Tropic-Ana: The girl behind the logo

We remember iconic logos and jingles from brands over the years. When you see a red bulls eye you immediately think of Target, or the infamous mouse ears immediately make you think of Disney. Jingles are similar. The “It’s the real thing” campaign from Coca Cola came out before this author was even born, but many will always remember it. A jingle from my childhood that I will always remember is “Give me a break” for Kit Kat bars.

For decades this same level of brand recognition lent itself to one of Manatee County’s largest local industries. In 1951, then Fruit Industries and later Tropicana Products, Inc. successfully personified the company like other companies at the time such as Speedy Alka Seltzer and the Campbells Soup Kids. They launched Tropic-Ana, a young, smiling, round dimpled face little girl with cute bangs. She was portrayed as a native of the tropics. Tropic-Ana graced the side of the paper cartons, juice trains, ink pens, and much more advertising paraphernalia.

Tin Tropic-Ana sign that hung in the Tropicana fair booth at the Manatee County Fair

From the Manatee County Agricultural Museum Collection

What many may not know is that Tropic-Ana was inspired by local resident 4 year old Christine Keston Pool. As a child she often played with her friend Billy Burt, the son of Jane Beckley Burt who had been asked to design the new Tropicana logo. As Jane drew what would become Tropic-Ana as a little girl with a French braid she realized she was drawing Christine. This led to a short time of fame for the young Christine. She became the embodiment of Tropic-Ana at company parties and special events, as well as an early TV commercial that Christine remembers running in the New York market. Her mother made her costume which consisted of a grass skirt, lei, and paper mache bowl and oranges.

Anthony Rossi and Christine Keston Pool as Tropic-Ana

From the Manatee County Agricultural Museum Collection

Her time as Tropic-Ana was short lived, when one day she accidently cut off her braid and was no longer Tropic-Ana. Christine Keston Pool recalled in a 50th anniversary Tropicana brochure, “I loved the attention I got. At Tropicana, I was everyone’s little girl. But one day I was trying to cut the rubber band that held my pigtail, and ended up cutting the pigtail instead. It was a pretty important part of the Tropic-Ana character, so that was the end of an exciting era for me.” Tropicana had a few other girls dress up as Tropic-Ana over the years. Christine remembers when she was 10 walking out of Montgomery Roberts Department store and seeing another little girl dressed up as Tropic-Ana across the street.

While Christine’s time as Tropic-Ana may have been cut short, the logo remained a part of Tropicana for decades after. Tin signs of Tropic-Ana often graced the company’s Manatee County Fair Booth and parade float. It is even on one of my favorite museum artifacts which was the subject of a previous Manatee History Matters article dubbed “The Tropicana Suit,” a green polyester suit with Tropic-Ana on the jacket. Years later Tropicana would switch up its packaging and logos to the familiar one from my childhood of the orange with a red and white straw poked into it. But Tropic-Ana remains the most beloved of many locals who come into the museum and see our tin Tropic-Ana sign that used to be seen yearly at the fair.

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