Thursday, October 31, 2013

The Bat

The Bat
by Lewis Carroll

Twinkle, twinkle, little bat
How I wonder what you’re at!
Up above the world you fly
Like a tea-tray in the sky.

Explosion Insurance?

Until the Richmond Hills explosion a little less than a year ago, I would have thought that this 1937 ad selling insurance based on the possibility of a massive explosion was betting on a really remote chance. Now, well...

Candy of the Day - Oh Henry!

I figured I’d finish up October's tribute to all things cavity producing with an ad that has it all. In the spirit of Halloween, this Burma Shave style clipping from a 1938 issue of Boy’s Life features both candy and a costume! Five years after the 1933 release of the greatest giant monkey film of all time, King Kong, the image of a man in a monkey suit had taken hold of the public imagination well enough to become a vehicle for selling candy to impressionable young boys. Williamson Company of Chicago first introduced the Oh Henry bar in 1920. According to Nestle (the bar’s current owner) the naming has an interesting back story:
"Way back when, there was a little candy shop owned by George Williamson. A young fellow by the name of Henry who visited this shop on a regular basis became friendly with the young girls working there. They were soon asking favors of him, clamoring Oh Henry, will you do this?, and Oh Henry, will you do that? So often did Mr. Williamson hear the girls beseeching poor young Henry for help, that when he needed a name for a new candy bar, he called it OH HENRY! and filed a trademark application the following year."
So, now that we've put the proverbial wrapper on the candy bar, I hope everyone has a happy Halloween. Go out, haunt the night, and fill your bags to overflowing!

Wednesday, October 30, 2013


If Nyarlathotep were a breakfast cereal, this is what it would look like. Frankly I've never heard raisins and oatmeal called "luscious".

Candy of the Day - Beech-Nut Gum

Beech-Nut Packing Company entered the gum making business in 1910 and diversified from there, eventually making everything from catsup to baby food. I can’t say I’ve ever tried Beech-Nut, but my dad always had a pack of their competitors gum (Juicy Fruit) in his shirt pocket. I still remember the story he told me that if the gum didn’t pop it was spoiled, after which he’d give me a new stick.

This 1938 ad from Life Magazine also mentions two other Beech-Nut products: Beechies and Oralgene. Beechies were the equivalent to Chicklets, little candy-coated gums in a box. Oralgene was touted as a dental aid which “gives your mouth, teeth, and gums beneficial exercise...”
Though I have fond memories of these stick gums, I have to admit that any time I got a pack in my Halloween haul my first thought was “wow, that’s weird…”

Tuesday, October 29, 2013

The Mabie Todd Swan Fountain Pen

Mabie Todd is one of the truly old makers of pens and pencils, dating back to 1860's New York.  Their first fountain pen, the Calligraphic, came to the market around 1878 and production of the San began in 1890. Early Swan pens required the use of an eyedropper for reservoir filling and overlaid specimens were among the most beautiful of the period.

Expert of Mabie Todd pens to Britain began early and a London office opened in 1884 to facilitate business in the United Kingdom.  Eventually Mabie, Todd and Company Ltd, as the British division was known, bought up all Mabie Todd interests outside the United States and by the late 1930's Mabie Todd had more or less become the "pen of the British Empire". Eventually Mabie Todd suffered the fate of most firms which strictly manufactured fountain pens, perishing at the point of the ballpoint pen.

The Funnies - War-Wine Mongering

Life magazine, November 1927

Candy of the Day - Milky Way and Snickers

Mars candy bars – well, except for the Mars Bar itself. This ad came from a 1938 issue of Boy’s Life and I’m not quite sure if it’s the photography or the scan, but this kid sure looks like the larval form of Lenny from Laverne and Shirley. Oh well, while I face the depressing fact that many of you will actually have to look that one up I’ll get to the specifics.

Frank Mars, the namesake of what would become Mars Candy (back then it was called Mar-O-Bar), created the Milky Way Bar in 1923 and by 1926 he moved his company to Chicago IL so that he could easily ship candy across the country. 1930 saw the birth of Snickers – basically a Milky Way Bar with peanuts added. Both have persisted, even though the other two candies in the ad (Milky Way Vanilla and Snickers Honey Almond) have gone by the wayside.
The ad rings of an adult trying to sound like a kid. Lots of “oh boy” and “I sure”, which probably weren’t the kid vernacular of the time. I also think it’s funny that they went to the length of mentioning that the candies don’t taste the same because they have different ingredients. Really, that’s the reason? I figured the wrapper made all the difference. Huh, the things you learn by reading the ads.

