Before radio and television commercials, signs were the medium of choice to promote packaged food brands. Country stores were packed with advertisements, as companies developed increasingly complex countertop displays and gigantic wall signs to draw attention away from their competitors. Many highly collectible vintage signs featured food brands that are still in business today, among them Morton Salt, Campbell's Soup, Wonder Bread, Dairy Queen, Sunkist, Borden's, and Planter's Nuts.

Milk and dairy signs often included the requisite cow to show that the products being advertised were farm fresh. For example, the N.P. Hood & Sons logo featured the face of a friendly calf at its center. Butter and margarine makers, like Equity and Deer Creek, appropriated the rolling meadows and open air of the countryside to make their case. Another common motif highlighted Native American characters and scenes, implying the authentic, enduring appeal of brands like Five Roses Flour or Land O’ Lakes Butter.

With the expanding popularity of in-store soda fountains during the first half of the 20th century, a plethora of delicious sweets were hawked on signs for brands like Sealtest, Mellow Gold, Fairmont, Wrigley’s, Beech-Nut, Woodward’s, Old Glory, Kis-Me, and Schrafft’s. Dessert manufacturers bought into the bovine-marketing approach as well, with ice cream makers like Hershey’s and Borden’s relying on a dairy cow to lure eyeballs to its early ads. Though most food companies shied away from portraying edibles on their signs, dessert makers like Mansion House Ice Cream frequently portrayed mouth-watering graphics of their frozen treats.

Mischievous children often adorned the artwork promoting foodstuffs, especially signs for baked goods. From the yellow-raincoat clad Uneeda Biscuit boy to the curly-headed Red-Top Flour girl to the Butter Nut Bread urchins, tots with a twinkle in their eyes and a snack in their hands really sold food. Along with children, animals were adopted as proof of the tastiness of treats. Brown’s Jumbo Bread strapped its logo onto an elephant’s back to dramatize the amazing size of its loaves, while Jack Rabbit Candies proclaimed its highbrow quality via a jauntily-dressed bunny.

Other companies preferred to feature attractive young women enjoying their products, such as Armour’s Grape Juice girls. Somehow, flirty young females instantly made food more exotic and desirable, though the women were often shown doing nothing more than looking pretty. An advertisement for Adams’ Pepsin Tutti-Frutti is a perfect example of this sort of ad, as its only image depicted a well-dressed young woman clutching a rose and hand fan. Wit was also a weapon, and one of the wittiest signs of its day was one produced by the American Can Co. in the 1910s. In its campaign to sell the virtues of canning over other methods of food preservation, it came up with a slogan that read “Success Comes in Cans, Failure in Cants.”


Best of the Web (“Hall of Fame”)

Advertising Antiques

Advertising Antiques

This classy looking British site features hundreds of high resolution photos of antique porcelain pre-war (enamel) … [read review or visit site]

Historical Marker Database

Historical Marker Database

If you're the type who pulls over when you see a 'historic marker ahead' sign, you'll love this site. Orchestrated … [read review or visit site]

Falvo Collectables Gallery

Falvo Collectables Gallery

Ralph and Carol Falvo's excellent collection of automobiles, petroliana, jukeboxes, soda, and general store items. … [read review or visit site]



