Here's a smattering of my favorite posts...
My son doesn't like vegetables. Except for that one he had an affair with.
I had Tivo'd an episode of "Good Eats." This one happened to be about cabbage and my three-year-old saw it. For whatever reason he liked it, and asked to see it a few times that week.
While I was at the supermarket, I decided to surprise him and bring home an actual real-life cabbage. When I presented it, he flipped out. The boy carried it off to his room and played with it for almost an hour, rolling it around, pretending to cook it, and who knows what else. I think he felt like he was hanging out with a celebrity since he'd been seeing so much cabbage on TV lately. When I asked if he wanted me to really cut it up and cook it for him, he almost burst into tears.
Later that night I put my son to bed, and just as he was dozing off, he bolted up and screamed "I WANT MY CABBAGE! I WANT MY CABBAGE!" I wasn't going to fight with him. He's three, he'd win. I just wanted him to go to sleep, so I gave him the stupid cabbage.
I swear to God, he lugged that cabbage around for the next week and a half. He took naps with it. He brought it for rides in the car. He even threw a tantrum when we wouldn't let him bring it into Toys 'R Us.
As a concerned father, I was getting a little worried that he and the cabbage were rushing into things. I mean, they had just met. But nine days after it began, the love affair was over. The cabbage was OUT. Tossed aside without so much as a kiss goodbye, or even an explanation. And to be honest, that was fine by me. Don't get me wrong. I'm not a racist or anything. I like cabbage. I just don't want my boy dating one.
Before He Was Boo-Buried
We all know Boo Berry as the lovable spokesghost for General Mills' Boo Berry cereal. But since he is a ghost, I can't help but think about the fact that he's dead. Or more specifically, he is the ghost of a dead man.
This raises a very curious question: Who was the man that died to become the ghost of Boo Berry? No one would argue that he's lived a rich after-life as a corporate shill, but who was he before that? And for that matter, how did he die? Slipping on a blueberry and breaking his spine? Getting crushed by a blueberry truck? Emphysema?
This puzzle was likely to be a mystery forever... UNTIL NOW.
Using the latest in forensic technologies (My friend Mark and a pencil), Thesneeze.com is proud to present a shocking, never-before-seen image of Boo Berry as he may have looked BEFORE he died.
BooBerry is dead. LONG LIVE BOOBERRY!
An Open Letter To My Hair
Hey! How are you? Everything's good down here.
I've been pretty busy at work, but it's fun. The boys are growing up so fast you'd hardly recognize them. Oh, and my folks will be out visiting us soon, so that'll be nice. You'll have to forgive me if you already knew this stuff, but I figured you might not be up to date since you're too busy slowly falling out my fucking head you ungrateful assholes.
I just don't get it. We've been together for as long as I can remember. How can you just throw that all away?! I washed you. I patted you dry. I took you to expensive salons. But I guess that wasn't good enough, was it? Where did it all go wrong? Just tell me, and I'll fix it. I can change, I swear!
Honestly, I feel like I don't even know who you are anymore. Do you really think a life down the drain or stuck in some brush is going to be better than what you have with me in my scalp??? I promise you, it won't be.
But if that's the way you want it, then fine. But don't come growing back someday and expect it to be like the old days, because I can't wait for you forever.
Listen, Hair. As hard as this is, I do wish you the best. I'm going to miss you a lot, and I will always deeply cherish the times we shared together.
I hope you find whatever it is you're looking for.
P.S. Go fuck yourself.
An Open Letter To My Nemesis
The Woman Who Took Forever To Pay With A Check
HOLY FUCKING SHITFUCK! IT'S 2003!!! GET A CREDIT CARD! HERE! TAKE MINE! AAHHHRRRGHHHH!!!
Wait. Why do I smell toast? Uh oh...
Steve, Don't Eat It! Vol. 1
Potted Meat Food Product
There aren't too many products that feel the need to reassure you that they are, in fact, "food." Already not a good sign.
