Welcome to the Chubby Chatterbox Newsletter, where I’ll be posting favorites from the Chubby Chatterbox archives. In addition, my complete thriller Return of the Mary Celeste will soon be serialized here for those who have asked for something beyond a regular post.

My novel is based on a true event, arguably the greatest maritime mystery of all time. In 1872 the crew and passengers of Boston brigantine Mary Celeste abandoned their seaworthy ship and its valuable cargo, vanishing in the middle of the Atlantic. Speculation over their fate has never abated. History records that after the Mary Celeste tragedy no one from that fateful voyage was ever seen again. History is about to be rewritten…

Return of the Mary Celeste


Tragedy struck the brigantine Mary Celeste on the morning of November 25, 1872. The hourly log was later recovered from the deserted vessel; At 8 a.m. the last notation was made. By 9 a.m. no one remained aboard to chalk the next entry.

Something had terrified Captain Benjamin Briggs and his crew, prompting the seasoned skipper to make a decision certain to affect not only himself, his ship and crew, but his family as well—his wife and two year old daughter were aboard Mary Celeste. Much ink has been spilled in fanciful and scientific attempts to explain the calamity that engulfed this perfectly seaworthy ship, yet all that is known for certain is this: in a matter of minutes Captain Briggs became convinced that the only way to save their lives was by ordering everyone into a hastily launched lifeboat. By giving the order to abandon ship, he also launched the greatest of all maritime mysteries.

On December 5, 1872, a month after leaving New York Harbor, Mary Celeste was found drifting on a calm and empty sea. The ship was in fine condition, perfectly intact with valuable cargo safely stored in her hold, but the crew and passengers had vanished. None were ever seen again.

Until now….

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Logos on Treadmills

January 19, 2015

When I was a chubby kid, I wished everyone was overweight so I wouldn’t stand out so much. An old Chinese saying cautions: Be careful what you wish for because you just might get it. Recently, it seems I’ve gotten my way. America is fattening up with obesity becoming an epidemic, and in spite of my youthful wish I’m not happy about my fellow citizens experiencing high blood pressure, clogged arteries, gout and diabetes.


However, the inability to trim down isn’t universal in our culture. In fact, one aspect of society has never looked better. I’m referring to advertising logos, which have lately been slimming down considerably. You might not have noticed, but while you’ve been gobbling up their products, some of your favorite people have been put on diets.



Check out Colonel Sanders, whose face has sold tons of delicious but greasy and heart stopping chicken. Madison Avenue has narrowed Sanders’ chubby face and rolled back the clock. Not only has his face slimmed down, but he now looks younger and more vibrant. Color now covers the face, removing the deathly pallor of someone who has choked to death on a chicken bone.



The Quaker Oats man still engages us with a warm and contagious smile, suggesting all things good and wholesome. But to eliminate any notion of this product being fattening, Mr. Quaker has been put on a diet; today he’s thirty pounds thinner than he was a few years ago. Notice the narrow face and elimination of anything hinting at a double chin.








The Pillsbury Doughboy has gone through a similar metamorphosis. As someone who has been referred to as a Pillsbury Doughboy on more than one occasion, I can sympathize with the ridicule this fellow must have endured. I have no idea how many hours he spent on a treadmill, but he’s lost his puffy cheeks and protruding belly. All that remains for him to be a babe magnet is to work on his tan.






Perhaps the greatest transformation is Aunt Jemima, who’s been delivering Dee-licious pancakes and syrups since 1889. Gone is any reference to Mammy from Gone With the Wind. Aunt Jemima now has a smart new hairstyle, fashionable earrings, and in addition to having a lighter complexion (?) she’s become remarkably thinner—to dispel any thought that steaming stacks of pancakes dripping with butter and syrup might affect your health or waistline.







While it troubles me that my fellow Americans are traumatizing their bathroom scales, I take small comfort in knowing that my favorite logos are avoiding diabetes and other weight related maladies. Too bad a Madison Avenue advertising agency can’t make me thinner.  




