You know those smiley faces you text to your friends on your phone? Those are called emojis. Whether you think they’re a nuisance or a great way to spruce up a conversation, emoji have become ingrained into texting and social media. You can have conversations while punctuating them with colorful images, such as planes and a pig’s snout. However, recent stories have placed the light squarely on emoji once more, so here are five things you might not know about the modern-day lingua franca.
1. Emojis are about to get more diverse
Sure, emoji are usually associated with yellow faces that express various emotions, but that doesn’t mean there aren’t those who wish for a more ethnically-diverse set of faces. America’s lovechild Miley Cyrus and guy-who-makes-Kim-Possible-ask-about-the-sitch Tahj Mowry seem to think so, and so did MTV Act contributor Joey Parker. Parker sent an email to Apple CEO Tim Cook about whether Apple would issue a more diverse set of emoji.
Cook forwarded the email to Apple vice president of worldwide corporate communications Katie Cotton, who agreed with Parker. “There needs to be more diversity in the emoji character set,” wrote Cotton in the email response, “and we have been working closely with the Unicode Consortium in an effort to update the [Unicode] standard.” The Unicode standard is what the emoji are based on in order for them to be shown across various platforms, while the Unicode Consortium
Whether or not you think diverse emoji should be a thing doesn’t seem to be up for debate for Apple, though you’re more than welcome to chime in. Just make sure to keep it classy.
2. There are White House petitions for a hot dog emoji
While we can sit back and enjoy the fact that there is such a thing as an emoji for soup, there currently isn’t one for the American hot dog. Laura Ustick, the Patriot and Good Samaritan that she is, wants to change that by petitioning President Barack Obama and the father of emoji, Shigetaka Kurita, for the inclusion of hot dogs while also forming the Hot Dog Emoji Coalition. It recently added competitive eater Patrick “Deep Dish” Bertoletti to its ranks.
Co-founder of the Unicode Consortium, Mark Davis, thinks the request is just a bit high-maintenance. “The problem with the hot dog emoji,” said Davis to The Wall Street Journal, “is, what do you then want with the hot dog? Would we do one with ketchup or without?” While Davis doesn’t think there will be a hot dog emoji anytime soon, Kurita still supports Ustick’s efforts. “In Japan, we have onigiri [rice ball] emoji, so why not hot dogs?”
3. You can buy slippers with emojis on them
If you’ve ever wanted to just wear the emoji you use instead of simply seeing them on a screen, then you’ll be glad to know that online boutique Moda Operandi has officially jumped the shark and begun to offer slippers embroidered with emoji.
Called M’oticons (we’re not kidding), the line is a collaboration between luxury lifestyle brand Del Toro and designer label Edie Parker. The line features the poo emoji (#theshit), lipstick and high heel emoji (#highmaintenance), dancing and castle emoji (#dancingqueens), the queen and bee emoji (#queenbee), and many more.
There is a price to pay for your attempts at cultural relevance, however: $340 for the slippers and $1,600 for the clutches. To that, we say: #whybother.
4. Shigetaka Kurita is the guy who created emoji
As previously mentioned, Shigetaka Kurita is the person people who use and enjoy emoji should probably be thankful for. Designer of the first emojis for cellphones, Kurita first created emoji while he was a member of a team that, at the time, was preparing for the debut of NTT Docomo’s i-mode, the world’s first mobile Internet system. The debut was set for February 1999.
Inspired by manga, Chinese characters and street signs, Kurita wanted to convey emotions and thoughts without having the symbols polarize those who would see them. Eventually, Kurita came up with 176 12×12 images that would eventually be the foundation for emoji everywhere. Domo arigatou gozaimasu, Kurita-san.