PLU Codes Project

The Price Look-up Project: PLU I, PLU II, PLU III, PLU IV, PLU V, VI

Stickers on fruits and vegetables  are officially known as PLUs or price look-up codes. Initially, in the 1990s, they contained bar codes only to facilitate inventory control. Soon, logos and URLs were added. A PLU code now turns a banana or a lettuce head into a “value-added vegetable product.” The 1400 PLU codes in circulation around the world today symbolize the globalization and the commercialization of basic food commodities. A simple piece of fruit is now a brand. Is this a good thing? nh

PLU VI – Frozen

In 2019, I noticed a sticker advertising a product other than the company marketing the fruit or vegetable on which it appeared. This next generation of PLU codes ends this project and makes it official: a raw fruit frequently fed to babies and toddlers is but an advertisement vehicle.

PLU V – Shelf Life

3-apples

N. Heule, Apple, bronze, 2018, with PLU codes Red Delicious

PLU IV – Still happy?

la Orana Maria, 1891 (detail)

51.112.2

Paul Gauguin (1848–1903)
Oil on canvas 113.7 cm x 87.6 cm
Bequest of Sam A. Lewisohn, 1951

The Metropolitan Museum of Art, NY, NY, says on its website: “Gauguin […] describing la Orana Maria in a letter of March 1892: ‘An angel with yellow wings reveals Mary and Jesus, both Tahitians, to two Tahitian women […] with bananas on the left. I’m rather happy with it.'” Concept copyright 2017 © by Nandy Heule.  Trademark PLU code ™Chiquita.

Ia Orana Maria, 1891 (detail)

51.112.2

And here are Adam and Eve, 1526 (detail):

AdamandEveDetail copy

Lucas Cranach the Elder

Medium: Oil on panel, 117cm x 80 cm

© The Samuel Courtauld Trust, The Courtauld Gallery, London

PLU II: Who wins?

Mixed media. Banana, bamboo stick, thread, PLU code. Music credit: re-mix Pyotr Tchaikovsky, Erik Satie. Copyright © 2017 by Nandy Heule

 PLU I: Sticker doll

melon-head-sticker-doll3

Mixed media. Cloth, pre-fabricated mannequin doll on wood stand. PLU codes (collected in 2012-2013 in Canada, England, The Netherlands), kitchen plastic wrap, kitchen foil, buttons.

Copyright © 2016 by Nandy Heule