Yesterday’s Ads for Today’s Products

Wrigley's gum advertisement from 1916: what's your favorite flavor?
Portion of a Wrigley’s gum advertisement from 1916: what’s your favorite flavor? Via Chronicling America.
Ivory Soap advertisement - nothing will get that wedding dress or your skin cleaner for your wedding day!
1901 Ivory Soap advertisement. Via Chronicling America.

Many of the products that we use in our homes every day have a long history. Whether it’s the soap in our bathrooms, the food in our pantries or the candy in our pockets, there’s a chance that one of your family members used similar items produced by the same companies decades ago. With bold fonts, eye-catching images, emotional appeals, clever slogans and an emphasis on quality, companies strategically used newspaper advertisements to introduce Ohioans to their merchandise and convince them that their products, above all others, were the ones to buy. Today we’ll explore some of these advertisements from the past.

Cincinnati-based company Procter & Gamble was established in 1837, initially selling soap and candles. In 1879, Ivory Soap was invented by founder James Gamble’s son, James Norris Gamble. Early advertisements praise its purity, and warn against “counterfeits [which] lack the peculiar and remarkable qualities of the genuine.” This popular product is still sold today, and Procter & Gamble have invented and sold a number of other common household and personal products in its nearly 180 year history, including Crisco starting in 1911.

Kellogg’s Corn Flakes advertisement from 1922. Via Chronicling America.

Did you have corn flakes or oatmeal for breakfast this morning? Kellogg’s Corn Flakes and Quaker Oats have been sitting on American breakfast tables for over a century. According to a 1922 advertisement, Kellogg’s Corn Flakes “are the most fascinating cereal food you ever put in your mouth,” and the cereal “appeals to the little folks just as it does to every member of your family.” Quaker Oats, which formed from a 1901 merger between four oat mills including Ohio’s Quaker Mill Company in Ravenna and the German Mills American Oatmeal Company in Akron, used a different advertising strategy. Sir James Crichton Brown, “the great medical authority on foods,” wrote that oatmeal was “the best food for the human being,” and his work was used as an endorsement of sorts in a Quaker Oats ad printed in 1909.

Other products you’ll find advertised in historic newspapers include Hoover vacuums (sweepers), Wrigley gum, Camel cigarettes and Arm & Hammer baking soda, with its iconic logo. Are there any other recognizable and still-used brands that you’ve found in Chronicling America or Ohio Memory newspapers?

Hoover Electric Sweeper advertisement from 1920. Via Chronicling America.
Hoover Electric Sweeper advertisement from 1920. Via Chronicling America.

Thanks to Jenni Salamon, Coordinator for the Ohio Digital Newspaper Program, for this week’s blog post!

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