There’s only one little piggy in this set of combat-ready bendable toys. Monsieur Tofu is a “soy boy.”
Front of package.
Back of package.
Naturally, I get a kick out of “Mr. Bacon”: as some of you know, I’m very fond of “mister” names. But why is the tofu dressed as Mr. Peanut? And what’s up with “Monsieur”?
Tofu is Asian, of course, not French, unless you think of tofu as soy cheese—which it is, sort of—and you think of all cheese as French. (Remember Bart Simpson’s “cheese-eating surrender monkeys”?) But does that explain “Monsieur Tofu”? I don’t think so.
Here’s my best guess: Tofu is stigmatized as fancy-pants food for pinky-bending snobs, and “monsieur” is code for “elite” and “effete.” Never mind that you can buy tofu at Walmart, or that a pound of tofu costs less than half of what a pound of bacon costs.
In a different decade, they might have gotten away with calling Mr. Bacon’s opponent “Tofu-San.” Today a Japanese stereotype is unacceptable. Caricaturing the French, though—that’s perfectly kosher. Which is more than you can say about Mr. Bacon.
I found “Mr. Bacon vs. Monsieur Tofu” at Powell’s Sweet Shoppe in Berkeley. You can also buy it from Archie McPhee.
I'm kind of speechless at the idea of bacon being a "common man's" food and tofu as being "privileged."
Must pass this on to the sociology crowd...
Posted by: tanita | March 30, 2012 at 01:54 AM
tanita, it's always risky trying to explain (someone's idea of) humor, but here goes:
For many people who grew up as meat-eaters tofu is "not real food" and something to be ridiculed along with a whole category of people associated with that kind of thing.
Remember the phrase "real men don't eat quiche"?
I don't think it's so much about resentment towards privileged classes -- more like resentment at being told that what tastes good to you and has been good enough all your life is not what you should be eating.
Posted by: Tom Goodwillie | March 31, 2012 at 02:09 PM