Since the 1930s, America’s love with the neon sign has never really waned, and during that time massive neon artworks have been erected above or on the sides of buildings from coast to coast and from Canada to the Gulf of Mexico. With all those neon signs, letters are bound to go out once in a while, and as the major fails below show you, sometimes the result is as funny as…
If you look for neon sign fails out on the Internet, most of the signs that people notice say something more obscene than the ones I’m going to record here. Leading one to think that it might be a good idea to check the words on a sign for embedded obscenities (the word “cocktail,” for example) before putting it up in neon. Of course, drug references can be fun, too:
Accidental racism is a common source of neon sign humor as well. The word “Jewerly” contains the word “Jew,” after all. And the word “Black” shows up on literally thousands of signs. For the sake of avoiding offense, I’ll stick with imaginary forest people as an example:
And while businesses of all types use neon for their company names and a business hours sign, establishments that serve food should be especially careful of what they put on their signs, since part of running a restaurant is creating an environment that is conducive to the enjoyment of food. When a couple of letters go out on a sign and the result says something decidedly unappetizing, it sends a subconscious signal that there’s something wrong with the food as well.
There are countless examples of this, some of them downright offensive. Given the number of Chinese restaurants with the word “Dynasty” in the name, though, this one serves as a good cautionary tale:
The best examples of neon sign fails involve overt irony, and sometimes you’ve got to wonder whether the owners of the sign haven’t intentionally turned off a letter or two in order to make their sign a little more memorable. They say all publicity is good publicity. And for some businesses, who knows, maybe sending an ironic message might be effective:
Funny, obscene, surprising, and offensive, the failures of neon signs certainly get attention. There might be some debate as to whether that’s good or bad, but for my money business owners who are planning to put up a new sign should seriously consider what unintentional messages could be displayed if a couple of letters were to go out.