Saturday, January 23, 2010

"Food Club" Brand at Big Bear Supermarkets. (Or "How I Learned To Stop Worrying And Spend Countless Hours On The Internet Trying To Date A Milk Jug.")

Oh, hello! It's yourself!

Here's the story so far: My house in Charleston is about to be put on the market for a third time. It's a lovely house; three bedrooms, nestled comfortably in the Edgewood area. Hey - if you know someone that's looking for a beautiful starter home with the original 70 year old hardwood floors lovingly restored to their original glory by a professional, a great neighbourhood featuring an award-winning gardener and a finished half basement that used to be home to the studios of the Taskerlands Radiophonic Workshop (responsible for many professional radio productions, including Rock 105's April Fool's Day parade, The 4th annual UKNova.com awards ceremony and the nationally (UK) syndicated 'Spike Nesmith Rage Machine') let me know before any estate agents get involved, so we can cut a mutually beneficial deal!

Ahem. Commercial over.

The kitchen worktop has been torn off so it can be refinished with something new, shiny, modern and sexy, and one of the few treasures yielded from underneath was an old milk jug bearing the "Food Club" brand.

Sorry for the rubbish quality of the photograph, we can thank the world's worst phone for that. There's a really good reason that Sprint give away the Motorola Krazers for free: they're shite.

Anyhoo, I had never heard of the brand, and thanks to some fantastic detective work on Facebook from my friends Ryan and Joel, we've managed to figure out that although the store Food City currently distribute 'Food Club' products as their own-brand, both Giant Eagle and Big Bear supermarkets carried it as their store brands at some point, too. It just so happens that there was a Big Bear supermarket very close to my house before the company went tits-up in 2004. It's an enormous Big Lots now, but it was a Big Bear up until 2002 or 2003 and, in fact, you can still make out the bear logo etched in dirt on their roadside sign. So we know where it's from... but when is this jug from? The best before date says "Mar20", but there's no year. I'm assuming because it's plastic and has a barcode that it's not March 1920, but this is where we hit a roadblock. Here's some anecdotal factoids that could help:


  • I did some digging on the internets and I found this on Flickr, a Food Club peanut butter jar bearing the same red logo (it's different now). The Flickr account says it's from the seventies.

  • I've also found evidence on Flickr that the logo was being used in the 1950s, but my elite research team (some bloke on the internet) suggests that the square plastic milk jug wasn't in wide use until "somewhere in the mid 70s", but could be as early as the late 60s.

  • Barcodes were introduced for commercial use in 1966, but it wasn't until after 1974 that the first products were able to be optically scanned, and it was the 1980s that they gained popularity.

  • I didn't move into the house until 2001, and this is the first time the worktop has been lifted. Plus, I didn't shop much at Big Bear when it existed - I usually went Krogering.

  • This picture of a 1998 can of Food Club Cola bears a similar logo, but the font appears to be different. The letter F has a tail, where mine does not.

  • The logo on a box of Food Club cereal from 1985 looks like it's the same (check the side, not the main logo), but it looks slightly taller and fatter than the logo on my milk jug. Is it a tweaking of the logo, or perspective? Also, the design of my logo looks older... or is that the dirt?

  • I have way, way, WAY too much time on my hands and, quite honestly, I'm shocked that you even read down this far.

And so, in conclusion, we can probably date it to within a ten year period, taking into consideration that the milk jug is at least 23-24 years old, but no older than 33-34 years. If we split the difference down the middle, assuming that the earliest it could be is 1974 and the latest 1986, basing our assumption on the existence of the barcode and the non-curly F logo, we could probably surmise that the jug dates from around 1982.

Furthermore, given the evidence that we have uncovered today, we can safely assume that my life is empty. So very, very empty.

4 comments:

Brad Mills said...

Beautiful research... sounds like something I would have done. In fact, I recently went down a similar path - digging up old pictures of Burger Chef buildings, signs, artwork, etc. - to back up the claim of a Suzi's Hamburgers employee that Suzi's used to be Burger Chef.

If your life is empty, friend, trust me - you are not alone.

All Click said...

Well there went 5 minutes I'm not getting back.

I thought I'd at least be seeing a lovely pair of jugs

Chris James said...

Tangent: I used to dig shopping @ the Bear @ 3 AM when it was empty. It was like that movie where the guy gets locked in a Target with a young Jennifer Connelly without the young Jennifer Connelly.

Wait, that isn't fun at all...

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