Choking Posters Get a Redesign

Choking Posters Get a Redesign

Learn the Heimlich maneuver with love stories, choking gorillas, and unicorns

Ross Brooks
  • 1 august 2014

Signs that show you what to do when someone is choking are required by law in restaurants around New York, but when they all look the same, it doesn’t take long before they become invisible to customers. Sunshine Co., a bar and restaurant opened in Brooklyn’s Prospect Heights last year, opted for a different approach. They hired illustrator Lara Antal to redesign the sign, which now shows a woman who choking a martini olive, and later sharing a drink with her handsome rescuer.

Sabrina Godfrey, the owner of the restaurant, tells the WSJ, “There was no way we were going to let it be the choking poster from the Department of Health.” The official version features bold red lettering and nondescript grayscale protagonists in equally nondescript outfits.

Sunshine Co. isn’t the first to design their own poster either. Big Gay Ice Cream Shop in the East Village displays one featuring “Golden Girls” actress Bea Arthur performing the Heimlich maneuver on a unicorn, while the one at Morgenstern’s Finest Ice Cream on the Lower East Side depicts a bearded man in sunglasses rushing to save a choking gorilla.


Noticing the trend for custom posters, graphic designer Damon Anderson decided to start selling nautical-themed versions of the safety instructions through his company Secret Handshake. Available for $50, the company has already started work on another version to offer more variety. “We just basically saw a gap in the market,” he said. “It was an opportunity for us to make something new.”

So far, the Department of Health hasn’t taken any action against the posters, and hopefully it will stay that way. A spokesman said the main part of the code states the poster must have Heimlich maneuver instructions, while the “secondary part” states it has to be drafted by the city. The flurry of new health and safety posters might mean that people actually notice them, and in turn, learn an essential maneuver that could save someone’s life one day.

Lara Antal

[h/t] WSJ

Images by Alex Holden, Lara Antal, Equal & Opposite


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