Many of them, in fact, were souvenirs or promotional items, like Willie and Millie, the Kool cigarettes penguins; Elsie and Elmer, the Borden Dairy Company cows; and Fifi the Cat and Fido the Dog, mascots for Ken-L-Ration. They were also popular premiums at service stations and utility companies and were even produced by renowned pottery studios like Rosemeade in North Dakota, Ceramic Arts in Wisconsin, Frankoma in Oklahoma, and Bauer in California.
Bauer made the blue and yellow tuna over Table 106 for Chicken of the Sea, but "salt and pepper shakers were not their main item," says Weinzweig. "They were a sideline they'd sell for a dollar."
They're not the main item at the Roadhouse, either, but he likes what they represent. "They're a unique-to-the-U.S. bit of pretty cool commercial art," he writes on the company's website, "and because salt and pepper historically were very costly and hard for most people to get, there's something I like about most everyone here in this country having access to them."
[Originally published in September, 2013.]