A recent blog post at Slate shows the 19th-century trademark for the “The Condor”, the brand of “Baker’s Extra Flour” produced by the Sperry Flour Company of San Francisco. The trademark includes an image of the Andean condor, readily identified by the caruncle (comb) on the bird’s head and the white ruff of feathers around the neck. California condors have no caruncle and their neck ruff is black.
Unfortunately, Slate describes the trademark as showing a “humorous-looking California condor”. Because the image is a straightforward representation of the Andean condor that is typical of a century ago, the image does not strike me as humorous. (The image and text in question can be seen here.)
Many businesses have chosen to associate their products with the condor. Outside of North America, the condor images found on products can often be recognized as that of the Andean condor. This is understandable given that this South American species is more common, slightly larger, and has a flashier appearance than the California condor. But, as evidenced by the case of Sperry Flour, even North American businesses that have adopted the condor for their brands have chosen an image of a bird other than the California condor.
Below are more examples of ornithological inaccuracy (or ambiguity) and geographical disloyalty in consumer product brands.
“The Great Atlantic & Pacific Tea Co.” of New York chose the name “Condor” for its coffee but did not include a bird image:
It is possible that, because some of the coffee may have come from South America, that the company had the Andean condor in mind.
To conclude, here is a product that is definitely about the California condor:
10Span Vineyards takes its name from the roughly 10 foot wingspan of the California condor. This winery contributes to the Ventana Wildlife Society’s work to restore the California condor.
In future posts I will note other commercial uses of the condor name and image.