Poppin’ Fresh in a pink dress

(It starts with dough and cross-dressing and eventually touches on several sexy topics. So: definitely racy, but probably not enough to frighten the horses in the street.)

Today’s Rhymes With Orange portrays the kinky side of the Pillsbury Doughboy, Poppin’ Fresh (the advertising icon and mascot of the Pillsbury Company):


The Doughboy cross-dressing in an adorable pink skirt — a fluted cupcake liner, from the set on the kitchen counter.

Now: some remarks on cupcakes; a note on sexual undercurrents in the Poppin’ Fresh ads; and extensive discussion of sentient, speaking figures (often anthropomorphic, as here) in advertising, cartoons, or fictions of other kinds, figures that are in fact foodstuffs.

Cupcakes. From Wikipedia:

A cupcake (also British English: fairy cake; Hiberno English: bun; Australian English: fairy cake or patty cake) is a small cake designed to serve one person, which may be baked in a small thin paper or aluminum cup. As with larger cakes, icing and other cake decorations, such as candy, may be applied.

… Cupcakes are usually baked in muffin tins. These pans are most often made from metal, with or without a non-stick surface, and generally have six or twelve depressions or “cups”.

… Individual patty cases, or cupcake liners, may be used in baking. These are typically round sheets of thin paper pressed into a round, fluted cup shape.


Frosted chocolate cupcakes with sprinkles, in their fluted cases

The British and Australian term fairy cake introduces a potential ambiguity with sexual content. My 11/24/14 posting on “fairy X” distinguishes at least four senses of fairy in fairy X expressions:

fairy ‘associated with fairies, the magical beings’ (as in a fairy ring of mushrooms)
fairy ‘effeminate or homosexual man’ (derogatory, like pansy, fruit, fag, etc.)
fairy ‘small or delicate’ (as in fairy shrimp and fairy cake)
fairy ‘perverse’ (as in fairy chess)

In addition, cupcake itself has sexual uses. From GDoS:

1 (US) an attractive young woman; also an affectionate term of address [1st cite 1939, from Damon Runyan]

3 (US gay) a young homosexual man [esp. a passive one; 1st cite 1972 in Rodgers’s Queens’ Vernacular, indicating earlier use; in my experience, as an address term used affectionately by queers to queers and derogatorily by straights to queers or despised straight guys (if I call you cupcake, it means I think you’re cute; if a straight cop calls you cupcake, he’s calling you a fag or demeaning you by comparing you to a woman)]

4 (US gay) in pl., buttocks, esp. when tight, firm and small [metaphorical; 1st cite 1971]

So we get a possible penumbra of queerness and/or effeminacy (probably not intended by Hilary Price, the cartoonist) surrounding the straightforward kinkiness of the cartoon in #1.

Sexual undercurrents in Poppin’ Fresh ads. As I noted in a 8/26/15 posting on “Nothing says A like B”, the Poppin’ Fresh character (a talking anthropomorphic — and male — creature of dough) comes along with the (rhyming) slogan

Nothin’ says lovin’ like something from the oven

which explicitly introduces love — that is, deep affection — into the ads, but also suggests loving  in the sense of making love to, having sex with. And then there’s the oven image, evoking the hot core of the body, especially the female body. Whatever the adwriters’ conscious intentions were, they certainly managed to introduce sexual undercurrents.

(The Doughboy ads also featured a human finger poking Poppin’ Fresh affectionately in the belly, making him laugh: some tickle play. You can watch one here (from the 1960s) — complete with the slogan.)

Eating my kind. Eat me! Poppin’ Fresh is both a hunk of dough and a sentient, talking humanoid. Hawking dough in the BBCCM — bread / biscuit / cake / cookie / muffin — domain (which has no ordinary-language label), completely prepared but not baked, sold in refrigerated containers so that you can then bake the dough at home, thereby getting just-baked foodstuffs with a minimum of work and fuss.

Poppin’ Fresh doesn’t eat any of these finished products himself — that would smack of cannibalism — nor does he offer himself to be eaten — that would be like offering himself for physical abuse. But both of these lines have been crossed by other fictional sentient creatures, some of whom eat the foodstuffs of which they are made (Eating my kind), some of whom offer themselves to be eaten as food (Eat me!).

[Digression on two verbs eat. So far, it’s all been about the food verb eat (roughly ‘consume as food by mouth’). But we’re working up to creatures that cry out Eat me!, using the food verb but suggesting the slang sexual verb eat (of metaphorical origin: it all has to do with using your mouth). From GDoS:

to perform hetero- or homosexual fellatio or more usu. cunnilingus [first cite 1888-94 in My Secret Life] [or analingus, first cite 2000]

In gay contexts, sexual eat is a rough synonym of sexual suck, but is (for some speakers) somewhat more restricted in its syntax. Suck and eat both take the full range of direct objects referring to a penis:

I sucked / ate his (hot) cock / (big) dick / (thick) meat; the biggest one I ever sucked / ate; Suck / eat that monster! I love to suck / eat cock / dick  …

Suck is also freely usable with direct objects referring to a man (understood as actually referring, metonymically, to that man’s penis):

I sucked him enthusiastically; the hottest guy I ever sucked; Suck my buddy! …

But many speakers are reluctant to use eat this way, and examples like the following seem to be rare:

I ate him enthusiastically; the hottest guy I ever ate; Eat my buddy! …

A striking exception here is is the imperative Eat me!, which is usable, and common, either as a true imperative (‘Suck my cock!’) or as a dismissive insult (very roughly, ‘Fuck off!’).]

