Yerba Mate's Presence in United States Society throughout the Years

by Melanie Carr

        Yerba Mate (yehr-buh maa-tay), one of the lesser known stimulants, has recently been rising in popularity in the United States. Several celebrities such as Lionel Messi, Kevin Bacon, Barack Obama, and even Pope Francis are now regular drinkers of the commodity and seeing these celebrities consume the drink has led to many others doing the same (Matero 2017). As for any product, as the years have gone by, advertising for this product has changed. This development of yerba mate advertisements over the years can be seen through the comparison of these advertisements from different time periods. 

        Throughout this project I will look at yerba mate advertisements from different times from the early 1900s to today. I will comment on the specific aspects that can be seen in each of these advertisements, and then compare them to one another. Through this I can show how the advertising of yerba mate has changed since its introduction to the United States and even speculate on how the change in advertising strategies could have helped yerba to its somewhat popular status today. 

But What Is Yerba Mate?

        Yerba Mate is an herb that is from the forest of Paraguay. Initially discovered by the ingigenous people of Paraguay, the Guarani, once discovered by other countries it became a large point of contention (Folch).  After realizing the value of the substance, the surrounding countries of Chile, Brazil, and Argentina soon took this production from the Guarani in order to profit off the substance. The substance soon became very popular in several regions of South America and kept growing from there. Along with this growing popularity  in South America yerba mate tried to make an entrance into the European market, but did not have much luck (Folch). Where the substance did have luck is with South American guachos. The beverage became popular with  these Argentinian cowboys called gauchos who drank the beverage for energy during long work days ("What is Yerba Mate"). From here yerba mate because a large part of South American culture. Part of this culture can be seen in how it is consumed. There are special straws called bombillas used to drink the yerba mate and cups called mates to hold the drink (Folch). The bombillas and mates are usually designed with either culture or a specific use in mind which can result in very beautiful products. The main attraction of this product is that when consumed, yerba mate is described as giving “the energy kick of coffee, the smooth flavor of traditional tea, the healing components of herbal tea, and the feel-good factor of chocolate” (“What Is Yerba Mate?”).

Within this Presentation 

          The main focus of this site will be different advertisments or visual media used to spread yerba mate throughout the United States and encourage people to purchase. I will use these images to answer the question: What tatics were yerba mate companies using to try and sell their product at different points in time during yerba mate's rise to fame in the US?

        The three major tatics that I found were used to try and sell yerba were: promotion as an aphrodisiac, then variety of flavor and looks, and finally acessability, health, and wellness. 

        Throughout my exhibit I also focus of the yerba mate company Guayakí. I chose this compnay to focus on because I believe they represent the changing trends very well and allow me to show this transition through one company.

Prev Next