Updated: Aug 24, 2019
Three airlines took the airline flight swizzle stick to a new level issuing different swizzle sticks for each flight route. While many collectors favor one or two, some seek out complete sets.
Continental, United and TWA
To research these I turned first to a1989 article by the late Al Tacas, “Airline Happy Hour”.
Al painstakingly hand drew each of the twenty (20) Continental destinations short picks and twelve (12) larger swizzle sticks.
Continental was founded in 1934 and by 1978 grew into one of the country’s largest airlines. Sadly the airline “closed” In 2010 when the airline merged with United Airlines (completed in 2012). After the merger the creativity, beauty and design disappeared from their swizzle sticks. United’s iconic designed logo was replaced by the theme from Continentals logo and the result was a plain blue stick with a barely visible globe.
Most often seen in bright yellow they were issued in yellow, blue, red and clear.
These have been around since the late 1980’s. Thanks to Al’s article I found that my collection was incomplete. I have now found the rare Canada Moose and the London Big Ben.
I solved a mystery along the way! I had often wondered why Chicago’s symbol was a Corncob, yet Al’s list described as two unidentified buildings… Having just returned from an Architecture Tour in Chicago, I realized the buildings were the Marina City Towers. The Marina City is often described as two corn cob-shaped towers!
Designed by Bertrand Goldberg, Marina City was the first building in the U.S. to be constructed with tower cranes. Sitting on the north bank of the Chicago River, the complex consists of two corn-cob shaped 65-story towers. Beneath the platform, at river level, is a small marina for boats, giving the structures their name.
Here are Al’s drawings of the large swizzle stick sets. These were issued in an orange/red color and a yellow/orange color:
United destination sticks were made in white and yellow/gold plastic. The sticks have beautiful destination designs both difficult to see and difficult to photograph.
Anyone who has faced the challenge of photographing swizzle sticks knows that pastels wash out, gold imprints transform into black blobs, and white vanishes (shoutout to Eclectic Rambler shop on Etsy for the image).
Each Swizzle Stick has the destination city and slogan "The Friendly Skies" on one side and a a symbol associated with that location on the other side as follows:
New York Statue of Liberty
Chicago Picasso Sculpture
Rockies Rodeo Cowboy
Los Angeles Movie Camera
San Francisco Trolley Car
Seattle Space Needle
Trans World Airlines (TWA) Destination Set
TWA was a major American airline from 1925 until 2001. TWA issued a beautiful collection issued in four colors (red, green, blue and gold/tan).
The swizzle sticks were issued with nine destinations with symbols as follows:
Greece Peasant in Native Costume, Parthenon Hong Kong Junk* Sailing Ship Italy Guard at Vatican City, Rome India Indian Goddess Brahma Spain Flamenco Dancer USA Native American at the
England Beefeater at London Tower
France Gendarme at Arc d’ Triumph
*A junk is a Chinese sailing ship still in use today. Junks were used as seagoing vessels as early as the 2nd century AD and developed rapidly during the Song Dynasty (960-1279).