Saturday, December 31, 2016

Happy New Year

With all the politics and discontent, the coming year is likely to be about as ugly as a potato in a hat carrying an umbrella. So why not begin 2017 with a card featuring...well...a potato wearing a hat, carrying an umbrella? Here's wishing you and yours the happiest and most prosperous of years, may all the blemishes be superficial and your potatoes be sweet ones.

For New Years - The Merry Widow

Something for the New Years Ball?

Monday, December 26, 2016

The Funnies - Handy John (1914)

"You may be weak on literature, John, but when it comes to Christmas shopping you're a wonder."
Life Magazine, December 3, 1914

Saturday, December 24, 2016

The Funnies - Special Christmas Eve Edition

Cartoonist Jay Norwood "Ding" Darling expressing the Christmas sentiment 100 years ago for the Des Moines Register and Leader. Ding was a multi-talented fellow and important in the conservation movement as well as being an editorial cartoonist, he helped initiate the Federal Duck Stamp program, designed its first stamp, and headed up the US Biological Survey (the forerunner of the Fish and Wildlife Service) for Franklin D. Roosevelt. The man's got a Pulitzer, a National Audubon Society Award, and a nature preserve named after him...who says doodling won't get you anywhere?

Tuesday, December 13, 2016

Good For Nothing Gifts...According to Life Magazine

A little article on what the editors of Life Magazine considered worthless gifts back in 1953.


Friday, December 9, 2016

The Yellow Pages Christmas Tree

Remember making telephone book Christmas trees in grade school? I don't have a lot of positive memories about my formative years in the Indiana Public School System - they mostly consist of being bullied, berated, and embarrassed at every turn for some shortcoming or another. One thing I do remember is folding thousands of pages of telephone books to make holiday Christmas trees during the run-up to Christmas break. Now there aren't even phone books to fold, so I wonder what pointlessly time consuming activity kindergarten teachers employ now?

Wednesday, December 7, 2016

The Christmas List - Sunbeam

Normally this one would show up on the Naughty List, but there's a specific piece of equipment in this ad that I just acquired. The Sunbeam deep fryer or as I like to call it - the Sunbeam Grease Spreader. Mine is missing the mesh basket, still when it reaches temperature it's greasing machine. Looks like a part from a 50's jet too.

Tuesday, December 6, 2016

The Christmas List - Bolex

The camera with a name that sounds like a swearing Brit, Bolex. I don't think a six-year-old has ever uttered the phrase, "ooh...Daddy got a Bolex!", at least not without getting his mouth washed out with soap. Anyway, now that 8mm manual cameras are trendily outdated, I'm imagining they're utterly craveable and therefor a good add to your hipster's stocking. For me, I'll always remember discovering mom's 8mm Kodak and attempting to make a Ray Harryhausen-esque stop-motion film in the back yard with Star Wars action figures as props. Occasionally we'd get a burst of what looked like movement, but mostly we got over-exposed film and pictures of our fingers.

Monday, December 5, 2016

The Christmas List - Ronson Lighters (1953)

Can't look at this ad without thinking about my grandmother setting her hair on fire when she turned her Ronson butane lighter up way too high.

The Funnies - A Wise Boy (1915)

"It's a wise boy that knows his own father"
Life Magazine, December 1915

Sunday, December 4, 2016

The Christmas List - Kaywoodie Pipes

In an alternate, crossover universe Tony Stark and Harley Quinn are married.

Saturday, December 3, 2016

The Christmas List - Life Bras (1940)

I'm just saying I'll have what she's having...

The Naughty List - Toro

Even if I had a lawn you'd never find a mower (or any other piece of yard care equipment) on my Christmas list...

Friday, December 2, 2016

The Naughty List - Phillip Morris (1941)

Just a reminder that Lucy and Ricky were brought to you by that little demon cancer jockey, the Philip Morris Boy. Product placement was a different animal back in the 40's, 50's, and 60's. Your favorite characters would break from the action to pick up a cup of coffee and extol it's value to you or light up a cigarette and tell you how it calms their nerves. Not sure which is worst, a blatant shill or a hidden one.

The Christmas List - Kaywoodie Pipes

The pipe that's more than a pipe...especially after six decades when "woodie" has a whole new meaning. The picture says it all. "No, Don, I don't want to hold your Kaywoodie, now if you don't leave me along you'll be spending Christmas night on the couch."

