In honor of Prune Breakfast Month, we’re re-running this post on the prune.
What’s a prune?
Answer One, the social construction: Prunes are dried fruit you serve to old people who need help with their bowel movements (though, hilariously, it wasn’t always that way). This is epitomized by the Sunsweet slogan, “The Natural Way to Go” and illustrated in the following eclectic combination of cultural items:
Not exactly an appetizing advertising campaign, eh? (Though my grandpa, and all three uncles, would totally wear that hat.)
Answer Two, the purely descriptive answer: Prunes are dried plums. Which, of course, they are. Lovely, gorgeous, beautiful plums:
Mariani, not stupid, recently changed the name of their product from “prunes” to “dried plums,” instantly transforming their product from one for the constipated elderly to one for connoisseurs of exotic dried fruits.
Words matter, is all.
(Images borrowed from here, here, here, here, here, and here.)Lisa Wade, PhD is an Associate Professor at Tulane University. She is the author of American Hookup, a book about college sexual culture; a textbook about gender; and a forthcoming introductory text: Terrible Magnificent Sociology. You can follow her on Twitter and Instagram.
DonBoy — March 16, 2010
I noticed this a while ago. Best part: check the ingredient list. Here it is:
oliviacw — March 16, 2010
Technically, there is a distinction between prunes and plums. They all belong to the same family, but fruit sold as prunes is usually smaller and more oval in shape and has a "freestone", that is, a pit that is easy to remove because the fruit is not closely attached to it. Fresh prunes can be quite delicious. Fruit sold as plums is usually rounder and has a pit that is more attached to the fruit.
I would assume that prunes were more commonly used for drying at one time because of the ease of removing the pit.
Iris — March 16, 2010
You forgot to mention the new "Sunsweet Ones"! Marketed as a healthy candy-substitute.
Ketchup — March 16, 2010
Is there any scientific evidence that prunes affect the bowel movement of a majority of people? I've never seen it happen. I don't often eat prunes, but I like the taste (as well as plums). When I do eat prunes, though, it's like a normal fruit serving, maximum two in a day, but I have never noticed any difference.
brokensaint — March 16, 2010
In the first ad, what is Vitamin G??
Anonnymouse — March 16, 2010
They also made the window in the bag smaller, so you see fewer dried prunes and more pictures of plump, colorful plums.
pcwhite — March 16, 2010
Is that little man in the first ad sauntering along with a full pantload!? ROFL
How long ago did Mariani change the packaging? I'd have thought a company would go this route pretty soon after jokes became ubiquitous.
Lola — March 17, 2010
Did anyone else notice the vitamin G from the first ad?
Huh? Vitamin G? Are they making up vitamins for the sake of advertising?
Eva — March 18, 2010
Why do you assume only old people get constipated? I know so many young women with this problem, and it's so much better to eat some prunes in stead of spending hundreds of dollars on expensive yoghurt. Go prunes!
*Everything* is Toasted « The Imaginary Heroine — March 21, 2010
[...] the Lucky Strike ruse is old news? The rebranding is eerily similar to this company’s attempt to change the name of prunes (image: old people with constipation) to dried plums (image: hip [...]
Marcos — January 10, 2012
Dana Andrews said prunes
Gave him the runes
And passing them used lots of skills
Lunad — January 10, 2012
So much subliminal...
"serve prunes regularly"
April — January 10, 2012
I gotta admit, I love prunes/dried plums. So yummy! Especially the orange-flavored ones.
Chris — January 10, 2012
Worf doesn't think the prune needs rebranding.
Jinx J — January 10, 2012
Okay...I need to be honest here. As a child I LOOOOVED Golden Girls and prunes. Other kids could have their chocolate, gimme a prune and I was happy. I don't even think the Golden Girls ever ate prunes, but somehow those things are linked in my head. I think I must have spent night munching prunes and watching...Damn, I miss prunes