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Published: Thursday, 2/12/2009

Candy maker puts art into mouth of the beholder

Leonardo da Vinci s Mona Lisa, left, and artist Grant Wood s American Gothic grace 2-pound bags of Dum Dum Pops. Leonardo da Vinci s Mona Lisa, left, and artist Grant Wood s American Gothic grace 2-pound bags of Dum Dum Pops.

BRYAN - A Dum Dum candy pop is sweet and delicious. But is it art?

Probably not, but that isn't stopping Spangler Candy Co. from pairing its classic lollipop with two of the art world's most famous images.

In a whimsical move, the Williams County company is packaging Dum Dums for a limited time in special bags that feature parodies of Leonardo da Vinci's Mona Lisa (holding a Dum Dum Pop) and artist Grant Wood's American Gothic, with the Dum Dum Drum Man playing the role of the farmer.

"Two of the most iconic images out there are American Gothic and the Mona Lisa," Spangler brand manager Mike Rosenblatt said.

"We were trying to find a fun way to engage our customers. We'll see how this goes, but we've had a pretty positive response to these images."

The Bryan firm's two-pound "Pop Art" bags of lollipops are expected to hit retail shelves in about a month, Mr. Rosenblatt said. Retailers, such as Kroger, Kmart, Walgreens, Rite Aid, and others have ordered limited amounts, so the promotion will last until the bags are sold, he said. He declined to reveal the number of packages in the promotion.

The candy maker co-owns a factory in Mexico, but Dum Dums are made solely at the Bryan factory, which employs about 450 workers.

To augment its art-theme promotion, Spangler, a privately owned company with sales last year of $79.5 million, is producing mugs, T-shirts, and posters featuring the parody paintings. It will sell the items, which are aimed at Spangler Candy aficionados, through its Web site.

Dum Dum Pops were introduced in 1924 and the company has used a number of methods of promotion. It hit upon the art idea, Mr. Rosenblatt said, after trying to come up with a list of famous icons that everyone would know.

"The Dum Dum Drum Man has been around since 1966 and he's really become iconic and the Dum Dum Pops themselves have become iconic," he said.

"You don't have to be a fine arts expert to appreciate these two paintings. Everybody finds the Mona Lisa accessible. She has the most famous smile in the world and American Gothic is one of the most famous images out there."

Contact Jon Chavez at:


or 419-724-6128.

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