Monday, October 28, 2013

Candy of the Day - Chuckles

Chuckles first appeared in 1921. Eventually Nabisco bought the Chuckles Company in the 1970s and it's changed hands multiple times since. These little pillows of sugar-coated jelly always were a personal favorite and I even seek them out in vending machines.

Sunday, October 27, 2013

The Kissel Kar

The Kissel brothers were manufacturers of small engines and farm equipment in the little town of Hartford, Wisconsin, but in 1906 they turned their attention to the emerging automotive market and founded the Kissel Motor Car Company. The company, owned by Louis Kissel and his two sons William and George, released its first Kissel Kar in 1907 and thereafter released larger and more powerful automobiles with innovations like the first illuminated dashboard.

The tagline "the all-year car" refers to Kissel's removable hard top which allowed the driver and passengers to ride in relative comfort during inclement weather.  Interestingly, not long after this 1916 ad ran in The Countryside Magazine, Kissel would drop the "Kar" from its name due to anti-German sentiment during World War I. Apparently the Kissels felt car spelled with a "K" just felt too Teutonic.

Kissel remained competitive until the financial Grim Reaper arrived and the Great Depression culled all but the biggest and most efficient automakers from the marketplace. Today it's believed that no more than twenty two examples of pre-World War I Kissels are in existence.

Candy of the Day - Nik-L-Nips

Remember those little, liquid filled wax bottles? Nik-L-Nips are a candy that came into being in the early 20th century and their name comes from their original cost (a nickle) and the way you get to that liquid (nipping the top off the bottle). I always found Nik-L-Nips interesting in the same way I find a lava light fascinating. That liquid inside seemed to make them special, at least to look at. Taste-wise? Well, they are made of wax.

By the way, it's interesting that Nik-L-Nips come in a replica of the Coca-Cola "skirt" bottle which also first appeared in the early 1900s.

Saturday, October 26, 2013

Candy of the Day - Lollipops

The origin of the lollipop is a thing of debate. What can be said, though, is that the term was trademarked by George Smith the owner of the Bradley Smith Company. B. S. and Co. Lollipops are featured in this snipped from a 1914 magazine cover for what seems commonplace in the modern world, printing on cellophane wrappers!

Friday, October 25, 2013

Candy of the Day - PEZ

Though they seem modern, Pez was invented in 1927 and the strange name actually is an abbreviation for the German “pfeffermenz”, which described the only flavor - peppermint. The first dispensers, on the other hand, didn’t come out until 1848 and these didn’t sport beloved characters but looked a little like a disposable lighter. We owe the kitsch look of modern Pez dispensers to the fifties when everything from Santa to robots were made to dole out the tiny rectangular candies along with the introduction of fruit flavored Pez.

Thursday, October 24, 2013

Candy of the Day - Black Licorice

I’m a fan of black licorice and I’ve come to appreciate the fact that not everyone is. It sets you apart and puts you into a special club, kind of a candy klatch. Though I realized licorice has been around since ancient times (included in Egyptian tombs, in fact), what I didn’t know about is the close connection between licorice and tobacco.

Take this ad from the April 1914 issue of International Confection magazine. On the surface it’s pretty plain, a wholesaler shilling different sorts of licorice to candy stores and resellers, but take a look at the offerings and you’ll see tobacco terms creeping in. There are licorice cigarettes, cigars, pipes, and plugs and, as a matter of fact, chewing and smoking tobaccos often include licorice as a flavoring agent.

So what gives? Why the connection? Well, to be honest, I’m not sure. I’d speculate that it’s licorice’s long connection with soothing a raspy throat, but the same connection doesn’t seem to exist for horehound which is another herb used in candy which has throat-soothing properties. The best guess (and it is a guess) I can come up with is that, like plug chewing tobacco, licorice is black and that black licorice is sometimes considered an ‘adult’ candy. Whatever the case may be you can see the wide selection of licorice that is available (including cool licorice pipes) at Licorice International’s website.

Oh, in case you're wondering, Red Vines aren’t licorice.

Wednesday, October 23, 2013


Crisco with food information that may just influence your child's health...because they're not telling you the truth. Okay, that's below the belt, back in 1922 it's doubtful they had a firm understanding of how a high fat diet impacted health and I'm sure they hadn't heard of a trans-fat. No, the main reason I singled this ad out for food of the week is the imagery.

