Original image

27 Buildings Shaped Like Food That's Sold There

Original image

In 2010, Ethan Trex gave us a great list of buildings shaped like what they sell... but there are way more than just 10 buildings shaped like what they sell, so today we're back with more! (Thanks in part to the tips from all the commenters.)

These 27 buildings are all shaped like edible items, from fruit to soda, and most of them—at some point in time—were involved in the production or sale of those items.


Fruit-shaped buildings have been especially popular, perhaps in part because a sphere (for an apple or orange) is somewhat easier to construct than some other shapes.

The Big Apple

262 Orchard Road, Cramahe, Ontario K0K 1S0

Surprisingly, the Big Apple isn't in the Big Apple—New York City, that is—but instead in the apple-producing township of Cramahe, Ontario. Inside "the world's biggest apple" are a restaurant, pie bakery, gift shop, and observation deck; a petting zoo, nature trail, and mini golf course are also on the grounds. Photo by Flickr user Gillian (Everyspoon).

Gibeau Orange Julep

7700 Boulevard Décarie, Montréal, H4P 2H4

Hermas Gibeau built a 2-story concrete orange building in 1945 to house his family and his restaurant, where he served his trademark drink, the Gibeau Orange Julep. In 1966, the restaurant was moved and rebuilt larger out of of plastic pool segments; the whole building can now light up. Though there were once several giant Gibeau oranges in Montréal, this is the only one still standing. Photo by Flickr user lmnop88a.

Eli's Orange World

5395 W. Irlo Bronson Memorial Highway, Kissimmee, FL

Eli's Orange World lays claim to the title "world's largest orange" even though the building is technically only half an orange. This home base for the Orange World fruit shippers sells fruits, candies, jellies, juices, and souvenirs. Photo by Foursquare user Eric P.

The Big Orange (Berri)

Lot 3 Old Sturt Highway, Berri, South Australia 5343

Berri, South Australia, is home to orchards and vineyards and, since 1980, the Big Orange. The building houses a function room, a café / souvenir shop, a 360-degree mural of local scenery, and a lookout over the surrounding orchards. Unfortunately, the tourist attraction is currently closed, but there are plans to re-open it. Photo from Wikimedia Commons user Bilby.

The Big Orange (Gayndah)

25 Burnett Highway, Gayndah, Queensland 4625

The large orange in the center of Gayndah (Australia)—"the citrus capital of Queensland"—has acted as the town's visitors/information center; the building next door sells a variety of fruit, ice cream, and beverages. Photo by Flickr user Glenn (G4Glenno).

Mammoth Orange

103 N. Highway 365, Redfield, AR 72132

Inspired by a giant orange restaurant in Fresno, CA, Earnestine Bradshaw opened the Mammoth Orange in Arkansas in 1965. Earnestine served up orange juice and diner fare; since her death in 2007, the Mammoth Orange has continued on, operating as a roadside café and dairy bar. Photo by Amanda Galiano of

The Giant Orange

Mark's Hot Dogs, 48 South Capitol Avenue, San Jose, CA 95127

Frank E. Pohl started building a chain of "Giant Orange" stands in California in 1926; by the chain's peak in the '50s, there were 16 giant oranges. This particular one moved from Alum Rock Avenue to South Capitol Avenue in 1947 when it was incorporated into Mark's Hot Dogs, which has been around since 1936. Photo by Foursquare user Charles B.

Bono's Historic Orange

15395 Foothill Boulevard, Fontana, CA 92335

Bono's Historic Orange is reputedly the only remaining stand of a batch originally built to sell orange juice for the orange producers of Northern California. It was purchased by the Bono family and is located next to their Italian restaurant, which opened in 1936 to supplement the family's orange grove business. Apparently the stand and restaurant have been closed for a few years (though the community hopes they'll re-open). Photo by Flickr user Chuck Coker (Caveman Chuck Coker).

The Big Pineapple

Just off R67, Bathurst, South Africa

The Big Pineapple isn't just big—it's the "biggest pineapple in the world," standing 16.7 meters tall. The 3-story building houses a souvenir/gift shop, tourist information, a video of the pineapple industry, and an observation deck. Photo by Flickr user Randy OHC.

The Big Banana

351 Pacific Highway, Coffs Harbour, New South Wales 2450

John Landy built the Big Banana in 1964 to attract drivers to his roadside banana stand. Today, in addition to the walk-through banana, the attraction includes 20 plantation acres, a shop, a café, a theatre experience, a nursery, an ice rink, a toboggan ride, and an inflatable waterslide. Photo by Wikimedia Commons user Stuart Edwards.


