If you’ve been following National Public Radio’s summer series on America’s love affair with meat, you’re sure to have noticed the meat marketing billboards recently featured in NPR’s food blog, with images provided courtesy of the Hartman Center for Sales, Advertising & Marketing History in Duke University Libraries‘ David M. Rubenstein Rare Book and Manuscript Library. Billboard advertising grew apace with the interstate highway system, begun in the 1950s. These images were collected by the companies who created them, as demonstration to clients of the roadside advertising they developed. Today, they’re a sign of their times and the technology and economics that drove beef consumption in the United States.
You can revisit and research more of America’s commercial culture through digitized collections from the Hartman Center. The ROAD 2.0 collection contains all the billboard advertisements featured on the NPR blog, and thousands more of these markers of America’s advertising history. Celebrate the birth of our nation and the birth of billboard advertising by searching for “meat” across this collection!