Above and below are some of our latest crate
label scans. Click the images to see their respective pages.
SITE © 2009 BOXOFAPPLES.COM
Welcome to the Box of Apples blog, where you'll find
updates to the site and links to our latest scans.
Get real close to the screen and you can practically
smell the freshness.
Does the Time Go?
In the world of
fruit crate labels, there's hasn't been a whole lot
new in the past, oh, 50 years. Which may account for
this being our first blog post since 2006.
We've done a land-office business in prints since we
hung out our shingle back then, so I guess it's time
to add some more, lest anyone think we're defunct.
When just the opposite is true: Box of Apples is funct. You couldn't get any functer. And now for the
Circa 1910, a
beautiful eight-color label from this Wenatchee Valley “fruit
Valley packer took a patriotic approach.
biblical allegory here. Or maybe Newton's Laws of
you're liable to lose a tooth or two.
The orange that
just couldn't eat another bite.
The apples that
legendary climbers, hardly ever lost their footing.
Note that the
overturned yam crate has a label showing an
overturned yam crate with a label showing an
overturned yam crate with a label showing . . .
I have a soft
spot for "Tee" brand names — My Tee Fine pie crust
Up N’ Atom Carrots
for the atomic age, with a mascot who lives in a
hole in the ground.
SUNDAY, NOVEMBER 26, 2006
Many crate labels were
basically folk art in the service of commerce, and
this picture of a ginormous buttered sweet potato in
an enamelware bowl is a great example.
“Have you tried
our spinach?” Technicolor gamecock with steel
reasoning here was that if you put a mangy marsupial
on the label, the homely sweet potato acquires a
certain glamour, relatively speaking. Works for us.
Best Yams What Am
We’ll go out on a limb and hazard a guess: No graphic
designers or ad agencies were harmed in the
making of this label. And whatever happened
to Smitty Smith?
From the Imperial
Valley by way of Virginia, special art for your
Brand Porto Rican Yams
And the Academy
Award for best tuber in a supporting role goes to
. . . Colloquially called yams, these were
technically sweet potatoes. The Unit 1 Porto Rican,
developed by Dr. Julian Miller of Louisiana State
University from a mutation of the Porto Rican
variety introduced to Florida in 1908, made its
debut in 1934 as the first sweet potato suitable for
commercial cultivation. Itís something of an
heirloom tuber nowadays, having been supplanted in
1960 by the Centennial.
Building in San Francisco at 5 in the morning, circa
label printed by Western Litho of Los Angeles in
gilded with zillions of tiny gold flecks, back when
oranges were something of an exotic treat.
design from Corona Foothill Lemon Company of
astronomical and possibly apocalyptic seems to be
going on here, a la the final scene from “2001: A
points to the box with the finger pointing to the
box with the finger . . . In the early
part of the 20th century, citrus fruits, shipped
thousands of miles on ice by rail car from groves in
California, were in transition, somewhere between
exotic delicacy and mass-market commodity. Each
lemon here was wrapped in tissue paper.
Hell’s Canyon Apples
A few years ago
we went camping along Hellís Canyon in Idaho, and in
the middle of the forest right next to the tent was
big apple tree growing wild. Guess this explains it.
SUNDAY, NOVEMBER 19, 2006
Nothing says nice
fresh salad like a skeevy-looking green pelican
wearing a crown, does it? Our new favorite label
comes from Clarksburg, California, and the 1930s.
Deer Mark Sweet Potatoes
Yams, which lack
a certain something when it comes to visual appeal,
relied on a variety of critters and kids to
move the goods. Here itís a deer. Two for a buck.
It might seem
cute at first glance but then you wonder if this
unhappy little drama is really the best way to get
those yams out the door. Take a second glance,
though, and what do we see? Little Johnny pointing
at the delicious sweet potatoes on the table! Mama,
how bout some of those ’stead of this yucky cod
liver oil? Sophisticated, no?
One yam not
that appetizing? Then how about the big Pyramid O’
Potatoes. Irradiated by Golden Power Yam
Rays, no less, and in a big Yam Coffin.
Lacking a green
pelican, the Horgans of Watsonville made do with a
SUNDAY, NOVEMBER 12, 2006
This mission-style structure was depicted on numerous crate labels for the San Fernando Heights Lemon Association, often at night. Here it’s under the Southern Cross. Does anyone know if it was a real building, or if it still exists?
This grapefruit label from 1916 shows the citrus groves of Porterville, and a young brave squeezing his belle. We wonder if she’s seedless.
