Wednesday, 8 November 2017

A Century in Advertising - Part 8

A Century in Advertising - Part 8

My look at some of the advertisements and products of yesteryear. Some weird and whacky, some surprisingly still around today. Here are their stories.

1922 - Coffee

Maxwell House is a brand of coffee manufactured by a like-named division of Kraft Heinz. Introduced in 1892 by wholesale grocer Joel Owsley Cheek (1852-1935), it was named in honor of the Maxwell House Hotel in Nashville, Tennessee. For many years, until the late 1980s, it was the largest-selling coffee in the United States.

Legend has it that in 1907 President Teddy Roosevelt visited Maxwell House, the prestigious Nashville hotel and after finishing a cup of their namesake coffee, he declared it was, "good to the last drop." At least that is what Maxwell House Coffee Company advertised in 1920! While legends are romantic they are rarely accurate. Teddy Roosevelt did indeed visit the hotel and probably did have a cup of coffee but there is no evidence that he ever uttered those words. Still, legends are romantic and this one certainly sold a lot of coffee.

1923 - Shapely Ankles


A new and remarkable discovery, rapidly moulds to perfect proportions, ungainly ankles and legs.

ANKLE BEAUTE supersedes all reducing creams, salts, etc. Invaluable for strengthening weak ankles.

MADAME MONTAGUE, the inventor of this unique Ankle Culture System, will be pleased to send under plain cover a free copy of her dainty Brochure upon receipt of request to Room P.G. 4, 16, Cambridge Street, Belgravia, London, S.W.I

Despite attempts to find out, I can see no reference anywhere to what "Ankle Culture System" is, apart from one of a number of adverts making women feel inadequate - this time because of "thick and unattractive ankles".

1924 - Breathing and Chest Expansion

This invention - the "Psycho-Expander" - was developed to "master correct breathing" to "enlarge the chest to its full beauty."

As one commentator put it: “Trust advertisers to come up with a ‘genteel’ way of describing a product that may offend the prude but grab the gullible. Some things never change.”

It was actually patented – No 24425!

Liza Hicks sums this invention up wonderfully:

"Hucksters offered other ideas for getting full breasts. Why not inflate them like balloons? All you need is more breathing capacity, right—because your lungs are in your boobs? That's what the ads for the Breathing Balloon and Psycho-Expander suggest. If that doesn't work, there was always the Star Vibrator."

Anna Holmes says:

"We always thought the standard of beauty in the 1920s involved a waifish figure and cute-as-a-button breasts. But if this 1924 advertisement for the "Psycho-Expander" from Popular Mechanics is any indication, there was a significant subset of flapper-girls with dreams of both stardom and major rackitude."

No comments: