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'Sun-Maid girl' makeover sparks
by Brett Michael Dykes
Tuesday, December 1, 2009
In the annals of advertising imagery, few brand symbols are more iconic and
recognizable than the Sun-Maid raisin girl.
Nevertheless, Sun-Maid recently decided to join Betty
Crocker, Aunt Jemima and Mrs. Butterworth's in giving
the female face of their product a substantial makeover
from a young, early 20th-century girl into a buxom,
modern young woman, leading some to say that the newly
made-over raisin girl looks like a Barbie Doll in Amish
Since 1915, the face of Sun-Maid has been Lorraine
Sun-Maid Collett Petersen, who, according to the company's website
, "was discovered drying her black hair curls in the sunny
backyard of her parents' home in Fresno, California." Petersen was then asked to pose for
a watercolor painting holding a basket of grapes while wearing a sunbonnet. In the years
since, the company has tweaked its trademark design occasionally to keep up with the
times, but every variation has always been based on the original pose by Petersen. The
new computer-animated version of the Sun-Maid girl currently featured in television
advertisements is a departure from the classic design that harkened back to a time when
"life was much simpler, more rural, a lot less hectic."
Naturally, the revamped look hasn't gone unnoticed,
rankling both ends of the political spectrum. The blog for
conservative magazine The Weekly Standard noted that
the new Sun-Maid girl looks "as if Julia Roberts decided to
don a red bonnet and start picking grapes," while the
feminist website Jezebel.com remarked that it looks as if
she's had “some implants.”
Though the new look for the raisin girl has been garnering
attention of late, the changes to the 90-year-old icon were actually introduced three years
ago. At the time, Sun-Maid president Barry Kriebel said that the decision to make
changes was inspired by the desire to educate consumers about healthy living choices.
"This is as good a time as any to get on the wave of health and nutrition,'' he said. Kriebel
also noted that he felt the new look was a reasonable modernization, saying "You're not
going to see her dancing or kicking up her heels out in the vineyard, but have her do what
is appropriate for her to do, based on her history but also being a contemporary person
living in the 21st century.''
Additionally, there's been talk that the new Sun-Maid girl might be given a name and
featured in future advertisements doing some of the things modern women typically do,
like going to the gym, shopping at the market, and speaking multiple languages,
particularly languages native to countries where Sun-Maid, the world's largest producer
and processor of raisins and other dried fruits, sells raisins. However, the image on all
Sun-Maid product packaging will remain the same, as the new version will only be
featured in product advertisements.