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: