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Pink Flamingos, Kitsch Art and IG Nobel Prizes

Updated on May 26, 2018
Peggy W profile image

I live in Houston, and I have worked as a nurse. My interests include art, traveling, reading, gardening, cooking, and our wonderful pets.

Pink plastic flamingos in our neighbor's yard
Pink plastic flamingos in our neighbor's yard | Source

Pink Plastic Flamingos

Back during the 1950s a popular lawn ornament was a plastic pink flamingo or even a grouping of them. The plastic flamingos were created by Donald Featherstone. This mass produced form of art is identified as kitsch.

Some people consider plastic flamingos in a yard to be gaudy and others find them to be sentimental and fun. My grandmother had a couple of them in her front yard. I think in my grandmother's case it reminded her of their many trips to Florida during the cold Wisconsin winter months of year.

Occasionally even today for the announcement of a special date like a birthday or other event we will drive by a yard filled with plastic flamingos. It is hard to miss such an attention grabber! They can be rented for special occasions.

We have seen some on occasion celebrating such milestones as a 40th or 50th birthday. Whether we know the person who is being honored or not it brings smiles to our faces when we view such a temporary display of kitsch art. Our neighbors recently had a bunch of them placed in their yard as a type of joke. They will soon pass them on to other friends of theirs bringing smiles to more faces.

Kitsch Art

Have you ever used plastic flamingos in your yard for decorations or for a special occasion?

See results
Click thumbnail to view full-size
Plastic flamingos in our neighbor's yardPlastic flamingos in our neighbor's yardLawn flamingo
Plastic flamingos in our neighbor's yard
Plastic flamingos in our neighbor's yard | Source
Plastic flamingos in our neighbor's yard
Plastic flamingos in our neighbor's yard | Source
Lawn flamingo
Lawn flamingo | Source

IG Nobel Prizes

Donald Featherstone accepted his IG Nobel Prize for his creation of the plastic pink flamingos in 1996. The category was art.

Each year since 1991 when these parody of prizes were first awarded there are 10 recipients. They "honor achievements that first make people laugh, and then make them think." Discoveries and inventions spanning subjects ranging from mathematics to economics to medicine and psychology are just some examples.

Have you ever opened a magazine and been offered the opportunity to scratch and sniff a perfume sample? In 1993 a dual IG Nobel Prize award was given to James Campbell and Gaines Campbell for inventing those scent strips.

Are you a blue colored jello fan? That award went to Ivette Bassa in 1992 who created the colloid which made blue jello a possibility.

And the Blue Jello IG Nobel Prize goes to Ivette Bassa!

Rainbow jello cut
Rainbow jello cut | Source

In the first year of awards Alan Kligerman was given the prize. His invention was the product Beano. Have you ever tried that product and found his invention to be useful?

A few of the prize winners were actually fictitious. A sense of humor is definitely an asset when pondering those awards! Some of the inventions turn out to be of some valid use but many are just plain silly. Yet time and effort went into the creation of each of them.

If you take the time to look at the full list of IG Nobel Prize winners you will be amazed. I promise! They come from all walks of life.

A person who received this tongue in cheek award but who also received a real Nobel Prize for his work with graphene was Sir Andre Geim.

