They are bright blue, three apples tall and make the perfect fancy dress idea. But according to a French writer, the Smurfs are actually antisemitic and racist.
Introduced in a French comic book in 1958, the Smurfs have appeared on television and film and will be in cinemas with actors Hank Azaria and Neil Patrick Harris once again this summer.
But French sociologist Antoine Buéno has written a book in which he argues the Smurfs are not as innocent as they seem.
In The Little Blue Book, published in France this week, Mr Buéno said the creatures were racist and antisemitic and part of "a totalitarian utopia, steeped in Stalinism and Nazism".
Mr Buéno described Papa Smurf as a dictator and said the Smurfs' long-time foe – the monster Gargamel – was reminiscent of Nazi-era caricatures.
In an interview with the Wall Street Journal he said that the original comic strip, named "The Black Smurfs" was racist, because when the creatures fell ill they became black and lost "all traces of intelligence".