The list of ingredients is long and horrifying, coming right out of the gate with "MECHANICALLY SEPARATED CHICKEN." Oddly enough, I'm about to be separated from my lunch, and I haven't even opened the can yet.
Other ingredients include BEEF TRIPE, BEEF HEARTS, AND "PARTIALLY DE-FATTED COOKED PORK FATTY TISSUE" How does one de-fat fat? Bizarre. God knows what else is in here.
Okay, I'm going to go try it now. If i'm not back in ten minutes, call Poison Control...
I'm back. Oofah.
Okay, here we go-- Pulling back the lid (not recommended) lets loose an odor that punches you in the nose like a stinky fist. If you've ever smelled a can of dog food, it's just like that. Only imagine you are opening the can while your head is wedged in a horse's ass.
Inside is a smooth, oddly pink meat paste. So smooth, in fact, I dare call it "creamy." (I actually got a little gaggy just typing that.) Surprisingly, it was a little spicier than I expected. Although, that sensation may have been a by-product of my tastebuds dying.
The can shows a serving suggestion of the Potted Meat being served on squares of toast. I would also suggest squares of toilet paper. Or maybe a nice diaper.
All I can tell you is, I survived the first installment of "Steve, Don't Eat It." And I have to admit it may have even been a little educational. I know I learned at least one thing from "Ralph's Potted Meat"-- Ralph is a fucking dick.
Not surprisingly, I've come up with a little slogan the peeps who handle Potted Meat Marketing can use (no charge, as always): POTTED MEAT FOOD PRODUCT: Made By, For, And With Assholes.
The World's Smartest Tree - 2003
Clearly the tree is growing its own brain because it wants to communicate with me.
I don't believe the brain is fully functional yet because I asked the tree what it needed to tell me and it said nothing. I think it might still be learning our language from the radios of cars as they drive by. (And maybe a little Spanish from the gardener.)
You can click on the picture for a much better view of it. I put a quarter next to it for size reference.
On the off chance that my wife is right and it is a mushroom, then I think I just figured out the next episode of Steve, Don't Eat It!
But if I'm right, then soon the tree will gain the gift of speech and we will converse. It will share with me, the years and years of wisdom it has gained as a silent, stoic observer. I believe the tree will also pass along its message that we must care for our precious planet and its resources, as I gain a newfound understanding of the universe, and our place in it.
It is only after this, that I will then hack off its delicate brain and devour it for the next episode of "Steve, Don't Eat It."
Steve, Don't Eat It! Vol. 2
Pickled Pork Rinds
While perusing the "Good Lord, NOOOO!" aisle of the supermarket, I came across the atrocity known as Dolores Brand Pickled Pork Rinds. These are not the crunchy pork rinds you'll often see over by the chips. These are their grosser, soggier, potentially botulism-ier cousins.
The label says "Ready to Eat." They left off "By Dumb-Asses."
There is also a red starburst proudly proclaiming "Nuevo Envase de Vidrio Reusable". Not knowing much Spanish, I could only assume that meant "Oh Crap -- A Jar of Skin!"
I was wrong. It means: "New Reusable Glass Container" which I think is their subtle way of saying you can also use the jar to puke in.
Okay. I'm going to go consume. If I don't make it back to finish this review, tell my wife I love her. And not to eat the pork rinds.
I'm back. First off, I would like to say to Dolores, I am sorry. I don't know what it is I did to you, but you have gotten me back and we're even.
I knew I was in trouble as soon as I opened the jar, and heard no reassuring vacuum seal. I must admit that made me nervous, but what are the odds of a dusty jar of warm pig skin going bad, right?
Lifting the lid revealed a weird sour smell, something akin to mild vinegar and stale meat. I almost want to say it was like a freshly douched pork chop. But I won't. Why? Because I'm a fucking gentleman.
As I attempted to fish out a "good one," I couldn't help notice the alarming skin texture. For all those times I wondered what it would be like to gnaw on my grandmother's thigh, I was about to find out.
