The pink lawn flamingo was designed in 1957 by Don Featherstone. The first pink flamingo's name was Diego, and has become an icon of pop culture that won him the Ig Nobel Prize for Art in 1996. It has even spawned a lawn greeting industry where flocks of pink flamingos are installed on a victim's lawn in the dark of night. After the release of John Waters's 1972 movie Pink Flamingos, plastic flamingos came to be the stereotypical example of lawn kitsch.
Many imitation products have found their way onto front lawns and store shelves since then. Genuine pink flamingos made by Union Products from 1987 (the 30th anniversary of the plastic flamingo) until 2001 can be identified by the signature of Don Featherstone located on the rear underside. These official flamingos were sold in pairs, with one standing upright and the other with its head low to the ground, "feeding". Sometime after Featherstone's retirement in 2000, Union Products began producing birds without the signature. In December 2001, the Annals of Improbable Research (bestowers of the Ig Nobel prize) teamed up with the Museum of Bad Art to protest this omission in the form of a boycott. Union Products, of Leominster, Massachusetts, stopped production of pink flamingos on November 1, 2006.
However, HMC International LLC, a subsidiary of Faster-Form Corporation, purchased the copyright and plastic molds of Featherstone's original plastic flamingos in 2007. HMC sub-contracted production of the flamingos to Cado Manufacturing, Inc., a blow-molder located in Fitchburg, Massachusetts who specialized in this type of production. In 2010, Cado Manufacturing purchased the copyrights and the entire Union Products product line, including the pink flamingo, from HMC. Cado continues to manufacture the Union Products line, and production of the pink flamingo has increased in recent times.
Some homeowners associations forbid the installation of plastic flamingos and similar lawn ornaments, and will fine offending owners, based on the theory that such decorations lower the neighborhood's real estate values.
Placing a plastic Flamingo on lawn symbolizes home is owned free and clear with no debt or mortgage.
In the media and fiction, plastic flamingos are often used as a symbol of kitsch, bad taste and cheapness.