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From Melting Clocks to Lollipops, Salvador Dalí Left His Mark on the Visual World

The Surrealist artist’s “pure, vertical, mystical love of cash” led him to advertising

That yellow logo? A Dalí original, every one. (Flickr)
smithsonian.com

Salvador Dalí’s extravagant quirkiness and Surrealist artistic stylings attracted eyeballs and opened pocketbooks. The artist–who was criticized by other Surrealists for his commercial leanings–eventually turned those talents towards the world of advertising. As his logo for the world’s most popular lollipops, Chupa Chups, proves, he had a talent for that too.

Chupa Chups were not the first-ever lollipop by any stretch. Descriptions of that sweet date back to the early 1800s. But the story of Chupa Chups is one of marketing savvy. The candies, which were created by third-generation Spanish candymaker Enric Bernat Fontlladosa, had been designed to appeal to both children and parents.  

Bernat described looking at the candies his company made and realizing that none of them were made with children in mind–even though children are the main consumers of candy. “It did not fit well in their mouths, it got their hands dirty and caused problems for their mothers,” he said according to The New York Times.  The answer: a lollipop.

“At first,” writes the company website, “he decided to call it ‘GOL,’ imagining the sweet was a bit like a football and an open mouth was a bit like a football net.” When that name didn’t catch on with customers, he hired an advertising firm that gave his new product a better name: “Chupa Chups,” a reference to the Spanish verb chupar, “to suck.”

It was the first time a round lollipop had been introduced to the Spanish market, write authors Denise Kenyon-Rouvinez, Gordon Adler, Guido Corbett and Gianfilippo Cuneo, and it changed the fortunes of Bernat’s company.

“Within five years, Chupa Chups lollipops were sold at about 300,000 places around Spain,” writes the Times. “The company instructed shopkeepers to place the lollipops as close to the cash register as possible, a break from the traditional policy of keeping candy in glass jars behind counters, far from little fingers.”  

But it wasn’t until the late 1960s that Dalí’s logo design cemented Chupa Chups’ appeal. The company website shows an early design that had the familiar name and font written on the side of the wrapped lollipop, without the yellow-and-red daisy design that surrounds it today.

“In 1969, Bernat complained about what he had while having coffee with his artist friend–none other than Salvador Dalí,” writes Belinda Lanks for Co.Design.

By his own admission, Dalí had always had a “pure, vertical, mystical love of cash,” writes Stanley Meisler for Smithsonian Magazine. So he was no stranger to opportunities that might pay when this conversation arose.

This lust had led him to design jewelry, clothes and couches, writes Meister, and even turn his hand to fiction-writing and store window displays. In 1967, he even appeared in a television advertisement. Compared to these pursuits, designing a logo was far closer to the work that had made him famous–painting.

“According to lore, the painter went to work immediately, doodling for an hour on newspapers that were laying around,” writes Blenker. “Dalí’s version masterfully integrated the wordmark into the daisy design, and has hardly changed since.”

He made one other change, too, by insisting that the logo be put on the top, rather than the side, of the lollipop. It was this placement and basic design that the company began successfully marketing internationally in the 1970s–eventually helping Chupa Chups become the global sugar powerhouse it is today.  Salvador Dalí’s basic design can now be found on everything from Chupa Chups-branded air fresheners to ice cream.

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