Some of the IG Nobel Prize Winners

Click thumbnail to view full-size
Sir Andre Geim at the Nobel Prize 2010, press conference with the laureates of the Nobel prizes in chemistry and physics and the memorial prize in economic sciences at the Royal Swedish Academy of Sciences. Eric Maskin, winner of the Nobel Memorial Prize for Economics, was one of several Nobel Laureates taking part in the annual Ig Nobel Prize, an event that celebrates "science that makes people laugh, and then makes them think."Ig Nobel Prize Winning Sword Swallower Dan MeyerGregg Miller the inventor of Neuticles and other pet implantation devices,author and IG Nobel Peace Prize winnerArtūras Zuokas, Lithuanian businessman and politician and IG Nobel Prize winner.Elizabeth Clare Prophet - American religious leader and IG Nobel Prize winner 	 L. Ron Hubbard - American science fiction author, philosopher and the founder of the Church of Scientology and an IG Nobel Prize winnerDan Ariely - Israeli American professor of psychology and behavioral economics and an IG Nobel Prize winnerMichael Berry - British physicist and an IG Nobel Prize winnerKarl Kruszelnicki - Australian medical researcher and an IG Nobel Prize winner
Sir Andre Geim at the Nobel Prize 2010, press conference with the laureates of the Nobel prizes in chemistry and physics and the memorial prize in economic sciences at the Royal Swedish Academy of Sciences.
Sir Andre Geim at the Nobel Prize 2010, press conference with the laureates of the Nobel prizes in chemistry and physics and the memorial prize in economic sciences at the Royal Swedish Academy of Sciences. | Source
 Eric Maskin, winner of the Nobel Memorial Prize for Economics, was one of several Nobel Laureates taking part in the annual Ig Nobel Prize, an event that celebrates "science that makes people laugh, and then makes them think."
Eric Maskin, winner of the Nobel Memorial Prize for Economics, was one of several Nobel Laureates taking part in the annual Ig Nobel Prize, an event that celebrates "science that makes people laugh, and then makes them think." | Source
Ig Nobel Prize Winning Sword Swallower Dan Meyer
Ig Nobel Prize Winning Sword Swallower Dan Meyer | Source
Gregg Miller the inventor of Neuticles and other pet implantation devices,author and IG Nobel Peace Prize winner
Gregg Miller the inventor of Neuticles and other pet implantation devices,author and IG Nobel Peace Prize winner | Source
Artūras Zuokas, Lithuanian businessman and politician and IG Nobel Prize winner.
Artūras Zuokas, Lithuanian businessman and politician and IG Nobel Prize winner. | Source
Elizabeth Clare Prophet - American religious leader and IG Nobel Prize winner
Elizabeth Clare Prophet - American religious leader and IG Nobel Prize winner | Source
 	 L. Ron Hubbard - American science fiction author, philosopher and the founder of the Church of Scientology and an IG Nobel Prize winner
L. Ron Hubbard - American science fiction author, philosopher and the founder of the Church of Scientology and an IG Nobel Prize winner | Source
Dan Ariely - Israeli American professor of psychology and behavioral economics and an IG Nobel Prize winner
Dan Ariely - Israeli American professor of psychology and behavioral economics and an IG Nobel Prize winner | Source
Michael Berry - British physicist and an IG Nobel Prize winner
Michael Berry - British physicist and an IG Nobel Prize winner | Source
Karl Kruszelnicki - Australian medical researcher and an IG Nobel Prize winner
Karl Kruszelnicki - Australian medical researcher and an IG Nobel Prize winner | Source

IG Nobel Prizes

Had you ever heard of the IG Nobel Prizes?

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Click thumbnail to view full-size
Flamingos at Discovery Island in FloridaFlamingos while looking for foodA group of flamingos walking and drinking on a pondFlamingosFlamingos
Flamingos at Discovery Island in Florida
Flamingos at Discovery Island in Florida | Source
Flamingos while looking for food
Flamingos while looking for food | Source
A group of flamingos walking and drinking on a pond
A group of flamingos walking and drinking on a pond | Source
Flamingos
Flamingos | Source
Flamingos
Flamingos | Source

Real Flamingo Birds, Not Plastic Ones

The first photo above was taken by me when we visited Discovery Island many years ago at Walt Disney World in Florida. It shows a flock of flamingos.

  • Greater flamingos as well as 3 other species are found in the Americas with 2 other types in the Old World.
  • This tall wading bird prefers living near warm watery regions where they dip their curved bills into the water and filter out their food from the mud and water. They then swallow the filtered algae, small fish, shrimp like crustaceans and other things.
  • The more shrimp and algae that flamingos consume containing beta carotene, the brighter pink or even red pigmented their color becomes.
  • Flamingo chicks are born grey and white. It takes several years for them to become more colorful like their parents all depending upon their diet.

See & learn more about flamingos, specifically those from the Caribbean, by watching the video presented below.

