White, ceramic figurine depicting a Kewpie Doll, with raised hands, wearing a sash that reads 'Votes For Women,' made by suffrage supporter and creator of the Kewpie Doll, Rose O'Neill, 1900. (Photo by Ken Florey Suffrage Collection/Gado/Getty Images)
Food - Drink
Why Kewpie Mayo Has A Baby On Its Logo
A great logo with a unique story can go a long way towards making a product iconic, and this is definitely the case for Kewpie mayo. This Japanese mayo is known for the cartoon baby printed on the label of each squeezable bottle, and these so-called "Kewpie babies" or "Kewpies" have feminist origins that are neither Japanese nor about food.
These cupid-inspired cherubs were created by American illustrator Rose O’Neill, and debuted in a 1909 comic in Ladies’ Home Journal. The Kewpie babies captivated audiences, and while O'Neill apparently let other artists and companies adopt the image, she continued to use Kewpies to spread messages in favor of women’s rights.
In 1923, businessman Toichiro Nakashima noticed that female fashion in Japan was being westernized, which he figured would change the diets of women and other citizens of Japan. He developed a more nutritious mayonnaise for the modern world and dubbed it "Kewpie" due to the babies' extreme popularity, and the rest is history.