Historic Delis of the United States is an illustrated map of kosher and kosher-style delis created by Jewish-American cartoonist, Shez, in collaboration with Audrey’s at the Skirball Cultural Center. In addition to some modern-day favorites, and some late and great deli mainstays of the past, Shez sets his focus on small, uniquely-themed, and historically significant delis, many of which came and went without fanfare.
The map draws its inspiration from a love of 1950s and 1960s jigsaw puzzle maps of the United States, as well as vintage restaurant and diner placemats of the same era.
Each state is represented by at least one authentic, Jewish-style deli. Puerto Rico is also included, and features a bowl of sofrito, a Sephardic/ Puerto Rican stew of chicken, spices, and chopped vegetables.
The delis were selected based on historical significance, geographical location, and innovative design, using primary sources such as city directories (1900-1980), phonebooks, menus, matchbook covers, newspaper archives, and with the assistance of academics and present-day deli owners.
If the image of a deli or its logo was too degraded to use, or if only a text description of the business was available, Shez designed a new logo and or mascot to help the deli join the party! Any existing logos or mascots have been lovingly restored, reinterpreted, and redrawn. There are a few collage elements as well, which were too good to pass up.
Have fun finding your local deli or a new favorite you’ve never heard of until now.
An exclusive collaboration between Eric “SHEZ” Sheslow and the Skirball Cultural Center