Sunday, August 16, 2009

Ode to the Plastic Pink Flamingo

This weekend,while at my parents house celebrating my Father's birthday, I noticed the plastic pink creature in their garden (It was a joke gift my brother had given to my mom a few years back). It got me wondering about the fascination people have for this American icon. The story I found to be very interesting, so I thought I would share it with you!

Love them or hate them, the plastic pink flamingo is an American icon that is here to stay. This easily recognized piece of lawn art began its history in 1957, when they were first created by Don Featherstone (fitting name, Huh?) of Union Products in Leominster, Massachusetts."Phoenicoptertis rubber plasticus"; a new avian species otherwise known as... The Plastic Pink Flamingo! He used photographs from a National Geographic for his design. The original design called for detailed wooden legs, but they proved to be too costly and were replaced by the metal ones still seen today.

The late 1950’s just happened to be perfect timing for the flamingo. America was moving to the suburbs. Industry was convincing America that a natural lawn was one that was mowed and treated with chemicals. And, every lawn needed a lawn ornament! Pink was the hot color...from refrigerators to cadillacs! The pink flamingo stood for two things, wealth and pizzazz. Anyone who could afford to vacation in Florida had one! And so the frenzy began!

The 1960’s were not as friendly to the pink flamingo. There was a rebellion against everything man made. It was a time to go back to nature. The plastic flamingo quickly became the prototype of bad taste and anti-nature.

By 1970, even Sears had removed the pink-feathered bird from its catalog. It looked like our fake-feathered friend’s days were numbered. But time was on this bird's side. Some people just love to do things that annoy people. You know: If you are not supposed to do something, you do it just to annoy others. If pink flamingos were the ultimate in bad taste, then people were sure to place them on their lawn to bug their neighbors. And they did so in great numbers.

In 198o's, Miami Vice kicked the sales of pink flamingos into full throttle and today they are sold for just about every purpose. They are purchased for use as wedding decorations, housewarming gifts, and as replacements for reindeer at Christmas time. Some people actually even travel with their pink flamingos. The plastic birds go camping, hiking, skiing, and mountain biking! Entire web sites are devoted to the travels of these artificial creatures.

Would I put pink flamingos in my garden? No.... Never. Okay..okay....I did, once! Then I decided they're too tacky and plasticky for my taste. But I have to admit, when I see them in other people's gardens or lawns, they make me smile. Their sheer absurdness amuses me I guess. (But please, people, keep them on your own side of the :) )

I have a funny feeling we ALL have a personal story to share about these "Pink Embassadors" of the yard!
What's your story? We could all use a smile, so share it!


carlos said...

Thank you for the information on the Pink Flamingo. I found it very interesting. Keep up the informative blogs. I look forward to your blogs everyday..


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Lori's Glassworks said...

Ahhhh... the Pink Flamingo; living in South Florida gave me an appreciation for the Plastic Icon. Thanks for the detailed story.

Anonymous said...

LOL, in Baltimore we actually have royal purple flamingos like this to honor our beloved Baltimore Ravens!