Tuesday, May 4, 2010

Food for the Antipodes

I found these reproductions of old-fashioned French-language publicity cards on the web. These charming images were designed to sell Liebig meat extract to Australians.

I couldn't find any mention of dates, but the Liebig brand—designed for the marketing of the famous meat-extract product—came into being in 1865. The inventor of this stuff was a German chemist, Justus von Liebig. The illustrations evoke a colorful land of adventure, with Aborigines shown wearing bright garments in the style of Pacific Islanders. It's hard to say whether Liebig's graphic artist had ever set foot in Australia… but I don't think so. In view of the distinctly rural themes, I'm wondering what kind of potential customers they had in mind. Did they imagine that they might feed their meat extract to the Aborigines, or to Outback bushmen? Now, if only they had been advertising Vegemite, I'm sure they would have achieved more spectacular business results. Maybe a Liebig specialist, reading my blog, might tell us whether this advertising campaign was successful.

Justus von Liebig won fame, above all, as the "father of the fertilizer industry". No, that doesn't mean that surplus stocks of their meat extract were spread out over the fields to grow better vegetables and crops. It evokes the inventor of the so-called Law of the Minimum, also known as Liebig's Law, which states that plant growth will diminish as soon as a single required nutrient is missing, even if all the other nutrients are present. He likened the situation metaphorically to a wooden bucket with a stave that's too short, causing a lot of yield potential to be lost.

It's amazing, the sophisticated notions you can come up with when you start out making soup.

No comments:

Post a Comment