A lot of ads from this era feature warm, homey imagery. It's the kind of honey-coated schlock that could kill a diabetic, lots of beaming mothers, rosy-cheeked infants, and square-jawed young men staring into the middle-distance. But let's take a close look at this particular ad and get inside the coded image of carefree, fat-fueled youth and summer days that seemed to go on forever.

Firstly, haven't any of these kids heard the rule of waiting a half hour after eating before going swimming? I mean come on, Crisco! Are you trying to give the poor little tykes cramps? I'm torn between thinking Proctor and Gamble is irresponsibly encouraging unsafe swimming practices and seeing the art as a cautionary tale. The boys on the shore are looking on helplessly as their companions flail about helplessly in the turbid water below. Only little Billy clings to the safety of a branch, his stomach twisting from lethal combination of food and swimming while he struggles to maintain his grip on the wet limb.

Secondly, let's check out what these rapscallions packed to the old swimming hole. What the heck have they been up to? Did they knock over a bakery before going swimming? I mean what kids pack the following for a swimming outing:

  1. Doughnuts
  2. White Bread
  3. Pie
  4. Four Pound Cakes
  5. Two Layer Cakes
I mean Olympic swimmers don't consume that many calories during the entirety of the games!

Thirdly, I'm interested in figuring out exactly what the fried volcanoes at the lower right really are. I thought croquettes, but frankly I've never seen one shaped like a pyramid.

Candy of the Day - Cracker Jack

Frederick “Fritz” William Rueckheim and his brother Louis produced an early version of Cracker Jack for the first Chicago World's Fair in 1893, though the mixture of popcorn, molasses, and peanuts and went by the inventive name "Candied Popcorn and Peanuts".

Three years later Rueckheim determined that by using a kettle mixer and adding a little oil, he could keep the popcorn kernels separate. The first lot of Cracker Jack was produced, garnering its name from the response of an enthusiastic customer.
The Cracker Jack mascots, Sailor Jack and his dog Bingo, were introduced in 1918 and the sailor boy image resonated with the founder of Cracker Jack so much he had it carved on his tombstone. Bingo was based on a real-life dog named Russell, a stray adopted in 1917 by partner Henry Eckstein who demanded that the dog be used on the packaging.

Tuesday, October 22, 2013

Waterman's Ideal Fountain Pen

Here's another ad for Waterman's Ideal fountain pen touting what in 1911 was a big selling point, its portability. Imagine how freeing it must have felt to no longer have to dip a pen into an inkwell in order to write. Suddenly writing on the hotel veranda while enjoying the sea air was a real possibility, not a cumbersome contrivance that could only be managed at the risk of ruining everything you were wearing. 

The mention of the extra amount of letter writing that takes place over the summer struck me. Ah, for the time when correspondence wasn't a dashed off email, twitter hash-tag self centered, or fake-book account filled with selfies and skewed accounts of reality with a bias toward witty sarcasm. Sorry, just indulging my inner Luddite.

The Funnies - Airline Service (1927)

Life magazine, November 1927

Candy of the Day - Hershey Bar

The Hershey bar undoubtedly is the iconic candy bar of America. It’s not the best, not the fanciest, not the biggest, not the smallest, instead it’s the yardstick by which all other bars are measured. I remember picking all of the Hershey’s minis from my Halloween haul and eating them before anything else. Even today, after gaining an appreciation for dark chocolate and single-source cacao, I’d do the same thing.

Monday, October 21, 2013

Sling Tennis

One great thing about combing through old magazines is that, on occasion, you come across something you've never heard of. Humanity is constantly inventing and discarding, discovering and forgetting. Today, on a sporting Monday, the rediscovery is sling tennis. Here's the article from the January 1917 issue of The Countryside Magazine complete with instructions on how to build your own sling tennis court!

Candy of the Day - Necco Wafers

I'm not going to attempt to give you all the info on one of the great American candies. Necco wafers have always been one of my favorites and I'll leave the history to their official site.

This ad comes from the January 1914 issue of The International Confectioner Magazine. It's an unusual color ad for the time.

