Every four years, the journalistic equivalent of the Eye of Sauron sets its gaze upon Iowa.
For residents of the state, whose caucuses mark the beginning of the presidential election season, the resulting insanity of national coverage can be equal parts hilarity and frustration, a fact well illustrated by the new line of apparel on display at Des Moines-based Raygun.
The shop's "shirts for out of town media" are already drawing attention from locals and visiting shoppers. The stark, black-on-white designs include lines like "Sorry to interrupt your meal, but are you alive and have an opinion on the election?" and "Didn't I interview you four years ago?"
The shirts clearly don't portray news hounds in the most positive light, but Raygun's staff is confident that the display will prove popular among visiting journos who are willing to laugh at the frequent ridiculousness of caucus coverage.
Taylor Frame, director of sales and inventory, says the employees have been brainstorming the lines in recent weeks and compiling them in a Google Doc.
"Throughout the day we just rattle off different things," Frame says. "Whatever makes people laugh the most, we write down."
The retailer is well known for the cleverly regional, often biting copy on its shirts. For the Iowa caucuses designs, though, owner Mike Draper decided to break the store's usual approach of a wide-ranging color palette in favor of just black text on white shirts.
"It's really about the aesthetic value on display," Frame said. "That really draws your attention, since it's all just black and white."
In addition to shirts, the store is selling underwear (thankfully available in colors) with lines like "Iowa Caucus 2016: Rising to the Occasion."
Frame says the shirts are just meant to be cheeky, but he acknowledges that they could end up helping spark some conversation among journalists and Iowa residents about the cliches perpetuated by the caucus coverage. (The one that might hit closest to home: "Is there a bale of hay I can interview you next to?")
"We kind of knew it was going to happen," Frame says. "It wasn't our main goal, but we knew it was going to be a side effect."
Check out more shots of the display: