News & Notes

Doggie Bags


I once went to an Aviation Collectibles Show and sure enough there are people who collect air sickness bags.

Not me. I collect Doggie Bags.

A year ago I won an auction posted by a like-minded pop culture accumulator—20 doggie bags in all and my new collection was born. I have been adding to it since. I like the cute and naive imagery. In particular they remind me, as a kid, of a rare family outing to the famous Senior’s Restaurant of Sheepshead Bay. The highlight for me was bringing home to my dog, Corky “her half” of Brooklyn’s finest roast beef au jus dinner in a soggy, gravy-soaked, doggie bag. To Corky, “ALPO meat-by-products,” it was not. I don’t think she even chewed it. Just flipped it up in the air, chomped and then it was gone. Two gulps followed by a stare that said, “Where did it go? Any more?” My sad, sweet Corky.

When American restaurant serving proportions got so immense, it was no longer necessary to blame the dog for our take out desires. And a meal that was once all mashed into a grease-resistant paper sack was eventually doled out into partitioned styrofoam containers and more recently individual biodegradable cartons.

As a collector and admirer of common items like matchbooks, firecracker and candy wrappers, and food labels with advertising characters, I’ve found the doggie bag imagery to be equally as charming. But unlike those items and much like sugar packets, no patron actually bought this particular product. It was free for the asking. The bags didn’t have to compete with other advertising labels and graphics on a store shelf, so their printing is quite simple and inexpensive, most often only one or two colors. Happy, hungry, tongue-sticking-out doggies and “alluring” French black poodles (see illustration above for what I mean) begging for a bone were the norm.

There have been some writers interested in the history of doggie bags. The history actually mirrors the changes in American restaurant food service, our dining habits and cultural eating-out-etiquette. Here is a link to one of those articles by the the writer Joseph Gambardello of the Philadelphia Inquirer:

Musings on Mermaids


In 2000, as Firecrackers was being printed in Hong Kong, my publicist at Ten Speed Press inquired if there were any national magazines that might be interested in featuring the book. I suggested Playboy, among others.

Although written for adults, Firecrackers would eventually be cited on several statewide librarian “Young Adult Reading Lists” as its mix of comic book style art, world history and pyrotechnics proved very appealing to many middle school boys. Not surprisingly, Playboy did review the book. Their readership was the same feisty group of boys, just bigger and older!

When queried by the publicist as to what image she might offer Playboy, it was a no- brainer: the Mermaid Brand firecracker label. The Mermaid was a bit of an anomaly as mermaids aren’t really found much in Asian folklore. As with the Cowboy and Pirate brands, this South China Sea Mermaid was designed to appeal to American market tastes. (You can see the label in the Books section of the website: Firecrackers!).

Here are two other mermaids. One, the face page of a city street map, recently found, and the other discovered at a flea market a few years back. Both were designed to promote tourism. Why travel related? The Mermaid is the coat-of-arms symbol of Poland’s capital, Warsaw. Mermaids have traditionally also been used to promote luxury sea liners, and even to this day The Little Mermaid is a prominent selling point of Disney Cruise Lines.