Sunday, October 20, 2013

Buick - The Woman's Car

An odd combination in this ad, it manages to recognize a woman's independence while at the same time maintaining a chauvinistic and patronizing tone. What makes the Buick the perfect woman's car? Well the fact it has cushy seats, the steering wheel isn't too hard to turn, and the driver doesn't have to reach for the controls of course! The accompanying imagery maintains the same weird dualism too - the woman is obviously a mother taking her brood out for a little healthful fresh air, but at the same time there's no chauffeur, so our young lady is actually off under her own power.

The woman as independent being capable of self determination and not prone to putting the fliver in the ditch can probably be attributed to the fact that this ad ran in a 1922 issue of Ladies' Home Journal. If it had run in Popular Mechanics it probably would have read something more like "I don't worry about the little lady driving when she's in a Buick..." and there would have been a lot more Americana, patriotism, home town glory, and grease involved. An interesting shift for car ads, though, and the first example I've found that is overtly targeted at women.

Candy of the Day - Peconut Crisp

Alright, I’ll confess I chose Peconut Crisp as the candy of the day just because I stumbled across the ad while perusing old Rotarian magazines. The smaller ad comes from the August 1914 issue of The Rotarian and the larger ad comes from a January 1915 issue of the University Missourian. As with many turn-of-the-century candies, there are a lot of claims of “good food energy”, but not a hint of how the candy actually tasted. I’m assuming like peanut and coconut.

By the way, the fellow behind the desk with the coconut head and a body formed from peanuts is, prepare for the originality, is the Peconut Boy. I've got an aversion for anthropomorphic foods, they remind me of Douglas Adams' cow that wanted to be eaten.
Time has erased this candy from the face of the earth. Even a troll through Google doesn’t reveal its fate. Like so many small confectioners it’s gone to the big candy dish in the sky.

Saturday, October 19, 2013

Candy of the Day - Life Savers

In 1912 chocolatier Clarence Crane introduced Pep-O-Mint Life Savers as a candy capable of standing up to pre-air conditioning summers better than chocolate. As a mark of originality, he decided to put the now iconic hole in the middle of his mints. Since the mints resembled miniature life preservers, he coined the name Life Savers. Since then more than forty flavors of Life Savers have been created.

I remember the mini fruit flavored Savers being a Halloween favorite, though I have to admit I tend to crunch them. The ad is from a 1947 issue of Life Magazine.

Friday, October 18, 2013

The Sunshine Belt to the Orient

With the bleak weather of winter bringing the first cold rains to town this week and the remnant of a heck of a cold still playing havoc with my system, I thought I'd kick off a new winter enterprise. The winter months have always been the favorite time to head for the tropics or, if nothing else, at least get out of town for a bit of rest and relaxation so I thought this year I'd air a few travel ads. The sort of stuff a fellow without means, a real George Bailey, would hang on the walls of his drafty house to take his mind off the leaky roof, old windows, and pressures of his job. So here we go, whirl-wind tripping around the world with nothing but a trunk and a dream as our passport.

We start off on the Sunshine Belt Route from aboard one of the Pacific Mail Steamship Company's steamers. Pacific Mail was founded in 1848 by a group of New York business men who had won a contract to transport mail from Panama to California from the US government. The California gold rush ushered in an era of profitability for the company and Pacific Mail played a key role in the growth of San Francisco.

In 1867 Pacific Mail began the country's first trans-Pacific steamship service between San Francisco, Hong Kong, Yokohama, and Shanghai. In 1925 Robert Dollar of the Dollar Steamship Company purchased Pacific Mail and, after Dollar was bailed out by the US government in 1938 the line became little more than an entity on paper. In 1949, after little more than a century of service, Pacific Mail Steamship Company went out of existence.

 I can't help hearing the sound of a steam whistle and envisioning black smoke curling from the stacks as the ship departs the quay and makes for open water when I see this ad. I see myself at the rail, staring out at the hills of San Francisco fading into the distance as the side-wheel churns. Ahead the mysteries of Japan or China await, behind lies an old life that'll be slowly forgotten, erased just like the fog erases the city. The gulls cry and I turn toward my cabin, leaving my memories to the Pacific's depths.

Candy of the Day - Wacky Packs

One of my favorite childhood memories centers on the discovery of Wacky Packages. Like most Topps products, they consisted of a stick of nondescript gum coupled with an assortment of trading cards and stickers. One of the first acts of self-definition I performed was plastering my bedroom door with the gross and weird wackies. I think it also helped define my love of graphic art – in this case of the hyper-gross, California hotrod art sort personified by Ed “Big Daddy” Roth’s Ratfink.

