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There will be no Winter Olympics this year. There will be this old Lake Placid Chiquita Banana stickers ad, though.

December 30, 2012


The 1980 Lake Placid Olympics were held in my general neck of the woods (literally). These were the last modest Olympics, before the scope of staging such an event grew out of control, and a smallish resort town in a region of other small towns could afford to hold them. (Now every four years they threaten to consume an entire nation’s economy.) I used to play high school baseball against Lake Placid’s squad in the shadow of the unlit torch and never stopped loving the isolated majesty of the ski jumps, but I was too young when they took place to remember them, so I’m bereft of any tales about where I was when the Miracle on Ice happened. WAH.

Even more vexing than missing memories, I wasn’t old enough to collect these special Chiquita stickers designed for those games. And I like bananas, so completing a set would have been no great struggle, I assure you. Such an assemblage would certainly today fetch upwards of $.10 on eBay. You could even get yourself a little collector sheet to stick them on, which makes them kind of like the Marvel Stamps from the 1970s, the removal of which scarred for life any number of desirable comic books. No bananas were harmed in the assembly of this collection.

Question: Did companies have to license this Olympic stuff back then? I see no indicia on this ad, and definitely not the legalese that weighs down more modern marketing. Now if you even mention “Olympics” without paying money to the notoriously corrupt IOC, a team of sharp, Europeany lawyers swoops down to pounce. And God help you if you link five rings together. Was Chiquita a full-fledged partner, or were they functioning in the Wild West of Olympics licensing? I have no idea.

Incidentally, we’ve gone far afield when it comes to Olympics mascots, at least since the days of the understated raccoon you see above. First there was Whatizit/Izzy, the much-maligned frontman for Atlanta in 1996, and then the hideous monstrosities known as Wenlock and Mandeville, the mascots for this past London Olympics. Those latter clowns looked to be lifted from an early-70s Jon Pertwee Doctor Who episode.

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