Taking a bite, I quickly realized the swatch of fat wasn't chewy at all. In fact, it was eerily soft, not unlike my own swatches of fat. This was a blessing because less chewing meant less actual contact with my mouth. I think it's fair to say it was everything you'd expect from a sliver of briney fat. It was also the only time in my life my brain formed the sentence: "I have a mouth full of cellulite."
While I cannot endorse the eating of Pickled Pork Rinds, I do endorse playing with it like a puzzle. I did have some fun trying to put the pig back together, but eventually that got boring as I lost the will to live.
I have a feeling Dolores and I are not done. As long as she continues to market such treats as Pickled Pork Lips and the bewildering Chili Brick, I have no doubt she and I will do battle again.
Barbie As Rapunzel As Bizarre
This is a box of "Barbie as Rapunzel Fruit Snacks." It is a promotional tie-in with the movie "Barbie as Rapunzel." It has also been making me crazy for days.
Barbie as Rapunzel. What does that mean? I wander around my house muttering it to myself. "Barbie as Rapunzel... Barbie as Rapunzel..."
I guess what's bothering me is that Barbie is not an actress. Barbie is a doll. And in this case she's not even a doll, she's just a drawing of a doll.
And what about the actress Kelly Sheridan who provided the voice? She's not doing the voice of Rapunzel. Remember, she's doing the voice of Barbie as Rapunzel. (But not really, for it is Barbie who is Rapunzel.)
That all being said, what we really have here is a box of fruit snacks. Barbie as Rapunzel Fruit Snacks. Bear with me while I try to sort through the representational layers taking place...
Artificially colored corn syrup AS fruit AS a snack AS a hairbrush... AS SEEN IN a movie with Kelly Sheridan AS a doll AS a drawing AS a fairy tale AS a movie. There, that makes total sense.
I came up with a few more cross-marketing plans the "Barbie as Rapunzel Fruit Snack" people can have. (Free of charge, as always.)
"My Pretty Pony as Seabiscuit" Choclatey Manure Puddin' Cups
"Monchichi as King Kong" Banana-Shaped Extreme String Cheese
"Furby as Ghandi" Super Sour Gummy Squeeze Yogurt "Passive Resistance" Squares
By the way, "Barbie in the Nutcracker Suite" is now also out on video. I guess they're hoping I'll say, "Oh look! Barbie in the Nutcracker Suite! We have got to see that. She was so good as Rapunzel!"
Steve, Don't Eat it! Vol. 3
Beggin' Strips are bacon-shaped, bacon-flavored treats for dogs. In the commercial a dog runs around the house like a maniac shouting BACON, BACON, BACON, BACON, BACON! It's weird, because I do the exact same thing.
Beggin' Strips slogan is "Dogs don't know it's not bacon!" Newsflash: Dogs are retarded. Mine used to eat his own vomit, and wag his tail while he did it. I'll be the one to decide if this stuff tastes like bacon or not.
I know these snacks aren't made for human consumption, but while I was in the store the ingredients list looked pretty tame so I wasn't too concerned. Somehow I had missed one extremely dubious word sitting there all by itself. "MEAT". That's all it says... meat.
Meat is a pretty large umbrella. Beef is meat. Pork is meat. Horses, monkeys, and allegedly Arby's roast beef are meat. Even Rosie O'Donnell's ball sack is meat. Okay, maybe I've gone too far. I have no idea what that is they are serving at Arby's, but you get my point.
Alas, there is no turning back now. Despite the fact that I am a grown man with children, I'm off to go eat dog food. And what better way to have Beggin' Strips than in a Beggin', Lettuce, and Tomato Sammich!
I'm back. And I'm sad to report that I did not run around the house yelling "Bacon!" I did, however, run around the house yelling "Call 911!"
GodDAMN these are foul. Don't try this at home. I'm not sure it's safe, and I am sure your tongue may kill itself.