On to Eating my kind examples, notably Mrs. Potato Head, taken unawares by her husband while she’s secretly snacking on Lay’s Potato Chips. Still shot:


“But you’re a potato!” he cries out in dismay. Well, they are potatoes. And they’re also plastic children’s toys (on which, see #2 in this posting of mine). And humanoid characters in an advertising drama, with speaking (and eating) roles. In the end, they agree that Lay’s Potato Chips are too good to resist. You can watch the whole ad here.

And then, Eat me! Starting from this entry on the TV Tropes site, “Let’s Meet the Meat”:

Does the sign include an illustration or mascot? Drawings of plates of food or ribs are okay, though not great. Pig mascots are good; smiling anthropomorphic pigs are even better. Is the pig surrounded by flames? If so, it should look happy about the situation. Best of all is an anthropomorphic pig eating ribs. Such a sign says, “Our food is so good that pigs will commit cannibalism to enjoy it.”
— Stephen Granade, Choosing A Barbeque Restaurant

There is a curious phenomenon in commercials in which edible animals or the post-prepared food and drink is given intelligence and the power of speech. And it wants humans to eat it. Or at least, others of its kind.

The title comes from the Dish of the Day sequence in Douglas Adams’ The Restaurant at the End of the Universe [1980, book 2 in the Hitchhikers’ Guide series].

Background from Wikipedia:

[Zaphod, Trillian, Arthur, and Ford] escape from Zarniwoop by asking to be transported to the nearest restaurant. Milliways, the Restaurant at the End of the Universe, is the nearest restaurant in space but not time. They are transported there “five hundred and seventy-six thousand million years” into the future. Marvin [the Paranoid Android] is left stranded here for this incredibly vast amount of time parking diners’ spaceships while waiting for the humans to return. After the meal …

Detail from the Milliways wiki:

Among the items on the menu were the very obliging Ameglion Major Cow and the somewhat less obliging vegetables in a green salad. Many cuts of the Ameglion Major Cow were available, such as shoulder braised in white wine sauce, grain fed rump, casserole, liver and steaks.

You can watch the Ameglion Major Cow episode (from tv) here.Text from the book:

The waiter approached.

‘Would you like to see the menu?’ he said, ‘or would you like meet the Dish of the Day?’

‘Huh?’ said Ford.

‘Huh?’ said Arthur.

‘Huh?’ said Trillian.

‘That’s cool,’ said Zaphod, ‘we’ll meet the meat.’

… A large dairy animal approached Zaphod Beeblebrox’s table, a large fat meaty quadruped of the bovine type with large watery eyes, small horns and what might almost have been an ingratiating smile on its lips.

‘Good evening’, it lowed and sat back heavily on its haunches, ‘I am the main Dish of the Day. May I interest you in the parts of my body?’

It harrumphed and gurgled a bit, wriggled its hind quarters in to a more comfortable position and gazed peacefully at them.

Its gaze was met by looks of startled bewilderment from Arthur and Trillian, a resigned shrug from Ford Prefect and naked hunger from Zaphod Beeblebrox.

‘Something off the shoulder perhaps?’ suggested the animal, ‘Braised in a white wine sauce?’

‘Er, your shoulder?’ said Arthur in a horrified whisper.

‘But naturally my shoulder, sir,’ mooed the animal contentedly, ‘nobody else’s is mine to offer.’

Zaphod leapt to his feet and started prodding and feeling the animal’s shoulder appreciatively.

‘Or the rump is very good,’ murmured the animal. ‘I’ve been exercising it and eating plenty of grain, so there’s a lot of good meat there.’

It gave a mellow grunt, gurgled again and started to chew the cud. It swallowed the cud again.

‘Or a casserole of me perhaps?’ it added.

‘You mean this animal actually wants us to eat it?’ whispered Trillian to Ford.

‘Me?’ said Ford, with a glazed look in his eyes, ‘I don’t mean anything.’

‘That’s absolutely horrible,’ exclaimed Arthur, ‘the most revolting thing I’ve ever heard.’

‘What’s the problem Earthman?’ said Zaphod, now transfering his attention to the animal’s enormous rump.

‘I just don’t want to eat an animal that’s standing there inviting me to,’ said Arthur, ‘It’s heartless.’

‘Better than eating an animal that doesn’t want to be eaten,’ said Zaphod.

‘That’s not the point,’ Arthur protested. Then he thought about it for a moment. ‘Alright,’ he said, ‘maybe it is the point. I don’t care, I’m not going to think about it now. I’ll just … er … I think I’ll just have a green salad,’ he muttered.

‘May I urge you to consider my liver?’ asked the animal, ‘it must be very rich and tender by now, I’ve been force-feeding myself for months.’

‘A green salad,’ said Arthur emphatically.

‘A green salad?’ said the animal, rolling his eyes disapprovingly at Arthur.

‘Are you going to tell me,’ said Arthur, ‘that I shouldn’t have green salad?’

‘Well,’ said the animal, ‘I know many vegetables that are very clear on that point. Which is why it was eventually decided to cut through the whoile tangled problem and breed

an animal that actually wanted to be eaten and was capable of saying so clearly and distinctly. And here I am.’

Bonus. A French ad for saucissons that goes one step further and has the pig actually carving the sausages out of its body to supply the customers:


Yes, I know. Trying to analyze what’s going on here will just make your head hurt.

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