Who Is the Winking Chef?


Back in 2013, I wrote a book called Viva La Pizza! The Art of the Pizza Box. Wired Magazine referred to it as “…an intensely researched love song to [pizza boxes]” and the New York Times called it “…delightful and informative.” OK, enough plugging…. on to the important stuff. Even though most of the book is filled with captioned pictures of some of the world’s most interesting pizza boxes, I sprinkled bits of info that dig deeper into the world of printed cardboard. I touched on structural engineering and visual design – two subjects I personally know very little about but am deeply interested in because of their connection to my beloved pizza box.

One of my goals was to uncover the origin of the ubiquitous Winking Chef. We’ve all seen him – the chubby mustachioed man wearing a chef’s hat and often making a gesture of approval with his hand. I dug around as much as I could – searching old magazines and websites looking for the origin of the image. Of course generic chef images go way back in print advertising but I was looking for one image in particular, the one I grew up with on my pizza boxes in New Jersey. Who was this guy? Was the image based on a real person? What’s the deal????

I know what you’re thinking. This chef isn’t even winking! WHAT GIVES? The image above is apparently a modification of a pre-existing chef face that’s been bouncing around the clip art world for over half a century. The box from Sam’s (above) seems to have to major modifications from the one from Sal’s (below). Sam’s chef has a right eye (Sal’s is winking) and it also has sideburns (Sal’s does not). Printers clean up their art all …read more

Source:: Scott Pizza Tours