While they were a little too artificially colored red to pass for real bacon, I was pleased to see they were not all the same shape. Similar to slices of real bacon, they each have their own curvy and shriveled identity. (Just like my aunts and uncles.)
And somehow these Beggin' Strips also managed to smell just like bacon. Oopsie. Typo. I meant to say "the smoky puke of a thousand maniacs."
To put it simply, this is the devil's bacon. Even a healthy dose of bread, mayo, lettuce and tomato couldn't come close to masking the evil. The bitter nastiness literally got worse with every chew, and I was overcome by the urge to go in the backyard and eat grass until it was all out of me.
The following is a message to all dogs who read The Sneeze: First, sit. Sit! Good boy. Now listen to me. Beggin' Strips do NOT, I repeat, DO NOT TASTE LIKE BACON. You are all being played for chumps! Alright, now give me your paw. Okay, roll over! Good boy! Now go take a steamy dump in your master's shoe. Go on! Get!
In closing, the only silver lining to this dark dark cloud is I have figured out why so many dogs lick their own assholes. They are trying to kill the taste of Beggin' Strips. (By the way, it doesn't work.)
(All Steve, Don't Eat It's can be found here.)
Cathy: America's Sweat-heart
Cathy has been in the funny pages for over 25 years. I don't know if she'll ever fit into that stupid bikini, and I don't really care. What I'm possessed by is just how much she sweats. Frankly, I'm worried about her.
Whenever I happen to see a Cathy strip in the paper, she's not just sweating, she is projectile sweating. Beads of perspiration are literally launching themselves off of her head like tiny suicide jumpers. I'm convinced she has some sort of disorder. It is not normal for one to be sweatier than Oprah's thong on a daily basis.
I looked up "heavy sweating" on WebMD and what Cathy has is a condition called "hyperhidrosis." According to this medical website: "If you find yourself sweating all the time, and all over -- not just on your palms, soles, and underarms -- it may be a sign of a serious illness like tuberculosis, some kind of cancer, or thyroid disease. Talk to a doctor immediately. "
HOLY CRAP, CATHY! Put down that pint of Haagen Dazs and get your soggy ass to an emergency room!
I was curious as to just how much good ol' "Cath" was sweating it up, so I bought one of her compilation books and worked up some statistics.
The book contained 330 comic strips. 312 were 4-panel weekday strips, and 18 were full-page Sunday strips. Of the 312 daily strips, Cathy sweated in at least 1 panel 124 times! Wow. On any weekday there is a 39.7% chance Cathy will sweat like a beast. Cathy, seriously. The hospital. Go.
Sundays are usually associated with relaxation. Not for Cathy the Human Sweat Shop. With the additional panels in a Sunday comic, the chances of Cathy getting wet rise dramatically. Of the 18 Sunday comics I checked, she turned on the waterworks 12 times, for a whopping total of 66.7%.
"But Steve, doesn't she sweat more in some strips than others?" Why, yes. She does! Above is a breakdown of how many panels in a weekday strip Cathy will sweat (in those strips where sweating occurs.)
The majority of the time it's only in 1 panel, but on the rarest of occasions she will actually be sweating in ALL OF THEM. In the competitive world of Watching Cathy Sweat, this is the grand slam. It's the holy grail. And when it happens, I can't help but think to myself, "Wow, it's gonna be a great day."
Oh, and "Cathy's got tuberculosis and now she's gonna die."
While my wife was pregnant, we gave my 3-year-old a baby doll to get him accustomed to having a new little brother around.
The other night we overheard him in his room talking to the doll. He said "What's wrong, baby? Are you hungry? I'll feed you baby." It was adorable.
Adorable until he proceeded to pull up his shirt and slap the doll's face onto his own nipple. It quickly proceeded to hysterical.
He looked up at us and quite sincerely said, "I'm feeding the baby my milk."
Oh wait, I almost forgot about this part: I thought it was kinda weird, but I noticed that milk was actually coming out my son. Naturally I found that a bit disconcerting, so I was like, "Hey! Stop breastfeeding that doll right now! You're a three year old little boy!"
