I’d like to show you my fruit sticker collection.

Fruit Stickers Spread 1 A
Fruit Stickers Spread 1 B Fruit Stickers Spread 2 A
Fruit Stickers Spread 2 B Fruit Stickers Spread 3 A
Fruit Stickers Spread 3 B Fruit Stickers Spread 4 A
Fruit Stickers Spread 4 B Fruit Stickers Spread 5 A
Fruit Stickers Spread 5 B Fruit Stickers Spread 6 A
Fruit Stickers Spread 6 B Fruit Stickers Spread 7 A
Fruit Stickers Spread 7 B

I love fruit stickers. They are the favicons of print design. In the space no bigger than a thumbnail, they must display an identifying name and number, and establish a brand.

These were collected 5 years ago, while I was studying abroad in London.

Stemilt fruit had lovely stickers. They used every square micrometer efficiently, squeezing in a logo, an illustration and three text elements. The ladybug fits perfectly in the the pull tab.

These Chilean Royal Gala will perhaps always be my favorite. The yellow/blue/red color palette is attention-grabbing, reminiscent of vintage product packaging. The androgynous portrait still makes me wonder. Who is supposed to be? Why put him/her on fruit? Is that a star shape on the hat? Is this person a communist?

Tragically, a couple years ago, fruit distributors started printing a new kind of sticker. While the fruit name and number were still visible, the majority of the area was devoted to a hideous barcode. I imagine this was a usability concern. How many times have you been held up in the grocery line because your checker didn’t know the code for a Braeburn? I guess the idea was that she would be able to just scan it in, like every other item in your cart. To this day, I have yet to witness any checker scan in my fruit.

The visual aesthetic of my collection was ruined. Areas of this collage were consumed with ugly barcodes, spreading like a growing tumor.

My new strategy is to purchase fruit without barcodes if possible. For a while, these New Zealander Jazzes were my go-to fruit. They had a great crisp texture, bright tart taste, and most importantly, a beautiful sticker.

Here’s where my collection currently stands. I’m resorting to covering up the barcodes and exposing only the designed portions. Those Stemilts, which once were a delightful decal, have been contorted to the point where the ladybug is hardly recognizable. I was excited to find the blue and white Royal Galas. The photo doesn’t do it justice, but the stickers are actually reflective. It’s encouraging to see that some distributors haven’t given up on fruit stickers.