Thursday, December 1, 2016

The Naughty List - Cannon Sheets and Towels (1940)

The detectives gathered in close as Mabel lit her cigarette. It'd been ten hours and their years of experience working homicide cases told them she was ready to talk, ready to unburden herself and close the case.

"Every year it was the same," she said, exhaling a cloud of smoke. "first it was the vacuum cleaner, then the girdle, then the scales...he was just clueless. So I told him, Richard I would like something nice for Christmas - like jewelry or perfume. I figured he'd do okay, you know some guys just have to be told what to do, and then..." She took a long drag on the cigarette and stared off into the low cloud bank of smoke that'd began to collect around the single lamp overhead.

"And then?" The lead detective prompted.

"At first I thought he'd finally got it, what with the pretty packages under the tree, but he hadn't you see. First was wash rags, then dish towels, then bath towels...I just...I just snapped...I don't really remember anything else."

The lead detective drew a deep breath and sat back in his chair, assessing the woman sitting in front of him."

"Do you think I'll get the chair?" She asked, her voice trembling.

"No ma'am, no jury would convict you for killing a man who gave you wash rags for Christmas..."

The Christmas List - Philco Slender Seventeener

The Philco Seventeer, not sure if that means the screen is 17 inches or if it was geared toward 50's teens, but in an era of look-alike flat screens it's a pretty sweet looking set. Here's something Hitachi, think about making a faux alligator skin case for your flat screen sets.

Friday, November 25, 2016

Thanksgiving Feed - Arrow Creme de Menthe (1950)

Desert time and what's better than a desert with a little kick? One that has a little kick and ice cream!

Thursday, November 24, 2016

Happy Thanksgiving

Thanksgiving Feed - Kre-Mel Pie Filling (1940)

Kre-Mel Pie Filling, apparently glorified pudding used to fill pies back in the 40's. I am interested in knowing how to make a sultan. I'm guessing it's nothing more than what we'd call French Silk.

Wednesday, November 23, 2016

Thanksgiving Feed - A&P Coffee (1940)

I never connected A&P with Eight O'Clock Coffee for some reason. I mean, now that I think about it, the only place I ever saw the brand was in A&P, but for some reason I never figured it as a store brand. I guess that's a mark of good marketing.

Tuesday, November 22, 2016

Thanksgiving Feed - Brown Derby Pie (1953)

This is one I've got to try. I have to note that it's the generic "movie stars", no I'm guessing these are theoretical movie stars.

Monday, November 21, 2016

Thanksgiving Feed - Bosco (1940)

When I was growing up the only thing that'd be added to milk would have been Nestles Quick. Bosco was a thing of the past and, judging by the look of it, I'm grateful for that fact! Nothing like adding motor oil to the kiddo's morning cow juice. And "Milk Amplifier", what the heck is that all about? I've seen all kinds of off-beat buzz-wordery, but I'm thinking "Milk Amplifier" ranks up there with the wackiest.

At first I was also surprised at the angle the ad takes in general. I mean this is 1940, just one year before the US would enter World War II and in the midst of the macho, he-man era and it looked like there were two young boys playing dress-up. That was until I caught the middle panel at the bottom shows it's a boy and a girl playing dress-up. Still feels odd, though. Kind of like these two kids are the last children on Earth and they really don't know how to be kids or something. It's got that Victorian sense of kids are nothing more than little adults.

Sunday, November 20, 2016

Thanksgiving Feed - Campbell's Mushroom Soup (1953)

A staple of the Thanksgiving casserole, that salty soup of mashed mushrooms, Campbell's Cream of Mushroom Soup. Seems like I can remember when the green bean casserole came into my life. It was sometime during the seventies, back when my grandparents were living and hosted every family gathering in their tiny 30's era bungalow with the six and a half-foot high ceilings. Back then practically everyone smoked and there'd be a Camel-Winston cloud bank from about Adams apple to ceiling. Eventually, with lungs ragged from second-hand smoke, I'd retreat to the tiny backyard to get a breath of icy fresh air and listen to the breeze moving through the nearly-bare limbs of the gigantic apple tree that dominated their tiny lot. Who would have guessed I'd be sentimental for second-hand smoke?

Saturday, November 19, 2016

Thanksgiving Feed - Popcorn

I'm not sure where I came across this ad. Somehow it wound up in my chaff pile, waiting to be sorted, and I stumbled across it this morning while searching for food-related materials for the season of feasting that is Thanksgiving. I'd love to have one of these machines. Not sure where I'd put it, but the look of it is just amazing. It speaks of a time when popcorn was enough of a treat to be vended from a bubblegum-style machine at fairs and on boardwalks across the country. Simpler times, I guess. Then again I've come to realize that times never were as simple as we'd like to think. Especially when I'm guessing this ad comes from the era of the Great Depression and World War II.

