Sunday, April 11, 2010

Farmyard Frankenstein

In the late forties and early fifties, H.E. Babcock served as the chairman of the board at Cornell University. An agriculture expert and one of the original nutrition advocates, Babcock was always searching for ways to promote the type of balanced diet that New York farms provided. He was especially keen on educating children. To this end, he created the Unimal, a wide-eyed hybrid of every principle farm animal that seemed overjoyed at its ultimate fate on America's dinner table.

While it's probably easy to discern the different animal features present in the Unimal, the official sources of inspiration were the chicken, cow, pig, steer, and sheep. A tiny toy version was produced for the kids, and in a manner similar to a Pez dispenser it would eject tiny plastic food items from its body by clicking a special button. Curiously, despite being created to teach young'ns about nutrition, the food offered by the Unimal (including a block of butter, a ham, hotdogs, and eggs) seemed to point towards high-blood pressure and cholesterol. One can only assume that a toy multi-hybrid vegetable wouldn't have been quite as popular.

Would you like to know more?
-Watch this excerpt from the 2009 documentary Farmboy.