Urban legends are part of North American culture, and I’m sure everybody knows what I’m talking about. Ranging from razor blades in Halloween candy, a babysitter being terrorized by late-night phone calls (the culprit is usually phoning from inside the house) or the spider-egg-under-the-skin tale (the victim is always someone who recently vacationed in a tropical third-world nation).
We all know the purpose of an urban legend. It’s like a folk legend but with a dark twist, and usually has a preachy moral at the end, often something to the effect that the world is much more dangerous than we civilized people tend to believe. Being a voracious reader, there are quite a number of urban legends I find fascinating such as the “Polybius” videogame that makes people psychotic, but my favourite urban legend also has to be one of the most famous of all time: the Proctor and Gamble logo.
Well, technically, the former logo. Proctor and Gamble stopped using it in the mid-1980’s because of the urban legend that sprung up around it: it was a satanic symbol, and the company, including all of its subsidiaries like Duncan Hines, worshipped the devil. It also meant that Proctor and Gamble donated huge amou8nts of profit to the Church of Satan.
The first time I ever saw this logo, as a child, it was pointed out to me on the side of a cake mix package. I was told at the time, “That company worships the devil. There’s the proof!”
Connected with the urban legend is the claim this logo is linked to statements in the New Testament’s Book of Revelation. Apparently, the 13 stars hearken to Revelation 12:1, which has something to do with stars in sky. Also, the urban legend claims that the mark of The Beast (Satan), 666, is visible at the bottom of the logo in the man-in-the-moon’s beard. The purpose of the logo was to surreptitiously tell everyone that Proctor and Gamble had signed a deal for wealth and power with Satan, and in return they had to mark all their products as property of the Prince of Darkness and direct plenty of hard currency to the devil.
Proctor and Gamble has done much to dispel the urban legend, and pointed out repeatedly the logo had innocent origins in the 1800’s. The logo was developed in the 19th century; it featured a crescent-shaped man-in-the-moon on the right-hand side (a popular image used at the time) facing 13 stars, said to represent the original 13 U.S. colonies. In years past when literacy wasn’t as common as now, logos were much more important for shipping and retail purposes. In 1985 Proctor and Gamble discontinued using the logo completely.
It should also be noted that a huge multi-national corporation can’t hide massive movements of money as easily as everyone seems to think. If, in fact, hundreds of millions or billions of dollars were being diverted from the corporation, it would be readily apparent. There is no evidence that has ever happened.
Who started the rumor? It’s not clear how it originally started, but those dastardly corporate competitors are usually blamed.
The dark purpose is obvious, though. We don’t think that much about what we pick off the supermarket shelves, even products marked with unusual or creepy-looking logos. When it comes to the ingredients in our food and how corporations make their profit around the world, I may have to agree.
Stu Salkeld is the new editor of The Leduc/Wetaskiwin Pipestone Flyer and writes a regular column for the paper.