Saturday, April 21, 2007

Country Yumkin Lunch Bags

The popularity of Del Monte’s plush Country Yumkins inspired the company to put their likeness on paper lunch bags. These bags could be had by eating even more canned vegetables and sending in the labels. Here is a mint set of bags from 1984 featuring the four original Yumkins:

Of course these bags were too good to use, so they were archived and looked at admiringly over the next 20 years. Not to mention the fact that I didn’t want to make my lunch table friends too envious.

Sunday, April 15, 2007

Del Monte Country Yumkins

In September of 1982 the Del Monte Corporation debuted a new premium campaign now recognized as marketing genius. To encourage the consumption of canned fruits and vegetables, the company created a collection of plush fruit and vegetable characters known as the Country Yumkins. For a mere 50 labels one could acquire Reddie Tomato, Sweetie Pea, Cobbie Corn, or Lushie Peach.

Reddie Tomato (1982, Trudy Corp.)

Sweetie Pea (1982, Trudy Corp.)

Cobbie Corn (1982, Trudy Corp.)

Lushie Peach (1982, Trudy Corp.)

The premium campaign proved a success, and other characters including Juicie Pineapple, Snappie Bean, Precious Pear, and Country Strawberry were released through the early 90s.

Juicie Pineapple (1983, Trudy Corp.)

Snappie Bean

Precious Pear

Country Strawberry

For those who did not appreciate food with eyes, Fluffy Lamb, Brawny Bear, Cocky Crow, and the ineffectual Shoo Shoo Scarecrow were also available.

Fluffy Lamb (1984, Trudy Corp.)

Brawny Bear (1985, R. Dakin & Co.)

Cocky Crow

Shoo Shoo Scarecrow

This campaign was a huge success and is even studied in casebooks of successful marketing strategies including Promotional Marketing by William A. Robinson, Christine Hauri, and Chris Sutherland (search inside for “Del Monte” to read the pages pertaining to the Yumkins). The number of labels required increased with each promotion. Families across America downed hundreds of cans of vegetables just to get these stuffed food characters. Well, at least my family did.

The Yumkins appeared in other incarnations over the years (you will have to wait until December for the Christmas ornaments). And in fact, they have entered the 21st century. Visit the Del Monte web page to color your own Yumkin!

Thursday, April 12, 2007

Mr. Peanut Premiums

Advertising character premiums were once much more common than they are today. Or at least I was much more aware of them. You could send in labels or box tops to get anything from pencils and stickers to puppets and radios. For instance, every package of Planter’s Peanuts offered the opportunity to acquire something bearing Mr. Peanut’s dashing form. Here is the front of the old style Planter’s bag before Standard Brands merged with Nabisco (note the vintage peanut dust):

And the backs of three bags each feature a different Mr. Peanut item like foam flyers, plastic drinking cups, and plastic banks in your choice of colors:

I chose to save my bags, instead, for the stuffed Mr. Peanut shown below:

Some companies, including Planter's, still offer merchandise bearing their characters' images, but sadly, it's just something you buy now, not a premium, a reward for being a loyal customer.

Wednesday, April 4, 2007

Dress Your Family in Oranges and Apples

Why settle for drab clothing when you can adorn your wardrobe with smiling fruit? This mint set of three happy fruit patches dates from 1973.

And the back for posterity:
Fruit faces are obviously not just for children. Make a fashion statement with food with eyes!