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    

Rare Vintage 1920's Clark Candy Bar 19" Thermometer Sign~niceVintage Orange Thrill Embossed Tin Litho Sign-hoag's Fruit Special--20x9--nice!!1950s Reverse Glass Malted Milk Soda Fountain Ice Cream SignNear Mint 1960s Vintage Safe-t-cup Old Soda Fountain Lighted Ice Cream Cone SignUsed Porcelain Kirk's Flake Soap Advertising Grocery Store SignOld Ask For Betsy Ross Bread Advertising Porcelain Door Push Plate SignFoster's Freeze Drive-in Restaurant Porcelain Diecut Slushy Ice Cream Sign Porcelain Advertising Sign~push Plate Vintage Sweet Heart Products Flour & MealFoster's Freeze Drive-in Ice Cream Pint Porcelain Advertising Restaurant Sign Vintage 1930's Orange Crush Chocolate Soda Pop 20" Embossed Metal SignNice Original 1940s Vintage Curtiss Candy & Gum Old Country Store Display SignVintage 55' Sunbeam Bread Girl Reach For  embossed Dairy Sign Rare Super PieceVintage Large Metal Joy Dog Food Sign @rare@Coca Cola Coke Coin Op Gumball Candy Peanut Vending Machine / Sign Vintage 1960's Kayo Chocolate Soda Pop Can 25" SignVery Nice * 1940s Vintage Brach's Fine Candy Old Country Store Tin Display SignM&s Orange Fruit Soda 4" Porcelain Advertising Drink Sign Vintage 1950's Cadbury's Chocolate Sign/shop Display Australian Grocer.Vintage Original Art Deco Ice Cream Parlor Diner Soda Fountain Advertising SignVintage 1930's Sheffer's Ice Cream Soda Fountain 24" Embossed Metal SignTown Talk Bread Porcelain Advertising Palm Press Door Push Store Sign Rare 1950s Vintage Abbotts Ice Cream Old Soda Fountain Ice Cream Flavor Tin SignNear Mint 1960s Vintage Brach's Candyland 10 Cent Candy Old Embossed Tin SignVintage 1930's Scheuer Butter-krust Bread 20" Embossed Metal Sign W/milk CanVintage C.1950 Gold Seal Bread Bakery 24" Metal Thermometer SignWrigley's Spearmint Gum Window Sign 8391 Numbered 71d D/71 Canada DelcalcomaniaVintage 1940s Super Rare Wonder Bread 3d Advertising Sign Excellent Condition NrVintage 1940's Buy Merita Bread Door Push Pull Embossed Sign No Reserve VgcVintage 1920s U.s. Cream Separators Dairy Cow Farm 2 Sided 13" Metal Flange SignVintage C.1940 Kayo Chocolate Soda Pop Bottle 28" Metal SignVintage 1960 Old Coca Cola Soda Pop Carrier Grocery Store Basket Carrier SignVintage 1950's Regal Ice Cream Sundae Shop Soda Fountain 24" Metal Sign20s Antique Coin Op Penny Zeno Tab Gum Gumball Case Vending Peanut Machine SignVintage 30" Sunbeam Bread Double Sided Embossed Metal Door Push SignOld Original Aspro 3d Die Cut Cardboard Shop Sign - Milk Bar, Chemist, GroceryVintage Advertising Signs - Colonial BreadVintage 1940's Knudsen Cottage Cheese Dairy Farm 16" Embossed Metal SignVintage C.1930 De Laval Cream Separator Dairy Cow Farm 19" Embossed Metal SignRare Art Deco 1930s Vintage Brach's Fine Candy Old Embossed Tin Display SignAntique 10s 20s Collins Walnetto Candy Cardboard Die Cut Vtg Display Old Ad SignNice Original 1940s Vintage Whitman's Candy Old Metal Country Store Display SignOld Original Cadbury's Milk Tray Chocolates Cardboard Showcard / Shop SignFord Mustang Emblem Hood Ornament Desk Sign Pony Shelby Boss Truck Mobil TexacoVery Nice * 1930s Vintage Armour's Cream Station Old 40x15 Inch Porcelain SignVintage 1938 Butter-cup Bread 20" Metal SignVintage 1930's Miller Bros. Creamery Products Milk Ice Cream Farm 11" Metal Sign1950s Original Vintage Pez Totem Candy Dispenser Metal Tin Store Display SignVintage C1930 Primus Cream Separator Milk Dairy Cow Farm 14" Embossed Metal SignPyramid Weiss Cream Beer Tap Handle Beer Knob Nib Poster SignVintage Midwest Dairy Ice Cream Sign Tin Metal Not Porcelain Du Quoin IllinoisDisney Jungle Cruise Crew Mess Lunch Menu Original Attraction Display Sign PropFord Mustang Emblem Hood Ornament Desk Sign Pony Shelby Boss Truck Mobil Texaco"dad's Workshop" Metal Sign.garage, Shop,chevy, Ford,man CaveOld Vintage Porcelain Apex Ice Cream Enamel SignEmbossed Tasty Refreshments 1950's Style Sign Restaurant Cafe Bar Cinema Candy1950-1960 Fearless Fosdick Wildroot Cream Oil Near Mint Tin Sign- Al CappNeon Style Historic Route 66 Street Sign Chevy Usa Ford Motorcycle Truck TexacoVintage 1930's Liberty's Famous Rye Bread 18" Metal SignVery Rare Vintage Bomb .50 Pop Stay Cool Cream Popsicle Diecut Tin Metal 3d SignAntique Wooden 1800s 1900s Liberty Club Soda Candy Cigarettes Pies Tobacco Sign