Photos from the Vault

The story behind the Eskimo Pie sign at High Street Deli

Mark Landstrom puts finishing touches on his Eskimo Pie sign restoration, with help from artist Gini Allen in 1989. The sign can still be found at High Street Market & Deli, at High and Carmel streets in San Luis Obispo.
Mark Landstrom puts finishing touches on his Eskimo Pie sign restoration, with help from artist Gini Allen in 1989. The sign can still be found at High Street Market & Deli, at High and Carmel streets in San Luis Obispo. Telegram-Tribune

Sometimes advertising is more than a sales tool. It becomes a beloved part of the landscape.

In 1989, graphic artist Mark Landstrom liked the peeling Eskimo Pie advertisement on what is now High Street Market & Deli. So he offered to repaint it at a discount, according to an article published June 12, 1989, in the then-Telegram-Tribune.

The circa 1949 sign had been revealed when building owner Luis Westbrook removed shingles on the Carmel Street wall.

mug 1989 06-06 eskimo pie
Mark Landstrom, who restored the Eskimo Pie sign in 1989. Wayne Nicholls Telegram-Tribune

For those who don’t know, the idea for the chocolate covered ice cream, patented in 1922, was born when a boy couldn’t decide between ice cream and a chocolate bar in a store owned by Christian Kent Nelson and Russell C. Stover. Stover later found the eponymous candy company.

Landstrom researched company archives to find the original design and stripped the flaking paint away. In doing so, he discovered three R.C. Cola advertisements underneath the original Eskimo Pie ad.

When neighbors saw him working on the sign, Landstrom said at the time, they were concerned that he was painting over it. “It’s like a neighborhood icon.” When they found out he was doing just the opposite, they would “drive by and say thank you.”

David Middlecamp: 805-781-7942, @DavidMiddlecamp

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