Fast food restaurants, which are usually located close to major roads, have always tried to make their buildings eye-catching, but some go above and beyond with buildings shaped like their offerings.

Clam Box of Ipswich

246 High Street, Ipswich, MA 01938

The Clam Box is a New England tradition, serving up fried clams and other seafood for more than 70 years. Built in 1938, the building was shaped like the trapezoidal boxes in which clams-to-go are served. Photo by Flickr user Ed (Otterman56).

Tail o' the Pup

In 1946, the celebrity dance team Veloz and Yolanda opened a hot dog stand they named Tail o' the Pup. The stand relocated once in the '80s, but in 2005, its new site was purchased and the stand was evicted. Since then, it's been moved into a warehouse and declared a cultural landmark by the city; the current owners plan to re-open once they can find a suitable location. Photo from the now-defunct Tail o' the Pup website, via LAist.

Coney Island Colorado

10 Old Stagecoach Road, Bailey, CO 80421

This 42-feet-long hot dog has done it's fair share of traveling. It was built in 1966 in Denver, moved to Aspen Park 4 years later with a new name, and then relocated to Bailey in 2006 and was christened Coney Island Colorado. The line for food "extended literally for miles" on the diner's last day in Aspen Park. Photo by Wikipedia user John Perry.

The Big Chicken

12 Cobb Parkway N, Marietta, GA 30062

Marietta's famous "Big Chicken," complete with moving eyes and beak, was built in 1936 to advertise Johnny Reb's Chick, Chuck and Shake. In 1974, it was leased by KFC, who, at one point, attempted to move the landmark to nearby Smyrna but relented after an uproar. The chicken now bears Pepsi-Cola's logo as well, as the cola company chipped in to restore the bird after extensive tornado damage in 1996. The gift shop inside hawks Big Chicken souvenirs. Photo by Flickr user Kerry Vaughan (kerryvaughan).

World's Biggest Happy Meal

13105 Montfort Drive, Dallas, TX 75240

One of the McDonald's in Dallas was built to be the "world's biggest Happy Meal"—the PlayPlace forms the box, and the building is adorned with gigantic hamburgers, French fries, Cokes, and a Ronald McDonald. The unique kid-friendly exterior—it's the only Happy Meal-shaped McDonald's in the world—is in contrast to the classy interior: Austrian crystal chandeliers, Ralph Lauren wallpaper, granite floors, and mahogany booths. Photo via Google Maps StreetView.

The Donut Hole

15300 Amar Road, La Puente, CA 91744

The second Donut Hole shop was built sometime between 1947 and 1962; unlike the first location, though, this one was designed to look like two giant doughnuts through which the customers drive to place their orders. It's a local tradition for newlyweds to drive through, either for good luck or for the sexual symbolism. Photo by Flickr user soupstance.


Despite the seeming complexities of the coffee pot / tea pot shape, it's actually a relatively popular shape for buildings.

The Coffee Pot

approximately 720 West Pitt Street, Bedford, PA

The 18-feet-tall Coffee Pot was built in 1927 as a lunch spot adjoining a gas station; it became a bar 10 years later. It was purchased by the Bedford County Fair Association for $1 in 2003, and a local preservation group spent $80,000 to move it across the street and restore it. Photo by Flickr user Jeff Kubina.

Bob's Java Jive

2102 S Tacoma Way, Tacoma, WA 98409

A veterinarian built the 25-feet-tall Coffee Pot Restaurant in 1927. Since then, it has also served as a food drive-thru, a speakeasy, a karaoke venue, and a go-go bar. It was bought in 1955 by Bob & Lylabell Radonich, who transformed it into Bob's Java Jive, a Polynesian-themed music club complete with two drums-playing chimps—Java and Jive—and a house act, The Ventures, who later gained fame and were inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame. The recently refurbished coffee pot is still open and hosting musical performances today. Photo by Flickr user Homini.

Cowgirls Espresso Stand

1216 A Street SE, Auburn, WA 98002

Auburn's stylized coffee pot-shaped coffee stand was originally a Perky's Coffee House. At some point it was transformed into a Cowgirls Espresso Stand, a chain of cow-spotted coffee stands with bikini-clad baristas; the Auburn one, though, is the only one shaped like a coffee pot. Photo via the Cowgirls Espresso website.

