The typeface was seen in San Francisco’s Chinatown following World War I and, by the 1930s, was used in restaurants across the country. Chop suey—meat and eggs cooked quickly with vegetables and held together by sauce—became a popular dish in the early 20th century, and restaurant owners leveraged that by using the name in advertisements and signage. The lettering has transcended regions and is now used to advertise several pan-Asian restaurants (Shaw). Chop Suey lettering was seen earlier this year on former U.S. representative Pete Hoekstra’s web campaign to unseat Michigan Sen. Debbie Stabenow. The site combined stereotypical images of China with “calligraphy” (Ellison).
Bottom from left: Restaurant signage. The 1899 poster “A Trip to Chinatown,” by the Beggarstaff Brothers. Top, photo by Vintage Roadside, Flickr; by Curtis Gregory Perry, Flickr; and Google Images. Next page, photo by Curtis Gregory Perry, Flickr.