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Utility Brand fruit crate label
In collection
From the Smithsonian Collection

This 1920s fruit crate label put an idealized version of the apple in an idyllic and ordered pastoral scene. Apples were big business in the Pajaro Valley in the 1920s: there were 37 fruit packing houses in Watsonville in 1925. In that same year, Polk's Watsonville City Directory declared that the valley was ".the largest apple and berry producing center in California, and the third largest shipping point between San Francisco and Los Angeles."

Physical Description
Date Made:
Fruit crate labels began to be designed at the end of the 19th century. As refrigerated railroad cars helped make the long distance shipping of perishable produce such as fruits and vegetables possible, the industry developed labels so shippers and merchants could more easily identify what was in the crates. These vibrant and colorful paper labels were pasted onto the boxes that were shipped around the country and were a lively mobile advertisement. Labels featured a wide range of designs. Although the fruit in question-orange, lemon, apple, strawberry, and many more-was usually depicted on the label, it wasn't always the case. Labels drew on a wide range of iconographic images--from idyllic pastoral scenes, women, animals, and patriotic imagery--in order to entice people to buy fruit.
Related People, Places, and Events
Olsen Brothers, Inc.
San Francisco firm that made this label.

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