25 / 10 / 2016
In the manner of many famous Belgians – think Jan Van Eyck, Adolphe Sax (creator or the Saxophone) or even Audrey Hepburn – the Smurfs have achieved global fame without many people realising their true nationality, possibly because many people assume they’re French.
It’s a little-known fact that Brussels-born comic artist Peyo brought the blue-faced characters to life in 1958 (and did any of us realise it was that long ago?) in the Franco-Belgian comic Spirou.
As an ignorant Brit, I must confess that I’d always thought they were a creation of the advertising agency for the then National petrol brand, who appropriated the Smurfs for one of their campaigns in the 1980s.
But now they have achieved the recognition they deserve by taking to the air with Belgian carrier, Brussels Airlines.
The little blue people are now flying to the US, Canada and Africa on Smurf-themed lunchboxes, along with colouring books, memory games and finger puppets, all designed to relieve the tedium of a seven-hour flight for younger passengers.
Meals in the boxes were all carefully selected after a tasting session where more than 60 kids gave their input.
And while the original Smurfs appeared to have mediaeval origins, they have been brought bang up to date with a Captain Smurf and Cabin Crew Smurfette, as well as Safari Smurf on the Africa flights.
As the daughter of their creator, Véronique Culliford, says: “The Smurf is an excellent ambassador who carries the values of universality, respect and helpfulness. The Smurfs are without a doubt one of the best known Belgian brands worldwide, with hardly anyone knowing it’s Belgian.”