7 Things We Learned from the New Documentary Crazy About Tiffany’s

Tiffany & Co. has been around for nearly 180 years, and as Matthew Miele—director of the new documentary Crazy About Tiffany's—points out to mental_floss, it continues to be one of America's most iconic brands. Much like in his 2013 documentary, Scatter My Ashes at Bergdorf's, Miele sought to bring the history and cultural relevance of this quintessential luxury brand into focus. "Both Tiffany and Bergdorf's are so cultivated and finely honed with their images, colors, fonts, and ubiquity," Miele says. "Their relevance maintains because they refine their image every week. They are both so attuned to the changing times and shifting attitudes that they always stay 12 steps ahead."

Crazy About Tiffany's—named for Holly Golighty's famously fawning line in the movie that has become synonymous with the store—is out in select theaters and on VOD today.


In the 1850s, right around the time Tiffany’s opened its first Paris location, founder Charles Lewis Tiffany foresaw a huge trend and jumped on it early. France’s Empress Eugénie, who was the leading fashion icon of her day, had chosen a shade of light blue as her official color. Tiffany, realizing that hue would soon be an international sensation, immediately made robin’s egg blue its company-wide branding color. The bold, pretty tint became known as Tiffany Blue, and more than a century later, Pantone patented that specific shade for Tiffany’s. The exact formula is a closely guarded secret, but the name—Pantone No. 1837—is a nod to the company’s founding year. "It is a remarkable thing to have trademarked so long ago," Miele says, "and an even greater feat to keep its recipe a secret."


Think the first mail-order catalog was an old Sears, Roebuck & Co. one? Nope; Tiffany’s Blue Book predates Sears, Roebuck’s Big Book by nearly 50 years. Charles Tiffany started sending out his mailer in 1845, and the book has become a way to advertise the company’s rarest and most exclusive jewels, as well as to introduce new collections in their fashion jewelry and watch lines.


In 1878, Charles Tiffany bought an enormous, rough yellow diamond. Once cut into its classic cushion-shape brilliant, the stone weighed in at an impressive 128.54 carats, and his owning it solidified Tiffany’s reputation as the world’s premier jeweler.

The Tiffany Diamond has only been set in new pieces five times, and only worn twice. Once by lucky Newport socialite Mrs. Sheldon Whitehouse at a 1957 fundraising ball co-sponsored by Tiffany’s (Mrs. Whitehouse was chairwoman of the event), and the second time by Audrey Hepburn. While doing negotiations with Paramount to film 1961’s Breakfast at Tiffany’s in its flagship store, Tiffany’s was granted a photo shoot with Hepburn modeling a number of jewels—including the Jean Schlumberger-designed Ribbon Rosette necklace. Since then, the stone has been reset in one of Schlumberger's classic Bird on a Rock settings [PDF], and in its current necklace mounting.


Before the diamond boom of the late 1800s, simple or engraved engagement rings were more common—if a ring was given at all (the Puritans had a practice of giving thimbles, which were considered more practical and didn't give into the vanity of jewelry). When diamonds were used, the bezel setting, which kept the stone low and flat in the hoop (think of a signet ring design) was most popular. Then Charles Tiffany decided to show off the brilliance of his diamonds. In 1886, he raised the diamond off of the ring's hoop, creating the six-prong mounting that is now ubiquitous with solitaire engagement settings.



Louis Comfort Tiffany (Charles's son) was trained in painting and glasswork, and expanded the family business with his much-sought-after lamps, chandeliers, and stained glass, first with his own glassmaking firm and then later as the first Design Director at Tiffany & Co. (The hard-to-please design genius Steve Jobs was such a fan of Louis Tiffany's work that he once took his entire Macintosh team to a Tiffany exhibition for inspiration on how to mass-produce great art.) But some pieces that Tiffany designed were one-of-a-kind, like the enormous clock he made for Grand Central Terminal in 1914. The clock—with its vibrant red and white Roman numerals and blue and yellow sunburst design—still has all of its original gears and parts, is still accurate, and is the largest example of Tiffany's glasswork in the world.


"One of the smallest but most profound details I enjoyed discovering was their design of the most famous insignia in sports," Miele says. He's talking about the interlocking NY that the Yankees have used for a century. Back in 1877, Louis Comfort Tiffany designed and created a silver-plated medal of valor to be given to New York's first police officer injured in the line of duty, and the 'NY' insignia connected the medallion to the pin. One of the Yankees' first team co-owners, William Devery, was also New York City's first Chief of Police, and thus would have been aware of the design. It first appeared on Yankees uniforms in 1909, and has been a staple of the pinstripe look ever since.


