Monday, March 26, 2012
Unlikely. The Edward H. Mitchell Company of San Francisco issued a wide variety of postcards in the 1910s that portrayed fabulous oversized strawberries, lemons, oranges, melons, etc., perched on railroad flatcars or nestled in a gondola car. Often they specified that these were California products; sometimes the labels took the form, "A car load of tomatoes from .... [fill in the blank] ..."
And then there are the famous real photo postcards produced by photographer William H. Martin of Ottawa, Kansas. Mr. Martin predates PhotoShop, but he produced composite images that rival those of modern technology. This is purportedly "the way we welcomed [presidential candidate William Howard] Taft in Washington" in 1908: with huge heaps of onions, ears of corn, potatoes, and cabbages. What a grand way to say Hello, vote for me!
And sometimes the fantasy foods were, um, well... real. Here's a fantasy run amok. It happened at Century 21, the Seattle world's fair that opened fifty years ago, in 1962. The occasion was ostensibly to mark the 128th birthday of a fictional character, legendary logger Paul Bunyan. This cake consisted of more than 2 tons of sugar, 3.5 tons of raisins, 18,000 eggs, and 10,500 pounds of flour. And it was assuredly inedible, despite the fact that you could buy "souvenir mailaway boxed portions" of it to send to your favorite aunt in Biloxi.
But what a wonderfully sugary food fantasy!