Think you're at a railroad depot, waiting for the train to the coast and basic training before heading overseas to who-knows-where to face people who mean to murder you and everyone you love. You're surrounded by a thousand strangers, it's your first time away from home and may wind up being your last. A cold air blows through the station carrying with it the smell of popcorn and your mind goes back to the Grand Theater on Main Street, your best gal, and sneaking a cuddle while the Wolfman chewed the scenery and for a moment you're home and safe and there is no war, no hatred, and no looming shadow of death sitting on the bench beside you. Maybe that's a big part of what Thanksgiving's all about.

Friday, November 18, 2016

Thanksgiving Feed - Sealtest Ice Cream

Here's another look from Sealtest. We've seen 'rip-roarin' cowboy Western Almond and now we're going for New York and Tiffany's. Today we would call this a "super premium" ice cream, but back in the 50's it was "Prestige". For me, Sealtest was a dinner table regular, it was a discount brand and showed up year-round, usually in Neapolitan. But, after Thanksgiving dinner, it wasn't unusual to have a scoop of it on top of a warm slice of pumpkin pie.

Thursday, November 17, 2016

Thanksgiving Feed - Booth Sardines (1922)

Now we're on the opposite side of 20's advertising. A few days ago I ran an ad for Wesson Oil that was simply beautiful, today I'm running an ad for Booth's Sardines that makes me shudder. It's not that I dislike sardines, I actually like them (though I prefer anchovies). No, the problem is in the images of "Booth's Sardine Loaf" and "One Minute Salad"

Sardine loaf is the least offensive. In essence it looks no worse than a loaf of Spam or Treet - not that I'd call that a ringing endorsement - and when I read the instructions that's about what it amounts to. Take some de-boned sardines and mash them up with eggs and breadcrumbs, then pack it in a mold and cook the life out of it. You'll come up with a block of sardines that will clear a break room in under ten seconds.

One Minute Salad is the worst. In the illustration it looks like someone's taken a steaming dump on a lettuce leaf. Reading the recipe, though, it sounds like the less offensive of the two fishy treats. It's really nothing but tuna salad made with sardines.

I'm struck by the fact they needed to specify these are "food sardines". Were there industrial sardines? Maybe weaponized sardines? The mind boggles.

Wednesday, November 16, 2016

Thanksgiving Feed - Minute Tapioca (1922)

There's something about a food that has to lurk in the shadows. I mean look at that table. It looks like a co-star in Double Indemnity. Somebody died for that tapioca.

Outside of the insanity that's bubble tea, I've never met a person who really likes tapioca. I mean somebody eats it. That or it's another case like the fruitcake where we're all just passing around the same tapioca in an eternal loop of passive aggressiveness. There's just something about foods that come in bead form. I never trusted those beads that used to be in Contact cold capsules either. They just didn't look...well...honest.

Watch the smiles it says, more like watch the grimaces. "Oh lord, Gladys is serving tapioca the hell do I get out of here without making a scene?"

Tuesday, November 15, 2016

Thanksgiving Feed - Wesson Oil (1922)

I love this ad. Not because of what's being sold or cleverness or humor, but because it's just beautiful to look at. It makes me think of a time when: a) Mayonnaise was new enough to be worthy of mentioning and b) people didn't think of mayo as something that came in a jar from Hellman's or Kraft. Speaks to a time when life was slower and simpler. At least I like to think it does. Now no magazine would think of simply calling it mayonnaise, they'd opt for aioli and add capers or something like that. So much of our identity is drown in the words we use and the way they make us feel about ourselves. Better to go back to the days when mayo was mayo.

Monday, November 14, 2016

Thanksgiving Feed - Blue Bonnet Margarine (1955)

My grandmother used to have Blue Bonnet, in fact she never asked for butter - she asked for margarine. I have to wonder how much its "healthy" trans-fats shortened her life...probably not much more than the two pack a day habit she had until the day she went into the hospital.

Sunday, November 13, 2016

Thanksgiving Feed - Sealtest Ice Cream (1955)

Love the 50's imagery in this Sealtest two-page ad - cowboys, brands, and lassos make me long for family dinners at Bonanza or Ponderosa, I just need Dennis the Menace and the look's complete. Western Almond is a new flavor for me, though and apparently it was to everyone in '55. A close inspection of the carton gives no evidence of what the flavor is - aside from it's almond and, apparently, western.

