Tuesday, April 27, 2010

Duck architecture

Driving through the Flanders we got (finally) to see the so famous landmark.


 I didn't stop by the duck, this image is from www.lukecole.com

The Big Duck used to be a store where one could find ducklings and duck products; this is a fun example of road-side architecture, but what I didn't know is that the word "duck" specifically defines a kind of building which shape refers to its product; in other words, if you had a peanut-shaped store  you'd immediately know where to buy peanuts, peanut butter, reese' s, P&J sandwiches...and that'd be a duck.

Ducks don't need any ads (like decorative shed do): their shape is the ad itself.

The idea of a duck-store wasn't an original of Long Island but it was  patented here: the inspiration for it was a Californian coffeepot-shaped coffee shop, but the triggering motivation was that in the '30s the duck commerce on LI was so huge one had to stand out among the masses of farmers selling ducks.

Farmer Martin Maurer got the brilliant idea of attracting more buyers with something more than an ad - and let' s be honest,  traffic might have increased significantly just in those years and people aren't that attentive anymore when they are on a wheel (and some have problems reading the signs, too!!); so he had his duck built of wood and concrete (another of the industry which was flourishing back than) with eyes lighting in the night as someone was driving by.
Maurer started selling eggs and duck produce on Main Street in Riverhead.

The Big Duck was moved only later to the Flanders.

It seems it had its best years in the '60s and '70s ,to see its door closed in the '80s. Now it is a souvenir shop, open from Memorial Day to Labor Day and it is owned by Suffolk County.

There isn't such a large demand for ducks anymore - the first were coming from China in 1837 so we are talking about Peking Ducks, like the one who ended up in this delicious roll...


Sorry, vegetarian friends, I never meant to hurt your feelings!

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