Like the lawn dart, a true line of demarcation between Then and Now is the Thumbsucking Baby. In cartoons and comic strips of the 20th century, if there was a baby, it was depicted with a thumb in its mouth. Maggie Simpson delivered the combo breaker, in the form of a pacifier, doing infants the world over a huge favor.
A pacifier has the advantage of being unattached to a heavy arm, which slowly pulls at the front teeth and palate, resulting in buck teeth. Buck teeth tell the world you suck dick like a champion. Depending on who you are, that can be inconvenient. Most people correct it with braces, to prevent this assumption.
So thumb-sucking went the way of Dr. Spock: discouraged and discredited. Remember that book the bumpkins fought over in Raising Arizona? It told mothers to put their babies to sleep on their stomachs, which can cause Sudden Infant Death Syndrome. Good thing those Arizona kids were rescued; they were in even more danger than estimated.
Back to the thumb-sucking; it used to be an action feature in dolls. A plastic baby would have a mouth molded so its thumb could lock in like a grommet. All of this had to go, as it instilled bad behaviors in children. For most toys, this was a minor change.
However, one wouldn’t make it to the new century, being that thumb-sucking was its core gimmick.
That’s the way it was originally parsed, too; it bugged me as a schoolboy. Why is that extra H there? Is that how Rich Vos says it? Anyway, this was the theme:
Oh so soft and cuddly
With a thumb in your mouth
She’s really neat
I’m surprised Monchhichi hasn’t made a recent comeback, redesigned, with a big press release detailing all the modern improvements. Mattel does this with Barbie dolls every decade or so, molding a more “realistic” figure. The unspoken message: The product you bought from us before was bad, and you were bad for liking it. All those Barbies you loved- sorry, they’re the wrong proportions, politically. So are you. Get it?
I don’t remember Monchhichi having clothing and such; all I saw were the naked ones, sucking their thumbs. There was a terrible Saturday Morning cartoon, briefly, thanks to the overwhelming success of George Lucas’ Ewoks.
The show was consistent with the theme of sucking, in that it sucked.
In 1983, nine years after the Sekiguchi Corporation created the Monchhichi, it didn’t matter if a cartoon sucked. Kids either watched it or they didn’t. Adults by nature didn’t care, and did other things. That’s why Monchhichi remained a vague memory, except for the ones who evolved to hold documents or braids in place.