Songwriter Todd Pipes and his band Deep Blue Something were very calculated when it came to writing their one big hit. "I thought if I could get that phrase 'Breakfast at Tiffany's' into a song, that people might like it," Pipes says in the film. "It's a weird song. There's almost nothing poetic about it." It worked though. Between the song's catchy melody and its invoking of a beloved movie and brand, not only in the lyrics but in the video (the band all meets for a champagne breakfast in the middle of Fifth Avenue right outside Tiffany's, and near the end, an Audrey Hepburn lookalike gives the group a prolonged glance on her way down the street), this 1995 single was the band's only song to chart on the Billboard Hot 100.

The Popcorn Company That's Creating Jobs for Adults With Autism

A New Jersey-based gourmet popcorn company is dedicating its profits to creating new employment “popportunities” for adults on the autism spectrum, A Plus reports.

Popcorn for the People, founded by Rutgers University professor Dr. Barbie Zimmerman-Bier and her husband, radiologist Dr. Steven Bier, is a nonprofit subsidiary of the couple's charitable organization Let’s Work For Good, which focuses on "creating meaningful and lasting employment for adults with autism and developmental disabilities." Recognizing the lack of skilled employment options for adults with developmental disabilities, the Biers decided to create jobs themselves through this popcorn venture, with all of the profits going to their charitable organization. According to the site, every tin of popcorn purchased "provides at least an hour of meaningful employment" to adults with autism and other developmental disabilities, who perform jobs like making popcorn, labeling products, and marketing.

The couple developed the idea for the business and the nonprofit in 2015 when their son, Sam, grew tired of his job at a grocery store. Sam, 27, is on the autism spectrum, and after six years of working as a “cart guy,” he decided he was ready to try something new. Employment opportunities were scarce, though. Jobs that provided enough resources for someone on the spectrum tended to consist of menial work, and more skilled positions involved a tough interview process.

“Some companies mean well, but they are limited in what they can offer,” Steven Bier told TAP Into East Brunswick in 2015.

Unemployment rates are especially high among adults with autism. Last year, Drexel University reported that only 14 percent of autistic adults who use state-funded disability services are employed in paid work positions. And while high-functioning autistic adults are often perfectly capable of working in technical careers, the actual process of getting hired can be challenging. People with autism tend to struggle with understanding nuance and social conventions, which makes the interviewing process particularly difficult.

Enter the Biers' popcorn business. What began in 2015 as the Pop-In Cafe (which still sells popcorn and deli items at its New Jersey location) now distributes flavored popcorn all over the world. In three years, the organization has gone from a staff of four, with one employee on the autism spectrum, to a staff of 50, nearly half of whom are on the spectrum. In July, the organization plans to expand to a larger production facility in order to keep up with demand.

The company provides an environment for employees to learn both hard skills, like food preparation and money management, and what the company describes as “watercooler life skills.”

"There just aren't many programs that teach these sorts of things in a real-world environment, with all that entails," Bier told My Central Jersey. "These are skills that the kids can use here, and elsewhere."

According to A Plus, you can now buy Popcorn for the People in person at locations like the Red Bull Arena in New Jersey and the Lyric Theatre in Times Square. The organization sells 12 flavors of popcorn (including cookies and cream, Buffalo wing, and French toast), all created by Agnes Cushing-Ruby, a chef who donates 40 hours a week to the company.

“I never thought that the little pop-up shop would grow into this,” Sam told A Plus. “It makes me so happy to see we have helped so many people.”

[h/t A Plus]

IHOb Restaurants
10 Strange Publicity Stunts by Major Food Brands
IHOb Restaurants
IHOb Restaurants

Celebrities have always loved doing crazy things for press—but these days, even corporations will go to extreme lengths to get the word out about their products. Case in point: IHOP's recent attempt to create a little mystery, and sell some burgers, as IHOb. Below you’ll find 10 of the weirdest stunts done to promote mass-produced food items.


It’s hard to imagine KFC’s elderly Colonel Sanders doing much outside of eating and talking about his “finger lickin’ good” fried chicken. But in 2011, a man dressed as the Colonel strapped on a harness and rappelled down Chicago’s River Bend building. The Colonel didn't stop at rappelling down the 40-story building; he also handed out $5 everyday meals to window washers. What was KFC’s concept behind this dangerous promotion? They wanted to show the world they were taking lunch to “new heights.”


