Keep Calm and Carry On was a poster produced by the British government in 1939 during the beginning of World War II, to raise the morale of the British public in the case of invasion. It was little known and never used.
But, in 2000, the poster was rediscovered in a second-hand bookshop in Alnwick, Northumberland. Since Crown Copyright expires on artistic works created by the UK government after 50 years, the image was in the public domain.
In recent years it has become an iconic image, adopted by graphic designers and used as the decorative theme by numerous private companies for products ranging from posters to clothing, to mugs, to stationery to doormats.
Flickr has a pool of amusing design variations and parodies of the vintage poster, including: Keep Calm and Carry Om (for yoga enthusiasts), Keep Calm and Avoid Comic Sans (the typeface most hated by graphic designers), Keep Calm and Eat a Burrito (go figure!) and Keep Khan and Curry On (which I think should be at the entrance of every Indian restaurant).
Of course, my favorite: Keep Calm and Eat Bon Bons! That sentiment could not be more a propos for me than at this time of year, when I'm pre-buying for our Christmas season. As we lay out thousands of dollars for ingredients, tins, gel paks, cartons, catalogs, postage and more, I can tend to get a bit panicky! Will everyone remember to buy bon bons for friends, family, co-workers and clients this holiday season? Will we sell out of bon bons or have leftover inventory? Will all of those catalogs actually generate the sales we need to break even?
The poster seems to work. Keep calm. Carry on. Eat bon bons. That's all anyone really needs to do. I feel better already.