Rum & Comics

August 24th, 2008

In Cuba around 1863 the Bacardi family began to distill rum.  Their logo is a bat, modeled on the families of fruit bats that nested and swooped through the Bacardi cane plantations and distillaries.  Among Cubans, fruit bats are considered bringers of good luck.   The same bat logo is still employed today by Bacardi.

bacardi bat logo

Bob Kane’s Batman arrived in 1939 — he’s nearly 70. One wonders if there was any bit of subliminal influence from Bacardi to Kane’s Batman logo? There was an awareness of Cuba and things Cuban, particularly rum and music, back in those days that’s difficult for people who came of age in the post-embargo era to realize.

Batman Comic Logo

7 Responses to “Rum & Comics”

  1. Kevin Andrew Murphyon 24 Aug 2008 at 3:29 pm

    There might also be some Chinese influence as well, as in China, the bat is a symbol of good luck as well, and moreover, a bat is use as the traditional pawnbrokers sign. There may have been some awareness there as well.

    However, I think what it comes back to with both Bacardi and Batman is classic heraldry. For example, the cockatrice is used as the crest for Lindt chocolate, Corona beer, and the DelRey fantasy line. If you’re going to use a bat for your symbol, you’ll probably go with the bat displayed, though there are number of small differences. For example, the Bacardi bat has its head turned in profile, whereas the batman bat is looking straight ahead, and I’m forgetting the proper blazon terms to express that.

  2. Constance Ashon 24 Aug 2008 at 3:50 pm

    The story of how the fruit bat was chosen by Bacardi as their emblem is well known. The first Cuban Señora Bacardi suggested the bat for the reasons mentioned in the entry.

    The founder, Facundo Bacardi, emigrated to Cuba from Spain in the 19th century, noticed there was no rum distilled from Cuba’s sugar fields, unlike everywhere else in the Caribbean and began with a mom&pop operation. Their bat is considered by logo historians to be among the very first advertising logos.

    There are three Spanish heraldry badges with bats mentioned by wiki here:

    http://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/Category:Bats_in_heraldry

    But the bat label is small on all the Bacardi bottles — it’s not on the label, but generally on the neck wrapping. There’s no other image or info, only the bat, in an empty ground. That’s a lot more like an advertising, commercial logo, which it was intended to be — many of the Cubans were illiterate, so like with the bolleta game, a lottery that was sold according to animal images, the Bacardis felt they needed an identifier.

    There’s a whole book about Bacardi and how all this came about, which is published next week, I think, which we got an ARC for. It’s fascinating.

    Love, C.

  3. Charleson 25 Aug 2008 at 11:13 am

    I took a tour of the Bacardi plant in Puerto Rico a few years back. It was part of a dual tour: El Yunque Rainforest and the Bacardi Plant.

    They went over much of the Bacardi history, and how they ended up in Puerto Rico from Cuba. I can’t recall if they mentioned any of the origins of the bat logo. The thing I remember most is inside the plant when the elevator doors opened up we were almost knocked over by the overwhelming smell of molasses.

  4. Constance Ashon 25 Aug 2008 at 1:49 pm

    No molasses, no rum!

    By the way, Bacardi’s products are very inferior to just about any other rum made in the Caribbean and Central America, or Brasil. I’ve never had a Mexican rum except maybe a Bacardi one, and yuck.

    I’m not much of a rum drinker anyway, but when down there, that is often all there is, and that’s what the locals and your hosts drink, so there you are. Generally wine is horrible in the Caribbean, unless you’re in the French Caribbean.

    However, the best rums I’ve ever drunk were from Nicaraugua and other Central American countries. But then, I’ve had great rums from all over. Locally made.

    Bacardi had moved most of its production out of Cuba by the 30′s, already, to Mexico and Puerto Rico.

    Love, C.

  5. Charleson 25 Aug 2008 at 3:20 pm

    I stuck to beer while I was down there. I’m not a rum person, or a wine person. When it comes to liquor, I stick with vodka. Though, as I mentioned, it’s usually a beer for me.

    One of my favorites, Bass Ale, actually contains as its logo (the red triangle) the first registered trademark in Britain.

    The beer has been around since 1777 and the logo was trademarked on the very first day trademarks went into effect in 1876.

  6. Constance Ashon 25 Aug 2008 at 4:43 pm

    Since 1777? They’ve probably learned how to do it right by now? :)

    In the Caribbean and other very hot and humid places beer is the best.

    Though I learned in Caribbean too, spending a long day going through a night and into and through the next days and nights, that rum (or among those who cannot afford rum, but the clarin or whatever the locals call the pre-rum or dregs after distilling rum) that it will get through all this better than anything else — except your big dew rags and big-brimmed hat/cap/whatever sun protector for the head.

    You drink it very carefully. I.e. you sip it out of tiny vessels, maybe a coconut shell chip. Or a tiny sip from the bottle going ’round. Do this once or twice every hour it provides the energy to keep you going — as do the drums, of course.

    Essential when you’re witnessing important ceremonies and so on.

    Essential to keep going, that is.

    Especially when the coffee is so weak and it’s so hard to get! At least in the poorer areas.

    Love, C.

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