The Coffee Pot Roadhouse

2902 Brambleton Avenue, Roanoke, VA 24015

The Coffee Pot was built in 1936 and spent one year as a filling station and tea room before becoming a roadhouse in 1937; today, it's the only active roadhouse left in Roanoke Valley. The 15-feet-tall coffee pot has a furnace located in the room below, which causes steam to rise from the coffee pot spout. Past acts have included Willie Nelson, Ritchie Valens, and Root Boy Slim. Photo by Wikimedia Commons user Patriarca12.

Teapot Dome Service Station

14691 Yakima Valley Highway, Zillah, WA 98953

Zillah's teapot-shaped gas station was actually built in 1922 as a reminder of the Teapot Dome Scandal, and not because it served tea. The teapot operated as a full-service gas station for many years and was moved about a mile down the road in 1978—although the move was complicated when a car hit the station 5 days before the scheduled move, causing the teapot to cave in and requiring it to first be restructured before it could be moved. Listed on the National Register of Historic Places since 1985, the Teapot Dome Service Station hasn't been operational in several years, although the town of Zillah has purchased it and hopes to move the teapot into town to serve as a visitor's center. Photo via the City of Zillah.


The simple structure of a bottle was once a popular shape for dairy stands and ice cream shops, but it has since fallen out of use, with few still in operation.

Mary Lou's Milk Bottle Restaurant

802 West Garland Avenue, Spokane, WA 99205

In the 1930s, the owner of the Benewah Dairy Company, Paul E. Newport, built 6 or 7 milk bottle-shaped buildings in the Spokane area as kid-friendly places to sell the company's dairy products. Only 2 are still standing today, one of which became Mary Lou's Milk Bottle Restaurant and has been selling homemade ice cream since 1978. Unfortunately, the milk bottle and Ferguson's Café next door caught on fire in September 2011 and both have remained closed since, although both buildings' owners plan to re-open their establishments. Photo by Flickr user chrstphre campbell (chrstphre).

Benewah Dairy Milk Bottle

321 S Cedar Street, Spokane, WA 99201

The second remaining Benewah Dairy Milk Bottle building in Spokane has been listed on the National Register of Historic Places since 1986. The 38-feet-tall building is now privately owned; it's unclear what, if anything, the building is being used for today. Photo by the National Park Service, via Wikimedia Commons.

The Bottle

The Bottle, Auburn, AL 36830

From 1924 to 1933, Alabama laid claim to the "world's largest bottle." John F. Williams, the owner of the Nehi Bottling Company, constructed the 64-feet-tall bottle-shaped building, nicknamed the "Nehi Inn," that contained a grocery store and service station on the ground floor, with living quarters and storage on the second and third floors. From the observation windows in the neck of the bottle, visitors could see for miles. Before the Bottle burnt down in 1933, President Franklin Delano Roosevelt visited following a trip to Auburn. Although the building hasn't been around for almost 80 years, to this day the land it stood on is still listed as "The Bottle" on maps. Public domain photos via Wikipedia.


Few buildings that we can find are shaped like alcohol containers, although we're not sure why—a barrel-shaped bar seems pretty cool to us.

Tonneau Bistro & Bar

Teruya, Okinawa, Japan

The keg-shaped Tonneau Bistro & Bar (Japanese-only website), a.k.a. "The Barrel," is named for a French term, tonneau, meaning a large cask or keg. The izakaya (a compound word formed from i—to stay—and sakaya—sake shop) serves a wide variety of alcoholic beverages accompanied by food. Photo by Flickr user Joseph Hermon (iAphro).

The Bundaberg Barrel

147 Bargara Road, Bundaberg East, Queensland 4670

Bundaberg (Australia) is the home of Bundaberg Brewed Drinks, a soft drink manufacturer founded in 1960. In 2005, they built a tourist facility, the Bundaberg Barrel, that features a tour of the ginger beer making process, a 3D hologram adventure, a sampling bar with all their drink flavors, and a gift shop. Photo by Wikimedia Commons user BTBB.

Pirate's Cove

7417 NE Sandy Boulevard, Portland, OR 97213

The moonshine jug-shaped building on Portland's Sandy Boulevard was originally built in 1928 as a tire shop and repair garage. Since then, it's been known as the "Sandy Jug"—a former name and because it's a jug located on Sandy Blvd.—and has served as a luncheonette and a soda shop, among other businesses. Since 2002, it has been a nude strip club—the windows have been paneled shut—called the Pirate's Cove (website NSFW), with a pirate mural adorning an inside wall. Photo by Jeff Bernheisel of Living in Roseway.