The Full Hunter's Moon

The Hunter’s Moon, October’s full moon, as the name suggests was the time of year given to hunting game and slaughtering livestock. By thinning their herds, farmers could better feed and care for the animals they overwintered and the meat they cured and stored during this time would help see their families through the harsh months ahead.

When we think of October and full moons, we often are drawn to the creepy images of Gothic horror and thoughts of Halloween trick-or-treating. I can remember huddling in front of the television in my parents’ living room, watching the Curse of the Werewolf  and Dracula on Sammy Terry and getting so scared I didn’t want to traverse the dark hallway that led to my bedroom. For years whenever I saw a cloud drift across the face of the full moon I silently imagined that somewhere, someone just fell prey to the supernatural.
Now that I’m more than a little older, I’ve put the fear of Bela Lugosi and Lon Chaney behind me and come to appreciate the true meaning of Halloween. The ancient Celts saw the year as having two “hinges”: Beltaine (which fell on the first of May) and Samhain (which fell on the first of November and marked the beginning of the new year). Both of these days were considered the most magical and perhaps frightening of the calendar, they marked times when the border between natural and supernatural was at its most permeable.
At Samhain (what we now call Halloween) time itself became meaningless and the past, present, and future freely mixed as the dead and denizens of the Other World walked among the living. Ghosts emerged from the Underworld on Samhain night and the people lit bonfires to keep evil spirits at bay.
One Samhain tradition in Irish and Scottish households was the Dumb Supper. On Samhain Eve the evening meal was served in silence with a special place set at the head of the table for the ancestors. This extra place was served food and drink and no one dared to look directly at their spiritual guest for fear of bringing misfortune in the coming year. After the meal the untouched plate was carried outside “for the pookas” and left in the woods.
Now, of course, we hand out Bazooka bubblegum and Skittles to the neighborhood pookas in hopes we’ll avoid getting our windows soaped, but even this modern tradition stems from ancient Samhain practices. Samhain is a time for prophesies, disguising oneself to avert evil, and performing rites of protection against the dead and Otherworldly spirits. So, the next time you bob for apples or take the kids on their Halloween night trooping, just remember you’re holding up ancient rituals and just might be protecting yourself from the ghost of great-granddad.

Thursday, October 17, 2013

She Wears Them?

Okay, this one may win the prize for the creepiest ad I've found. My only question is whether the caption refers to the woman or the monkey.

Candy of the Day - Slo Poke

Supposedly the Slo Poke got its name from the fact the thick, fudgy caramel lasted practically all day long. I’m not sure about this fact, online information on Pokes is scarce at best. I remember regularly getting them in my Halloween haul and they wound up being left among the candy chum with the Tootsie Rolls, Candy Corn, and odd piece of fruit. The thing I remember most was the tooth-sucking stickiness of the Slo Poke. If you bit into one you likely came up missing two or three molars. I’ve never been a fan of candies that include dental work as a premium.

The Slo Poke was introduced in 1926 by the Holloway Candy Company, but the sucker version has been discontinued. For a brief period you actually couldn’t get a Slo Poke anywhere, but eventually the brand and recipe were acquired by the Warrell Corporation which began making Slo Pokes in bar form under their new Classic Caramel Company if you have a tooth in need of pulling and don’t want to bother with Novocain.

Wednesday, October 16, 2013

Candy of the Day - Pop Rocks (the Space Candy)

First off, Mikey is alive and well and might still be downing boxes of Life cereal. If you’re of a certain age you’ll know that this statement means my next candy of the day is Pop Rocks.

My introduction to Pop Rocks came through a little, old fashioned inventory shrinkage. I had a favorite uncle who worked at an area warehouse which, among other things, stocked several candies including Pop Rocks. Occasionally a box of the fizzy candy would get ‘damaged’ and when we’d visit we’d be rewarded with the spoils which consisted of three or four envelopes of Pop Rocks. The candy fascinated me, not because of its flavor (to me it still tastes like Kool-Aid powder), but because it did something. Interactive candy – who would have thunk it? Any house that gave away Pop Rocks on Halloween would have been the coolest house on the block…consequently I don’t think anyone gave them away.

As for their history, this from the Unofficial Pop Rocks Site:

Pop Rocks were developed in 1956 by General Foods research scientist William A. Mitchell and introduced to the market in 1975 at 15 cents per pack. Then the Pop Rocks rage took off...and continues Today.

