A newspaper photo of construction on Bourbon Street showed the side of a building I’ve wondered about. It has a fading advertisement for Uneeda Biscuits. Was that a local product or factory?
You may not have heard of Uneeda Biscuits, but I’ll bet you’ve eaten other products from the National Biscuit Company, whose name also is seen on the side of that Dumaine Street building. Better known as Nabisco, the company makes Ritz, Triscuit and Wheat Thins crackers and Oreo and Chips Ahoy! cookies.
The company dates to 1898, and Uneeda Biscuits were among its first products. The term biscuit refers to what we call a cookie or cracker today. Uneeda Biscuits were among the first sold in a package as opposed to loosely packed and sold from barrels in a grocery store. According to company lore, the Uneeda name was created by the son of the packaging manufacturer who said “You need a name” for the new product. Uneeda products, which originally sold for 5 cents (as mentioned on the Dumaine Street sign), remained on the market until 2009.
Born Oretha Castle in Oakland, Tennessee on July 22, 1939, she moved to New Orleans in 1947.
Across the country, the National Biscuit Company favored advertising its products with large outdoor billboards like the one in the French Quarter. The building you noticed at 730 Dumaine St. dates to the 1830s. Various owners since then have used the Uneeda sign as a selling point. One 1986 real estate listing called it the “Uneeda Biscuit Palace … a Quarter landmark renowned for its Uneeda Biscuit advertisement.”
The last A&G closed around 1998.
In a “Preservation in Print” article about other fading “ghost signs” across the city, historian Ed Branley points out another Uneeda Biscuit ad in the French Quarter. It’s on the side of an apartment building at 438 Dauphine St. Branley says there was a third Uneeda ad at 901 Tchoupitoulas St. that has been painted over.