27 examples of mimetic architecture not enough for you? Don’t worry, we’re not stopping the fun. Head over to our "Mimetic Architecture" board on Pinterest for more buildings shaped like food, animals, books, etc. And if you’ve seen a good one, let us know in the comments and we’ll add it to the board.

Original image
iStock // Ekaterina Minaeva
Man Buys Two Metric Tons of LEGO Bricks; Sorts Them Via Machine Learning
May 21, 2017
Original image
iStock // Ekaterina Minaeva

Jacques Mattheij made a small, but awesome, mistake. He went on eBay one evening and bid on a bunch of bulk LEGO brick auctions, then went to sleep. Upon waking, he discovered that he was the high bidder on many, and was now the proud owner of two tons of LEGO bricks. (This is about 4400 pounds.) He wrote, "[L]esson 1: if you win almost all bids you are bidding too high."

Mattheij had noticed that bulk, unsorted bricks sell for something like €10/kilogram, whereas sets are roughly €40/kg and rare parts go for up to €100/kg. Much of the value of the bricks is in their sorting. If he could reduce the entropy of these bins of unsorted bricks, he could make a tidy profit. While many people do this work by hand, the problem is enormous—just the kind of challenge for a computer. Mattheij writes:

There are 38000+ shapes and there are 100+ possible shades of color (you can roughly tell how old someone is by asking them what lego colors they remember from their youth).

In the following months, Mattheij built a proof-of-concept sorting system using, of course, LEGO. He broke the problem down into a series of sub-problems (including "feeding LEGO reliably from a hopper is surprisingly hard," one of those facts of nature that will stymie even the best system design). After tinkering with the prototype at length, he expanded the system to a surprisingly complex system of conveyer belts (powered by a home treadmill), various pieces of cabinetry, and "copious quantities of crazy glue."

Here's a video showing the current system running at low speed:

The key part of the system was running the bricks past a camera paired with a computer running a neural net-based image classifier. That allows the computer (when sufficiently trained on brick images) to recognize bricks and thus categorize them by color, shape, or other parameters. Remember that as bricks pass by, they can be in any orientation, can be dirty, can even be stuck to other pieces. So having a flexible software system is key to recognizing—in a fraction of a second—what a given brick is, in order to sort it out. When a match is found, a jet of compressed air pops the piece off the conveyer belt and into a waiting bin.

After much experimentation, Mattheij rewrote the software (several times in fact) to accomplish a variety of basic tasks. At its core, the system takes images from a webcam and feeds them to a neural network to do the classification. Of course, the neural net needs to be "trained" by showing it lots of images, and telling it what those images represent. Mattheij's breakthrough was allowing the machine to effectively train itself, with guidance: Running pieces through allows the system to take its own photos, make a guess, and build on that guess. As long as Mattheij corrects the incorrect guesses, he ends up with a decent (and self-reinforcing) corpus of training data. As the machine continues running, it can rack up more training, allowing it to recognize a broad variety of pieces on the fly.

Here's another video, focusing on how the pieces move on conveyer belts (running at slow speed so puny humans can follow). You can also see the air jets in action:

In an email interview, Mattheij told Mental Floss that the system currently sorts LEGO bricks into more than 50 categories. It can also be run in a color-sorting mode to bin the parts across 12 color groups. (Thus at present you'd likely do a two-pass sort on the bricks: once for shape, then a separate pass for color.) He continues to refine the system, with a focus on making its recognition abilities faster. At some point down the line, he plans to make the software portion open source. You're on your own as far as building conveyer belts, bins, and so forth.

Check out Mattheij's writeup in two parts for more information. It starts with an overview of the story, followed up with a deep dive on the software. He's also tweeting about the project (among other things). And if you look around a bit, you'll find bulk LEGO brick auctions online—it's definitely a thing!

Original image
Sponsor Content: BarkBox
8 Common Dog Behaviors, Decoded
May 25, 2017
Original image

Dogs are a lot more complicated than we give them credit for. As a result, sometimes things get lost in translation. We’ve yet to invent a dog-to-English translator, but there are certain behaviors you can learn to read in order to better understand what your dog is trying to tell you. The more tuned-in you are to your dog’s emotions, the better you’ll be able to respond—whether that means giving her some space or welcoming a wet, slobbery kiss. 