Tuesday, October 15, 2013

Libby's Lunchbox

In the 1920's America was undergoing a change. Men and women were moving off the farm and into cities; away from the farm and into the office or factory. This change rippled through American life, impacting everything from spending habits to how the nation thought about lunch. There was a time when the dinner bell would ring and the hands would come in from the fields for lunch, but with the factory came the lunch hour and the lunch box.

Libby's 1922 ad is big on health talk, though I'm not quite sure they have the definition right. I believe this is the first and only time you'll find Vienna Sausage called "healthful". I'm curious about the mixture of graphic and photographic elements in this ad. Why is the peach obviously drawn while most everything else looks like it's photographed? Did the art director look at the composition and thing, "Jeesh, we didn't put any fruit in the lunchbox! We can't have a square meal without fruit!" Ironically most of us now know Libby strictly as a company which produces fruit products. Strange how these things happen, first it's Vienna Sausage and Veal Loaf and the next thing you know it's fruit cocktail.

I had no luck locating the Welfare Building in Chicago, IL. Type "welfare" into Google and you're destined for insanity. I guess Libby's Chicago mail drop will remain a mystery that will have to be solved another day.

The Funnies - Plead the Fourth (1927)

Life magazine, November 1927

Candy of the Day - Candy Corn

There is one candy that comes out every Halloween and inspires dread in my heart. It has polluted every trick-or-treat bag I’ve ever spent an evening filling. The name of this horrid little confection is candy corn. Lately the madness has expanded. Not only are there candy pumpkins (just bigger candy corn) as well as candy corn colored to allow it to invade other holidays. If we don’t stop candy corn it will push out the native candies of all of our holidays. There won’t be any jelly beans, candy canes, gum drops, chocolate kisses, or valentine hears – there only will be candy corn.
Okay, now that my rant is done here are a few facts about candy corn as gleaned from Better Homes Magazine:
"According to oral tradition, George Renninger, a candymaker at the Wunderlee Candy Company in Philadelphia, invented the revolutionary tri-color candy in the 1880s. The Goelitz Confectionery Company brought the candy to the masses at the turn of the 20th century. The company, now called Jelly Belly Candy Co., has the longest history in the industry of making candy corn -- although the method has changed, it still uses the original recipe."

Monday, October 14, 2013

Happy Columbus Day!

The holiday we know as Columbus Day is a relative latecomer to the American calendar. It started out as a regional observance and wasn't canonized until 1937 and recognizes the arrival of Christopher Columbus and his Spanish-backed troupe of explorers in the New World on October 12, 1492. As you may know, Columbus' discovery of the Americas was a result of what amounts to a fifteenth century equivalent of bad MapQuest instructions. He had set out to chart a passage to China however after two months at sea he arrived in the Bahamas. It would take two more crossings of the Atlantic before Columbus realized he hadn't actually arrived in China, but discovered a continent previously unknown to Europeans.

The first Columbus Day celebrated in the United States was held by the Columbian Order (better known as Tammany Hall) in New York in 1792 as a commemoration of the 300th anniversary of Columbus' discovery of the Americas and in 1892 Indiana's own Benjamin Harrison issued a proclamation asking that Americans mark the 400th anniversary writing:
"On that day let the people, so far as possible, cease from toil and devote themselves to such exercises as may best express honor to the discoverer and their appreciation of the great achievements of the four completed centuries of American life."
In 1937 lobbying by the Knights of Columbus paid off and Franklin D. Roosevelt made Columbus Day a national holiday to be observed every October 12th and in 1973 the day became fixed as the second Monday in October.

Candy of the Day - Candy Cigarettes

Without trying to sound like an old guy, I can remember buying packs of candy cigarettes from one of those register-side candy racks. The ones I knew came in one flavor, sugar, and had the texture of chalk. If you really spent you could get a version that came wrapped in paper. This wrapper was filled with some kind of powder that would puff out when you blew through it. Of course, this was in the days of big tobacco companies steadfastly denying the science that showed a link between smoking and cancer and Joe Camel became an advertising pariah. The controversy around candy smokes has been around for a long time though and critics long have claimed the candy is a gateway to smoking. The sale of candy cigarettes even has been banned in Finland, Norway, the Republic of Ireland, Turkey, and Saudi Arabia

There was an attempt to reform candy cigarettes, renaming them “Candy Sticks”, but that somehow name lacks allure. Kids want to be adults and candy sticks don’t seem adult any more than juice boxes.

