The southward drive down Delaware State Route 1 (Coastal Highway) toward the beaches is long (by Delaware standards) and none too visually arresting, but peppered along the corridor are some whimsical finds that keep things interesting. I’ve pointed them out in the past. Now, just outside the small city of Milford we see another example of a small business on southbound State Route 1 that hopes to divert travelers eager to make their way to the beach… …with a carefully outfitted produce market. Fresh fruits and veggies aren’t exactly the first thing that comes to mind in terms of beach food, but it’s not unheard of either: given the high tendency for boardwalk edibles to fall squarely into the high-fat, high-carbohydrate, high-cholesterol domain, the cooler with the sliced watermelon is still likely to be a hit. But that’s a single item at a market with a huge inventory. What are some other strategies for getting the caravans to detour their camels at this particular oasis?Of course: signage.
But it can’t be just any type of sign, which is why the one on the left is the more important of the two here.Sometimes it doesn’t matter if the imagery is eye-catching or the brand particularly distinctive. It doesn’t even have to be informative; that’s the job of the sign on the right. It just has to be different. Everyone knows that sex sells, so why shouldn’t fruits and vegetables have sex appeal? The Puritans at Facebook figured this out half a year ago, which is why the company banned (or at least delegitimized) the use of peach and eggplant emojis for its less-than-subtle innuendo, flagging such pages as “Sexual Solicitation”. And while I doubt this Milford produce market enjoys a sales boost on eggplant for the purpose of beach consumption, it may at least get a few people in the door. It didn’t hurt the place I referenced last year, also on Delaware State Route 1, that tried using innuendo to sell back yard sheds.
The other icon on this sign is equally compelling: it carries a vague similarity to the stenciled solidarity fist associated typically with agitation of a certain political persuasion. But the rendering isn’t entirely accurate—the hand has a second opposable thumb in place of a pinky—and it’s not exactly a conventional way of gripping a tomato about ready to burst. Is it trying to evoke an old Green Day album cover? Nah—I’m almost definitely reading too much into it. The point is that it’s strange and unexpected, and sometimes strange and unexpected is all it takes. But if that doesn’t work for this local produce market (the inventory is still too healthy and wholesome), at least they’ve got a food truck on site, right there in the parking lot, with some good artery-clogging BBQ. No controversy schlepping that to the beach.