Sticky and sweet. Those two words best describe the flavored candy we call the lollipop. Colorful would be a close runner-up, as these tasty delights come in a wide variety of colors and even sizes. July 20 is National Lollipop Day, recognized as being a small celebration of this popular sugary treat. And with pin-up artists, incorporating a lollipop into their art has been a popular choice for nearly as long as people have enjoyed the candy.
The History of the Lollipop
No one is quite sure who invented the lollipop but what is known is the candy started receiving popularity in the early part of the 20th century. A candy inventor named George Smith was the first to trademark the term lollipop in 1938. George claimed that he began affixing hard candies to short sticks in 1908, and called his candy a “lolli pop” after a particular race horse he fancied.
Going back even further, historians have found the first mention of the term in the 18th century. An English lexicographer by the name of Francis Grose wrote down the description of the sound one’s tongue makes when seeing something the stomach wants as a “lolly” and “pop”, the latter the noise one’s tongue makes when striking the roof of the mouth.
Flappers in the Roaring Twenties Like Lollipops
Lollipops took off in popularity as the populace discovered the delights of candy shoppes. Young children pleaded with their parents for a sweet treat when they walked by the confectionery of the day, and even older adults indulged in the occasional one (or two.)
By the year 1934 rolled around one of America’s biggest stars, the young Shirley Temple, popularized the lollipop into a catchy tune: “On the Good Ship Lollipop”. The song was a big hit for Depression hit America and was also made popular as a tune crooned out by Mae Questal, better known as the voice of pin-up cartoon gal Betty Boop:
According to The New York Times, over two million copies of Questal’s version of the lollipop song were sold.
Pin-ups and Their Lollipops
The earliest work of a pin-up artist using a lollipop as a central point in their work was with Arnold Kohn in the 1950s. A pulp cover artist that did later illustration work in Playboy magazine, Kohn painted “The Lollipop Girl” sometime in the ’50s for a calendar. The exact nature of the work seems to have been lost with time, but the pin-up painting that Kohn created remains.
Modern Day Lollipop Pin-up Ladies
Lollipop pin-up art is more frequent today. Rockabilly pin-up artists have ran with the good girl with tats motif, and many a tattoo artist has had a client walk into their store asking for a pin-up doll holding a lollipop somewhere on that client’s body.
It’s easy to understand why a pin-up artist would give a lollipop to their subject. A lollipop suggests innocence, something sugary that will explode your taste buds.
There’s also the obvious Freudian idea that a lollipop is meant to go in one’s mouth and be sucked on. Still, there’s a lot of pin-up art that we’ve seen where the artist doesn’t go for the obvious. Instead their pin-up model is displaying the lollipop before enjoying it. By merely deciding whether the pin-up will be tasting the lollipop or holding it, the artist is letting your mind decide if she falls into the good girl or bad girl camps.
Another lollipop pin-up, this one by Elias Chatzoudis
“Sucker” by Jessica Dougherty
Pin-up featured in banner by Filipe Kimio.