17 Jun

Ah, the 90’s, the era of the mini-van. The minivan was much more than just a vehicle; it was the most sought after automobile of choice for every modern, American mom. 


90's moms were independent thinkers, who could not be persuaded or affected by the advertising industry....or so we thought. We believed that our purchasing habits and decisions were solely our own. We perfected bargain shopping and embraced the gift of haggling.


1997, the year I subconsciously succumbed to the hype of an advertisement, and yes, I purchased a forest green, two-sliding door, mini-van. At the time, I had no idea that this vehicle would not only change my life; it would change the way my life was viewed by others. Within a few short months, the metamorphosis had occurred. In fact, I hardly recognized myself. Somehow, I had become the epitome of domesticity. How could this have happened to me? Afterall, I grew up during the seventies, chanting women's lib mantras and refusing to make coffee as part of my job description!


Unbeknownst to me, behind the steering wheel of a minivan, one reeks the word MOM.  I soon discovered that a minivan is a vehicle that is constantly traveling without ever really identifying a true destination. Throughout history, there has never been a vehicle that has stereotyped its owner quite as effectively as the minivan.


A minivan mama could easily be described as a coupon clipping, financially challenged, laundry sorting, meal preparing female. A minivan mama proudly displayed her accomplishments on the back window of her vehicle with stick figure decals that revealed every person in the household including the family dog and cat. Of course, honor student bumper stickers and marching band decals completed the decorative motif. It would be years later, before we realized that smashed candy inside the armrests, mud stains and small footprint indentations embedded onto the back of the seats would greatly decrease the resale value.  


Most minivans could seat seven people comfortably, but for some reason, seven never seemed to be enough seats. A minivan mama always seemed to add passengers, not through labor and delivery, but via pick up. Minivan mamas would travel in packs, take turns moonlighting as transportation liaisons, and could often be heard yelling, "Don't make me pull this van over..........", from the front windows that were down. 


Minivans were truly a mobile driving company, ready to roll at a moment’s notice and identified easily by the array of objects contained in the back compartment, such as, baseball bats, bicycles, strollers, diaper bags, groceries, lawn chairs, stuffed animals, blankets, snacks, books, wipes, umbrellas and so-on.


No doubt, the most amazing transformation was the persona transfer that continued even outside of the vehicle. A minivan mama could typically be spotted at the area discount store, sporting a hurried look, wrinkled brow, dressed in sweat pants or jeans, no brand name tennis shoes, make-up free, have at least two children with her and always had keys in hand at the register. 


A typical minivan mama could be described as follows:

  • Employed either full or part-time or a stay-at-home mom
  • Volunteered as a school room-mother
  • Qualified as a disagreement arbitrator
  • Skilled in the art of crock-pot cooking
  • Loved call waiting
  • Always had a pot of coffee going
  • Routinely discovered cookie crumbs/cereal between her toes when barefoot
  • Embraced deep fryers, electric skillets and microwave ovens
  • Kept a list for everything and placed said list on the frig with a magnet
  • Would always forget to look at the list
  • Dinner was served on paper plates
  • Financial coordinator, coupon clipper and Black Friday shopping expert


Today, the popularity of the minivan has been replaced by the SUV. When all is said and done, the fact remains that the minivan had one other attraction that remains the minivans greatest benefit....a 16-year old would rather walk to school than drive a minivan and then it hit me!  THAT was a fantastic advertising concept! 

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