It is no secret that the topic of sex is rather more taboo in the US than it is in many other "western" societies. However, I don't think it's ever been fully explored as to why this is the case. I postulate that if you look at another great problem in America, you will see an undeniable connection. That problem is overeating. Those of you among us who are a bit above and beyond the average intelligence here, will already see the connection. Food has been used to replace the normal sexual desire of Americans. The question then remains, how did this happen?
It is a slight connection that seems to mystify or elude most people, since to my knowledge, it has not been fully explored. The elder statesmen of this fine nation who control finances and hence marketing, are prudish puritans in both intent and desire. They have, over time, become furious in what they consider to be a society of "loose morals", and hence did the only thing they could to counteract the situation. The more interesting questions are how do they do this, and where is the proof? I can answer both of those in the same set of examples.
Consider the rise of the television into the American household. During the 40's and 50's, sex was still a rather taboo subject; looked at as unspeakable in polite company. This era was also the true birth of marketing itself. The entire idea of Madison Avenue and its talking heads truly began to take shape during that period. Advertising was fine tuning itself with this new invention, and the mascots of the time were harmless cartoony images. The elder generations with more influence and finances were pleased at this, having come from an arguably more "traditional" and "moral" society. (A subjective term argument I will not get into here.) However, something happened to change their comfort level soon enough, and that something was the 60's.
The 60's brought about two things: the sexual revolution and Twiggy, the first of many uberskinny models. The sexual revolution frightened these Captains of Industry, and the entire idea of Twiggy signaled death to their rapid growth. Her image, in and of itself, suggested a lack of consumption. (As in the actual act of being a consumer, not consumption as an old term for cancer.) This is an ironic feeling for them, as Twiggy's profession was to be a canvas for various consumer goods. They needed some way to battle both of these threats to their comfort and viability in an easy and convincing manner. This is when they began to tighten their grip.
Now, this isn't to say that they removed sex from their sales pitches entirely. Just as any rational human being can understand, sex is a basic human desire, and does in fact sell articles as can be noted in today's ads for everything from deodorant to shoes. Yet they shifted it's focus differently in the food industries and started to change the idea of sex itself. Soon one started to see the marketing of food as a sexual replacement. The idea being, that if you can't get sexual gratification because you can't afford the designer clothes or the personal trainer being flashed at you, then at least you can get your daily pleasure for just 2.99 down at the local burger joint. This change is evident wherever we look.
Take for example the Big Burger Boy, in his early form, and finally a much more recent image. In the original format, the burger boy appears very innocent and childlike. The burger he poses to the potential customer represents fun and a special treat. Like a bauble you'd get for your birthday or maybe the memory of your first pet. These are the psychological images brought to mind by this version of mascot. It is the wholesome image of a welcoming smile. The latter image however, is almost sinister in it's sultry sneer. The burger this time, represents temptation and lust. His over the shoulder gaze looking past some sort of need for comfort to fill the void, and what better filler than his "meat" offered up on a platter from your pallette to your very spirit. His plumpness has been transformed from simple bubbly baby fat, to a rotund personification of desire. The very image that young girls think of in their "Electrical" assumptions of a father.
Consider the kindly old fatherly image of Colonel Sanders? When this inspiring man lived, he seemed grandfatherly and inviting. Even toward the end of his life though, he rejected the way his image was being used by the very company that bought him out. He saw the winds of change coming and didn't like what was coming. Since the poor man's death, his image has been transfered to a cartoony visage which can be modified for whatever draws in and calls upon the subliminal sexual desires of the region. In the US there was a promo featuring him dancing about and rapping in order to appear more youthful and virile, a hip partner and suitable replacement for whatever may be lacking in the department of desire.
Even the Jolly Green Giant, who started as a smiling and lithe tall clay figure, has been transformed into a rippling tower of power. A lean green food stuffing machine for the swooning of your heart AND your stomach, and how dare any woman attempt to resist his delicious peas.
But what of the more feminine mascots? How are these being touted about like vixens to draw upon the poor psyche of the American public? Take for example the Swiss Miss, who started as a simple girl spouting her wares from the cold Mountains. A vision of innocent freshness she was, but now somehow transformed with the addition of the pudding cup. What dirty old man wouldn't want to pull back her covering and dip his spoon into her succulent creamy deliciousness? Relax? Not likely. I don't think that's the intended response at all.
Mrs. Butterworth? I'm not even getting into the obvious representation of a sweet-voiced little vixen full of sticky sweet syrup. I wouldn't patronize you fine people in such a manner.
It's not just mascots that have felt this change. Consider the recent DiGiorno pizza ad, where a gentleman invites a date over for dinner. She mistakes the pizza for one of delivery quality and assumes that the man is inviting her to a threesome with him and the delivery boy. He tries to explain that "it's not delivery, it's DiGiorno", but she slaps him and leaves in a huff. Now, there are several interesting things here. To begin with, the pizza is a suitable third lover? Her mind immediately jumps to an erotic encounter upon the addition of this pizza to their appointed date. Secondly, she leaves him and he is left alone with said pizza. Again, this idea of food as a sexual replacement crops up again. His statement is correct indeed in the end, she didn't deliver, but at least he got the DiGiorno.
Or what of the constant stream of Red Barron Pizza commercials? Where various damsels in distress are saved by this dashing pie wielding debonair pilot. All of their problems and loneliness wiped clean away with the addition of extra cheese and warm thick crust into their mouths, and don't imply one cannot watch at least a dozen food commercials without seeing 10 that end with closeups of steaming food sliding between the lips. If that isn't blatant suggestion, then nothing is.
This is a trend we've seen time and again since the rise of the backlash to the sexual revolution. Unless something is done soon, the American people will not only die of coronary disease, but also of abstinence and loneliness. Their desires will be so met with food that they wouldn't dare to seek anywhere more challenging, not that you'd want the fat bastards to anyway.