Fact Check

Has 'Fruit of the Loom' Logo Ever Contained a Cornucopia?

The company's alleged cornu-cover-up is "one of the greatest marketing ploys in history," a recent TikTok video claimed.

Published Jan 7, 2024

 (Twitter / TikTok)
Image Via Twitter / TikTok
Claim:
At some point in the past, Fruit of the Loom's logo contained a cornucopia.

In December 2023, one of the most common examples of the Mandela Effect saw renewed online attention thanks in part to a TikTok video on the topic: that the Fruit of the Loom company logo once contained a cornucopia. The Mandela Effect is generally defined as a "collective misremembering" in which large numbers of people share the same false belief.

@dimelifting Replying to @Ilove.zackary @Fruit of the Loom you better address this #mandelaeffect #storytime #fypppp #greenscreen ♬ original sound - Nicole

The TikTok video in question concludes that there has been a massive coverup at the corporate level. The video's creator decries the effect the alleged obfuscation has had on the general public. The cornucopia removal and coverup is "one of the greatest marketing ploys in history," she argued, "but at what cost?"

Fervent belief in a Fruit of the Loom cornucopia is not uncommon. A post on Quora captures this viewpoint:

I have a strong opinion about the Fruit of the Loom logo and whether it had a cornucopia or not. I remember seeing a cornucopia in the logo when I was a kid, and I learned what it was from my school. A cornucopia is a horn-shaped basket that is filled with fruits and vegetables, and it symbolizes abundance and prosperity. I think the cornucopia made sense for the Fruit of the Loom brand because it showed that they had a variety of quality products.

An image of the purported logo is often shared in defense of this claim:

However, that is a fabrication, not the actual Fruit of the Loom logo.

The perception of a cornucopia goes back decades. For example, a 1994 piece in a local Florida paper about the actor, Samuel Wright, who played Sebastian the Crab in "The Little Mermaid" and who also appeared in Fruit of the Loom commercials, repeated the assertion that the logo contained a cornucopia in print:

For 19 years, Wright made anywhere from 120-140 television commercials for Fruit of the Loom underwear. And he didn't even wear Fruit of the Looms. He wore skimpy bikini briefs. "My wife is European," he says from a hotel room in Tampa.

"She said (cotton underwear) made me look like an old man." Anyhow, Fruit of the Loom's logo was initially a cornucopia swollen with an apple, green grapes, purple grapes, and their green leaves. Wright was the purple grape cluster. And he had to pretend Fruit of the Looms never found them that were great.

While the existence of these commercials is factual, one cannot help but note that nobody played a cornucopia in the actual commercial series referenced in this article:

The company has, as well, officially weighed in on the claim. On June 26, 2023, the company tweeted an image from a USA Today crossword puzzle that included the clue "Fruit of the ____ (company that does not, in fact, have a cornucopia in its logo)." It noted that the "Mandela Effect is real," but that the cornucopia claims were false:

The Fruit of the Loom logo has always contained an apple, green grapes, purple grapes, and leaves. Snopes searched archived newspaper advertisements from every decade from the 1910s to the 2020s and could not locate a single one with a cornucopia:

(Snopes.com)

In rebuttal to these facts, at least two major lines of purported evidence have been proffered. In broad terms, these arguments boil down to the claim that there are photographs that show Fruit of the Loom shirts with a logo that includes a cornucopia, and that legal filings related to its trademark describe that company's logo as including a cornucopia. The December TikTok video focused on the former claim. The legal argument is popular on Reddit.

While Snopes has no definitive explanation for the purported photographic evidence, we find its use as proof for an official cornucopia logo weak. Of the hundreds of emails received by Snopes, only two discrete images showing shirts with a cornucopia logo have been produced. Both images are allegedly taken from shirts found in thrift stores.

Most examples sent to Snopes appear to have their origins in a June 2023 post (above) that went viral in the r/funny subreddit, among other places. The only other example (below) stems from the aforementioned TikTok video:

The provenance of these photos is unknown, and as a result their utility as evidence is limited. Two shirts on their own do not disprove the mountain of evidence attesting to the lack of cornucopia in the company's official logo.

The legal argument presented to Snopes, also proffered on Reddit, is that, according to the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO), Fruit of the Loom itself described its trademark as containing a cornucopia.

This misconception stems from the fact that at least one trademark registration document apparently filed by Fruit of the Loom used what is known as design search code 05.09.14 to describe the trademark — indicating an image with "Baskets of fruit; Containers of fruit; [or] Cornucopia (horn of plenty)." Reddit posts posit that this document has some legal bearing in the world of intellectual property law.

First, this is not the case. The primary goal of these search codes, according to the USPTO, is to identify the most "significant" visual design elements as an aid for prospective applications to search for similar trademarks. While Snopes has no insight into the legal decisions made by Fruit of the Loom in the 1970s, the 05.09.14 example contained in the USPTO database classification manual does share some visual similarity with the Fruit of the Loom logo at issue:

Second, and more to the point, this document is irrelevant. Filed in 1973, the corporate contact was listed as an office in Manhattan. The application itself was rejected by the USPTO. Whatever this document is, it does not represent the active Fruit of the Loom trademark application. The USPTO challenged the cornucopia-containing application in 1980, apparently rejecting it on clerical grounds. The application was officially canceled in 1988.  