He looked up and said "No, Daddy. You stop it." Then he pointed his little nipple at me and the fucker squirted me right in the eye!
I cleverly quipped "Oh, yeah?! Suck on this, you little bastard," as I grabbed his mom's breast and blasted the boy back into his room with my own weapon of milky destruction. It was very much "on." Man's inhumanity to... the son of that man.
The boy may have had youth on his side, but all my years of playing that carnival game where you spray water in the clown's mouth to pop the balloon were finally paying off. (I knew they would.)
It was a ruthless battle that went on until daybreak. The boy, the house, and I were all completely drenched in breastmilk, sweat and tears.
Too tired to fight anymore, and too stubborn to stop, we just glared at each other as we tried to catch our breath. And eventually that glare melted into laughter. The boy wiped a big droplet of milk from his eye and said "Daddy, you know none of this crap actually happened after I said that line about feeding the baby my milk."
"I know, son. It's called embellishment. Someday you'll have your own blog and you'll understand. And don't say "crap." It's a naughty word."
"Well, your embellishment was dumb."
"What do you know from dumb?! You tried to breastfeed a fucking doll with your little boy nipple."
"Touche, Daddy. Touche."
Elves Got Skillz
Like most people, I tend to only think about elves during the usual times -- around Christmas, and when I'm having sex. But the other day Mark and I were discussing just how versatile these pointy-eared little freaks really are.
Without further delay, The Sneeze proudly presents:
Last month I dropped by the annual Elf Expo in Vegas, and I was pleasantly surprised to see them all at an autograph table. When they found out I was the guy who does The Sneeze they even took 10% off the price of a signed publicity photo. Elves may be cheap, but they still rock! Check it out!
Steve, Don't Eat It! Vol. 5
Until now, the foods I've sampled for this section have all come from the supermarket. Then one day I realized that a perfectly viable "Steve Don't Eat It" candidate has been sitting right under my nose for months. Right in my very own refrigerator. And it came right out of my wife! No, I'm not talking about that giant cucumber, perv. I'm talking about breast milk.
That's right. And not just a little drop off the odd finger, but a genuine slug of freshly-pumped wife juice. (I'll go ahead and ignore the shiver I just got, and keep typing.)
Thinking about actually drinking breast milk has caused me to ponder the question: Is it not weirder to drink cow's milk which is truly intended for baby cows? The answer: Hell no! The only thing weirder than me drinking breast milk, is the fact that milk is coming out of my wife's chest in the first place. It sure as hell didn't do that when I met her. I'm telling you, the whole thing is lunacy. I love my wife, but does she really have to be such a mammal?
Okay, I have put this off long enough. The time has come. I'm off to The Booby Bar to see what they've got on tap...
Oh, where do I begin?
Well, I did feel the need to find the appropriate glass. Drinking it from a baby bottle seemed too on the nose (not to mention too creepy), and I didn't have enough milk to justify a martini glass. (Although with a splash of Bailey's I suppose you'd have yourself a nice "Nippletini.") Luckily the "Dumbass Website Gods" smiled down upon me. I came across the only shot glass we happened to have in the house, and it was actually from Wisconsin -- The Milk State!
I must admit that my aversion to drinking breast milk is something of a double-standard. Let me try to put this as delicately as I can out of respect to my female readers... but some women have been known to willingly "ingest" a certain dubious "body fluid" made by men, during moments of "intimacy." (These moments are known as "blow jobs." These women are known as "awesome.")
Nevertheless, I couldn't bring myself to just do the whole shot at once, so I started out with a little girly sip. And the truth is it's not that bad at all. It tastes like milk, just slightly more sweet. And mentally, just slightly more making me want to gargle with Clorox and assume the fetal position while I question my life.
Now, while I may have issues with drinking this stuff, I have been a huge fan of its packaging for years. You may be interested to know that breast milk is now available in a variety of convenient sizes:
from the portable, half-pint container...
to the more economical one gallon jugs.