Saturday, November 12, 2016

Thanksgiving Feed - Pream (1955)

Can't have coffee without cream...or maybe creamer. I couldn't find any information about Pream. Nothing more than a few old ads, that is. I liked the old coffee carafe in this one, though I can't imagine using non-dairy creamer in cake or tomato soup.

Friday, November 11, 2016

Thanksgiving Feed - Fleischmann's Yeast

I can't help but think if World War II happened today, Fleischmann's would have changed its name to shed its German roots. It would have become "Freedom Yeast" or "Victory Fungus" or something. Instead they opted for one of the most dystopian, steampunk soldiers depicted during the war years.

I had to look up the reference to Nazi use of a drug called Previtin as an alertness aid by Nazi soldiers. The drug usage was revealed in a book written by former Nazi soldier Heinrich Boll. Apparently bread is better than meth, though, which is why we now have such a rye problem in America.

The Funnies - Special Edition: Happy Armistice Day

"Joe, don't this remind you o' the night when the outfit was movin' up to the front in Argonne?"
"Yes. Only - you an' me had a job then, Jim."
Life Magazine, 1920

Thursday, November 10, 2016

Thanksgiving Feed - Spur Cola (1944)

I'm not sure if Spur Cola is still in production or not, the best I can say is that it's not available here in Indiana. I found ads from the 80's, so there's a chance that somewhere out there someone is chugging a cold Spur right now. Really can't be sure!

There were a lot of different versions of this ad, all with different models proclaiming they'd never tasted a cola so fine as Spur. Nothing too exciting, though. I guess you have to leave it to Coca-Cola if you want big, flashy soda ads.

Wednesday, November 9, 2016

Thanksgiving Feed - Meat and Plasma (1944)

Here they are again, those proud purveyors of all things meaty, the American Meat Institute and their wartime push for blood and meat. I guess it's meant to encourage those on the home front to give plasma for the troops, but there's something a little chilling when the guys who run slaughterhouses start calling for human blood. It just doesn't sit right, you know?

Of course we get the Norman Rockwell style illustration of all the good Americans waiting on line to give blood, but a couple of other things struck me as well. Firstly, who would have enough ration coupons to get all the meat shown in the illustration of "a war meat-meal"? My understanding was meat was among the most restricted foods. Second, I have to wonder how many of those cold cuts shown in that same illustration had traded in their ethnically German names for American patriot-ized names? We went through the whole "freedom fries" debacle, I wonder if they had "war weenies" or "victory-wurst"?

Tuesday, November 8, 2016

Thanksgiving Feed - Nesbitt's (1944)

Ready for a fizzy drink? How about a Nesbitt's Orange Soda...well, okay you'll have to work to get one because they're rare and distributed only in certain states. They did use Marilyn Monroe in their print ads long before she became the Marilyn Monroe and they once held the title of the most popular orange soda in the United States. I guess that's saying something.

This ad, on the other hand, doesn't say much. 1944 would have been the cusp of the Nesbitt heyday. The company had started bottling its sodas just five years earlier and they were heading toward being soda kings. Seems a little less than ambitious for the kings...but then again somewhere they were running their Marilyn ad at this time so that kind of balances things out.

Bonus Material - Let's Get Together (1952)

1952, Ike vs. Adlai Stevenson, and in many ways politics were just as divided as they are today. A thought for Election Day 2016.

The Funnies Election Day Special - The Average Congressman (1919)

Life Magazine, April 1919

The Funnies Election Day Special - The Administration (1920)

Mrs. Smith: I wish you'd come over and see my husband, doctor. His temperature was normal this morning, but he got talking to me about the administration at Washington and now he's delirious again.

Life Magazine, January 1, 1920

Monday, November 7, 2016

Thanksgiving Feed - Treet (1944)

We've visited the red-headed stepchild of Spam, Treet before, but this time it comes with a side dish of patriotism. During World War II every ad had two things in common: there'd be something about affordability because of rationing and there'd be something about how the producers of said food were supporting the war effort and the boys "over there".

I don't have the nerve to read about Treet Shortcakes...I really don't. I guess to me a "shortcake" is something that comes with strawberries and a dollop of whipped cream not some gelatinous lubricant from a Treet-tin. On a side note, Thomas Dolby's One of Our Submarines would have been totally different with the line "winter boys are freezing in their Treet tins..." wouldn't it?