The active trademark registration, filed in 1981, lists Fruit of the Loom's Kentucky office as its contact and, crucially, does not use database search code 05.09.14. Instead, codes for several other non-cornucopia visual elements are included:

05.03.08 - More than one leaf, including scattered leaves, bunches of leaves not attached to branches

05.03.25 - Leaf, single; Other leaves

05.09.02 - Grapes

05.09.05 - Apples

05.09.06 - Avocados; Fruits with pits (apricots, peaches, plums, olives and the like)

26.03.02 - Ovals, plain single line; Plain single line ovals

Because the document cited in support of the legal argument that Fruit of the Loom's logo once contained a cornucopia is a failed application that was replaced, or superseded, by an application that contained no descriptors of a cornucopia or cornucopia-related images, it also fails as evidence in support of a cornu-cover-up.

Because no verified image of a Fruit of the Loom containing a cornucopia exists in print, and because the company has officially stated that its logo has never contained a cornucopia, we rate the claim as "False."

Sources

1987 Fruit of the Loom "The Unbustables" TV Commercial. www.youtube.com, https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=v5fH3ebtFtI. Accessed 5 July 2023.

"Did One of the Old Fruit of the Loom Logos Include a Cornucopia?" Quora, https://www.quora.com/Did-one-of-the-old-Fruit-of-the-Loom-logos-include-a-cornucopia. Accessed 5 July 2023.

"Fruit of the Loom Detergent Logo 1979." Newspapers.Com, 25 Apr. 1979, https://www.newspapers.com/article/the-kokomo-tribune-fruit-of-the-loom-det/127691447/.

"Fruit of the Loom Logo, 1926." Newspapers.Com, 3 Aug. 1926, https://www.newspapers.com/article/the-bridgeport-telegram-fruit-of-the-loo/127688561/.

"Fruit of the Loom Logo 1940." Newspapers.Com, 25 Apr. 1940, https://www.newspapers.com/article/intelligencer-journal-fruit-of-the-loom/127688834/.

"Fruit of the Loom Logo 1951." Newspapers.Com, 23 Apr. 1951, https://www.newspapers.com/article/lancaster-new-era-fruit-of-the-loom-logo/127689672/.

"Fruit of the Loom Logo 1966." Newspapers.Com, 5 June 1966, https://www.newspapers.com/article/chicago-tribune-fruit-of-the-loom-logo-1/127690881/.

"Fruit of the Loom Logo 1987." Newspapers.Com, 2 Aug. 1987, https://www.newspapers.com/article/the-marion-star-fruit-of-the-loom-logo-1/127691698/.

"Fruit of the Loom Logo, 1996." Newspapers.Com, 15 Sept. 1996, https://www.newspapers.com/article/springfield-news-sun-fruit-of-the-loom-l/127692161/.

"Fruit of the Loom Logo 2008." Newspapers.Com, 10 Aug. 2008, https://www.newspapers.com/article/green-bay-press-gazette-fruit-of-the-loo/127692306/.

"Fruit of the Loom Logo 2011." Newspapers.Com, 16 Jan. 2011, https://www.newspapers.com/article/palladium-item-fruit-of-the-loom-logo-20/127692582/.

"Fruit of the Loom Logo 2020." Newspapers.Com, 10 Mar. 2020, https://www.newspapers.com/article/the-park-city-daily-news-fruit-of-the-lo/127692838/.

"Fruit of the Loom Logo in 1917." Newspapers.Com, 26 Aug. 1917, https://www.newspapers.com/article/detroit-free-press-fruit-of-the-loom-log/127688395/.

"Underwear Character Is Still A-Peeling." Newspapers.Com, 14 Oct. 1994, https://www.newspapers.com/article/florida-today-underwear-character-is-sti/127697411/.

“15 U.S. Code § 1052 - Trademarks Registrable on Principal Register; Concurrent Registration.” LII / Legal Information Institute, https://www.law.cornell.edu/uscode/text/15/1052. Accessed 3 Jan. 2024.

“15 U.S. Code § 1068 - Action of Director in Interference, Opposition, and Proceedings for Concurrent Use Registration or for Cancellation.” LII / Legal Information Institute, https://www.law.cornell.edu/uscode/text/15/1068. Accessed 3 Jan. 2024.

Design Search Codes. https://www.uspto.gov/trademarks/search/design-search-codes. Accessed 3 Jan. 2024.

“FAQs.” Fruit of the Loom, Inc., https://www.fotlinc.com/our-company/faqs/. Accessed 3 Jan. 2024.

Trademark Status & Document Retrieval. https://tsdr.uspto.gov/#caseNumber=73006089&caseSearchType=US_APPLICATION&caseType=DEFAULT&searchType=statusSearch. Accessed 3 Jan. 2024.

---. https://tsdr.uspto.gov/#caseNumber=73317339&caseSearchType=US_APPLICATION&caseType=DEFAULT&searchType=statusSearch. Accessed 3 Jan. 2024.

USPTO. “FRUIT OF THE LOOM - Fruit Of The Loom, Inc. Trademark Registration.” USPTO.Report, https://uspto.report/TM/73006089. Accessed 3 Jan. 2024.
 

Alex Kasprak is an investigative journalist and science writer reporting on scientific misinformation, online fraud, and financial crime.

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