The country woke up on Wednesday to discover that the Postal Service will stop delivering letters on Saturday and that Monopoly had ditched its iron token for a cat — the iron and the mail both victims of that highly overrated phenomenon called the internet. The cat was chosen through an online poll, a medium so heavily tilted in the feline's favor that there was no doubt it would beat the other (admittedly uninspired) options of a diamond ring, a guitar, a helicopter, and a toy robot.
The news was celebrated by BuzzFeed, one of the internet's leading purveyors of cat pics, which said, "After a vicious Hunger Games-like Facebook campaign, the unpopular Monopoly Iron will be replaced with a much cooler Monopoly Cat." Owen Good at Kotaku echoed that dubious claim, saying that Monopoly "got rid of that stupid flat iron once and for all."
Come on, internet! A cat? As if we weren't inundated with enough cats already? What's next? Replacing the thimble with a tiny, alloyed Justin Bieber?
This is the crowdsourcing version of a company market-testing a name for a professional sports team. You end up with the generic (the Heat, the Thunder) instead of the peculiar and unique (the Knicks, the Red Sox).
And while the iron has always been a tad inexplicable (Were you a housewife from the 50s? Steaming the competition?), it at least had the virtue of being a classic. In fact, it was a member of the original six metal tokens introduced in 1937, surviving purges in later years that killed the cannon.
According to Neil Steinberg at The Chicago Sun Times, the iron is actually a remnant of metal-working in Chicago, which was "a center of the laundering profession" in the 1930s.
So there you go. A small, metallic bit of American history. Tossed out for a cat.