When I was in Wisconsin Dells' antique shops about a month ago, one of the booths had nothing but railroadiana for sale. His prices were surprisingly inexpensive, so I bought these two little note pads:
I never knew this, but this railroad that was often just dubbed "Santa Fe", was the same railroad as the Atchison, Topeka and Santa Fe line (you know, like in the song). I'm not up on my railroad history enough to decipher the myriad trains that ran on this railroad, but there were a LOT (follow the link through to Wikipedia; they explain it all there).
I'm a big fan of advertising notepads in general, but these really caught my eye for another reason - Santa Fe's mascot. It turns out that this mascot even has a name - Chico (somehow, that makes it even worse).
I'm so torn on this item! On the one hand, I very vaguely remember seeing ads in the early 70s for the Santa Fe line, back when railroads still advertised on TV. I remember liking the cute cartoon, so there's the nostalgic factor for me.
However, whenever I see stuff like this I am incredulous that it ever existed. Most days I don't feel old but when I see stuff like this, I'm reminded that we live in a very different (and in this case, better) world than we did 40 years ago. Can you imagine a mascot like this existing today? No one would even DREAM of even exploring the idea of it! I can't even fathom what would happen at an ad agency if some creative team was brainstorming and said, "I know! How about we feature a little Indian boy in the new Mazola ads? And of course, we'll draw him in some sort of native garb, including a feathered headband."
Either there'd be gales of laughter because of the "joke" he had just told, or there'd be a "stop clowning around" attitude about it. Nope, these two notepads are relics of a bygone era.
Representations of Native Americans still exist in advertising, though! Think about the Land O' Lakes logo, the Atlanta Braves hatchet, the Washington Redskins mascot, many high school teams' mascots, the Jeep Cherokee, Calumet baking powder, Sue Bee honey - why don't we notice these as much? (Here's a great blog post about this very thing.)
I'd love to hear your take on all of this, especially anyone of American Indian/First Nations descent (I am also part American Indian, but I don't know to what degree. If you saw photos of my dad or sister Kerry, you'd see it more). Should we rid our culture of all of these logos in favor of something less offensive? Are they even offensive? Let's discuss!