Do you know where Suzy is? 

Japan might be known for its rice, but it’s also home to the world’s largest bread-baking corporation, Yamazaki Baking. Founded in Japan in 1948, the company began mass-producing bread in 1955, and in 1966 they amped up marketing with a blue-eyed, blonde-haired girl on their promotional images, who bore a striking resemblance to the girl used by American bakery company Sunbeam in 1942.

▼ Sunbeam’s poster child on the left, Yamazaki’s poster child on the right.

It’s been 55 years since the Yamazaki girl first appeared in Japan, but her image is still widely used by the company today, particularly on the side of their delivery trucks. She’s come to be so strongly associated with the company that customers these days don’t often give her a second glance, but now the face of the brand has become the centre of attention after Yamazaki recently revealed she was actually a real girl called Suzy, and they don’t know where she is anymore.

▼ Do you know Suzy?

Yamazaki said Suzy was a three-year-old girl living in Tokyo at the time her photo was taken for the company. Since then, they’ve had no contact with her, and once the Internet heard about that, people everywhere began the search for Suzy, who would today be around 58 years old.

Online sleuths turned up some clues regarding the girl’s possible identity, with some saying her full name was “スージー・ポーマン”. This katakana rendering of her name lets us know how it’s pronounced–Suzy Poorman–but not its correct English spelling, although Twitter user @nikbrainbuster points out that it could be written out as “Suzy Paumen”.

The name “スージー・ポーマン” was first attached to the mystery poster girl in a 2006 article on a TBS radio site, where people sent in information about the “missing” girl. They said the girl was living in Tokyo at the time of the photo shoot due to her father’s work, and 12 years after the photo shoot, in 1978, she returned to Minnesota with her family.

However, there are inconsistencies in the report, as they claim Suzy was four–not three, as quoted by the company–at the time of the photo shoot, and they also claim she appeared in a commercial, together with her sister, for a famous “Mama Range” children’s toy by Tokyo toy maker Asahi Gangu.

▼ However, this Mama Range commercial from the era shows no blonde-haired, blue-eyed children.

Another feasible theory is that Suzy’s surname was misspelt, and instead of “スージー・ポーマン” it’s meant to be “スージー・ボーマン” or “スージー・ボウマン” (Suzy Bowman). There is a Suzy Bowman in Japan, who was born in Canada and raised in Germany, and who came to Japan in 1988. If that’s the correct Suzy, that would mean she returned to Japan at the age of 25.

This Suzy Bowman works in Japan as a Tokyo-based spiritual healer who gives aura readings to clients. The last mention of her online dates back to 2019, when she gave a reading to a person in Japan over Zoom.

People online were surprised by the discussion surrounding the young face of Yamazaki bread, saying:

“Wow, that’s interesting–I always thought the child on the trucks was a boy.”
“I always thought it was an image of a fictional girl so I’m surprised to learn she was a real person.”
“Funny how she’s such a recognisable face in Japan but we know so little about her!”
“Where is she now? Someone needs to find out and do a doco about her!”

“Wherever she is, I hope she’s still eating bread and living well.”

With no contact details for Suzy Bowman or Suzy Pauman currently available, the identity of Yamazaki’s Suzy remains a mystery for now. If you know Suzy, or are able to solve the mystery, be sure to let us know so we can put her in touch with the company for a reunion. That would be a marketing campaign with ‘heartwarming’ written all over it!

Sources: Maidonna News via Livedoor News via Hachima Kikou
Featured image: Wikipedia/ITA-ATU
Insert images: Wikipedia/ITA-ATU, Google screenshots
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