Fact Check

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

Despite strong assertions to the contrary, the company has denied ever using this ancient symbol of abundance.

Published July 5, 2023

Updated March 21, 2024
 (imgur)
Image Via imgur
Claim:
At some point in the past, Fruit of the Loom's Logo contained a cornucopia.

If asked to describe underwear manufacturer Fruit of the Loom's logo from memory, some will invariably say it includes — or at least included at some point in time — a horned bowl known as a cornucopia. This perception is considered a classic example of the Mandela Effect. In basic terms, the Mandela Effect refers to instances of "collective misremembering" in which large numbers of people share the same false belief.

The belief that the Fruit of the Loom logo included a cornucopia is strongly held. 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 in the logo goes back decades. The cover art for a 1973 jazz/funk album by Frank Wess, Flute of the Loom, includes a cornucopia-shaped flute, 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 Mandela Effect is real, the cornucopia in our logo is not ? pic.twitter.com/qoiuvemsIy

— Fruit of the Loom (@FruitOfTheLoom) June 26, 2023

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)

 

Following our original publication of this piece, Snopes received emails and other messages purporting to show evidence missed by Snopes proving that a cornucopia had once been an element in the Fruit of the Loom logo. 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.

These arguments hold water about as well as a wicker cornucopia would hold water.

The Patent

The legal argument presented in emails to Snopes, and 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 of a cornucopia 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 patent 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.

The Photos

The most common set of claims that inundate Snopes' inbox concern images of products or advertisements on which a cornucopia-containing Fruit of the Loom logo purportedly appears. Despite the large volume of email, all of these claims rests on only four individual items or locations: 

Clockwise from the top left are: a black T-shirt appearing to show a cornucopia logo that appears to have its origins in a June 2023 post in the r/funny subreddit; a white T-shirt featured in a TikTok video that described the supposed cover-up of Fruit of the Loom's alleged past use of a cornucopia as "one of the greatest marketing ploys in history"; a building with a curved roof that shows several clothing brand logos; and a collection of socks allegedly found in a Colombian supermarket.

These images are provable forgeries. To understand why, a brief history of fake Fruit of the Loom logos in common circulation is required. There are two widely used designs of a cornucopia-bearing Fruit of the Loom logo. Crucially, both of them were created as intentional fakes for the purpose of demonstrate the Mandela Effect. 

The most prominent design is the one shown at the top of this article. The earliest example Snopes has identified was shared to imgur in February 2017. The image received widespread exposure later, when it was used in a November 2019 BuzzFeed quiz titled "You've Seen These Logos A Million Times, But I Bet This Mandela Effect Quiz Still Trips You Up." In that case, the cornucopia logo image is used as the incorrect answer.

A second widely shared design was actually created by Fruit of the Loom itself — a fact sometimes misrepresented as evidence to support the claim that the logo once contained a cornucopia. The design comes from an April 1, 2022, archive of Fruit of the Loom's website. Astute readers will note, however, that this date is April Fools' Day. Indeed, the bit was included in PR Daily's roundup of the "best and worst brand pranks" of April Fool's Day 2022: 

Fruit of the Loom's logo always featured a cornucopia behind a variety of tasty fruits …. Right? Nope. That's your alternate universe self talking. But the brand took advantage of the common misconception this April Fools' Day with a subtle update to its logo…

Both of the two designs used elements of the real Fruit of the Loom logo, with differently shaped and shaded cornucopias added in. As shown below, Snopes refers to these images as the Imgur Fake and the April Fools' Fake (below):

Any photograph displaying either of these designs on a product or building cannot be legitimate, because the designs they feature were created with the intent to be recognized as fake — either as a joke about, or as an illustration of, the Mandela Effect. A photo that uses graphics created to demonstrate the Mandela Effect cannot be presented as evidence against the Mandela Effect.  

To test if these fake designs were used in all four photos, Snopes overlaid the designs on the purported photographs with matching perspective and distortion adjustments to see if they matched. Each of the four images at issue does, in fact, use one of these two fake designs. 

The black T-shirt photo used the April Fools' Fake. The white T-shirt photo used the Imgur Fake:

The logo displayed on the collection of socks at the Colombian supermarket is also the Imgur Fake:

The store with the curved roof makes use of the Imgur Fake, as well: 

Whether these designs were physically added to the shirts, socks, and/or building, or photoshopped in after the fact, is irrelevant to the debate about the history of the Fruit of the Loom logo. 

The Bottom Line

Fruit of the Loom is on the record as stating that their company's logo has never contained a cornucopia. Snopes' review of a century of newspaper ads lacking any cornucopia supports their statement.

A patent document cited in support of the legal argument that Fruit of the Loom's logo once contained a cornucopia was a failed application that was replaced, or superseded, by an application that contained no descriptors of a cornucopia or cornucopia-related images.

Every image Snopes is aware of that purports to show otherwise makes use of one of two widely acknowledged fake designs created to demonstrate the Mandela effect.

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, the claim is False.

There will likely be more purported photos of products containing these logos in the future. The Imgur Fake, in particular, has reached meme status — and as a result you can buy actual products with that fake logo on sites like Redbubble. 

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/.

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"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/.

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"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/.

Atkinson, Emma. "April Fools' Day 2022: PR Daily's Roundup of the Best and Worst Brand Pranks." PR Daily, 1 Apr. 2022, https://www.prdaily.com/april-fools-day-2022-pr-dailys-roundup-of-the-best-and-worst-brand-pranks/.

Comfortable Underwear and Clothing for the Family | Fruit of the Loom. 1 Apr. 2022, https://web.archive.org/web/20220401133153/https://www.fruit.com/.

"Fruit of the Loom Cornucopia Original Poster." RedBubble, https://www.redbubble.com/i/poster/Fruit-of-the-Loom-cornucopia-original-by-Kackos/155432981.LVTDI.

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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.

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Updates

UPDATE [Jan. 2, 2024]: Added new research and information regarding the claims that there is either photographic or legal proof that the Fruit of the Loom logo once included a cornucopia.

UPDATE [March 21, 2024]: This article was updated with new research and writing on photos purporting to show a cornucopia logo; with added information about a jazz album named “Flute of the Loom”; and with added context regarding an April 1, 2022 Internet Archive capture of Fruit of the Loom’s website.

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

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