Snow Crop Frozen vegetables - Busking for peas.

Here's a Snow Crop ad with some nicely painted painting in it, from 1957. There's a few reasons the art in this ad was, uuh, well, art, instead of a photograph. Let's have a look.
Speaking as a big giant grownup who hated eating veg as a kid, I can say that when they're frozen, veggies are a totally different story, and now that I've seen the light, there ain't no going back to the cans, baby!

Anyway, you'd think that painting food like this would be tedious, and you'd be right. Also, pebbly things like peas and corn are the worst, because you'd be painting the same (nearly) identical shape hundreds of times. Money makes that an easier pea to swallow, of course, but there's also the fact that taking pictures of food is really really hard. Simply having an artist paint the product gets the desired results easily. Peas and corn are simple enough. Every artist learns how to shade a sphere in high school art class. The challenge isn't the rendering. It is simply finding the motivation to care about making the green spheres still look good when you're on your 235th pea of the project.

See, a food company like Snow Crop would have been really particular about how their product looks. They want it to look appetizing and fresh and basically "idealized". Trouble is, when you  put a plate of food on a table in a photo studio, it immediately begins to slowly rot under the hot lights. As soon as the food comes out of the fridge, the clock is ticking. Everything begins to dry out, wilt, and turn ugly colors. Food photographers know lots of tricks to get a passable food picture onto film - so much so that theirs is a specialty unto itself. There are photographers who specialize in nothing but food.

Back in '57 the lights were even hotter, as incandescent bulbs were the only game in town. Now that we have cooler-running options like LED lights, I suspect the task of the foodtographer is much easier.

Here's a link to a guy who must have paid Google a bunch of money to have his name come top of the list when I searched on "food photographer". Anthony may know some things about taking pictures, but he's got some to learn about building a website. The first picture on your site shouldn't be a picture of yourself! Think from the user's point of view. The first thing they want to see is what you can do for them, not a close up of your mug. Failing that critical task, it shouldn't take ten seconds to get to a sample of your work, waiting for pictures to slowly dissolve into being. Function comes first. Style and vanity come second.

Anyhoo, Snow Crop went with a painted look, which let them get the picture they wanted without struggling with the realities of photography. Then there's the county fair fantasy image. Since this was going to be a scene involving their mascot Teddy Snow Crop (Here's how I found that out) as a carnival barker, smart money was on "just do the whole thing as a painting".

"Mommy, the perspective on his foot seems off!"
There he is now. Teddy Snow Crop, working the crowd, busking his brains out. "Come on in, folks, and eat from peas!" Hold me back.

This ad assumes we know who Teddy is, but since the brand seems to be defunct, I had to do some digging to figure out why there was a dwarf in a bear suit doing the old razzle dazzle at a honky jamboree.

Look at that crowd. Not a minority in sight. Oh well, this was 1957, when white America preferred to pretend that nobody else existed but themselves.

Copies of this ad were easily found on Ebay going for $10. If you simply must possess it, I suggest you keep your tenner and just print out the "click for big" version down below at your friendly neighborhood inkjet. You're welcome.
Click for big.


Michael Leddy said...

It must've been reassuring to eaters to know that human hands had not only checked but double-checked their frozen peas.

What's with the word "dealers"? It would seem more appropriate in an ad for cars or illegal drugs.

PhilAreGo@gmail.com said...

Aw jeez. I meant to joke about the weirdness of "vegetable dealers" too. Something about "Hey! The new peas for '57 are in! Let's go look!" Ah well, at least somebody dinged this ad for such weird nomenclature. Thanks, Mike!


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