Thursday, April 17, 2008

Marza Panda

Three things that earn points in my book: Word play, themed names, and the amusing detail that Wikipedia provides for obscure or unworthy subjects.

Thus, after seeing that Spencer chose to wear all blue a few days ago and then failing to remember the name of Strawberry Shortcake’s blueberry-themed friend, I happily perused the Wikipedia page for this doll’s universe and took in the whole of it: cringe-inducing puns, character names following a pattern that even a six-year-old would feel lacks subtlety, and far more Strawberry Shortcake-related information than I ever thought existed. Being a boy, I had only the briefest interactions with this character, in either her doll or cartoon incarnations. She and her friends smelled strongly, I remember, but I had no clue as to the punnery. I’m spare you the time and indignity of looking at it all yourself, for below I’ve provided the ten most flagrantly bad puns.

Not a villain, but an “edgy” character known for making cutting remarks. (Get it?) I can’t imagine what she could say in such a saccharine world. “Your name is an atrocious pun and you should cease to be,” perhaps? She’s now “Raspberry Torte,” as the good-natured Strawberry Shortcake creators apparently bought a dictionary since creating her in the early 80s.

Suggested substitute names: Ooey, Gooey Creme-Filled Eclair. Or Edible Underpants.

How little I know about Strawberry Shortcake. Apparently, a character can’t exist without having some animal familiar. The character Apple Dumplin’ naturally has this baby duck. What amuses me most is the needless dropping of the “g” at the end of both names, as if simply naming the character “Dumpling” or “Duckling” wasn’t cute enough. That dropped “g,” however? Fucking adorable.

Suggested substitute name: Deboned Duck in Plum Sauce.

Not so much a pun as a total abortion of a pun, I suppose. I’m guessing the name “Freezer Pop Penguin” was initially followed by “TKTKTK write non-stupid name later.” He belongs to someone saddled with the equally terrible name of “Frosty Puff.”

Suggested substitute name: Freezer-Burned, Memento Wedding Cake Slice Penguin.

Not a person, but a place, and the hometown of Strawberry Shortcake’s first Asian fiend, Tea Blossom. From what I can tell, everything associated with this terrible character sprung from some writing team brainstorming on the most stereotypical associations with China they could think of. “All the tea in China?” Check. “Almond-shaped eyes?” Check. “Let’s see… What’s something else food-related and Chinese? Oh! Chinaware! That can just be where she’s, like, from or something. China Cup, but less stupid than that.” And “China Cup” remained. In fact, the stereotypes were notable enough that, upon relaunching Strawberry Shortcake as a toy in 2000, Almond Tea was renamed “Tea Blossom.”

This isn’t a complete waste, I suppose. Almond Tea exists, apparently. Wikipedia also notes that this Almond Tea’s associated animal friend is named “Marza Panda,” which I thought was a decent enough a joke to merit it being the title of this post.

Suggested substitute name: Grandma’s Antique China Gravy Boat.

This gets a fail for attempting, and failing, to make an allusion to Madame Butterfly. I think. If it's intentional, it sucks. Don't drag opera down into this mess.

Suggested substitute name: Hifalutin Moth.

As the previous example indicates, introducing characters of specific ethnicities or nationalities gets dicey. At some point, most expanding fictional universes do this, and often the attempt at being progressive ends up endorsing lame stereotypes. (See Justice Friends’ additions of token characters El Dorado, Samurai, Black Vulcan and Apache Chief to the line-up of regular “American” superheroes like Superman, Batman and Wonder Woman. Three guesses what ethnicity El Dorado is supposed to be.) As clichéd a representative of Chinese culture as Almond Tea is, Café Olé is ten times worse. She hails from Mexicocoa. Her animal friend is Burrito Burro. No joke. With that being said, I’m not sure how I feel about Wikipedia’s description of her as being “adept at handicrafts such as weaving.”

Suggested substitute name: Cinco de Mayonnaise.

The animal companion of the apparent bitch of Strawberry’s group of friends. This pun is either genius or utter retardity. Given the others on the list, I’m inclined to chose the latter.

Suggested substitute name: Crystal Cola Chameleon.

Ugh. In addition to being the only character I noted whose name references an alcoholic drink, Mint Tulip constitutes, in my opinion, another terrible pun. Her place of origin? Hollandaise. (Ugh again.) Her animal? Marsh Mallard. (Death ugh.) Absolutely unforgivable.

Suggested substitute name: Clogged Arteries.

Now we're getting to some of the worst. The Wikipedia mention — the entirety of which I'm beginning to think was written by one crazed Strawberry Shortcake fan whose contributions result from her desire to recover from a divorce or debilitating injury — even admits that the pun is clumsy. It doesn't, however, note the shoddiness of the name of these twins' hometown, Pickle Dilly Circus.

Suggested substitute name: Jane and Michael Banks (Candy Versions).

A girl villain accompanied by a presumably equally evil worm named “Durt.” This one takes top honors, purely because it dutifully references the phrase “raising cain” and, in my head, the 1992 Lolita Davidovich thriller of the same name, all while presuming the existence of some confection that captures the taste of raisins into a candy cane form.

Suggested substitute name: Bitcherscotch. Or Buttersnatch, I guess.

. . .

Not a pun, but worthy of a mention anyway: the inherently pitiful Baby Needs-a-Name, who seems to exist only for the purpose of desiring a name. The final sentence of this character’s description reads “The Baby's quest for a proper name remains unresolved.” Seeing as how Baby Needs-a-Name was introduced in 1984, I’m not hopeful this happen.

Suggested substitute name: Josephine? Bernice? I don't know. Anything, really, in hopes that giving this character a name might cause her to blink out of existence.

Also, as it turns out, the blueberry character was actually a girl. Maybe I was thinking of Rainbow Brite?


  1. Anonymous2:05 PM

    How could you compile this whole list and leave off Tiaramisu?

  2. ... acuz Tiaramisu is not a Strawberry Shortcake character.

  3. Something unrelated, for the most part, to the topic of your post, but nonetheless worth giving a gander: infographics about Coachella on LAWeekly, including such worthwhile topis as percent of bands with dumb names. You may have spotted this already, given that I know you peruse BoingBoing from time to time. If not, worth glancing at. Seems up yer alley.

  4. Anonymous12:22 PM

    youre probably thinking of huckleberry pie

  5. As horrible as you suggest these puns are, in my opinion they are of superior quality to the puns of Viva Piñata, which attempt to crowbar a candy and animal name together, often resulting in a mangled mess. Examples include Buzzlegum and Shellybean, although I actually like Horstachio for some reason.

    1. Horstachio sounds like the mustache of a whore. And that's funny. So I like it too.