July 24, 2012
I recently swiped this from my Mom: a 1963 Popeil Brothers “Food Glamorizer.” I don’t think she was using it to glamorize food much, seeing as it was still its original box with instructions and all.
I can see why she saved it. Printed red, black and metallic gold, the small carton features some well-tooled 1960s graphic design styling, including a pattern of “glamorized” fruits and vegetables, a diagrammatic illustration of the product, and an atomic “PBI” logo.
“Food Glamorizer” is such a great name, describing not only its use in the creation of decorative foods, but also its own transformation from what is essentially a potato peeler into something glamorous.
Invented by Samuel J. Popeil who’s son (Ron Popeil) went on to found Ronco the following year. Samuel’s company was Popeil Brothers, Inc. or “PBI.” Compared to the package design of Ronco products that would later be sold on television, the Food Glamorizer’s box is a model of tasteful sixties restraint.
A lot of Ron’s Ronco devices were actually invented by S.J., the dad, but the product design and packaging of earlier Popeil Brothers products, like the Food Glamorizer, reflect a different graphic sensibility than the later, telemarketed Ronco products.
(Transparent food glamorizer on right)
S. J.’s gadgets were hardly high tech, but they earned attention for their sleek designs. Timothy Samuelson, the former curator of architecture and design at the Chicago Historical Society and now the cultural historian for the city of Chicago, is the owner of one of the largest collections of Popeil products from the era. Samuelson published a book in 2002 to celebrate the Popeil design aesthetic and declared the items from the O-Matic line as “some of the classic contemporary designs of the times.”
There were later versions of the Food Glamorizer sold under various trademarks (“Kitchen Magician,” “Salad Queen”) but these packages still used essentially the same graphics. Who designed these boxes?
Top: Kitchen Magician Food Glamorizer ($38 from South Perth Antiques and Collectables) bottom: Salad Queen Food Glamorizer
With the Salad Queen Food Glamorizer, there appears to have been a cost-cutting measure to eliminate the metallic gold ink.
(Another food glamorizer, after the fold…)
Not quite as restrained as the original Food Glamorizer, but this 1964 Corn-O-matic is also a food glamorizer: “Lighting kernel stripper, food glamorizer and corer.” ($12.99 on eBay)