March 8th, 2011 | by Nathan | Published in Uncategorized
Nice piece from Slate’s Josh Levin raises an important question about Sophie the Giraffe, Amazon’s best-selling baby item (outranking even the Snotsucker that DadLabs elevated to national prominence): is it just a dog toy?
You wouldn’t know it from the marketing. As Levin writes:
For those with more developed aesthetic sensibilities (and more consistent access to a credit card), an all-natural, French-made teether has a certain cachet. Sophie is fashioned from rubber “derived from the sap of the Hevea tree,” its pink cheeks and caramel-brown spots are applied with “food paint,” and it’s put together using a traditional process “that involves more than 14 manual operations.” The giraffe’s back story appeals both to the kind of parents who knit their brows over chemical-laced plastic—Sophie’s sales reportedly increased during the 2007 Chinese toy recalls—and those who get gooey over European eco-friendliness. The teether’s packaging, which includes an Eiffel Tower doodle and the en français spelling of girafe, also signals that this is an item for cultured carpoolers. “I think sometimes the Americans are in love with France, the villages and the quaint areas,” says Dumoulin-Montgomery. “When you know that Sophie is made in the Alps, it’s very appealing.”
For all its insane popularity, though, there is a small cabal of dissenters among the Amazon reviewers–perhaps ticked at the $25 price tag–that make a valid point. No matter how Continental the presentation is, Sophie is just a dog toy. Which would make all the talk of ‘food paint’ and the drawings of the Eiffel Tower just a dog whistle for the anxious, overspending parents we have become.