To make things more interesting, and a little bit easier on myself, I decided to break out the Hershey's syrup and whip up some chocolate breast milk.
This time I just knocked the shot right back, and two words immediately came to mind: Yoo Hoo. It tasted just like good ol' Yoo Hoo. I almost want to say that drinking breast milk isn't so bad, except the other two-word phrases that also came to mind were "stomach pump" and "kill me."
I'm officially leaving all future breast milk drinking in the capable hands of my baby boy -- the one guy who now gets to second base with my wife way more than I do. But, I don't mind. I love that little asshole.
(All volumes of Steve, Don't Eat It can be found here.)
Steve, Don't Eat It! Vol. 6
I recently came across a container of fermented soybeans in the supermarket. I don't mean an old container of soybeans some stockboy forgot to toss. These are fermented-on-purpose soybeans from Japan. That's what Natto is.
I remembered hearing about this stuff on Iron Chef one time when it was the secret ingredient. The judges in the show were commenting on what a great job the chefs had done to "supress the smell" of the natto. I'm no Iron Chef, but I've got a clever way to supress the smell. Don't put it in your fucking food. I might not win "Battle Natto," but I promise you my dinner won't smell like stank-ass soybeans.
I found it slightly unsettling that the sealed styrofoam container had creepy little airholes in it. As if what was inside needed to breathe. I dared to lift the lid, which made me regret that I needed to breathe. The natto was coated in some kind of sick slime and had the complex yet playful aroma of a dumpster in July.
Actually, the little pile inside looked kinda like baked beans. It also smelled kinda like baked beans. If they were baked in the filthy heat of Satan's asshole.
This particular batch was made by a company in Japan called Shirakiku. I haven't been able to determine if Shirakiku is a food manufacturer, or just a store that sells gag gifts and practical jokes. It might be both.
Not unlike Michael Jackson, these harmless soybeans had undergone some kind of hideous transformation. They were now a freakish version of their former selves. (Which, coincidentally, should also be kept away from your children.)
The most disturbing aspect of this stuff is it seems to get "activated" when you stir it. What I mean by this is, (and I may actually weep, but...) the slimy coating on the beans develops into stringy, stretchy, marshmallow-like strands that will forever haunt my dreams.
Basically, if you move it back and forth enough, you're left with a gross, sticky mess. (Hey, natto and I have at least one thing in common!) And now that I think about it, that's exactly what it looks like the pranksters back at Shirakiku did into my beans. You guuuys!
I force-fed myself a big ol' spoonful, and found it to be slightly rancid and extremely bitter. Unfortunately, swallowing didn't help dissipate the flavor because the strings of bean jizz melted, coating my mouth and lips with a glistening sheen of sadness.
The entire experience is difficult to describe, but if you can remember back to the very first time you made out with a hobo's ass, it's a lot like that.
What I find most hilarious is that there is an expiration date on the package. What could they possibly expect to happen to the product on this date THAT HAS NOT ALREADY OCCURRED?!!!
Also, nestled in this mound of compost was a li'l packet of mustard. In its place, I would strongly suggest a written apology.
I do have one last theory about the date on the package. It may be an expiration date, but not for the beans. If you finish the container, that's the day you die.
(All episodes of "Steve, Don't Eat It!" can be found here.)
Busting Balls in a Single Bound
I've been messing around with a computer game called City of Heroes. It's a "massive multi-player game" which means hundreds of people are online at once, in this case running around as super-heroes in this 3-D virtual world.
The game itself is okay, but I found I had more fun typing silly crap to the other players. I took some screenshots.
Here's my guy, Capt. Avenger, attempting some of his special brand of chit-chat with the other "heroes" while they're trying to play.
Sadly, the Captain is often met with blank stares.
Read all of Captain Avenger here.
Ho for the Holidays
The new Disney Christmas catalog features this Tinkerbell Christmas Tree Topper. I've never been a big Peter Pan fan, so that's probably why I never noticed that sweet little Tinkerbell is kind of a dirty whore.
