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New Jersey Monthly Magazine
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Feast for the Eye

Menu Design in America: A Visual and Culinary History of Graphic Styles and Design, 1850-1985, serves up a colorful banquet of interesting menu art in America through the years.

Posted October 10, 2011 by Eric Levin

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Hotel Traymore
Courtesy of publisher.

Chubby's Hearth
Courtesy of publisher.

Howard Johnson
Courtesy of publisher.

In the days before ambitious menus changed with the seasons, let alone with the markets any given week, restaurants often printed semipermanent menus with elaborate covers, giving diners a stylish, not-always-understated foretaste of the pleasures awaiting inside. In Menu Design in America: A Visual and Culinary History of Graphic Styles and Design, 1850-1985 (Taschen), editor Jim Heimann serves up a vastly colorful banquet of treats from this branch of collectible ephemera. The range of graphic styles—from cartoonish to elegant—is as broad as the range of restaurants featured, from diners to theme restaurants of every sort to ocean liners and railroad dining cars. With these fanciful folded placards, dining as theater begins.


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