7 Iconic Female Food Mascots Everyone Should Know

In honor of Women’s History Month, I, a woman, decided to pitch an article to my editor that I didn’t anticipate would lead me down a deeply upsetting rabbit hole. “What about a fun little write-up about iconic female food mascots?” I asked, my voice hopeful, my heart naive. The idea was that I would pick a handful of female grocery product mascots that had interesting narratives behind their creation, or some kind of notable cultural impact. And while that absolutely holds true for the female food mascots listed below, unfortunately, there weren’t many to pick from. These women are iconic simply for existing in the first place. 

Seriously, I found only one female cereal mascot from a major cereal brand in the US—that’s rough, you guys. (And no, Disney princesses do not count.) If you want to find more female cereal mascots, you have to look for smaller brands, like OffLimits, who have inclusivity built into their mission statement. So here’s a little disclaimer: If you like feminist rants, stick around, see what happens. But if reading feminist rants will make you write me meninist rants in retort, maybe skip this article, okay? No hate. We’re all victims of the patriarchy here. Now, let’s get into it. Here are the stories of seven totally amazing female food mascots. 

Miss Chiquita

The Chiquita banana was the world’s very first branded fruit—which, naturally, makes their mascot, Miss Chiquita, an icon. Introduced in 1944, Miss Chiquita (an anthropomorphic banana wearing a bowl of non-anthropomorphic fruit on her head) was modeled after Hollywood’s Carmen Miranda, a Brazilian artist, actress, and dancer. In 1987, Miss Chiquita was transformed from a personified banana into a real woman by artist Oscar Grillo (the creator of the Pink Panther). “The change reflected the affectionate image the public had of Miss Chiquita as a real person,” according to Chiquita Bananas. According to my BS meter, that’s a very innocent way of saying, “We sexualized a banana for forty years, and we thought it was time to change things up a bit.” Is it the worst crime Chiquita Bananas could have committed? Nope. That would be conspiring with the CIA to successfully overthrow the Guatemalan government. (If you’re curious, you can read more about that here.) 

You probably wouldn’t call her modern design particularly sexual, but in the ‘40s, a sashaying banana inspired by an actress popularly nicknamed “The Brazillian Bombshell” was innovative for its time. They were leaning heavily into the stereotype of “sexy exoticism” as a means to sell foreign fruit. And clearly, given the way most people to this day can’t picture a grocery store banana without a little blue Chiquita sticker, it worked.

Purple M&M

Who knew making another female M&M in the modern year of 2022 would spark such contentious outrage online? I mean, was the jingle a bit cringe? Sure, but that’s the Purple M&M’s defining trait: She’s awkward! (Right? That’s like part of her thing, isn’t it? Or was it self-awareness? Or confidence? I can’t remember…)  

Honestly, Purple M&M’s whole schtick is still a bit of a mystery to me. Her campaign threw around the buzzword “authenticity” a lot, but I’m not sure what that really means, coming from an M&M. I just couldn’t figure out what they were trying to do with her. And when I found myself getting in the weeds with this, I remembered Purple’s slogan: “I’m just gonna be me.” In a way, that slogan is a big F-you to critics on both sides of the culture war. She’s just going to be her. You can like it, or not. 

Miller High Life’s The Girl in the Moon

If I was a food mascot, I would absolutely want my name to be “The Girl in the Moon.” She’s so mysterious, perched on a crescent moon with a red dress and big, pointy hat, watching the stars. The inspiration for her character has a few different origin stories. My favorite is the advertising executive who got lost in the woods and hallucinated a girl sitting on the moon who guided him back to safety. If you’re thinking, “Sounds like a male fantasy to me,” I get it, but look: as my Sporked colleague Jordan Myrick pointed out, she’s got “witchy vibes,” and historically speaking, men hate witches. So basically, I’m totally obsessed with her, and you should be too. 

Sun-Maid Raisin Girl

The original “Sun-Maid Girl” has kind of an adorable story. Rather than being inspired by a real person, she actually was a real person, red sunbonnet and all. Her name was Lorraine Collett, and she was photographed by artist Fanny Scafford (another iconic woman, yay!) while handing out raisin samples on behalf of the California Associated Raisin Company at an expo in San Francisco. Her image became synonymous with Sun-Maid’s presence at the expo, and Collett continued as their symbol for decades after. She made special appearances at Sun-Maid events up until her passing at age 90. If that’s not true icon behavior, I don’t know what is! 

Carmella Creeper 

From my research, Carmella Creeper, the green-skinned zombie General Mills launched for their Halloween-inspired caramel apple cereal just last year, is the only female cereal mascot created by major cereal brands in the U.S. If you’re thinking, uh oh, sounds like this writer is about to go on another feminist rant, well you’ve got good instincts!!! Because I really want to!! But … I won’t. What am I going to say that hasn’t already been said? That cereal companies are afraid to make female mascots because they won’t sell as many boxes? As they should be, since research clearly shows that some consumers won’t buy products that remind them of femininity? You know this. I know this. Let’s get back to the point. 

I love Carmella Creeper. She’s a freaking zombie. She’s a goth girl and a DJ, okay? A disc! Jockey! And you know what? That’s iconic. 

Miss Swiss

Decades ago, the comforting instant hot chocolate mix Swiss Miss had its own female mascot: Miss Swiss. Cute name, right? She made her official debut in 1972 in a nice and wholesome but also downright frightening claymation commercial. (Iconic.) Her catchphrase, “Give a little yodel!” is my favorite slogan on this list, and I’ll be starting a petition to adopt it into the modern lexicon. Of course, Swiss Miss discontinued Miss Swiss in the late ‘80s, but still, no one can deny she was beloved by consumers. She actually returned to packaging in 2012 for limited-edition vintage canisters. 

Clabber Girl

Clabber Girl is a brand of gluten-free baking powder, and also the name of the girl pictured on the container. Dating back to 1899, Clabber Girl may just be the original GF girlie, which, of course, gives her automatic icon status. And now I have to apologize to the GF girlies, because there is, unfortunately, not much to say about Clabber Girl—she’s just a sketch of a girl holding a tray of (I presume) gluten-free baked goods. No one has any real info on what inspired this sketch. I even hesitated to include her, since they didn’t even give her a name! She’s an example of how invisible girls and women have always been in advertising, unless companies are commodifying female sexuality. Once you do that, apparently then you can sell a bajillion bananas and shake hands with the CIA. 

About the Author

Ariana Losch

Ariana Losch is a Sporked contributor, webcomic writer, java junkie, and bad TV enthusiast. She only ever feels at peace laying out on a beach like a kebab, roasting in the sun; sadly, she can never move back to Florida, her home state, because there simply isn’t enough good Mediterranean food. You can find her overstaying her welcome at just about every LA coffee shop, working on a screenplay and avoiding all eye contact. (She is embarrassed to be there, please leave her alone.)

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