Do Uneeda Ghost? Hurry, They’re Going Fast!

Do Uneeda Ghost? Hurry, They’re Going Fast!

It was the first brand created by advertising. The first promoted by a multimillion-dollar media campaign.1 And perhaps one of the main reasons why the dates on nearly all Buffalo nickels are worn smooth.

Uneeda Biscuit was the first product of the National Biscuit Company (NBC, now Nabisco). And working with the country’s first national advertising agency, NBC had thousands of monumental Uneeda-branded brick-face signs painted on buildings across the country. If you live in any region that was an industrial or commercial center at the beginning of the twentieth century, you are likely just a few minutes’ drive from a survivor, or several. But beware, as I can personally attest, Uneeda Biscuit can be a gateway drug to a serious ghost sign addiction.

Fig. 1: Uneeda Biscuit ghost fragment on the former Nicholaus Block on the corner of State Street and Erie Boulevard, Schenectady, New York. Demolished in 2017.

In 2016, an early Uneeda brick face sign was discovered on the west wall of the Nicholaus Block, on the corner of State Street and Erie Boulevard in Schenectady, New York. As is often the case, the sign was exposed when the building next door was demolished. A fragment only, the ghost was well preserved, retaining the typically washed away fugitive reds, greens and blacks that were central to the product’s identity. It was novel enough to make the local news.2 I didn’t know what “Une Bis” was, but it took just a few minutes of Googling to figure out that this was something special.

It wasn’t the first old sign I’d ever noticed. I’d been documenting them for a while. But this Uneeda fragment’s sudden appearance made an impression, and since, ghosts have been popping into my consciousness with ever more frightening frequency.

Fig. 2: Uneeda Biscuit double ghost on the west wall of 325 State Street, Schenectady.

There’s more! To read the rest of this article, members are invited to log in (?). Not a member? We invite you to join. This article originally appeared in theSCA Journal, Fall 2018, Vol. 36, No. 2. The SCA Journal is a semi-annual publication and a member benefit of the Society for Commercial Archeology.

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