Old school New York is alive and well at “Beer Soda” in Sunnyside, Queens. The signage is layered in retro goodness: corrugated metal, hand-painted lettering, the iconic “ice” logo, the cursive “call” inviting you to dial a number from the days when area-code specification was not required in NYC (all five boroughs were blissfully 212). #beer #soda #oldschool #justmytype #typography #typevstime #signgeeks #signhunting #signfixation #urbanexploration #urbex #rous_roadsigns #americana #roadsideamerica #queens #retrologist
The Cott soda sign, photographed Dec. 25, 2009 (Photos: Rolando Pujol)
Last Christmas, and the one before that, and indeed, for many dozens of Yuletides, the sign was there.
I came to associate if with Christmas, because the building in North White Plains on which it was long affixed is on the way to the Chinese restaurant I take my parents to every Christmas — Imperial Wok — on Route 22 in Westchester County.
It was a faded sign for Cott soda, touting “17 delicious flavors” and featuring its truly delicious slogan, “It’s Cott to be Good.” Until seeing this sign for the first time on Christmas 2009, I had no idea what Cott soda was. But I was intrigued. The name goes all the way back to 1923, to a beverage company founded in Port Chester, not far from this sign’s long-time home in White Plains.
The Cott sign as it appeared on Dec. 25, 2010.
Cott is still going strong, producing a range of beverage products such as Vintage seltzer water, but not, it seems, making much under the Cott name, at least as can be surmised from the website.
So this old sign was very much a tie to a vanished regional drink.
I photographed the sign on Dec. 25, 2009 and again on Christmas 2010. I drove past it last Christmas, and opted to skip the ritual photo.
All that’s left of the Cott sign is the shadow where it was once affixed.
This year it was gone.
The brick wall had been repainted, and the sign was MIA.
It’s Cott to be good, right? Not in this case.
Did someone save it, realizing the treasure that it was? Or was it unceremoniously junked?
These are the sorts of urban eccentricities I live for, and this particular gem came to develop a warm link to Christmas.
I’ll miss it come Dec. 25, 2013.
A vintage Optimo Cigars sign in Queens has a little bit of everything, and some of it defunct, like ‘Walkman’ and film
Optimo Cigar signs were a staple of old New York. They existed on countless storefronts around the city, along with their cousin in promoting cigar-chomping among Gothamites, Te Amo. These days, Optimo and Te Amo signs are increasingly rare, so it’s a big deal when you find one, especially an example like this pair. They are an archaeological treasure trove.
The sign, above, touts multiple things that are either obsolete, or have been rendered somewhat taboo in New York — especially during the Bloomberg administration, with its aggressive public-health policies — such as, well, Optimo Cigars itself!
The sign also promotes obsolete goodies such as film and “Walkman.” These are all services, along with “radio,” that you can get these days not in piecemeal purchases at, say, a bodega, but on a smartphone, a point I make in this earlier Retrologist post about a nifty 60s sign in Park Slope.
The one right above is on the side of the building, and is also a retro gem, made all the more charming with its missing “I.”
Text and photos: Rolando Pujol