Sometimes being the biggest doesn’t mean you’re the best. In 2005, Snapple wanted to make the world’s largest Popsicle to promote their new line of frozen treats. Their plan was to display a 25-foot-tall, 17.5-ton treat of frozen Snapple juice in New York City’s Union Square. However, their plan ended in a sticky disaster. The day Snapple tried to present the Popsicle, New York was experiencing warmer than expected temperatures. The pop melted so quickly that a river of sticky sludge took over several streets. In a city already congested by traffic and tourists, this made Snapple enemy No. 1 that day to the people of New York City.


A cup of Starbucks coffee
Wikimedia Commons

Starbucks believes in rewarding those who embrace the holiday spirit. In 2005, the Seattle-based coffee giant developed a campaign by which brand ambassadors drove around with replicas of Vente Starbucks cups affixed to their car roofs. If anyone stopped the ambassador to warn them about the coffee cup on their roof, that person received a $5 gift card to Starbucks. Starbucks wanted the world to know being a good samaritan really can pay!


Imagine walking the beach and finding a sealed bottle of Guinness. But instead of finding beer inside, you find a note from King Neptune, the Roman god of the sea. In 1959, that happened to people along North America’s Atlantic coast. Guinness wanted to build brand awareness in the area, so they dropped 150,000 sealed Guinness bottles into the ocean. The bottle contained Neptune’s scroll announcing the House of Guinness’s Bi-Centenary as well as a document instructing the reader on how to make a Guinness bottle into a table lamp. While no one got a free beer (boo!), they did walk away with an arts and crafts project.


Who can resist the smell of flame-broiled burgers? The answer is most people—at least when it comes in the form of a body spray. Burger King’s 2008 campaign promoting the “scent of seduction” may be one of the weirdest ideas on this list. The fast-food company thought they could capture the world’s attention by creating and advertising a meat-scented cologne called FLAME by BK. Though select New York City stores actually sold the scent, all of this was a tongue-in-cheek campaign to make the 18- to 35-year-old male demographic laugh.


London commuters experienced an unexpectedly bright morning during January 2012. Tropicana worked with the art collective Greyworld to create a fake sun promoting their “Brighter Morning” campaign. The "sun," made up of more than 60,000 light bulbs, rose over Trafalgar Square at 6:51 a.m. on a particularly chilly morning. The sun set at 7:33 p.m. Tropicana continued to promote their sun day, fun day by having Londoners sit under the sun with branded sunglasses, deck chairs, and blankets. 


Some of the craziest publicity stunts can’t be planned. We live in a world of 24/7 social media, and when the Twitterverse gave Morton’s Steakhouse an opportunity, they seized upon it. Before flying from Tampa to Newark, Peter Shankman, an entrepreneur and author, jokingly tweeted at Morton's Steakhouse that he wanted a porterhouse steak to be waiting for him when he landed. As Shankman was a frequent diner and social media influencer, Morton's Steakhouse saw the opportunity to start a conversation—and they went for it: When Shankman touched down in Newark, he was greeted by his car service driver and a Morton’s deliveryman. If only all travelers could experience that happiness in an airport.


April Fools Day gags can be great for brands … or an embarrassment. In 1996, Taco Bell took out an ad in The New York Times saying they bought Philadelphia's Liberty Bell. The ad also informed people of the bell’s new name: "Taco Liberty Bell." Back in the mid-1990s, people couldn’t go on Twitter or Facebook to find out the truth. Instead, they wrote the publication voicing their outrage. The hoax may have worked in getting press coverage (650 print publications and 400 broadcast media outlets publicized the joke), but what does that say about your brand when people actually believe you would rename a historic monument for your own gain?


Wikimedia Commons

In 2011, the Costa-Mesa based chain El Pollo Loco sent out press releases saying they planned to create the world’s largest man-made fire. Why would they create a fire? El Pollo Loco needed to get the word out about their new flame-grilled chicken. Spectators attending the event were shocked to see that this stunt was actually a commercial shoot for the brand. The chain says they really did attempt to break the record. But many publications have stated the whole promotion was a fraud. Note to brands: When trying to pull off a publicity stunt and a commercial simultaneously, tell everyone your plan in advance.


KFC may just be the king of wild publicity stunts. In 2006, the company created an 87,500-square-foot logo at Area 51 in Rachel, Nevada. The company wanted to be the first brand visible from space. And it was no coincidence they picked a spot near “The World’s Only Extraterrestrial Highway.”

“If there are extraterrestrials in outer space, KFC wants to become their restaurant of choice,” said Gregg Dedrick, former president of KFC Corp. The world is not enough for KFC. They need the entire universe hooked on their Original Recipe.


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