Once upon a time the only way to have orange juice was to squeeze some oranges, or get the kitchen staff to do it for you. The butler here looks particularly perplexed.
Big Chief Apples
Back in the day, produce was classified similar to the way meat is graded. Ascending in the fruit-quality hierarchy were Grade C (yellow or green label), Grade B (“Fancy,” or red label) and Grade A (“Extra Fancy,” or blue label).
Wynco of Yakima
The Sontheimers produced apples as well as the man who invented the Cuisinart, although we don’t know if they were on the same branch of the family tree.
MONDAY, NOVEMBER 6, 2006
He was only eight
years old, but somehow people could tell.
Long before he made it big in New York, Conan O’Brien was
shilling for the apple packers in Washington state.
Just seconds after this picture was completed, the knife sawed through,
and little Billy was applesauce.
Bite Size Apples
“Steve” must have been too obvious a nickname for Stephen Scurich,
the man all Watsonville knew as Bob.
Spanish fruitpacker Antonio Escandell featured a mounted orange on its labels through the years; this one probably dates to the 1950s.
Another Spanish orange-crate label from the 1950s, this one featuring the “noble Moor” of Shakespeare’s 17th-century tragedy.
The Indians are mostly gone from the Indian River, and the orange groves are mostly gone from Oak Hill, a Florida community near Daytona Beach.
SATURDAY, OCTOBER 28, 2006
Indian Weaver Veggies
Bluewater New Mex,” says this label for label for
Navajo Marketing of Grants. Google Bluewater
and you’ll find it on a list of ghost towns along
Route 66; it was also the site of the
Bluewater Trading Post and a
of Wenatchee, Washington, used a lot of Native
American imagery on their labels, too. The Wenatchee
(or Wenatchi) Indians, part of the Salish nation,
numbered only 66 in a 1910 census. We wonder who the
model was for this illustration and whatever became
Blue Tip Citrus
This label from a
Florida citrus packer has no overt Indian imagery
but something of a Native flavor by virtue of the
feather. Here at BXOA, thematic unity is everything.
Sunny Heights Oranges
A friend from
Redlands says the orange groves are all condos now.
Fashion Plate Apples
Head has nothing on this gent, who we were thinking
might make a good mascot for the site. All he needs
is a name.
Welcome to Box
We are just about
ready to throw the doors open for business. Please,
no shoving. And remember: There are only 66 shopping
days left before Christmas.
A Closer Look
We started out
posting crate labels on the parent site (Plan59)
but decided they deserved their own domain. A Plan59
visitor writes that one reason these labels are so
pretty is that instead of the usual four-color
printing (where cyan, magenta, yellow and black are
combined to produce the desired hue), they used
eight- and twelve- color printing. And he is right.
Instead of a zillion little halftone dots, you see
solid colors of many different shades, and beautiful stippling
effects that look like the old- time engraving on
paper money. Here are some examples below (click to
Where Is Our Personal Assistant?
The site is
a-building, with the content (crate labels) arriving
every day on the doorstep thanks to eBay and the
postal service. Today's standout: The Dynamo Apples
label. It has kind of a Constructivist look. The
scanning is a bit of a chore.
The Story of Crate Art
A history of
crate labels by Thomas Jacobsen, written in 1988:
Since Western settlers discovered there was more wealth in oranges than in gold, the fruit-crate label has more truly represented the California dream of striking it rich than the early cries of “Eureka!”
Although the California soil may have been as rich as gold, fruit farmers needed a way to market their golden globes to East Coast buyers. To attract the eye of buyers, the fruit-crate label business was born.
In the 70 years
between the 1880s and the 1950s, millions of
colorful paper labels were used by America's fruit
and vegetable growers to advertise their wooden
boxes of fresh produce that was shipped throughout
the nation and the world.
Collectors value crate art for its colorful design and its ability to trace the social and political history of American agriculture.
primarily in the southern regions of California,
labels became an industrywide necessity to
communicate the appeal of fresh [ continued ]
The Very First Post
I had commenced
to-day to organize my considerable holdings in fruit
crate labels, and perhaps endeavor to disseminate
them by mechanical means. (Revealed to me in a dream
a fortnight ago was a wondrous apparatus, similar in
conception to a network of pneumatic tubes, with all
the advantages of telegraph and telephone, called
the Inter-Net, by which such goal might be
accomplished.) Alas, it has not come to pass.