I’ve always loved propaganda posters – not necessarily their messages but at least their bold colors, blocky typography and stark imagery. Propaganda posters used a striking form of marketing: They pretty much threatened or frightened to get their point across.
While most people are familiar with World War I and WWII propaganda posters – Uncle Sam declaring he wants YOU for the U.S. Army is one of the most recognized posters out there – many others from that era focused on other issues that came about from the wars. One category is food. During the two wars, farmers went into debt, the Great Depression occurred, people didn’t have money, and there was a fear of running out of food. The U.S. Food Administration was tasked with educating – or at least urging – Americans to “eat this but not that,” grow victory gardens and even salute the potato. What’s interesting about a lot of the propaganda from that time is a number of the messages are being recycled today: Buy locally, eat less meat, don’t waste food, and vote with your wallet.
World War I and WWII-era food posters are on display at the National Agricultural Library in Beltsville, Md., through Aug. 30. The following is a sampling from the exhibit. As you view each one, think about what it makes you feel – do you scoff at the message, or does it sink in? Are you attracted by the colors? Are there design elements you’d like to insert into your next project?
Lick the Platter Clean
Fill Your Bin!
Help Harvest Corn
Grow a Garden!
America Has PLENTY of FOOD for Everyone
OURS… to fight for freedom FROM WANT
Harvest War Crops
Images from Smithsonian.com and Good Potato.