The Mystery Font That Took Over New York

Rumsey Taylor discovers why Choc, a quirky calligraphic typeface drawn by a French graphic designer in the 1950s, appears on storefronts throughout New York:

Choc is far from the most popular typeface on the storefronts of New York, but it can still be found everywhere and in every borough. It’s strewn on fabric awnings and etched in frosted glass. It gleams in bright magenta or platinum lighting. It’s used for beauty salons, Mexican restaurants, laundromats, bagel shops, numerous sushi bars. It may be distorted, stacked vertically, or shoehorned into a cluster of other typefaces. But even here Choc remains clear and articulate, its voice deep and friendly, its accent foreign, perhaps, yet endearing.

Turns out the fonts wide-spread adoption can be traced back to it being included with CorelDraw (a graphics editor popular with sign-making shops in the early 1990s), although under the pseudonym Staccato 555. Software defaults strike again!

(Also, check out the specimen cover from 1955; both timeless and yet of the period. I love it!)