Friday, September 7, 2012

Sign Sign Everywhere a Food Sign

Fig.01. Love this one. Puts me in a 'pork' state of mind.

Food signs help sell food.  Different cultures use their words in different ways.  The way food is marketed reflects a country's culture, history, economic environment, legal regulations, demographic etc. In Italy, food signs are strictly informative: A salumi shop will typically have the name of the store and 'salumi' written on the window. In Quebec, we're accustomed to seeing our signs in two languages.  Because of this extra text, costs for signs in Quebec are more expensive, as a result, signage is usually kept to the name of the establishment.
While many food marketing studies have been conducted over the years (especially of late with regard to the fast food vs well being debate) it is not the intention of this post to analyse how Sofia Loren helped market Italian food or blame Coca Cola for inventing Santa Clause.  This post is about whether imagination and creativity, with regard to words and signs, lend themselves to a more satisfying eating experience.

Fig.9. Sometimes, I like my cooks domineering and forceful; but only if the food's good.

When I go to the United States I'm entertained by the signs hanging in restaurants, thus, the question is two-fold: are these signs affecting what I'm tasting and why do I need to be entertained when it comes to fulfilling one of my basic needs? (I especially find the English language to be exceptionally entertaining and well suited when it comes to food marketing; particularly when a population-specific vernacular is used, such as New York Italian for example.)
I don't really have the answer. I will, however, take heed in the realization that food is hedonistic in many aspects, and that signs which entertain me with the lure of food can equally be savoured and enjoyed within my mind's appetite... for now.  Here are some of my favorites.

Fig.1. New 'Yok' Italian. I'll have a spicy salami with Russian dressing please. 

Fig.2. A Chicago establishment (also in NY) with a suggestive name. Great oatmeal, chocolate chip cookies.

Fig.3. Made famous in an SNL skit, Billy Goat tavern uses suggestive words everywhere; from their front door to their drinking cups. 

Fig.4. To the point. (and delicious)

 Fig.5. One of the many such signs in Ed Debevic's Chicago. All of Ed's signs are rude and brazen, a concept Europeans would not be able to understand.

Fig.6. The Sausage Superstore, what else can I say.

Fig.7. Cafe Mexico in Naples. It's one of the oldest (and best) coffee bars in Italy but time hasn't affected their signs: The name of the establishment and a logo.  Inside it's the same; rather than put up posters, Mexico's walls are adorned with shelves selling coffee and coffee related products.

Fig.8. Would this lure you in or push you away?


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