1. What you’ll see: Your dog is standing with his legs and body relaxed and tail low. His ears are up, but not pointed forward. His mouth is slightly open, he’s panting lightly, and his tongue is loose. His eyes? Soft or maybe slightly squinty from getting his smile on.

What it means: “Hey there, friend!” Your pup is in a calm, relaxed state. He’s open to mingling, which means you can feel comfortable letting friends say hi.

2. What you’ll see: Your dog is standing with her body leaning forward. Her ears are erect and angled forward—or have at least perked up if they’re floppy—and her mouth is closed. Her tail might be sticking out horizontally or sticking straight up and wagging slightly.

What it means: “Hark! Who goes there?!” Something caught your pup’s attention and now she’s on high alert, trying to discern whether or not the person, animal, or situation is a threat. She’ll likely stay on guard until she feels safe or becomes distracted.

3. What you’ll see: Your dog is standing, leaning slightly forward. His body and legs are tense, and his hackles—those hairs along his back and neck—are raised. His tail is stiff and twitching, not swooping playfully. His mouth is open, teeth are exposed, and he may be snarling, snapping, or barking excessively.

What it means: “Don’t mess with me!” This dog is asserting his social dominance and letting others know that he might attack if they don’t defer accordingly. A dog in this stance could be either offensively aggressive or defensively aggressive. If you encounter a dog in this state, play it safe and back away slowly without making eye contact.

4. What you’ll see: As another dog approaches, your dog lies down on his back with his tail tucked in between his legs. His paws are tucked in too, his ears are flat, and he isn’t making direct eye contact with the other dog standing over him.

What it means: “I come in peace!” Your pooch is displaying signs of submission to a more dominant dog, conveying total surrender to avoid physical confrontation. Other, less obvious, signs of submission include ears that are flattened back against the head, an avoidance of eye contact, a tongue flick, and bared teeth. Yup—a dog might bare his teeth while still being submissive, but they’ll likely be clenched together, the lips opened horizontally rather than curled up to show the front canines. A submissive dog will also slink backward or inward rather than forward, which would indicate more aggressive behavior.

5. What you’ll see: Your dog is crouching with her back hunched, tail tucked, and the corner of her mouth pulled back with lips slightly curled. Her shoulders, or hackles, are raised and her ears are flattened. She’s avoiding eye contact.

What it means: “I’m scared, but will fight you if I have to.” This dog’s fight or flight instincts have been activated. It’s best to keep your distance from a dog in this emotional state because she could attack if she feels cornered.

6. What you’ll see: You’re staring at your dog, holding eye contact. Your dog looks away from you, tentatively looks back, then looks away again. After some time, he licks his chops and yawns.

What it means: “I don’t know what’s going on and it’s weirding me out.” Your dog doesn’t know what to make of the situation, but rather than nipping or barking, he’ll stick to behaviors he knows are OK, like yawning, licking his chops, or shaking as if he’s wet. You’ll want to intervene by removing whatever it is causing him discomfort—such as an overly grabby child—and giving him some space to relax.

7. What you’ll see: Your dog has her front paws bent and lowered onto the ground with her rear in the air. Her body is relaxed, loose, and wiggly, and her tail is up and wagging from side to side. She might also let out a high-pitched or impatient bark.

What it means: “What’s the hold up? Let’s play!” This classic stance, known to dog trainers and behaviorists as “the play bow,” is a sign she’s ready to let the good times roll. Get ready for a round of fetch or tug of war, or for a good long outing at the dog park.

8. What you’ll see: You’ve just gotten home from work and your dog rushes over. He can’t stop wiggling his backside, and he may even lower himself into a giant stretch, like he’s doing yoga.

What it means: “OhmygoshImsohappytoseeyou I love you so much you’re my best friend foreverandeverandever!!!!” This one’s easy: Your pup is overjoyed his BFF is back. That big stretch is something dogs don’t pull out for just anyone; they save that for the people they truly love. Show him you feel the same way with a good belly rub and a handful of his favorite treats.

The best way to say “I love you” in dog? A monthly subscription to BarkBox. Your favorite pup will get a package filled with treats, toys, and other good stuff (and in return, you’ll probably get lots of sloppy kisses). Visit BarkBox to learn more.