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Who Put The "I" In Icon?

Aug 22, 2008
How did the iconic Rice-A-Roni become "The San Francisco Treat"? In 1946 a Canadian woman married an Italian immigrant, who worked in his father's, San Francisco, pasta factory. Because housing was scarce after WWII, the couple rented a room from an Armenian woman, who taught the Canadian woman how to make Armenian pilaf. When the couple had their own home, the Canadian woman made the pilaf for her brother-in-law. Inspired by the 1950's interest in convenience food, the brother-in-law suggested putting the pilaf in a box. After four years of experimenting in the pasta factory's test kitchen, the pilaf was turned into a one-pot, convenience food. Rice plus macaroni became Rice-A-Roni, the (made in) San Francisco treat.

Harley Davidson is a (made in) Milwaukee treat; and in celebration of its 105th anniversary, that's where Harley Davidson opened its museum. What started as an engine attached to a bicycle frame became WWII's workhorse. Harley Davidson built 90,000 Army-green Harleys, complete with large holsters for Tommy guns. When the military features were chopped off the bikes left behind and personalized accessories were added, the "chopper" culture began. Because the average age of a Harley rider is now approaching 50, the company is trying to attract younger customers. They're hoping it will be hard to turn a deaf ear to such an icon.

Although General Motors is struggling in the U.S., it may become a Chinese icon. Six decades after the communist revolution China has become a hotbed of capitalism; and three of the most popular, capitalistic status symbols are Rolex, Louis Vuitton and Buick. In 2007 GM sold more than 300,000 Buicks in China - sedans, station wagons and police cars. That is almost twice as many as General Motors sold in the U.S. Obviously, Buick has become a driving force in China.

Crocs, the colorful plastic clogs, became a walking force in the U.S. after being introduced at the 2002 Ft. Lauderdale Boat Show. The shoes sold out, became in and were on their way to becoming an icon. Six years later, however, U.S. sales were expected to drop by 20%. Although Crocs' CEO blamed this on the economy, kids said it was because Crocs are old peoples' shoes. To rebuild its image Crocs has hired a former Nike marketing expert and plans to develop new lines of shoes. Perhaps their plans should also include walking a mile in their own shoes.
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KNIGHT PIERCE HIRST takes humorous looks at life.
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