Flamingos

Do you regularly see flamingos in the wild where you live?

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© 2016 Peggy Woods

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    • Peggy W profile imageAUTHOR

      Peggy Woods 

      2 weeks ago from Houston, Texas

      Hi Patricia,

      Happy that you found this article informative and well as fun. Like you I like learning new things. I had no idea that there were IG Nobel Prizes until I researched and found out more about the creator of the plastic flamingos. Sending smiles your way today.

    • pstraubie48 profile image

      Patricia Scott 

      2 weeks ago from sunny Florida

      Wow...all I have to do is read and I find out how much I really do not know....so much here of interest and that has filled some gray matter in my head bone this morning....do not see flamingos in the wild here that are living but often see the plastic ones that are so whimsical...never had any in the yard but smile when I see them in the yard of another. Once again Angels will cross your path today and YOU are an Angel too. ps

    • Peggy W profile imageAUTHOR

      Peggy Woods 

      4 weeks ago from Houston, Texas

      Hi Eileen,

      Like you I had never previously heard of the IG Nobel Prizes. In researching about how all of those artificial pink flamingos originated I stumbled upon that award. It is fun and quirky at the same time.

    • ethel smith profile image

      Eileen Kersey 

      4 weeks ago from Kingston-Upon-Hull

      Never heard of these awards. Sound fun. Will look out for them now Peggy

    • Peggy W profile imageAUTHOR

      Peggy Woods 

      7 months ago from Houston, Texas

      Hi Roberta,

      I would not want a plastic flamingo in our yard either but my grandma certainly liked hers. Like you I enjoyed learning about the IG Nobel Prizes.

    • RTalloni profile image

      RTalloni 

      7 months ago from the short journey

      Flamingos are such fun, though I wouldn't use them as yard decor. Good for your Grandma! I love the big dangly earrings, the sweaters, hats and the whole lot of flamingo themed stuff and such, but have only been able to bring myself to wearing a brooch at times. I guess I love seeing them on others. :) Neat look at the awards.

    • RTalloni profile image

      RTalloni 

      7 months ago from the short journey

      I'm actually a huge flamingo fan, but would not use them as yard ornaments. Nor wear the large dangly earrings, as much as I love them, though I've been known to wear a flamingo brooch. Good for your Grandma! A fun read here.

    • Peggy W profile imageAUTHOR

      Peggy Woods 

      20 months ago from Houston, Texas

      Hi Patricia,

      I prefer seeing the real ones to plastic flamingos also, but it was fun learning about the creator of them and also the IG Nobel Prizes.

      Sending good thoughts and prayers your way.

    • pstraubie48 profile image

      Patricia Scott 

      20 months ago from sunny Florida

      Peggy, I know when I come to your pages that I will learn something and find something that will make me think which is one of the reason I keep coming back.

      Learned a lot here....seen many flamingos...plastic and living...but never thought I needed one in my yard....no, not so much.

      Take care of you, my friend.

      Angels once again winging their way to you ps

    • Peggy W profile imageAUTHOR

      Peggy Woods 

      2 years ago from Houston, Texas

      Hi Patricia,

      Thanks for the special greetings. Sending those good wishes back to you! :)

    • pstraubie48 profile image

      Patricia Scott 

      2 years ago from sunny Florida

      Just stopping in to wait good morning and remind you that Angels are headed your way.ps

    • Peggy W profile imageAUTHOR

      Peggy Woods 

      2 years ago from Houston, Texas

      Hi Patricia,

      Nice to know that you are enjoying a wrought iron flamingo in your lawn. Sending you and your family well wishes and prayers.

    • pstraubie48 profile image

      Patricia Scott 

      2 years ago from sunny Florida

      You can still see the pink lawn flamigos on lawns here. I hav a flamingo

      ...it's about four feet tall and is wrought iron. Love to see the live ones...they always Angels are headed to you once again.