Sunday, November 6, 2016

Thanksgiving Feed - Spudnuts (1950)

Back in 2013 I ran a blog post about the noble Spudnut. Back then I focused on the "everything new is old again" of an alternate doughnut shaking up the beats of cops across the nation. So, this ad isn't really new. It's just odd because it was placed sideways in what I'm sure the advertisers thought was "innovative and groundbreaking."

Yep, this is the way the ad ran. March 6, 1950 issue of Life Magazine ran this ad for Spudnuts, the potato mutant child of a doughnut and a french fry. Actually, I shouldn't speak ill of them since I've never tried one. It's just the idea - I mean to me potatoes have always been the sidekick to a burger or a steak, not a cup of coffee. So, a passing fad, right? I mean, nothing this patently weird could actually last, could it? Well, yes.

The parent company that ran this ad offering franchises to savvy tater-oh fryers back in 1950 may have gone under, but a few hard core buds off the original vine are still in existence. For instance, one in Charlottesville, VA, a comfy looking hole in the wall. In fact there's a site dedicated to the remaining Spudnuts across the country.

Not exactly sure what the bikini-clad girl has to do with potato doughnuts, but there she is none the less.

Thanksgiving Feed - Birds Eye Lenten Lunch Casserole (1950)

Okay, technically not Thanksgiving, but still food. Birds Eye ads are plenty in magazines of old, but I liked this one for its mystery mascot without a name and the fact the visiting aunt in the copy is named "Aunt Fussy". I also never noticed that the spinach in the ad isn't called "frozen", it's "frosted". Makes me think it's covered in sugar.

Thanksgiving Feed - Campbell's Bean and Bacon Soup (1950)

Here's one that's near and dear to my heart, Campbell's Bean and Bacon Soup. You see, one of the memories from the all to infrequently golden days of my youth centers around Campbell's Bean and Bacon Soup and Ritz Crackers. Sunday evenings at our house, back in the days before NFL games that ran until midnight and ten-thousand channels of unwatchable reality shows, meant The Walt Disney Hour and The Andy Griffith Show, the ladder of which was often enjoyed while eating a bowl of Campbell's Bean and Bacon Soup that was so packed with Ritz Crackers it had a texture more like oatmeal than soup. Ah, the sometimes good old days.

As for the ad itself, I think I could have gone my whole life without hearing beans described as "munchy meaty and zestful."

Thanksgiving Feed - Pep (1950)

I've fallen off my schedule and just like a cook who forgot to defrost the turkey before Thanksgiving Day, I've got some time to make up! So, get ready, here's the first of a half-dozen Thanksgiving Day treats to get us in the mood for food!

Kellogg's Pep, "the sunshine cereal" was a sponsor of The Adventures of Superman radio program and the whole wheat alternative to Wheaties Cereal back in the 1920's. It's also touted as one of the first vitamin "fortified" cereals on the market. It eventually died a quiet death from the side effects of obscurity in the 1970's. Seems like I remember it showing up on shelves at the local A&P, but I would have been less than ten and memories from that age are sketchy at best.

Strange that an ad that ran in the March 6, 1950 edition of Life Magazine would come across comparing father and daughter. I'd have expected it to feature daughter serving daddy breakfast and lecturing him on the "builder-upper" powers of Pep instead of showing off her Rosie the Riveter guns. Maybe the world isn't as black-and-white as this ad. Speaking of that, you've got to love a bowl of cereal that could be mistaken for dry leaves, don't you? If 50's ads and cookbooks have taught me anything it's that you eat with your eyes first. Judging from this ad, I'd sooner touch a match to a bowl of Pep than put it in my mouth!

Thursday, November 3, 2016

Thanksgiving Dinner - Ritz

Strikingly modern ad from 1950 featuring Andy Griffith's favorite cracker, Ritz. I remember Ritz being advertised during the Wonderful World of Disney. It probably was due to the fact that Mayberry RFD was on immediately following Disney. Recently I watched a few of the RFD episodes, its amazing what you notice when you watch a show with adult eyes. Now I can see how checked out Andy Griffith was, he was there for everyone else, but not himself.

Ritz was the cracker of choice in our house, though I'm not sure if it was due to Andy's endorsement or something else. I remember mashing them to powder and putting them in Campbell's Bean and Bacon soup. For better or worse, that simple dish will always remind me of my father and Sunday nights.