while cleaning out some old boxes this summer, i stumbled on an old set of postcards i used to play with as a child. my first reaction was, "look how cute these are!" then i turned the cards over and realized they are from sambo's pancakes, an old restaurant chain that i think was popular in the '60s.
sambo's owners supposedly chose the name based on their names (Sam and Bo for Bohnett) but used the story, "little black sambo," as a promotional tool. The story is about an indian child who has his new clothes stolen by a group of tigers. he finally outwits the tigers (they run in circles so fast that they turn into butter) and returns home where he eats big piles of pancakes. while the story takes place in india, the sambo character in the original book (written by Helen Bannerman) is depicted as black, and not just black, but as an offensive stereotype with crazy hair and big red lips.
it is interesting to me that sambo's restaurant would choose this name but chose to illustrate the sambo in their story as white. i wonder if these postcards were the original ones used or if they were used later once the restaurant faced a drop in business due to opposition of the racist sambo story? the last of the sambo's restaurants closed in the early '80s.