1913 Nestle’s Food (Baby Formula) Advertisement

18-year-old Helena Muffly wrote exactly 100 years ago today: 

Tuesday, September 23, 1913:  Don’t know how to express myself.

Her middle-aged granddaughter’s comments 100 years later:

Since Grandma didn’t write much a hundred years ago today, I’m going to share an advertisement for a baby formula, Nestle’s Food, that appeared in the October, 1913 issue of Ladies Home Journal. 


A few days ago I did a post that showed several pictures of the “right” and “wrong” way raise a baby.  Readers’ comments about that post led me to do this post.  It contained pictures from the October, 1913 issues of Ladies Home Journal where both the “right” and the “wrong”  way showed the baby drinking from a bottle.  Several people commented that it was interesting that breastfeeding wasn’t mentioned.

After reading the comments I looked at the magazine again–and I discovered that this ad was positioned right next to the picture article about the right and wrong ways to raise a baby.


Maybe I’m in a cynical mood today, but somehow it feels like the magazine was trying to please the advertiser, and that the advertisement drove the content.


13 thoughts on “1913 Nestle’s Food (Baby Formula) Advertisement

  1. So strange you should say that because on the radio, recently, this very subject of advertising driven newspapers articles was the subject of discussion. The main gist of the comments was that newspapers and media now pass off more and more advertising as news. It would seem that this is not as new a strategy as the commentators would have us believe.

  2. I think Grandma has a lot cooking up in her head. So many days of nothing doing tells me she was looking for something specific to happen, so she couldn’t see all that was going on. Now I have to wonder what was tying up her thoughts. Wish we still had her around to ask.

  3. Another wonderful post Sheryl!!! Reminds me of when I first visited our State Library, in South Australia, to look through their old newspapers and was indeed shocked that the reports all those years ago, re: politics, and so many other matters, were exactly the same as were happening right now. Hasn’t stopped me reading old newspapers, though 😆

  4. Advertising is the main revenue source for newspapers so it stands to reason that the content is driven by the ads. Amazing example you found in your research – thanks! In modern times Nestlé has a lot to answer for in the developing world. Their ads of rosy cheeked babies led many impoverished women to give up the breast in what they mistakenly thought was better for their children!

  5. Hopefully it was just writer’s block and nothing truly bothersome in her life. 🙂 Wow…hurting and helping baby…interesting words there! Today…I just bet someone would challenge that. We live in such an overly sensitive world these days!

  6. Yes, wouldn’t it be wonderful if the advertising copy were true — that they had developed a formula so nearly like mother’s milk they could actually feel good about promoting it for those for whom a “substitute is necessary”? Guess I’m cynical, too, because I have enough data and experience to know with hind sight how disingenuous this was.

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