    • Peggy W profile imageAUTHOR

      Peggy Woods 

      2 years ago from Houston, Texas

      Hi Au fait,

      I like natural things like flowers and shrubs in the yard also. You will not find a plastic pink flamingo in our yard. Ha! We have lucked out regarding not being flooded...but so many are affected in our area. Very sad situation...and more rain predicted later this week + the start of hurricane season. The ground is saturated!

    • Au fait profile image

      C E Clark 

      2 years ago from North Texas

      I remember when lots of people had flamingos in their yards. Of course their popularity has come back somewhat. I've never been fond of 'stuff' in the yard. Flowers, etc., are OK, but stuff I had to move to mow I never really liked. Shared this with followers and pinning to Awesome HubPages.

      Very humid up here and it feels so much hotter as a result! We've had way too much rain and there's been some flooding and people getting caught up in it. Hope all well for you down there.

    • Peggy W profile imageAUTHOR

      Peggy Woods 

      2 years ago from Houston, Texas

      Hi Robert,

      We still see flocks of the plastic ones that pop up in yards every now and then announcing a birthday, etc. Not often...but when they do...they are certainly noticeable.

    • Robert Sacchi profile image

      Robert Sacchi 

      2 years ago

      Yes, for a while yard flamingos were all the rage. It seemed at the time people liked everything Florida.

    • Peggy W profile imageAUTHOR

      Peggy Woods 

      2 years ago from Houston, Texas

      Hi Rachel,

      Yes it is true that what flamingos eat determines their color as adults. So happy to hear that you enjoyed learning this and more by reading this hub.

    • Rachel L Alba profile image

      Rachel L Alba 

      2 years ago from Every Day Cooking and Baking

      Hi Peggy. I thoroughly enjoyed your hub about flamingoes. They are even prettier then I thought. Looking at the video there is some white in them also. I also didn't know that what they eat gives them more color. Thanks for this hub on flamingoes. Very nice,

      Blessings to you.

    • Peggy W profile imageAUTHOR

      Peggy Woods 

      2 years ago from Houston, Texas

      Hi Frank,

      Nice to know that you enjoyed that video of the flamingo hatching. Nature is amazing!

    • Peggy W profile imageAUTHOR

      Peggy Woods 

      2 years ago from Houston, Texas

      Hi Jackie,

      Flocks of flamingos are truly beautiful. Can't blame you for becoming mesmerized by them. Enjoy your plastic ones. My grandmother surely enjoyed hers. :) Thanks for the share.

    • Frank Atanacio profile image

      Frank Atanacio 

      2 years ago from Shelton

      You know peggy w, what was amazing was that video of the hatching.. thank you again for putting the beauty of nature right here in our faces.. awesome hub my friend :)

    • Peggy W profile imageAUTHOR

      Peggy Woods 

      2 years ago from Houston, Texas

      Hi Bill,

      I had never heard of the IG Nobel Prizes either until I heard mention of it when listening to the video about the creator of the plastic flamingo. I had to back up the video and listen to it again to make sure of what I was hearing. Then I did some research to find out more about it. I like learning new things also. :)

    • Jackie Lynnley profile image

      Jackie Lynnley 

      2 years ago from The Beautiful South

      I saw I guess a flock (?) of the pink flamingos at one of our zoos and they were so beautiful, so hard to walk away from them!

      I have two plastic ones I just cannot give up! lol

      Shared

    • bdegiulio profile image

      Bill De Giulio 

      2 years ago from Massachusetts

      Hi Peggy. I've never heard of the IG Nobel prize. How interesting. I learned something new today. I'll have to check out the entire list.

    • Peggy W profile imageAUTHOR

      Peggy Woods 

      2 years ago from Houston, Texas

      Hi FlourishAnyway,

      It is fun to see a whole grouping of those pink flamingos on a lawn celebrating some type of event. As to the IG Nobel Prizes...some of them are truly preposterous! Good for a laugh as long as government funds are not monetizing the studies.

    • FlourishAnyway profile image

      FlourishAnyway 

      2 years ago from USA

      I love the kitsch of pink flamingoes. They're a real attention grabber. I've never heard of the IG Nobel prize but enjoyed learning about them here. Scratch and sniff definitely deserves some kind of award.

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