It’s no secret that graphics sell skateboards. Sure, a deck’s shape and functionality are important, but the artwork on it is what commands the attention of the average skate-shop customer. And in the last, say, 40 years, sterile company logos have evolved into eye-popping work depicting everything from the macabre to the pornographic.
Food falls somewhere on that spectrum. Skateboarders aren’t known for their foodie tendencies—many subsist on $0.99 slices of pizza and tap water—but that hasn’t stopped anyone from putting tasty grub on the bottom of a deck. And while this trend has resulted in some uninspired parodies of well-known corporate branding, it’s also given us boards worthy of our walls.
None of these decks qualify as food porn, but that’s beside the point. Here are 10 examples of when, in spite of itself, skateboarding got food right.
10. Skate Mental (Trevor Colden)
Trevor Colden turned pro for Skate Mental this year. Being 20, he probably isn’t concerned about maintaining the balanced diet of a seasoned professional athlete, so things like Doritos fuel his high-octane skating. For the record, he told Thrasher magazine he fucks with the Spicy Nacho flavor. (Photo: nativeskatestore.co.uk)
9. Five Boro
As its name suggests, Five Boro is all about New York City—which means that, in addition to video clips heavy on footage from the city, you can expect graphics that speak to NYC’s signature foods: pizza, bagels, pretzels, hot-dogs, and donuts. Oh, and apparently soda, too—though we’ve yet to see an NYC-branded can of it. (Photo: marsuno.com)
8. H-Street (Mike Carroll)
We’re not sure why H-Street gave a teenage Mike Carroll this graphic. And though we don’t really care, we’re guessing that the skater had no say in it. Still, we’re going to assume that he and his brother Greg—who basically raised themselves in San Francisco—ate plenty of mac and cheese. If that was the case, they were way ahead of the comfort-food movement that took hold decades later, and this deck proves it.
7. Blind (Rudy Johnson)
Forty-ounce bottles of malt liquor were a major part of skateboarding in the early ‘90s. Seriously. With this board, from 1992, Rudy Johnson paid tribute to Olde English, a beverage that, not at all coincidentally, was a mainstay in the rap videos of the day. The ID card was a nice touch, since Rudy was almost certainly way underage when this came out. (Photo: jeffsskateboardpage.blogspot.com)
6. Chocolate (Hot Sauce Series)
Chocolate produces the sorts of board series that non-skaters want to put on their walls. Evan Hecox, the artist responsible for most of them, does a good job of incorporating riders’ personalities into all kinds of items—in this case, bottles of hot sauce. For what it’s worth, at least a couple of dudes on this team seem to have a real interest in food. (Photo: supradistribution.com)
5. Quartersnacks (Snackman Cruiser)
Quartersnacks, New York City’s skate site of record (provided you’re a fan of low-impact skating, which we at First We Feast definitely are), pays homage to Young Jeezy’s cocaine-peddling snowman and the snacks one would find in a bodega. This cruiser deck is a work of conceptual genius that deserves to be framed. (Photo: radcollector.com)
4. World Industries (Jovontae Turner)
In the early ‘90s, when board runs were small and graphics dropped on a seemingly monthly basis, concerns like copyright infringement were an afterthought. This Jovontae Turner board probably began as a joke. But rip-off illustrations meant easy work for artists and quick paychecks for pros, so it made sense for everyone, and today it’s a relic of an era that will never repeat itself. (Photo: Skateboard Graphics)
3. Skate Mental (2 ½-Footer)
Given Skate Mental’s graphic output, Brad Staba, its founder, probably fucks with food. This board offers some kind of tribute to Subway and other sandwich shops. A sub of two-and-a-half-feet long—roughly the size of this deck—could probably feed a household of starving skaters. Or, if you prefer, one old, washed-up skater. (Photo: Skate Mental)
2. Blind (Jason Lee)
Like a lot of decks in the early ‘90s, this one sported a rip-off graphic. But while Blind risked a cease-and-desist letter from Burger King, Jason Lee risked an ass-kicking from Mike Vallely, an outspoken vegetarian who not long before this board came out left World Industries, the brand’s parent company. The ad for the deck featured Lee with a shaved head, like Vallely’s, holding a burger. Lee has said that this wasn’t directed at anyone in particular, and maybe that was the case, but at the time, it was the stuff of high drama. (Photo: None Co.)
1. World Industries (Jeremy Klein)
Jeremy Klein’s appetite for junk food and video games knows no bounds. This model from early in his career is an ode to the former, with a giant candy bar stomping out a collection of vegetables. As innocuous as this seems, it seriously resonated with skaters, since every kid likes chocolate and hates healthy shit. Decades after the fact, Klein is pressing, printing, and selling more of these himself—on Instagram, natch—proving the enduring appeal of a wildly unbalanced diet. (Photo: WeBringJustice)
Lucas Wisenthal is an aging skateboarder working on a new site for Complex. Despite hailing from Montreal, he has never tried poutine. Follow him on Twitter: @lucaswisenthal.