Grape Crate Label, Bocce

Description
By the 1880s, fruit growers and shippers were marking the ends of their wooden shipping crates with colorful paper labels made possible by advances in lithographic printing. The labels identified the source of the fruit, while the designs, images, and names helped encourage brand recognition among buyers. California growers used such labels on grape crates until the 1950s, when printed labels on corrugated cardboard boxes replaced the old wooden crates.
While many packers used imagery of attractive women to decorate their labels, Cesare Mondavi and his two sons turned to the popular Italian sport of Bocce to brand their products. The label shows two young men playing bocce while an older gentleman watches and presides over a table of bread and wine. The meaning here is clear: Cesare Mondavi and his sons, Robert and Peter, and their Italian heritage, were an integral part of the branding message.
Cesare Mondavi was born in Le Marche, in northern Italy, in 1883 and immigrated to the United States in 1906. His wife Rosa was also born in Italy and, in 1908, came to the U.S. as a young bride. They settled on the “Iron Range” in northern Minnesota, an area that attracted miners from various European countries including Finland, Poland, Sweden, and Italy. Mondavi worked for a time in the mines, but left to run a saloon and grocery business in Virginia, Minnesota. The Mondavis had four children: Mary (born 1910), Helen (1912), and sons Robert and Peter, who were born in 1913 and 1914, respectively.
Prohibition had a major impact on the course of the Mondavi family’s history. Wine and winemaking were important traditions among Italian immigrants and members of the Italian American community in the small mining towns of northern Minnesota designated Cesare Mondavi as their grape buyer for home winemaking. Prohibition’s Volstead Act allowed families to make up to 200 gallons of wine per year for their own use and, beginning in 1919, Mondavi traveled to California to purchase wine grapes on behalf of his Italian neighbors. In 1922 he moved his family to Lodi, California, in the Central Valley’s grape-growing region. From there he began buying grapes wholesale and shipping them to customers in the Midwest and on the East Coast. This was the beginning of what became one of California’s most significant and innovative winemaking families, with sons Robert and Peter, and their children, continuing the tradition shaped by Cesare Mondavi.
Object Name
fruit crate label
date made
before 1950
Physical Description
paper (overall material)
Measurements
overall: 4 5/16 in x 12 7/8 in; 10.95375 cm x 32.7025 cm
ID Number
2010.3091.05
accession number
2010.3091
catalog number
2010.3091.05
subject
Food
FOOD: Transforming the American Table 1950-2000
See more items in
Work and Industry: Agriculture
FOOD: Transforming the American Table 1950-2000
Exhibition
Food: Transforming the American Table, 1950-2000
Data Source
National Museum of American History, Kenneth E. Behring Center
Credit Line
Nanci Edwards

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