Mickey Mouse image is no pig in a poke


Ours may be a small world, but it apparently is chock-full of items bearing the unmistakable print of Mickey Mouse.

Ever since Walt Disney World in Orlando, Fla., bought a Holstein cow with a silhouette of Mickey Mouse's head on her side, the mailbags have been packed with Mickey sightings.

"We've been deluged," said Disney World publicist Bobby Holcombe. "Some of the letter-writers have seen the mark on some very unusual items. Potatoes, cacti, potato chips, even clouds."

Minnie Moo started the ruckus when she became the first member of Disney World's Mickey menagerie in November 1990. Her markings quickly made her a celebrity in her pen at Grandma Duck's Petting Farm -- a far cry from the farm in Edgerton, Minn. "Or as they say, Minnie-sota," Mr. Holcombe added. The mail poured in. Disney, however, wasn't biting. No dogs, no cats. No animals, one spokesman said, that require much personal attention.

But barnyard animals are low-maintenance, a factor that paved the way for the May 1991 arrival of Minnie Pig, an Indiana pig with a distinctive marking of the famed mouse on her back.

Then five months later, Disney World added a North Carolina pig with not one but two Mickey Mouse markings: one on the shoulder and another near her hindquarters. Stuck for a name, her keepers at Grandma Duck's Petting Farm decided to dub her "Mick-Minnie Pig."

Mick-Minnie and Minnie Pig have been popular, but Disney discovered drawbacks to buying baby pigs with perfect Mickey Mouses on them: As the pigs grow, their markings stretch out a bit. Which makes the markings look, as Mr. Holcombe said, "like Mickey Mouse in a fun-house mirror."

Not all of Disney World's purchases have been successful.

The first pig Disney tried to buy was not allowed in the state, thanks to some little-known pig virus. State agriculture officials wouldn't let that little pig cross the state line.

And then there was the case of the Mickey-shaped potato. After Disney bought the potato from an Iowa homemaker last year, it was shipped to Orlando. But attempts to preserve the spud were duds.

"The potato's shelf life won out," Mr. Holcombe said. "And if it were still with us, it certainly would no longer resemble Mickey Mouse."

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