The Air at the Top of the Bottle

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Pepper Packets

August 31st, 2010 · 6 Comments

Salt and pepper packets occupy a strange position in our strange society.  In a country that monetizes everything, they’re free.  Everybody knows and uses them; and they pass unnoticed.  Other condiment packets contain commercial products familiar to the condiment-eater: the ketchup and mustard look like the bottles in the store.  Salt and pepper are also branded; but the brands in food service packs are essentially generic.  After all, common salt and pepper are just salt and pepper; except for “gourmet” or flavored varieties, product differentiation is impossible.  A free generic product?  In the USA?  Say what?

Somebody had to design these things — knowing all too well that the designs didn’t really matter, and that nobody would look at them.  So, for those of you who consistently misunderstand the Ullage Group’s spotlight on liminal graphics, here is a selection.  In the interest of more focused pleasure, I’m only posting pepper.

By the way — I didn’t consciously collect these.  I knew I had a small bowl in the kitchen with packets left over from takeout.  But I didn’t know there were so many designs, since I’d never bothered to look at them.


(Posted by Doug Skinner.)

Tags: Dietary Mores · Ephemera · Liminal Graphics

6 responses so far ↓

  • 1 Lisa // Aug 31, 2010 at 3:22 pm

    I have one with a little Quaker guy on it pinned to my fridge!

  • 2 Doug // Aug 31, 2010 at 4:48 pm

    I’ve seen that one on a salt packet — not on pepper, though…

  • 3 Angela // Sep 2, 2010 at 2:09 pm

    I just found the “Chef’s Quality” pepper packet in my desk drawer. I prefer the back of the packet which reads: Pepper (in bold) and below in smaller font…Ingredients: Black Pepper

  • 4 Linda L. Schrandt // Jan 22, 2013 at 2:52 pm

    I have a collection of salt and pepper packets. I DO appreciate all of the different designs. Do you have any extras to share or trade?

  • 5 Doug // Jan 22, 2013 at 5:21 pm

    I didn’t know anyone else collected such stuff! I’ll be glad to send you some extras. I’m leaving for Argentina tomorrow, so it will have to wait until I get back. Meanwhile, bon appetit!

  • 6 Linda L. Schrandt // Jan 23, 2013 at 11:36 pm

    I also collect banana labels.

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