Sunday, October 13, 2013

The Franklin

Herbert H. Franklin founded his H. H. Franklin Manufacturing Company in 1893 and the first Franklin automobile rolled out of the company's New York production facility in 1902. Though a copy of designs by Marion and Premier, Franklin has the distinction of offering the first four cylinder engine in the United States. Still the company was an innovator in the automotive field, in addition to its groundbreaking four cylinder Franklin offered the first six and eight cylinder engines, the first production sedan, and the first float controlled carburetor. By 1915 Franklins were achieving speeds that would be appropriate for our modern highways.

1911 Franklin
The Great Depression formed a major extinction event for the American automotive and Franklin fell victim to financial hardship like many of its contemporaries. The Franklin company closed its doors in 1934 leaving only its innovations to remind gearheads it ever existed.

Candy of the Day - Ford Gum

The Ford Gum and Machine Company, as the name implies, makes gum and machines to dispense gum. The barbershop I went to as a kid had a Ford machine sitting by the front door. It was a Lion's Club sponsored machine that dispensed Ford's imitation of chicklets and you'd get three for a penny. Oh how times have changed.

So, what does this have to do with Halloween and what winds up in your bag? Well the gumball machine side of Ford's business has practically nothing to do with your Halloween take, but Ford is also the maker of a couple gums that fall into what I broadly call the gross category. I’m talking about Hot Dog and Bologna gum.

Now, before you get your hopes (or bile) up, let me say both of these gums are fruit flavored. It’d be interesting if they actually tasted like hot dogs or bologna, but note I didn’t say it’d be good! Having tried bacon flavored mints, I’m pretty much on board with gum tasting like gum and not a meat dish.

Saturday, October 12, 2013

Nuke Las Vegas

I love this image. 1951, Las Vegas with all the old-style casinos and in the background an atom bomb test. Yes, that's a mushroom cloud in the center of the picture. Irradiating all those fifties era gangsters and gamblers and leaving a good part of the Nevada desert off limits for a long time to come.

This one comes courtesy of the November 1951 issue of Life Magazine.

Candy of the Day - M&M's

I’ve heard the rumor that M&M’s once ran a wartime ad with the slogan “Doesn’t get your trigger finger sticky”, but I haven’t found any confirmation. What I can say that the little candy-coated chocolates came into being in the 1940’s and like all products of the 40's they had a close tie with the war effort. In 1954 peanut M&M’s were added to the lineup and Hershey’s has been releasing new and updated flavors since. Now the lineup includes almond, crispy, peanut butter, pretzel, dark chocolate, white chocolate, and mint.

M&M’s always were a strong favorite in the Halloween grab-bag. They ranked right behind any kind of bubble gum in popularity with plain being a personal favorite.

Friday, October 11, 2013

Waterman 56 Fountain Pen

Ah, the Waterman Ideal no. 56. You can find a few of these early self-fillers on the internet, some restored and some in original condition. Waterman was established in 1884 and still operates as a subsidiary of Newell.

The 56 was made of para rubber and later Bakelite and came equipped with the traditional gold nib. I find the claim of writing 25000 words on a single fill a curious one. Words have this disturbing habit of coming in differing lengths which plays hell with standardization. Then again, maybe Waterman had a "standard" word specially selected for ink-volume testing.

I haven't had the opportunity to write with a Waterman fountain pen yet. I'm still rolling with my trusty Parker, but I'm hoping to expand the fountain pen family this holiday season...hint, hint.

Candy of the Day - Tootsie Rolls

Tootsie Roll, the candy of choice for creepy grannies! Honestly, this is one of the most unintentionally Halloween-ish ads I’ve come across so far. Norman Bates could call this woman Mom. I’m sure the ad executives intended to get across an air of spunkiness, but something about the darkness of the photo and the bared teeth tell me she’s waiting to shove Hansel and Gretel into the oven. I don’t know, maybe I just have issues.

