Olympic Commemorative Pins Bemuse Some
SALT LAKE CITY, UTAH -- In an article in it's Religion section on
Saturday, the Salt Lake Tribune asks why the designs of some
commemorative and collectible Olympic pins were approved, while other
designs were not accepted by the Salt Lake Olympic licensing group.
The Tribune article questions whether certain pins present cultural
aspects of Utah culture or instead depict its predominant religion.
One pin shows two men in white shirts and dark ties riding bicycles.
Another portrays Brigham Young. Still others present food items:
green jello, a potato casserole that many refer to as "Relief Society
Potatoes" or "funeral potatoes" because it is prepared so often for
bereaved families after funerals, and even a "Mormon muffin". (Ed.
note: do you have to live in Utah to know what a Mormon muffin is? No
description is given in the article.)
There is an approved pin depicting a Jewish Menorah. But designs that
were turned down include a nun in habit on skis, a depiction
representing fish on Fridays, the game of Bingo, and a monk holding
bread and honey to represent the monastery in Huntsville Utah.
Explaining the rejection of these designs, the Salt Lake Olympic
Committee Director of Licensing Susan Summers states flatly, "They
were all disapproved because they had specific religious connotations
and icons in the pins."
Summers goes on to explain that the Menorah pin was approved as one
of a series of pins celebrating holidays. The pin depicting two males
riding their bikes was released last May as part of Bicycle Safety
Over 600 different designs have been approved. Many non-profit
organizations have sought to sell pins that link their organization
with the Olympics, hoping to raise revenue for their causes. Groups
would love to see their pin design become a sell-out like the green
gelatin pin--one that caught Utah residents fancy because the state
holds the distinction of having the highest per capita consumption of
the wiggly dessert.
"...the green Jell-O pin was a hit," says Bill Nelson of the Bill
Nelson Newsletter which is a newsletter for commemorative pin
collectors. He suggests that there are many other organizations which
"are looking for other things that will be" just as big sellers.
There have been ice cream pins, a hairspray pin, and a pin depicting
the clown from Dee's fast food restaurants.
According to the Tribune, it was Mel Bailey, owner of Spirit of the
Games memorabilia stores, who proposed the Catholic designs. Ms.
Bailey says that she doesn't understand the objection to Catholic
symbols. "Why do we have a Mormon muffin pin, a Brigham Young pin and
millions of pins like that?" she asks.
"We have a unique environment here that we need to capture," says
Summers of SLOC Licensing. "I don't think anything we've done quotes
religious beliefs. Every part of this world has something inherent to
With that as the philosophy behind the choice of designs for
commemorative pins, it will be the Dee's clown, green gelatin
dessert, ice cream, potato casserole, hair spray, men in white shirts
and ties on bikes, Brigham Young, a menorah, a muffin, and 600 other
items defining to the world the region hosting the Olympics next
Perplexity Over Pins
Salt Lake Tribune 5Jan02 D4
By Marta Murvosh: Salt Lake Tribune