The Clock’s Strange Desire For Campbell’s Soup ("It’s That Good!")

Here is a surreal play in photos from a Campbell’s Soup booklet, circa 1958.

In the top photo four cups of foamy mint green stuff have gone to the opera. There is only one pair of opera glasses and only three ticket stubs. Invariably some of the cups have been left out, and even the ones who attended couldn’t see. Except for the Alpha Cup, despite the fact that they have no eyes.

But they do not realize this. The Alpha Cup has deceived them in some way.

The Alpha Cup is clearly the one whose powers are sucking a bunch of red plastic grapes into its sphere of influence. A small brass alarm clock hovers nearby with a couple of candlesticks. It tries to rectify the situation, but can only look on, helplessly. It ticks on but can do nothing. Very significant! So symbolic of modern angst. And modern soup.

In the middle photo the alarm clock has made friends with an egg cup and a reclining banana. They are staring at someone’s bowl of soup, trying to comprehend it. It isn’t working. They can’t even tell what it is made of. Nor can I. Puzzlingly, the mug of milk has a telephone cord for a handle. It must mean something, but it is too deep for the clock and his egg and banana friends.

The banana in fact has given up and gone to sleep.

In the last photo the ubiquitous clock has made friends with a wooden bird, who is attempting to drink three cups of orange soup with strange white bits in it. As with the opera-loving soup cups, the bird’s attempt is futile. You’re made of wood, maybe you didn’t notice. The apple and the bits of greenery lend an air of the outdoors. As does the thermos. But they are indoors on some vast avocado melamine savanna. Trapped in a world of pastel melamine.

The clock is obsessed with soup and does not know why. Friends come and go, bringing with them bits of plastic greenery and ticket stubs, opera glasses and telephone cords. All useless! They are all standing around waiting, waiting for the Godot of the canned soup to come.

But Godot does not come. He has gone out for Chinese. Because that soup does not look good.

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