.”


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8 comments:

  1. I like oatmeal as much as Neil does, if not more, but I haven't bought Quaker for decades. If there's one product where the store brand is guaranteed to be indistinguishable from the national brand, it's oatmeal, which is, after all, just rolled oats. I just don't feel like paying 50 cents or a dollar more for Quaker, no matter how picturesque the box or the story behind it.

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  2. I occasionally have oat meal for breakfast, but I've gotten used to making brown rice in an automatic rice cooker timed to finish cooking at 6:00 a.m. When I get back from running around the block, I dump my rice in a bowl of berries of some sort (frozen work best, as they never spoil), add skim milk and a few dollops of yogurt and breakfast is ready. My attempts to cook oat meal in the rice cooker have been spectacularly unsuccessful. Cooking it on the stove in the morning takes 10, 15 minutes to be ready. Cooking it in the evening seems more efficient, but then the oat meal is pretty dry and gloppy after sitting in the fridge over night. Generic Cheerios are okey too, but my brown rice, fruit and yogurt breakfast can't be beat for cheapness, convenience and taste...in my opinion. I'm sure a grapefruit would be nice, but think I'd need eggs and bacon and a bagel to complete that breakfast.

    john

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    1. Gotta be aware of arsenic in brown rice. You might want to do some research if you eat it often.

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  3. Even though that hardy fellow is outdoors in the wind, like a true farmer (outstanding in his field) he kinda creeps me out.

    But thanks for the instant oats memory!

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  4. I prefer it in cookie form. Defeats the healthful purpose, I suppose.

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    1. Throw some raisins in those cookies, fruit and oats, totally healthy ;)

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  5. I agree with heydave. The original Larry looks so trustworthy, kind, innocent. The new Larry, not so much.
    I think it’s the scarf, brazenly flapping in the wind.

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    1. Yeah, definitely the scarf that makes him look more like an arrogant, patronizing landlord...and less like a charitable humanitarian.

      The new face looks more disdainful and condescending. The old face strongly resembled that of a long-gone singer named Perry Como.

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