Canned cranjellyfish

On the op-ed page of the NYT yesterday, an Op-Art feature by graphic designer Mark Pernice, “Parade Balloons That Didn’t Get Off the Ground” (in print) or “Rejected Thanksgiving Balloons” (on-line), with (for example) The Turkey’s Head, A Dead Leaf, Booze & Bukowski, Drunk Texting Exes, Black Friday Doorbuster Ad. And Canned Cranjellyfish:


The creature is a hybrid of a can of cranberry jelly (on top) and a jellyfish (with its “arms” at the bottom). The name is also a hybrid, a phrasal overlap portmanteau (POP) of canned cranberry jelly + jellyfish.

Two things here: cranberry sauce / jelly / relish for Thanksgiving; and Mark Pernice and his work.

Cranberries for Thanksgiving. Cranberry sauce is a traditional accompaniment to roast turkey for Thanksgiving dinner in the US and Canada (and for Christmas dinner in the UK). Historically this sauce is simple and easy to make — basically, it’s just cranberries, sugar, and an acidic liquid, cooked together. Here’s a Food Network recipe from Bobby Deen:

2/3 cup sugar
1/2 cup orange juice (no sugar added or freshly squeezed)
1/4 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/8 teaspoon kosher salt
One 12-ounce bag cranberries
Combine the sugar, orange juice, 1/2 cup water, the cinnamon, salt and cranberries in a medium saucepan. Bring up to a simmer over medium heat and cook for 15 minutes. Let cool completely before serving.


This was not, however, the cranberry sauce of my childhood; I was brought to this version by Ann Daingerfield (eventually Zwicky), who took food seriously and (quite rightly) refused to countenance the cranberry jelly of my childhood. (This would be the place to announce that there is now a Page on this blog (under the “Personal” heading) on Ann Daingerfield (and her family and connections).)

The cranberry jelly of my childhood is marketed in cans by the Ocean Spray company, under the name “Jellied Cranberry Sauce” (though pretty much everybody calls it cranberry jelly):


The Ocean Spray folks found a way to pulverize cranberries to a gelatinous mass, crafting this into quivering (and achingly sweet) cylinders in a can, from which it can be served in slices, as in the photo, or globs.

There are many ways to play variations on the basic dish in #2 — adding nuts, for example.

But then we get to something completely different, Mama Stamberg’s Cranberry Relish:

Every year as Thanksgiving approaches, fans ask [National Public Radio]’s Susan Stamberg for her mother-in-law’s recipe for cranberry relish.

“It sounds terrible but tastes terrific,” Stamberg says of the Pepto Bismol-pink dish.

2 cups whole raw cranberries, washed
1 small onion
3/4 cup sour cream
1/2 cup sugar
2 tablespoons horseradish from a jar (“red is a bit milder than white”)
Grind the raw berries and onion together. (“I use an old-fashioned meat grinder,” says Stamberg. “I’m sure there’s a setting on the food processor that will give you a chunky grind — not a puree.”)
Add everything else and mix.
Put in a plastic container and freeze.

As Susan Stamberg has noted, her mother-in-law got the recipe from a 1959 New York Times clipping of Craig Claiborne’s recipe for cranberry relish. In 1993, Claiborne told Stamberg: “Susan, I am simply delighted. We have gotten more mileage, you and I, out of that recipe than almost anything I’ve printed.”


Yes, it looks bizarre, but it’s definitely tasty. Ann and I tried it in 1971, the year Susan Stamberg first read the recipe on NPR, and we approved. And it does g well with roast turkey (or chicken).

(Reading the name Stamberg makes me want to spell the name of the fruit cramberry, which is of course the way it’s often pronounced.)

Mark Pernice. I’ve treated the artist of #1 as a cartoonist, at least when he’s doing things like yesterday’s Op-Art piece. But some of his work, like the humorous riff on Walt Whitman (and Long Island Tea) in #5 below, looks like art, period, in a tradition going back to Duchamp and Magritte.


Still other commissions of Pernice’s have been for logo designs and the like, and don’t fall easily into your standard genre categories. Graphic design is like that.

Pernice now works out of the Young Professionals studio in Brooklyn (a collaboration between him and Zhang Qingyun. The studio overview:

We are Young Professionals. Founded in 2012 we are an award winning branding, print and digital creative agency based in the landmark Pencil Factory, Brooklyn. We’re specialists in creating unique visual experiences for a range of designed communication platforms. We don’t have an office dog but we do have Craig, the worlds longest living goldfish.

From Pernice’s page on the site:

A New York native and School of Visual Arts alum, Mark advanced from early work in movie poster design to designing for a variety of clients and industries as a now-longtime art director, graphic designer and illustrator. Pernice spent part of 2008 working under world renowned graphic designer Stefan Sagmeister and Paula Scher in 2010 working on Jon Stewart’s “Earth The Book.”

(Other credits follow.)

Leave a Reply

%d bloggers like this: