Mark Twain was a funny guy. Besides the humor in his books, he was known for his little quips and one-liners that made him one of the most quotable authors in his day, and even into the present. He was also a man of style, adopting his trademark white suit and black bow tie, and sporting that iconic mustache that still makes him instantly recognizable today. One thing you’ve never seen—and even the creative Mark Twain himself never imagined—is the venerable author dressed in a banana suit.

Visitors to the new riverfront in Hannibal may have had to do a doubletake this weekend when they looked over and saw Mark Twain piloting a steamship in a partially peeled banana suit. It was a publicity stunt from Sun Bum brand sunscreen to outfit 50 famous statues in 50 states in a banana costume. For Missouri, they chose the Mark Twain statue on the riverfront. Personally, I think Mark Twain would have had a good chuckle at his own expense.

Even though this was a pure publicity grab, there was a serious message behind the Sun Bum stunt. May is Skin Cancer Awareness Month.

“We look at a banana as the ideal protection messaging,” marketing vice president Russell Radebaugh of Sun Bum said. “It’s covered from head to toe, just like you should be. And since we are not covered head to toe, we need to protect ourselves with things like SPF or shade or sunglasses or other sorts of clothing. So we’ve kind of adopted the banana as a metaphor for us to promote education without using scare tactics.”

Representatives from Sun Bum had banana suits to give out on Saturday, along with free give-aways to urge the use of sunscreen to stop skin cancer.


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