2 min

Just follow your nose

Big bad cereal company crushes queer youth

IT ALWAYS KNOWS. Holy smokes, where is Tinky's other hand? Credit: staff

Kellogg’s has decided the only fruits it wants anything to do with are in its cereals.

The giant food manufacturer is insisting that Fruit Loopz, the gay and lesbian youth talent show, change its name at once ‹ because the moniker infringes on the company’s copyright, taken out for the sugary Froot Loops cereal.

“We’re a nothing little queer youth cabaret,” says Janis Purdy, the

co-ordinator of the Supporting Our Youth Project, which sponsors Fruit Loopz. “We could never afford to fight if someone contested our use of the name.”

The local Fruit Loopz began in August 1998 as a film discussion group. Since then, it has evolved into an opportunity for queer youth to show their own films or art, and to perform their own music and dance.

“It’s a really beautiful thing that has mushroomed very quickly,” says Purdy. “We think it speaks to the hunger of queer youth for a place to show their work.”

Purdy says the show had originally used a parody version of Toucan Sam, the psychedelically coloured bird that decorates the cereal box. But upon receipt of a cease-and-desist letter in December, staff and volunteers immediately stopped using the big-nosed flapper and apologized to Kellogg. But Purdy says changing the name could hurt.

“The name has a good word-of-mouth at this point. We don’t have a lot of money for promotion at this point.”

Kellogg says that’s too bad.

“The reason for that letter is basically out of protection for our

Kellogg’s assets,” says Jacki Nelson, Kellogg Canada’s manager of corporate communications.

“We’re sympathetic to the festival’s predicament. But we’d be kind of contributing to the dilution of our trademark. We have to do what we have to do to protect our trademark.”

Nelson says Kellogg regularly sponsors youth organizations. But Purdy is skeptical.

“They’re defining it strictly as a copyright issue, and they claim

they’re supportive of youth ventures. But I don’t see how they can claim to be supportive of queer youth and then do this. What doesn’t fit here? Oh, it’s the big corporation coming after us.”

Purdy says, however, that she will continue to try to persuade Kellogg to support Fruit Loopz. She says that she has not yet received a reply to a letter she sent in February in response to Kellogg’s original threats.

“One of our hopes is that Kellogg might consider sponsoring us.”

But Nelson says it’s highly unlikely Kellogg will change its mind

about the use of the name.

Purdy says that, at the very least, she hopes Fruit Loopz will be

allowed to use the name until after its next show, their third. It’s scheduled for Pride weekend.

If Kellogg sticks to its position, Purdy says Fruit Loopz is ready. She

says they’ve been discussing alternative names, and the current favourite is Queerios.

“Then we can have a fight with General Mills.”

The next Fruit Loopz will be held on Sat, Jun 26 at the Alexander parkette. There’ll be music, dance, bands on a stage and short films from the youth program at the Inside Out festival.

Organizers are seeking submissions from potential performers. Call (416) 924-4126 ext 264.