Minnesota Butter and the Droste Dimension: Farewell to the Land O’ Lakes Mascot

We’re all trapped in the amber of whatever this moment is, yet life goes on. It seems like eons ago that Planter’s killed off Mr. Peanut, beloved talking food item, only to resurrect him in the form of Baby Nut, one of the most vile and despicable creatures any of us have ever seen. Brands change, mascots need a refresh, and sometimes the hardest decision of all must come- to lose the mascot entirely. I awoke Saturday morning to the news that Land O’ Lakes, the butter behemoth based in Arden Hills, Minnesota, had ditched its mascot. To the uninitiated, Mia (she had a name, dammit!) appeared to be just a vague stereotype of a Native American woman. To me, she is something much more cognitively sinister.

look cute, your dad needs to write about butter

In the early 1920’s, what seems like a different planet than the one we live on, 320 St. Paul area creameries came together to form the Minnesota Cooperative Creameries Association. Eventually, after a contest I can only assume was extremely competitive and bloody, they co-op’s flagship sweet cream butter was named Land O’ Lakes, after the state’s nickname. Here, for your own carnal urges, is a list of all 11,842 lakes.

It began innocently enough. Look at this placid scene.

There, we can see an early Mia, not truly formed, pulling sticks of butter from their natural habitat, a random lake in Minnesota. It wasn’t until a few years later when she finally got her chance at center stage.

Then came the intersection of Land O’ Lakes and Patrick DesJarlait, an Ojibwe artist whose life’s work was devoted to depicting Native Americans in a way that well represented a way of life to non-Natives. He also created the Hamm’s beer bear.

But something is lacking here. No, not a nefariously placed box that allows for the folding of Mia’s knees in a manner that, when properly placed, kinda looks like you can see her boobers…

I’m talking about the interdimensional paradox of the box itself. Mia is on a box of butter, brand name and other stuff floating around her. She’s holding… a box of butter with brand name and other stuff floating around her as she holds a box of butter with brand name and other stuff floating around her as she holds a box of butter with brand name and other stuff floating around her as she holds a box of butter with brand name and other stuff floating around her as she holds a box of butter with brand name and other stuff floating around her as she holds a box of butter with brand name and other stuff floating around her as she holds a box of butter with brand name and other stuff floating around her as she holds a box of butter with brand name and other stuff floating around her as she holds a box of butter with brand name and other stuff floating around her as she holds a box of butter with brand name and other stuff floating around her as she…

on and on and on into infitity. We have now entered a loop. A trap, actually. The box of Land O’ Lakes butter has set us down a rabbit hole that will travel into the subatomic realm where mankind has no dominion. This is the Droste Effect.

Named after the Dutch brand of cacao that featured a woman holding a platter with a warm cup of the beverage next to a tin featuring a woman holding a platter with a warm cup of the beverage next to a tin featuring a woman holding a platter with a warm cup of the beverage next to a tin featuring a woman holding a platter with a warm cup of the beverage next to a tin featuring a ///////

Sorry… fell in again. Here’s the original. Try not to get lost.

Swirling, twirling into infinity, the Droste Cacao nun is in hell. Is she the top iteration, or is there another holding her? How can she live any kind of normal life knowing she is just the second, fifteenth, or nine hundred eighty-first iteration of her?

She is suffering from a similar condition to Sam Rockwell in the movie Moon. Sorry for the spoiler but its been 11 years. You had your chance. It’s a great movie though!

So the Droste Effect got its name from a tin of chocolate, but appropriately the concept goes much deeper than this. Lets jog back about 700 years. Actually, exactly 700 years, to 1320, when Italian artist Giotto painted the Stefaneschi Triptych on commission of the Cardinal Giacomo Gaetani Stefaneschi.

It is a powerful, intricate work of worship and a compelling image of 14th century idolatry. Look closer. Center frame. Bottom left.

There is Giotto himself, presenting the artwork he is a part of to Saint Peter, who is enthroned in the middle of the piece. The scene is portrayed on the triptych within the triptych. This is one of the earliest forms of wheat would come to be known as the Droste Effect.

Its that feeling when you get a haircut and see yourself in the mirror ahead and the mirror behind you, but you can also see your reflection’s reflection back at you into eternity. It digresses into the horizon, but that’s just the last perceivable point. In fact, it would go on forever if your mortal, feeble eyes could see that deeply into the abyss of innerspace.

Mia, the dearly departed Land O’ Lakes mascot, sent us into the Droste Dimension for decades. For many of us, she was a staple of the refrigerator for our entire lives to this point.

A few years ago, after what I can only assume was a massive demonstration outside LOL headquarters, the label zoomed in on Mia’s face, eliminating the prospect of joke boobs or an all-consuming, sub-dimensional black hole for which there is no return.

Now, we have but that serene landscape, an enduring image of the Minnesota wilderness. Mia is gone. She will never be forgotten. She’s worthy of distinction aside other famous people from the Land of 10,000 Lakes- Bob Dylan, Prince, Jesse “the Body” Ventura, Mary Tyler Moore, and for sake of birth certificate purposes, yours truly.

Godspeed, Mia. Wherever you are.

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