You Win Some, You Lose Some – A Signage Progression on Market Street / by Kasey Smith

I love how the paint is weeping off this sign. 1576 Market July 2011

I love how the paint is weeping off this sign. 1576 Market July 2011

Built in 1907 and abandoned to the pigeons and homeless in the 1980′s; 1576 Market  Street was demolished in August of 2011. I doubt this double lot hole will sit empty for long. While much of Market Street languishes in functional disuse – it’s proud department stores and theaters of yore having been torn down and segmented into dollar stores and discount clothiers – this lot is eminently buildable with a prime location on the edge of Hayes Valley.

And what should be revealed during the above building demolition but a long-hidden ghost sign on the adjacent building, 1586 Market Street. Eat Carnation Mush, Three Kinds. Rebranded as polenta, mush is essentially dry corn boiled in milk or water. I’m assuming the “three kinds” refers to differing grades of fineness/grind although I could be wrong.

And some info on the brand from their corporate site:

In the late 19th century, Bernhard Albers, a young German immigrant, worked for a Pacific Northwest wholesale grocer, saving money with the goal of going into business for himself. Convinced of the opportunities in Portland, Oregon, he persuaded his four brothers to join him. In 1895, with $15,000, the brothers and another partner formed a milling company. By 1899, the Albers brothers bought out their business associate and formed the Albers Bros. Milling Company, and Alber’s Cornmeal was born.

Over the next 30 years, the Albers Brother’s Milling Company continued to thrive and grow absorbing other mills along the west coast, including Carnation Wheat and Carnation Oats. In 1929, the Carnation Milk Products Company, makers of Carnation Evaporated Milk, purchased the Alber’s Brother’s Milling Company uniting two family owned west coast companies known for their dedication to producing products of the highest quality.

 In 1984, Nestle purchased the Carnation Products Company and the Alber’s brands of Cornmeal and Grits. Over one hundred years after its founding in the Pacific Northwest, Continental Mills, another family owned, Seattle based company, purchased the Alber’s Brands from Nestle. With its roots returned to the Pacific Northwest, as part of the Continental Mills family of brands, Alber’s will continue to provide the highest quality corn meal and grits for generations to come.

Still recognizable on the Albers orange and blue corn meal package is the fresh ear of corn. The Albers grits package remains familiar with its red and blue colors and traditional breakfast plate of grits and eggs.


1586 Market

1586 Market

Worth noting; the above excerpt says the Albers/Carnation branded color scheme is orange and blue but the sign above is orange and green. Does this sign predate that branding/packaging decision or is the coloration the result of unstable paint? It seems unlikely that blue would fade to green but I’m not a color/paint expert. If you are I would love to hear more.

Also worth noting; this building appears to have held TWO Carnation Mush signs. See below where the brick has been painted red? Now look at the seam between the paint and the original brick. Notice the white, orange, and green band? It’s a perfect match to the border on the intact sign.


Here’s a similar sign in the Mission. The Victoria Theatre on 16th and Capp has a refurbished sign for another Albers product – Albers Flapjack Flour “Look for the Miner”. Here’s what the sign/building looked like in 1968. Notice that the That Good 44, 2 for 15¢ sign was not restored and a mural was added in it’s place. Interesting restoration decision.


And in the grand tradition of transitional neighborhoods and progressions in construction, the building cranes have gone up next to the Carnation Mush sign. Its days are numbered so go take pictures of it while you still can.

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