The Egg in Barilla Communication

How many eggs do you need for a kilogram of flour?

By Archivio Storico Barilla

Three-dimensional statuette of the Barilla Company brand. (1910) by TROMBARA, Emilio (1875-1934)Archivio Storico Barilla

In the early years of the twentieth century the shop boy is a familiar figure in the world of work, even in Parma: seen with affection, as a symbol of youth that embarks on life with hope. A presence that certainly draws the attention of Emilio Trombara (1875-1934), creator in 1910 of the new trademark of the pasta factory or Ettore Vernizzi (1880-1965), who has the decorator's workshop in borgo Santa Caterina, when Barilla commissioned their company sign to him:

the smart looking boy, dressed in his best work clothes, who spills his treasure - the egg - on the sideboard overflowing with flour. It is the new world that imposes itself in the eyes of the beholder: with the red energy of the egg and with the fresh vitality of the shop boy.

Clerks and workers of the Barilla Pasta Factory. (1923) by VAGHI, Luigi (1882-1967)Archivio Storico Barilla

The egg appears in the Barilla image system at the turning point of 1910: it is the brand of the company that we will find in the large panel taken at the center of a group photograph of 1921.

There is Riccardo Barilla, there are the workers and employees of the company with their eyes fixed on the lens, while behind them the boy overturns the gigantic yolk of an egg in the simple, square sideboard full of flour: the fiery red on the immaculate white, the two elements that give life to the pasta.

Barilla Calendar for 1911. (1911) by CECCANTI, Vincenzo (1871-1916)Archivio Storico Barilla

The message is taken up by Vincenzo Ceccanti (1871-1916) in the dashboard calendar for 1911 where it is the crowd to watch the work of the shop boy in front of the Barilla workshop in awe.

Scatola capelli d'angelo del 1916 (1916)Archivio Storico Barilla

The resourceful Barilla shop boy – familiarly called “al putén” (the boy) in the Parmesan dialect – appears on the first packs, on the price markers

Barilla Pasta Company - Parma (1920) by VERNIZZI, Ettore (1880-1965)Archivio Storico Barilla

and on the postcards.

Barilla - Parma - Unexpected Spaghetti. (1930) by BUSI, Adolfo (1891-1977)Archivio Storico Barilla

The terms of the primordial symbology - which refers to the simple forms of thought - are later resumed in the variations of fashionable languages, as in the calendar of Adolfo Busi (1891-1977) of 1931

Uovo cameriere (1933) by ALLEGRI, Raoul (1905-1969)Archivio Storico Barilla

and up to the paroxysm of the Egg-waiter by Raoul Allegri (1905-1969), which appears in a detail of a photo of 1933: although grainy by the extreme enlargement of the image, it appears as a daring projection of the idea that guides the acceleration of development of the company in the years that record the transition from the artisan dimension to the industrial structure.

Pietro Barilla shakes hands with Erberto Carboni in front of the advertising campaign for Barilla in 1952. (1952) by BALLO, Aldo (1928-1994)Archivio Storico Barilla

It is at the beginning of the ‘50s of the twentieth century - when Italy is recovering from the deep wounds of war - that the creative genius of Erberto Carboni (1899-1984) enters the scene: with his attitude to research the main lines of the graphic idea, with his knowledge nourished by good French readings.

And it is Carboni who gives the Barilla brand the marks of an endless journey, started by the shop boy of Trombara and Vernizzi and continued along the course of the modern history of our country: condensed, finally, in the unifying idea that connects the bill and the postcard, the poster to the calendar, in a unitary vision of existence.

Barilla Pasta Catalogue 1952 Page 11Archivio Storico Barilla

The post-war period is the time of the company's development and Carboni inserts the radiographed motif of the egg yolk and whites in the oval of the new brand: a motif that is developed for clear relationships of space, up to the boundaries of perfection.

It is the definitive image of Barilla and its elective product, which is pasta.

Real egg pasta - Cubist hen. (1953) by CARBONI, Erberto (1899-1984)Archivio Storico Barilla

LThe egg appears, and reappears, as single or many, with the prodigious invention of the hen that has five eggs in its belly,

Cinque uova per ogni chilogrammo di pura pasta (1958) by CARBONI, Erberto (1899-1984)Archivio Storico Barilla

five as dictated by the golden rule of Emilian cuisine, faithfully applied also by Barilla: five eggs for every kilo of pasta.

Il segreto (1956) by CARBONI, Erberto (1899-1984)Archivio Storico Barilla

The egg imposes itself in the image of Barilla as the ideal figure, condensed, one can say, at the end of a journey suspended on the present: as the result of a unification process, implemented over the years through gradual stratifications of work and ideas.

Illustri fisiologi (1956) by CARBONI, Erberto (1899-1984)Archivio Storico Barilla

And it repeatedly acquires fame in the messages of the printed paper that follow one another in the ‘60s:

Un alimento completo (1958) by CARBONI, Erberto (1899-1984)Archivio Storico Barilla

perfect graphic form, already enhanced by the Renaissance,

Cinque uova per ogni chilo di pura pasta (1958) by CARBONI, Erberto (1899-1984)Archivio Storico Barilla

ideal nutritional element, joyful symbol of abundance,

La pasta e le pastine all'uovo (1958) by CARBONI, Erberto (1899-1984)Archivio Storico Barilla

icon on the packaging of the product.

Barilla Brothers Award-winning Pasta Company - Parma (1927) by VERNIZZI, Ettore (1880-1965)Archivio Storico Barilla

It is a process that has its point of arrival in a programmed economy of a higher level, in which the egg is the whole universe: in a postcard of 1922 the boy appears inside the shell, opened like a Chinese box, and breaks, in turn, the egg, pouring the yolk along the river of life,

Barilla Pasta Factory, Parma - Fiat 682 T tractor-trailer ready to leave the renewed plant in Veneto street. (1965) by VAGHI, Bruno (1913-1972)Archivio Storico Barilla

in the latest trailer trucks of Barilla. It is still the egg that lives again in the pure abstraction of an iconic motif that projects itself towards the future of man and of the world.

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