Quick, read the logo you see on the picture to the left. What do you see? “Foolem”? That’s how we foreign residents and visitors read it at first. It’s SPOŁEM. Ł has “w” sound. You read the word as spo-wem. Don’t you think it’s pretty neat logo?
SPOŁEM is a chain selling foodstuffs and household items. A sort of Polish version of CarreFour Express or Mini Tesco. Since it was around all through the commie years, most people view SPOŁEM as a nasty leftover from the bad old days. But actually, the organisation pre-dates the (mis)implementation of commie ideologies. Wiki.pl (in Polish only) dates it back to 1907. In Białystok, you trip over SPOŁEM delicatessens every which way you turn. The SPOŁEM Białystok HQ (in Polish only) points the finger at 1897 as when it all started. In Warsaw, a Społem outlet in Nowy Świat Street proudly display a sticker for their 140th anniversary, claiming that these guys were around since 1869.
Tableware with SPOŁEM stamps were the norm in milk bars, the state-sponsored canteens. But bummer, these days the milk bars have updated their gear to more contemporary designs. In some circles (to which I belong), tableware with SPOŁEM logos or designs from the PRL days have become collectors’ items.
If you hanker for such designs and don’t have time to trawl flea markets or allegro.pl (Polish ebay), check out the New PRL designs.