Fruit stickers! Inspired by fruit stickers!

Fruit stickers! Those annoying little adhesive patches you must remove from fruit before you eat it. If you’re like me, you don’t just mutter under your breath, “Goddamn fruit stickers,” as you try to peel them off without denuding half the nectarine in the process. No, you also mutter under your breath, “How the fuck do they get stickers on each and every piece of fruit?! Someone must have invented some kind of amazing machine to do that.” Near as I can tell, that someone worked for or licensed the idea to Sinclair International. They seem to be your 900 lb. gorilla of the fruit sticker world. Although technically they refer to them as fruit labels, not stickers.

This is the Sinclair RM6, which can sticker 720 pieces of fruit per minute per lane. That’s faster than a person could do it, I bet!

Also look for the video on the Sinclair info page. Hilarious for a few seconds just because the interviewer is much more stiff and amateur than the company CEO he’s interviewing. Stick with it (heh!) if you want to see a glimpse of a pretty sophisticated universal action hand labeler, kinda like a human powered robot arm. For putting stickers on fruit.

Fruit stickers carry a 4- or 5-digit price look-up number (PLU) that grocery checkers use to ring up the correct purchase price. This became necessary because A) consumer demand for more fruit variety led to the introduction of fruits that weren’t Red Delicious apples or California navel oranges, and B) the influx of a generation of grocery store workers who never encountered fruit that hadn’t been tanned into a leather-like “roll-up” or juiced into an aseptic box. There are at least several really bad YouTube fruit sticker videos, a serious collector site (he calls them labels, too, but says don’t confuse them with fruit crate labels!) and a defunct blog named for them.

collage#23, mixed media: pink lady apple (PLU #4130), red plum (PLU #4042) and navel orange (PLU #4012) fruit stickers, corian countertop.