Green becomes way cool

Shrek's popularity helps color's profile

May 20, 2004|By Carole Goldberg | Carole Goldberg,HARTFORD COURANT

Extreme makeovers are the rage these days, so it's comforting to learn that some things are not being reformed, reshaped, reinvented or revamped. Shrek, for instance.

When everybody's favorite animated ogre lumbered across movie screens nationwide yesterday- in Shrek 2 - he was still giant, grumpy and of course, green. After all, why mess with success?

Shrek, the lovable monster derived from the children's book by William Steig, was made a worldwide mega-movie star in 2001 by the folks at DreamWorks SKG, and the film won the first Academy Award in the new category of best animated feature.

The eagerly awaited sequel's messages remain the same: Beauty is only skin-deep and exists in the eye of the beholder, and you can create your own happily-ever-after world through kindness and caring.

The first film was a marketing marvel. Product tie-ins ranged from toys to computer games to E-Z Squirt green ketchup from Heinz. Still out there is Shrek's Swirl ice cream from Baskin-Robbins (green-colored grape sherbet and purple-colored green apple sherbet, loaded with popping candy), along with Fiona's Fairytale (cotton-candy flavored) and Puss in Boots Chocolate Mousse.

And then there are the new "ogre-sized" M&Ms: 50 percent bigger than the ordinary milk chocolate or peanut M&Ms, in time to capitalize on the new wave of Shrekmania.Apparently, there is something in the human psyche that thinks it's easy being green if you're a fairy tale, comic book or movie character, and while green usually signals something alien and alarming, some friendly creatures are also green:

The Jolly Green Giant: Deep-green denizen of "the Valley," he first appeared as an advertising icon in 1928 on cans of "great big tender peas" packed by the Minnesota Valley Canning Co. By 1950, the firm became the Green Giant Co. and later merged with Pillsbury. But we've never figured out why wearing a toga made of green leaves and pushing veggies would make anyone so jolly.

Kermit the Frog: OK, he is not a monster. He's a beloved Muppet, and he's about as green as a character can get. And if he's good enough for Miss Piggy, he's good enough for us. Kermit knows the heartbreak of being different - it isn't easy, he sings.

The Hartford Courant is a Tribune Publishing newspaper.

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