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Snoopy's Anti-School Poster Puts Hallmark in Doghouse

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Snoopy apparently is having second thoughts about the value of a formal education.

Hallmark Cards touched off a small but lively debate about Snoopy's attitude earlier this month when it introduced, through its chain stores, a poster in which the "Peanuts" character intimated that he would rather drink root beer and eat pizza than spend time on school-work. According to William Johnson, a Hallmark spokesman in Kansas City, Mo., 13 school-board members, principals, and teachers in several states complained when they saw the poster that features Snoopy, Woodstock, and several yellow birds having a root beer and pizza party.

Hallmark, he said, cares enough about the negative reaction to revise Snoopy's ideas about school. "We're in the business of making people happy, and if we make 1 percent unhappy ..., we'll change the message of the product," said Mr. Johnson.

Mr. Johnson said he has not been involved in any similar controversies with schools in his 22 years with the company. He said the company this year will produce 18,000 products, including greeting cards, posters, sets of stationery and wrapping paper, and novelty items.

The only other controversy that rivals the Snoopy flap, Mr. Johnson said, involved St. Patrick's Day greeting cards. He said people of Irish ancestry complained that the cards associated the Irish with excessive alchohol consumption.

"We try to be careful about that," he said.

Hallmark officials "were a little surprised" by the Snoopy controversy, Mr. Johnson said.

The poster "was offered with a great deal of innocence," he said, adding: "I think it's a college level of humor that did not translate down to parents."

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