Eating and nothingness

Today’s Zippy, on the emptiness of the Automats, with a nice pun in the title:


The Automats. From Wikipedia:

Horn & Hardart was a food services company in the United States noted for operating the first food service automats in Philadelphia and New York City.

Philadelphia’s Joseph Horn (1861–1941) and German-born, New Orleans-raised Frank Hardart (1850–1918) opened their first restaurant together in Philadelphia on December 22, 1888.

… The first New York Automat opened in Times Square July 2, 1912. Later that week, another opened at Broadway and East 14th Street, near Union Square.

… The Horn & Hardart Automats were particularly popular during the Depression era when their macaroni and cheese, baked beans and creamed spinach were staple offerings. [all simple, “plain food”]

The article has more detailed discussion of how the Automats worked, with food behind glass-doored compartments, as in the cartoon (where the compartments are dark and empty) and in this photo (from real life) of two (functioning) sections out of many:


Now, the title. The crucial part is cosmos, (1) referring to the universe as a whole (echoing the dark cosmological reflections in #1); and (2) referring to the fictional character Cosmo Topper (who has nothing to do with the Automats; Bill Griffith’s titles ususally have very little to do with the content of his cartoons). From Wikipedia:

Topper (1937) is an American comedy film starring Constance Bennett and Cary Grant which tells the story of a stuffy, stuck-in-his-ways man, Cosmo Topper (Roland Young) who is haunted by the ghosts of a fun-loving married couple.

The film was adapted by Eric Hatch, Jack Jevne and Eddie Moran from the novel by Thorne Smith.

Topper was followed by the sequels Topper Takes a Trip (1938) and Topper Returns (1941). There was a television series, which premiered in 1953 and ran for two seasons, starring Leo G. Carroll, Robert Sterling and Anne Jeffreys.

I read the Thorne Smith short novel as a kid (it was a favorite of my parents), have seen all the films (the first one many times) and the tv show as well. The movies are a combination of screwball comedies and mystery stories.


3 Responses to “Eating and nothingness”

  1. Robert Coren Says:

    I’m astonished to learn that the TV show, which I remember as a staple of our family’s watching during my childhood, only ran for two seasons.

  2. Michael Vnuk Says:

    I’m wondering about the eyes at the base of the second frame.

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