Fruit Grower Advertising
The Fruit Crate Labels in the Gallery are representatives of the labels which were the principal advertising medium used by commercial fruit growers to advertise their produce to brokers, wholesalers, and buyers from the late 1800s well into the 1900s.
The growth of the railroad system in the U.S., Canada, Australia, and other countries was a principal factor in the growth of commercial tree fruit production industry. Railroads provided cheap and rapid transit to markets in the large population centers, as well as supporting shipping of that produce to overseas markets.
Initially, growers used metal stencil forms to put their names and brands on the wooden crates and barrels containing their produce. This was also done by brokers and wholesalers who made bulk purchases from the growers for subsequent retail sales to markets. The goals of the stenciling was not only to identify the source of the produce, but more importantly to get their brand before consumers and to make their produce more attractive than that of the competition.
To improve sales potential and to grab consumers’ attention more quickly, apple growers developed and used paper labels to glue to their wooden crates and barrels. Other produce growers followed suit in using their own packaging labels.
Many Fruit Crate Labels use artistry to combine cultural, geographic, and sociological content.
In the mid-1900’s, reliable cardboard packaging containers, thin plastic packaging film, along with mechanized labor-saving processing and packaging soon led to the demise of the paper Fruit Crate Labels in use by the fruit industry.
They are works of art and are quite collectible now. There are a number of websites where you can not only view them in all their diversity, but purchase them as well.
The collection at the National Apple Museum was assembled over many years amd later donated to us by Mr. George Kira of Staten Island, New York.
The Yakima Valley Museum in Yakima, Washington, and the British Columbia Orchard Industry Fruit Museum in Kelowna, B.C., Canada also have collections of these labels.