Tootsie Rolls and their descendants can trace their lineage to taffy maker Leo Hirshfield who bestowed his daughter’s name to his chocolate candy in 1896 (I’m assuming she was named Tootsie, not Roll). The up-side of the Tootsie Roll was it was impervious to high temperatures in pre-air conditioning Hoboken. In 1966 the Tootsie Roll factory relocated to Chicago where it remains to this day.
The ad comes from a 1943 issue of Life Magazine and it’s interesting to look at Tootsie’s other offerings. Tootsie Temptees were fudge bars similar to the fudgies I grew up with. Tootsie VM was a powdered milk additive in the line of Ovaltine.
Tootsie Rolls and Tootsie Pops were a regular in my Halloween haul. Both fell to the ranks of candy chum, the stuff that would languish in the candy bowl until late November or until the choice candy had been eaten. Still, seeing those little brown wrappers brings back memories.

Thursday, October 10, 2013

Hey Acid Mouth!

Nothing's worse than acid mouth!

Candy of the Day - Chick-O-Sticks

The Chick-O-Stick is one of those truly unique candies. I mean what is it? Toffee? Wafer? Truth be told it’s a mutant combination of peanut butter, sugar, and toasted coconut that kind of tastes like the crispy center of a Butterfinger bar. Chick-O-Sticks have been made by the Lufkin, TX based Atkinson Candy since 1954 and is based on two rival candy novelties: the Chicken Bone and Turkey Leg and apparently Atkinson found the sweet spot, because it’s outlived both.

Wednesday, October 9, 2013

Puffed Wheat - The Nighttime Food!

An interesting approach to selling puffed wheat and rice - I never thought of flavorless cereal as the "night delight". Frankly, there are a lot of more delightful things that go on at night, especially in 1922 when one could take in a little Fats Waller or Louis Armstrong jazz and then head down to Chinatown to kick the gong around without fear of legal repercussions.

This ad is filled with the linguistic eccentricities of the twenties, mentions of "food cells" and that the manufacturing process involves tumbling at a "fearful heat" and then exploding the grain with steam. Kind of exciting sounding for a food that's usually consumed by infants and the elderly.

Candy of the Day - Baby Ruth

In the 40’s Curtis Candies jumped on the dextrose bandwagon, touting the fact their product contained processed corn syrup as a good thing. If you’ve seen my earlier post regarding the 40’s and 50’s push to rehab the image of dextrose you’ll know what I’m talking about. It’s possible to argue that knowledge about processed foods has grown over the years and this Curtis ad is a lot less harmful than the cigarette ads of the era that sighted smoking as healthy. What’s not so easy is to excuse the blatant mistake in claiming grapes contain dextrose (I checked, they contain glucose, fructose, and sucrose).

The Baby Ruth bar came into being in 1920 when Chicago native Otto Young Schnering developed a new addition to his Curtis Candy Company line. This new bar was an adaptation of another Curtis product called the Kandy Kake which had a pastry center topped with nuts and coated with chocolate. The newly dubbed Baby Ruth bar was introduced in 1921 and it eventually replaced the Kandy Kake bar. Baseball enthusiasts like to argue that the Ruth got its name from legendary player George Herman Ruth, better known as Babe Ruth. To me Otto Schnering, the man at Curtis, puts this argument to rest. He stated that the Baby Ruth was named after the daughter of President Grover Cleveland, Ruth Cleveland and not Babe Ruth. Yes, I know there are Wall Street Journal articles which seem to link the athlete and the candy bar, but I’d point out that the first image of Babe Ruth associated with the Baby Ruth bar came from Nestle in 1995. The source material and facts don’t support a link.
I can remember getting Baby Ruth bars as a part of my Halloween haul every year. They were an old fashioned candy, usually handed out by a grandmotherly woman in her upper sixties who partially bought the bars out of nostalgia. For my brother and me, they fell somewhere below Three Musketeers in the candy pecking order, but were popular none the less. Baby Ruth bars also produced one of my favorite comedy moments (warning, brief nudity):


Tuesday, October 8, 2013

The Funnies - Average Drivers (1927)

Life magazine, November 1927

Candy of the Day - Smarties

Edward Dee immigrated to the United States in 1949 and quickly found success with his new company, Ce De Candy. Smarties were invented by Dee in the garage of his New Jersey home. Interestingly the name of Dee's new candy essentially was stolen from a popular British candy similar to M&Ms. Since the Smarties name hadn’t been trademarked, Dee was free to use it - though I'm at a loss why he didn't elect to use something more original. Ce De Candy has adapted their basic candy recipe over the years, creating novelties like candy necklaces and lipstick shapes, but the recipe for the Smartie has remained the same since its creation and it's still a Halloween staple.