A Tale of Two Toucans
Toucan Sam has been representing Kellogg’s Froot Loops cereal since 1963. (Yes I spell-checked, they are ‘FROOT LOOPS’) Beside’s being Archie Bunker’s favorite cereal, it is a favorite of dentists all over the world because the sugary goodness of the morning breakfast treat. A little known fact – in blind taste tests, very few people can tell the difference between the individual flavors of the loops. The Maya Archaeology Initiative provides educational opportunities and training in Mayan history and culture for Guatemalan young people. Using a locally favorite creature, which has been well known and even documented as long ago as 1815, a ‘Toucan’ bird was selected as the unofficial mascot for the MAI. MAI is associated with Dr. Francisco Estrada-Belli, a world-renowned expert on the Maya, and many other experts on the culture and the area. Background on the ‘MAI Search For A Mascot’: There were other choices, each of which was knocked down – Maya Mouse Peromyscus mayensis (Vladimir Dinets) they felt, was too close to Mickey Mouse, a well-known American rodent owned by the Disney Corporation. The Big Deer Mouse Peromyscus grandis, it was feared, would be too close to both Disney’s claim over mice and deer, thanks to the family film ‘Bambi’, about an orphaned deer. The Guatemala Little Brown Bat Myotis cobanensis could have been thought of as a derivative of DC Comic’s Batman and two local shrews: Cryptotis lacertosus and Cryptotis mam could have been mistaken for Warner Brother’s Tasmanian Devil cartoon character. There were even more types of flowers, plants, even spores and sponges in the area, but was determined that the well known Toucan would be best to help with identifying what they were doing, and would be more helpful in raising funds than a fungi. The non-profit organization never expected a copyright suit from Kellogg’s, who claim that the Toucan too closely resembled thier own Toucan Sam. They also claim that the use of a pryamid in the logo is even more of a violation, because the cartoon spokesbird was drawn in some commercials in the style similar to the location where MAI is based. We at the World of Pop Culture will keep you informed as the tense situation unfolds.