Sunday, 4:39pm
22 May 2011

World’s greatest sign?

Stockton’s Sno-White dwarfs the opposition, says Mike Kippenhan

Declaring one singular sign the ‘Greatest in the World’ is as recklessly bold as it is provincial, writes Mike Kippenhan. But if a sign were to achieve this honour, the one for Sno-White Drive-in, on the south side of Stockton, California, would be it.

Sno-White’s sign symbolises a time when custom metal and neon hoardings dominated the North American landscape, and it stands in sharp contrast to today’s risk-adverse brand identities. The interplay of its elements – multi-dimensional geometric forms, incandescent and neon lighting, food illustrations and multiple colours – work together to make it truly beautiful.

The passing of the decades has added character, with rust, chipped paint, graffiti touch-ups, broken neon tubing and faded illustrations. Ultimately, Sno-White exudes an unmistakable personality while standing the test of time. This is the type of sign that we stop to photograph, hanging the results on our walls for inspiration. (You can stop to eat, too: the fried mushrooms are highly rated.)

Sno-White Google maps

Sno-White website,

See also Mike Kippenhan’s ‘On the road’ on the Eye blog.

Eye is the world’s most beautiful and collectable graphic design journal, published quarterly for professional designers, students and anyone interested in critical, informed writing about graphic design and visual culture. It’s available from all good design bookshops and online at the Eye shop. For a taste of no. 79, see Eye before you buy on Issuu. Eye 79, Spring 2011, is out now.