Other Great Reference Sites

Most watched eBay auctions    

Vintage Dentyne Chewing Gum Advertising Door Push Sign, Metal, VgRare Vintage 1920's Clark Candy Bar 19" Thermometer Sign~niceVintage Orange Thrill Embossed Tin Litho Sign-hoag's Fruit Special--20x9--nice!!Fender Guitar Sign Electric Stratocaster Case Sunburst Strings 3-d Metal MobilNear Mint 1960s Vintage Safe-t-cup Old Soda Fountain Lighted Ice Cream Cone SignSunbeam Bread Sign Tin Advertising Vintage Country Store Door PushVintage 55' Sunbeam Bread Girl Reach For  embossed Dairy Sign Rare Super PieceUsed Porcelain Kirk's Flake Soap Advertising Grocery Store SignVintage Hershey's Ice Cream Lighted Light Clock Display Sign... Works !Vintage Mother Hubbard Flour Thin Metal Door Push Sign Not Porcelain !!!Very Nice * 1940s Vintage Brach's Fine Candy Old Country Store Tin Display SignNice Original 1940s Vintage Curtiss Candy & Gum Old Country Store Display SignOak Acorn Coca Cola Theme Coin Op Gumball Candy Peanut Vending Machine / Sign 8 Texaco Motor Oil Can Rack Gas Pump Outboard Aircraft Engine Sign Globe MobilRare 1950s Vintage Abbotts Ice Cream Old Soda Fountain Ice Cream Flavor Tin SignVintage Nos Holsum Bread Embossed Heavy Metal Door Push Sign Not Porcelain !!!Vintage Large Metal Joy Dog Food Sign @rare@Near Mint 1960s Vintage Brach's Candyland 10 Cent Candy Old Embossed Tin SignPorcelain Advertising Sign~push Plate Vintage Sweet Heart Products Flour & MealCoca Cola Coke Coin Op Gumball Candy Peanut Vending Machine / Sign Vintage 1950's Cadbury's Chocolate Sign/shop Display Australian Grocer.Embossed Bob's Big Boy Drive In Restaurant Sign Diner Vintage Style Mobil 7 UpFoster's Freeze Drive-in Ice Cream Pint Porcelain Advertising Restaurant Sign Foster's Freeze Drive-in Restaurant Porcelain Diecut Slushy Ice Cream Sign Oak Acorn Coca Cola Theme Coin Op Gumball Candy Peanut Vending Machine / Sign Vintage 1960's Kayo Chocolate Soda Pop Can 25" SignRare Early C. 1910 Pre Prohibition Bartels Malt Extract Graphic Old Metal SignVintage 1940s Super Rare Wonder Bread 3d Advertising Sign Excellent Condition NrVintage 1950's Regal Ice Cream Sundae Shop Soda Fountain 24" Metal SignRare Art Deco 1930s Vintage Brach's Fine Candy Old Embossed Tin Display SignEmbossed Chevrolet Sales And Service Sign Garage Chevy Nascar Corvette Truck 59 M&s Orange Fruit Soda 4" Porcelain Advertising Drink Sign Wrigley's Spearmint Gum Window Sign 8391 Numbered 71d D/71 Canada DelcalcomaniaNeon Style Historic Route 66 Street Sign Chevy Usa Ford Motorcycle Truck TexacoFord Mustang Emblem Hood Ornament Desk Sign Pony Shelby Boss Truck Mobil TexacoEmbossed Dad's Garage Sign Ford Chrysler Chevrolet Motorcycle Gas Oil Filter CanAntique 10s 20s Collins Walnetto Candy Cardboard Die Cut Vtg Display Old Ad SignNice Original 1940s Vintage Whitman's Candy Old Metal Country Store Display SignNice Collectible Wonder Bread Tin Advertising Store SignVintage Original Sealtest Ice Cream Metal Advertising Sign / Flavors Menu Board20s Antique Coin Op Penny Zeno Tab Gum Gumball Case Vending Peanut Machine SignLicensed Dodge Super Bee Embossed Metal Sign Hemi Rt Cuda Challenger Charger1950s Original Vintage Pez Totem Candy Dispenser Metal Tin Store Display SignVintage Midwest Dairy Ice Cream Sign Tin Metal Not Porcelain Du Quoin IllinoisOld Foster's Freez Advertising Die Cut Porcelain Pint Of Ice Cream SignVintage 5 Cent Delicious Ice Cream Tarzan Cups Metal Tin Advertising Aaa Sign CoTown Talk Bread Porcelain Advertising Palm Press Door Push Store Sign Ford Mustang Emblem Hood Ornament Desk Sign Pony Shelby Boss Truck Mobil TexacoWe Don't Call 911 Metal Sign Pistol Colt Smith Wesson Shell Texaco Retro VintageVintage 1929 Fleischmanns Yeast For Health Metal Sign Raised Letters Burdick CoEmbossed Hot Dogs Die Cut Tin Sign Diner Kitchen Vintage Mobil 7 Up RestaurantAntique Wooden 1800s 1900s Liberty Club Soda Candy Cigarettes Pies Tobacco SignEmbossed Dad's Garage Sign Ford Chrysler Chevrolet Motorcycle Gas Oil Filter Can$5 Charge For Whining Metal Sign Garage Shop Chevy Ford Man Cave"dad's Workshop" Metal Sign.garage, Shop,chevy, Ford,man CaveOld Ask For Betsy Ross Bread Advertising Porcelain Door Push Plate Sign1950-1960 Fearless Fosdick Wildroot Cream Oil Sign Al Capp Barber Poles EmbossedEmbossed Tasty Refreshments 1950's Style Sign Restaurant Cafe Bar Cinema CandyEmbossed Union 76 Gasoline Sign Vintage Style Metal Texaco Mobil Oil Gas Can TinTexaco Gas Can Motor Oil Pump Globe Sinclair Mobil Sign Vintage Style Coin Op