Saturday, April 15, 2006

Food advertising as art: Torani Posters

I suppose in a way this keeps with my blog's theme about "food" since this is essentially a post about food art since I've become obsessed with these old Torani Italian Syrup advertising posters lately.

You may have seen these posters before. They were pretty ubiquitous back in the late 1990s when Torani ran an ad campaign that played off old pulp fiction images. You can see tiny jpgs of their entire campaign here. Their website even had a "compose a Noir story using Torani syrup" contest where I believe each month the winner got a case of their syrup.

Anyway, around 1999 I ordered a set of the posters from Torani’s website and received four of them. Then maybe three years ago, I wrote an e-mail to Torani asking if they had any more of the posters from the old campaign (which they had long since stopped using) and some anonymous kind soul sent me the Soda 2000 poster.

But that still leaves me bereft of this one final poster which you can see here, Chocolate Fugitive. Until recently I wasn't even certain how many posters Torani had produced for the campaign. I owned five, and I remembered seeing Chocolate Fugitive hanging on the wall of a Seattle coffee shop/newstand called Bulldog News. I think I was tempted to ask for it, even back before I started collecting them. However after a little digging I realized there were only six posters produced: Soda 2000, Chocolate Fugitive, Soda Jerk, This Java's Jumping, Seduced by Flavor, and Sweet Nothings.

I got the above jpg only recently when in a random search for the old Torani posters I stumbled across this article in the Madison Avenue Journal written by Kurt Brokaw. It was the first good look at Chocolate Fugitive I’d seen in a while, (as well as a nice run down of the Noir aesthetic) and I e-mailed the author to ask about the image...basically where did it come from?

Here’s what he wrote me back:

I clipped the Torani ad from a magazine maybe five-six years ago....I'm pretty sure Torani borrowed the woman/car scenario from some 50s crime paperback, probably a [paperback] original from a minor imprint. I don't recognize the art from any well known crime/noir novel, and I know this material pretty well. Maybe Torani got the rights and thus the publisher/illustrator info, maybe not.

What Kurt Brokaw wrote fits with the little bits of information I managed to glean from the advertising agency that ran the campaign Gardner, Geary, Coll & Young (now known as Maiden Lane) that they used real pulp fiction covers and then clearly just altered the images. Perhaps the cover rights expired which is why GGC&Y was able to use them. Or maybe they just purchased them outright since I doubt Torani would have approved an advertising campaign if the ownership of the copyrights was questionable.

It may seem weird to hang posters for coffee syrups on your wall as “art” but in a way it reminds me of those fairly famous French alcohol ads from the 1920 you see hanging everywhere , including Trading Spaces episode.

So if anyone sees this Chocolate Fugitive let me know because I would love to have a complete collection.


Kurt.Brokaw@Verizon.Net said...

The illustration of the girl running
is the cover of "A Night For Scream-
ing" by Harry Whittington. It was
a paperback original published by
Ace in 1960. Sometimes these things
just magically turn up. --Kurt

Anonymous said...

I have the poster you are looking for. did you find one yet? I am willing to sell mine. Contact me at