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Sorry Charlie Day

In 1961, Tom Rogers of the Leo Burnett advertising agency created Charlie the Tuna to be the mascot for StarKist brand tuna. In commercials, the cartoon tuna was portrayed as a hip, beret-wearing beatnik. Rogers based Charlie on his friend Henry Nemo, a hipster and originator of jive talk. Charlie believes himself to have such "good taste" that he should be caught by the tuna company. But having good taste and tasting good are two different things, and he is rejected by the company. They put a note on a fish hook that says "Sorry, Charlie," and lower it down to him to let him know of his rejection.

Charlie was in over 85 advertisements up until the 1980s. Herschel Bernardi, the voice of Charlie, passed away in 1986. Charlie was brought back in 1999 and has continued to be the StarKist mascot since then. "Sorry Charlie" entered the American lexicon and became one of the most famous taglines of all time. The phrase is told to someone who has been rejected, sometimes in an uncaring way. Sorry Charlie Day honors Charlie the Tuna, "who has been rejected for decades and still keeps his spunk." The day also recognizes anyone who has been rejected and has lived through it. It was started by Cathy Runyan-Svacina, who also started the "Sorry Charlie, No-Fan-Club-for-You Club" in 1992, because she had just been rejected and admired Charlie's attitude. You can join the club and get a membership card by sending Cathy your best rejection story.

How to Observe

Here are some ideas on how to observe the day:

  • Use the phrase "Sorry, Charlie."
  • Eat some StarKist tuna.
  • Watch some Charlie the Tuna commercials.
  • Mail (7812 NW Hampton Rd. Kansas City, MO 64152) or email your best rejection story to Cathy to join the club and get your own membership card.
  • Reflect on all the rejections you've had, whether they've been personal, academic, or professional, and think about what you've learned from them and how you've continued to grow.

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