This is a rewrite of an article originally published in Marine Café Blog in November 2018.

Even in inland cities, the sea is never really far away. It can pop up anywhere in the shape of merchandise whose logos or brand marks have a connection to the sea. Such reminders of the maritime world are usually ignored by people, but I take notice of them. They are a form of art, and they indicate the extent to which the sea has become part of the consumer culture and social history.

I try to stay away from coffeehouses. I think they are dreary places where people lounge about sipping coffee from paper cups. But how does one escape from Starbucks Coffee and the familiar logo of a two-tailed mermaid? They are everywhere. Despite this, I salute Starbucks for choosing the image of a mermaid for its logo. The name of the coffee chain itself has a nautical origin. It comes from Starbuck, the chief mate of the whaling ship Pequod in Herman Melville’s 1851 novel Moby-Dick; or, The Whale.

For generations, people have been spreading Anchor butter on their bread. According to the Anchor Dairy website, Henry Reynolds opened a butter factory in Waikato, New Zeland, in 1886. He came up with the brand mark after drawing inspiration from the tattoo on a sailor’s arm. The anchor logo is familiar as well to millions of children who grew up on Anchor milk.

© Callooh Callay — Photo used with the kind permission of Callooh Callay, sellers of “unexpected, eclectic and vintage” items

This photo of vintage Old Spice bottles brings back memories of my father, an officer and gentleman. The scent of the lotion would waft out of the bathroom after he had finished shaving in the morning. Additionally, I find Old Spice endearing because of the image of the sailing ship. Notes the former Old Spice website: “The original ships used on the packaging were the Grand Turk and the Friendship. Other ships used on Old Spice packaging include the Wesley, Salem, Birmingham and Hamilton.”

My Sperry Top-Sider eventually died due to old age and neglect. In the days I was wearing them, I felt like I was on a boat out at sea instead of inside a mall or on a sidewalk. Rugged and comfortable, this American brand of shoes has an interesting story. On the underside of the shoebox cover was printed, in English and French, the following historical note:

On a winter’s day in Connecticut, Paul Sperry watched his dog, Prince, run across the ice and snow. He noticed his dog’s amazing ability to maintain traction on slippery surfaces. Studying the design of Prince’s paw inspired Mr Sperry to create the patented “Razor Siping” pattern on the sole of the Sperry Top-Sider boat shoe, first introduced in 1935.

Photo credit: James Tamim
Licence: Creative Commons Attribution-Share Alike 4.0 International

Millions of sore throats have been relieved by Fisherman’s Friend, a popular brand of strong menthol and eucalytus lozenges whose packaging features a fishing trawler. The product dates back to 1865 and is still manufactured by the family-owned Lofthouse company in England. The company’s website recounts how Fisherman’s Friend started:

It all began with three scratchy throats…

James Lofthouse, a pharmacist from the small port town of Fleetwood in northwest England, was talking to three deep-sea fishermen one evening in November and they told him about their catch of the day. Or rather they tried to, because all three could hardly say a word. Instead of amusing tales from the high Seas, all he heard was a croak. This gave him an idea …

Photo credit: Brian Adler

You cannot drink salt water. But you are welcome to drink Cutty Sark, a blended Scotch whisky inspired by the famous clipper ship bearing the same name. The interesting history of Cutty Sark Scots Whisky, including the secret behind the use of yellow, can be found here. Teetotallers may be tempted to purchase a bottle solely for the artwork.

~ Barista Uno

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