« Every designer should collect things » said Véronique Vienne, in a talk she gave in Amiens (France) back in 2013, when I was still studying typeface design there. This had quite an impact on me. At that time, I had already started collecting the tiny (and annoying) stickers you find on fruits and vegetables. Suddenly I didn’t feel like a weirdo anymore.
I don’t remember exactly why I started keeping them, and I still don’t know what attracts me most about the tiny sticky pieces: seeing them on the fruits or stocking them in my notebook, all together.
Collecting fruit stickers has a name. I couldn’t find an English translation, but in French, it’s called « Légufrulabélophile ». Definitely not a word you see every day.
The first sticker on a piece of fruit appeared in 1929, on a banana. This first label was called « The Fyffes Blue Label », and its goal was to distinguish Fyffes’ bananas from other bananas available in grocery stores. (Fyffes is the world’s oldest fruit company, founded in 1888). As you can see, only subtle changes have been done on the stickers since 1929.
On most stickers there is a 4 or 5-digit number. This code is called a PLU code (price look up price code). Basically, it is an identification system for fruits and vegetables which has been used since the ’90s in the USA. It also allows us to know how the fruit has been produced. A 4-digit code identifies a «conventionally grown produce», a 5-digit code, organic produce. The code is an international standard, and they are the same everywhere in the world. Amazing, right?
Not really relevant here, but this is how the labels are stuck on the fruits (I personally have always wondered how this was done)
The first image above is from my collection, which is tiny compared to some of the ones I found online. Some people have collected over 30 000 stickers. Now that’s a lot of fruit!
Anyway, let me show you some of my personal favorites*:
Hobo is mostly used for fruits stickers. Fruit name set in hobo, printed in on gold background. Because Hobo doesn’t need much more than that.
There are a bunch of stickers based on the same leaf model. Funny how these designs are almost the same among the different brands here.
I particularly like these fruit shaped cutouts. Interesting to find the exact same shapes for different logos.
What I like best is when the color of the sticker matches the piece of fruit it’s stuck on.
On the right is what I look like, most of the times I go to the supermarket.
Brush and script typefaces are also widely used.
Finally, here are some random ones I found and that I think are interesting to look at.
Fun fact: according to Jean-François Porchez, José Mendoza also used to collect orange stickers. Are there any other type folks out there who collect them, too?
*Images: courtesy of Laurence, her website, whose collection is more extensive than mine.