That's quite a dress. One strategically placed, unsecured triangle of material is all that stands between us and her enchanted hooey.
Closer inspection would indicate that this little lady also doesn't care for panties. But luckily, even in the dead of winter, not a hint of Tinkerbush.
I love you, Tinkerbell.
The Man Behind the FedEx Logo
Not long ago, I posted about the subliminal arrow in the FedEx logo. I received several emails regarding it, including one from design student Bobby Dragulescu. Thanks to Bobby and his typography professor Leah Hoffmitz, I was put in touch with the logo's creator: Mr. Lindon Leader of Leader Creative.
Lindon kindly agreed to the following interview, which is comprised of 8 fairly intelligent questions, and 3 fairly dopey ones...
When did you design the logo?
1994, as Senior Design Director at Landor Associates, San Francisco.
Has the logo won many awards?
To my knowledge, over forty worldwide and they continue. In its May 15, 2003 35th Anniversary “American Icon” issue, Rolling Stone Magazine ranked it as one of the 8 best logos of the past thirty-five years. Along side Apple, Coca-Cola, Nike, IBM, Starbucks, McDonald’s and Playboy.
In terms of sheer ubiquity, absolutely. Though the logos for Ryder trucks, CIGNA, the NCAA and Latin America’s largest bank, Banco Bradesco (Sao Paulo, Brazil) are familiar in their own right.
Do you get free FedEx deliveries for life now?
I wish. But I did get a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to command an MD-11 flight simulator at the Memphis hub. Unfortunately, I crashed the plane into the sand dunes at LAX on approach from Hong Kong. Nobody hurt, though.
At what point in the design process did you realize you could create an arrow with those letters?
First of all, by the time we’d gotten to this point we’d already created and reviewed over 200 designs; some close-in to the “old” Federal Express logo and others progressively more daring (though all the while retaining the enormous cache of the famous orange and purple (despite the fact that many respondents in focus groups thought the Federal Express colors were “red and blue”). The current design was one of six semifinalists that were being refined for a presentation to very senior management.
If you put a lower-case “x” to the right of a capital “E” (Ex) you can begin to see a hint of an arrow, though it is clumsy and extremely abstract. I thought that, if I could develop this concept of an “arrow” it could be promoted as a symbol for speed and precision, both FedEx communicative attributes. And, by the way, different kinds of arrows were utilized with some of the other semi-final candidates, though none of those were “hidden.”
Once I decided to refine the concept of the embedded arrow, I found that, to make the arrow more legitimate and identifiable, one needed to actually reconstruct the letterforms in order to make the arrow happen. This leads to your next question:
Did you have to manipulate the font in anyway to create a perfect arrow?
Yes, indeed. I was studying Univers 67 (Bold Condensed) and Futura Bold, both wonderful faces. But each had its potential limitations downstream in application to thousands of FedEx media, from waybills and embroidered courier caps to FedEx.com and massive signage for aircraft, buildings and vehicles. Moreover, neither was particularly suited to forcing an arrow into its assigned parking place without torturing the beautifully crafted letterforms of the respective faces. To avoid getting too technical here, suffice it to say I took the best characteristics of both and combined them into unique and proprietary letterforms that included both ligatures (connected letters) and a higher “x-height,” or increased size of the lower-case letters relative to the capital letters. I worked these features around until the arrow seemed quite natural in shape and location.
Why choose to keep the arrow so subtle? It seems to show remarkable restraint. Weren't you or the people at FedEx ever tempted to make it more obvious with an outline or a different color?
A good question and one that I am frequently asked. An arrow, in and of itself, is one of the most mundane graphic devices in visual communications. Truly, there is nothing unique or particularly strategic (marketing-wise) in using an arrow as a brand identifier. Early on, before the brand rollout in mid-1994, FedEx’s public relations agency was preparing to emphasize the arrow as a secondary graphic to underscore the “speed/precision” positioning. They proposed to leverage this in their FedEx communications. Landor put its foot down and said, “No way.”
