Whiskered dads, bubble tea, mammoth, ninjas, flip flops … more than a hundred new emojis were validated by the Unicode consortium, based in California, and were unveiled on Wednesday January 29. They will be deployed during the year on smartphones, computers and web services.
Among them, one in particular caused a sensation across the Jura: a fondue pot marked with the Swiss cross. “Our national dish enters the pantheon of simplified thinking”, welcomes the Swiss newspaper Time. Nothing less than a “Digital glory day for Switzerland, for fondue and for Swiss fondue”, exults Philippe Revaz, journalist from the RTS.
Except that, scandal, the Unicode consortium had received a comparable request, in February 2019, which it had refused. The Pixels section of World had, in fact, filed a file for the raclette emoji to be recognized and also made its appearance in our keyboards.
Justin Bieber in support of the melted emoji
20 Minuten, the Swiss German version of 20 minutes, recounts with pride how two of its journalists, Tobias Bolzern and Stefan Wehrle, convinced the emoticons' guards, thanks to a very serious dossier deposited in November 2018 and available online.
Their candidacy is not without arguments: Google searches on fondue exceed that of hamburger each winter and represent a third of the general volume on Instagram, underline their authors.
They are also, they argue with confidence, a recipe very present in pop culture. And to quote the American series That'70s Show ; the inevitable comic book album Asterix among the Helvetii translated into 16 languages; and even the song Boyfriend by Justin Bieber (“Swag, swag, swag, on you / Chillin’by the fire while we eatin’fondue”), who also made a promotional mini-video of it.
And to conclude by prophesying – wrongly for now – that the Swiss tennis champion and great user of emojis Roger Federer would make great use of it with his millions of subscribers on social networks.
Raclette deemed less representable
So could there be room for a melted emoji and a raclette emoji? As summarized by Sandro Dall’Agio, designer of the Swiss video game Turn cheese, “Between fondue and raclette, it's like between Dragon ball z and The Knights of the Zodiac, you have to choose your side. It's difficult. ” At this game, the second lost. “It broke our hearts that your emoji was rejected last year”, sympathizes Tobias Bolzern, as a fair play neoemojist:
“Perhaps it is because there are several versions of the raclette and it is harder to represent in emoji? Or because Justin Bieber never sang about the raclette? “
The choice may have been a matter of notoriety. If Google Trends is to be believed, raclette is certainly significantly more popular than fondue in Western Europe, but it is barely known in the United States, where the consortium is headquartered. “It doesn't even appear in The Oxford Encyclopedia of Food & Drink in America “, the benchmark encyclopedia, says Loïc Bienassis, historian at the European Institute for the History and Cultures of Food. “While there was, between the 1950s and 1970s, a craze among the American middle classes for what were called the fondue parties, so in sachets, cans or pots. Since then, the word and the recipe have been easy to find. “
Contacted, Mark Davis refused to comment on the choice of the commission. According to his records, the raclette did not meet the representability criteria. In 2019, The world had received for answer:
“This is a dish that seems too obscure and an emoji that is not generalizable enough to be placed on the list of priority food emojis. The idea can also be expressed with existing emojis, like fire and cheese. “
A very partial selection
Nonsense. In reality, behind the disputable victory of the melted emoji hides an outrageous plot. The dice were loaded from the start: in July 2017, Tobias Bolzern had interviewed Mark Davis on behalf of… 20 Minuten. And the latter had himself submitted the idea of a cheese pictographer.
“What would be your favorite emoji? “, the newspaper asked at the time. “I'm still waiting for the melted emoji. No one has applied so far. “, replied the world ambassador of the consortium. And the German daily newspaper to commit to apply.
Mark Davis delivers today on the site of 20 Minuten the explanation: he worked for ten years at Google’s headquarters in Switzerland, during which time he could fill his throat with various cheese coulis. Aware of the gravity of the diplomatic incident, Mark Davis clarified this morning in an email to World after all, have a slight preference for raclette. Too late.
A flag that is not unanimous
The irony is that the design of the emoji published by the Unicode consortium differs from that officially proposed by 20 Minuten : he adds the Swiss cross, while the version submitted by journalists of 20 Minuten did not contain any.
“I like minimalism. I would never buy a pot with a Swiss flag on it “, recognizes the World Tobias Bolzern. Sandro Dall’Agio, who has reconstructed an authentic 3D pot for his mobile game, also admits a certain frustration. “I understand the intention, without the flag, we wouldn't necessarily have understood. But I find it a shame, it doesn't look like a real fondue pan. ”
Especially since the cross obscures the existence of the Savoyard fondue, no less legitimate or tasty than the Friborg or Vaudannaise recipes. “It is undeniable that it is a dish of Swiss origin, but the representations also count”, reminds Loïc Bienassis.
” Today, the Savoyard fondue is made with typically Savoyard ingredients, there has clearly been a heritage. ”
While greeting “A positive nod to the gastronomy of the Alps”, Sébastien Breton, director of the Association of traditional cheeses of the Savoy Alps, reminds us: “In our region, we have cheeses concerned with fondue, abundance, Beaufort, Savoy Emmental. And in terms of taste, sorry for our Swiss friends, it has no competition. ”
The final choice of design could even have long-term economic consequences for the French industry, says Loïc Bienassis: “ In French cookbooks published in the United States, Savoyard fondue is seen as part of the French culinary arsenal. Assimilating fondue to Switzerland in an emoji with global visibility, this can benefit Swiss products. It’s not trivial. “
Frankly, between us, and in all objectivity-neutral-impartial-if-I-lie-I-am-going to hell, shouldn't this visual with a Swiss cross have been rejected by the consortium, in the name of rule F of exclusion criteria, which prohibits overly specific emojis? “The images published are not normative. It's up to each platform to draw its own image “, corrects Mark Davis. Now responsible for Apple, Facebook or Twitter to offer their version.