In what’s turning out to be a banner month for terrible new food mascots, Chicago-based Ferrara Candy Co. debuted an updated look for its Lemonhead brand at the Sweets and Snacks Expo this week in Chicago. The character is essentially the classic, beaming citrus-faced kid depicted on its packaging, but all grown up. Lemonhead 2014 is naturally all over Twitter and Facebook, posting the obligatory silhouette at sunset photo, a Millennium Park selfie, a hoodie-and-Bonobos shirt candid, and another of him entertaining some dudes with tattoos and beards on a balcony. Like any corn-syrup-addled kid his age, it appears Lemonhead is also prone to getting his feelings hurt on social media.
So far, Ferrara’s campaign seems to be all about trying to get people to feel sorry for its oddball mascot: He’s already been made fun of extensively on Comedy Central’s @midnight, and his response to the Mashable post that claimed he’d “probably haunt your nightmares” was to promptly shed a sour tear, snap a selfie, and post it online. And when Taco Bell engaged, possibly for moral support, a plain white T-shirt wearing Lemonhead just let those soulful eyes do the talking, along with backdrop of some dreary, anonymous motel room curtains.
This is heavy stuff for a candy that traditionally costs less than 50 cents. So far, Lemonhead is literally the opposite of Happy, the new McDonald’s mascot that’s literally just a fast-food box with limbs and a face. Even in his latest selfies, Lemonhead 2014 is just sullen, not sour, and probably not cut out for this line of work. Unless, of course, the entire sad-sack narrative is a prelude to a collaboration between the candy brand and Taco Bell, its most prominent moral supporter to date. Stuft Lemonhead Nachos, anyone? Stranger things have happened.