The power of the hidden arrow is simply that it is a “hidden bonus.” It is a positive-reverse optical kind of thing: either you see it or you don’t. Importantly, not “getting the punch line” by not seeing the arrow, does not reduce the impact of the logo’s essential communication. The power of the logo and the FedEx marketing supporting the logo is strong enough to convey clearly FedEx brand positioning. On the other hand, if you do see the arrow, or someone points it out to you, you won’t forget it. I can’t tell you how many people have told me how much fun they have asking others “if they can spot ‘something’ in the logo.” To have filled in the arrow, or to somehow make it more “visible” would have been like Henny Youngman saying “Please take my wife” instead of “Take my wife. Please.” Punch lines that need to be explained are neither funny nor memorable.
Is there anything else interesting about the creation of the logo that you can remember?
Well, in “selling” an identity into a company it always comes down to the CEO. Fred Smith is a marketing genius and understands the vital role of design in brand building. A smart, intuitive man. After a year of worldwide focus groups and brand strategy revitalization, Mr. Smith accepted the strategy to change the communicative name of the company from Federal Express to FedEx for a whole host of reasons I won’t get into here.
In authorizing us to commence the next phase of developing a graphic identity for this “new” name, he sent us off with these charges: 1), “If you come back and tell me our colors need to be pink and green just give me very good reason to do it and 2), “If I’m standing on a street corner, I need to see a FedEx truck from five blocks away.” Meaning that the brand expression needed to be large, impactful and differentiating, which was accomplished with this specific design system, one of five presented to Mr. Smith and his executive team on April 23, 1994 in Memphis. And, in the process, we made the orange more orange and the purple less blue.
What separated this candidate from the others? Among other reasons,
Are you like a rock star in the world of logo design now?
Well, we Fortune 1000 identity guys and gals are behind the scenes most of the time. We do get our individual recognition from design competitions, but generally speaking, the design public only hears of the branding firm that created the design; in this case, Landor Associates. And the public at large doesn’t know who designs something or even cares to know. So, these days you won’t find me ducking crowds screaming for my autograph. No.
Have you ever been asked to autograph a FedEx truck?
I’ve never been able to find a Magic Marker big enough for the job. But I have signed FedEx letter envelopes and boxes. And, of course, my autograph is on my monthly check to FedEx.
What's it like to see something you came up with, all over the place?
Fabulous. And very gratifying. It takes me back to my very first employer out of Art Center in Pasadena, the renown Los Angeles designer Saul Bass. Toward the end of his career in 1980 or so, an interviewer asked him if still got out a thrill out of it all after some 40 years and a million awards in the corporate identity and film industries. Saul said he had been in a car one day recently with his 5 year-old daughter who exclaimed, “Look Daddy! There goes one of your [AT&T] trucks!” And Saul said to the interviewer, “You know, seeing that truck coming down the road still makes me proud after all these years.”
You can visit the website of Leader Creative right here.
HEY, IT'S THE
SNEEZE THEME SONG!
by Cloud Cult
(Visit their website.
Love them a lot.)
THE PAINLESS SNEEZE
HOLIDAY DONATION BOX
If you're going to be doing any shopping at Amazon and would like to send a little love to The Sneeze at the same time...
PLEASE USE THIS LINK TO GET TO AMAZON. It won't cost you anything extra, and a small percentage of the sale will go directly toward keeping this site chugging along. Thanks!
Eric Joyner's Tin Robot Art
Andrew Zimmern - Bizarre Foods
Be The Boy
The Slack Daily
The Art of S. Britt
Coop (sometimes nsfw)
Awesome Book Journals!
Be The Boy
Toothpaste for Dinner
The Art of Gary Taxali
In The Air
Very Big Blog
.: FRIENDS OF THE STEVE :.
Peter Pagano Graphics
Creature from the Blog
Steve Zmak Photography