wow. pretty cool observation, cc. trying to sneak it past us foolhardy consumers. :)
By: TexWisGirl on January 19, 2015
Very interesting! As if changing the image is going to change the result!
By: The Broad on January 19, 2015
I would never have even noticed. Aunt Jamima is now a hottie, who knew? Sugar is poisen and additcing. I am trying to ween myself of this addicting poison that is in most processed foods. So far down 10pounds which is like a pimple on an elephants butt,.
By: Cranky on January 19, 2015
I hadn't noticed the transformation of these iconic figures. Although I have heard plenty on television regarding America's (Canada included) rampant surge around the waistline and the diseases that accompany the fast food and processed food lifestyle.
By: Daniel LaFrance on January 19, 2015
I can't believe Aunt Jemima!!
By: fishducky on January 19, 2015
Amazing and glad you noticed! This is worthy of a larger publishable article. I do not like how advertising lies to us to get our money, but I am way too naive.
By: Tabor on January 19, 2015
Can you imagine the Geico Gecko on power lifting supplements? That little guy needs to add some of what the Col. and Doughboy lost. BTW-I met Harlan Sanders when I was a kid. He was in Ft Wayne touting his new recipe at the famous Halls restaurant. They eventually became a franchisee. On this day he was there to chat with customers, complete with his Kentucky Col. outfit. On a family trip a few years later we made a point to stop at his original store/restaurant. The new Col. probably has a Twitter account too!
By: Tom Cochrun on January 19, 2015
I'd never realized they were getting skinnier until you pointed it out. Maybe they are trying to fool people and convince them they won't get fat eating those foods?
By: Alex J. Cavanaugh on January 19, 2015
How interesting! I had not noticed, but now I'm annoyed. Why do they get to be slimmer when I'm certainly not?
By: The Bug on January 19, 2015
Yes, i've noticed the logos changing. They have to update, i know, but sometimes i think they go too far.
By: mimi on January 19, 2015
I love the deathly pallor of someone who has choked to death on a chicken bone. I hadn't noticed any of these changes. I'm pretty good at ignoring advertising. Love, Janie
By: Janie Junebug on January 19, 2015
I prefer the older depictions. It has nothing to do with slimming down. the new ones are fuzzy.
By: red on January 19, 2015
Can't wait to go to town now to check out the Col. I have noticed none of these. Good eye Stephen.
By: Akansas Patti on January 19, 2015
Are you sure that second Jemima isn't the first one's great-granddaughter?
By: Catalyst on January 19, 2015
Wait a minute...Mr. Quaker SHOULD be thinner after all these years of eating oatmeal! Interesting stuff...I hadn't noticed any of this.
By: Pixel Peeper on January 19, 2015
Et tu, Doughboy?
By: Val on January 19, 2015
haha, thats pretty great. I wonder how that Little Debbie and Sunbeam girl stayed thin for all those years. Maybe they're on to something? ;) Great post!!
By: Hey Monkey Butt on January 19, 2015
I thought you were going to go further with this thought and speak of the slimming down of the packages that we can to know and expect. Got a box of Cherrios before Christmas and I swear, I think that they had a hard time coming out of the box any way but single file. The box was incredible thin. Love this posting. Oma Linda
By: Oma Linda on January 20, 2015
wow- actually really interesting how Madison Ave put all these happy round faces on a diet. That is probably a subliminal message that it is "OK" to eat these products.....cheers!
By: Kathe W. on January 20, 2015
Wow, great comparisons. I don't even pay attention to this stuff. Now that I know someone is looking out for it, I'll not worry about it any more! Lol..
By: Bouncin Barb on January 20, 2015
Aunt Jemima looks freaky and botox-injected. The Pillsbury Doughboy is most troubly, though. There's no dough in him. He's not cute anymore. Interesting, entertaining post, Stephen. I never would've taken notice otherwise.
By: Robyn Engel on January 20, 2015
I would never have guessed all of this was taking place, had you not brought it to my attention, Stephen. Obesity is a serious epidemic that took the life of a friend of mine, age 36. Perhaps your post will raise awareness of watching out intake and burning some calories with constructive workouts, many custom designed.
By: Michael Manning on January 20, 2015
This so interesting!
By: John on January 21, 2015
my mum has books at home that date back far enough to have adverts on the back that tell you how to put on lots of healthy pounds
By: don\'t feed the pixies on January 21, 2015
Wow- I haven't noticed, but it makes sense that this would be a good marketing tool- oh those ad dudes are mighty clever.
By: Terri B on January 21, 2015
I am always impressed with your artist's eye for many reasons. It takes an artist to notice these changes through the years. Now you have me wondering.. who else might be slimmer and younger through advertising though the years?
By: Hilary on January 22, 2015
I spent MY entire childhood wishing I didn't look so much like a bean pole. You can't win. What a wonderful post. I knew how Aunt Jemima had changed (although I hadn't seen the most recent version in which her neck looks like it couldn't possibly support her -- or anyone's -- head). But I hadn't been aware of how much the others had changed. Very revealing!
By: Mitchell is Moving on January 23, 2015

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