A hundred years ago, companies were already branding their products and aggressively competing with one another. At that time, General Mills advertisements for Gold Medal flour asked, “Eventually, why not now?”
A very successful Pillsbury ad campaign responded, “Because Pillsbury’s best.”
37 thoughts on “1917 Pillsbury Flour Advertisement”
It’s fascinating to think that those humble beginnings led to the Pillsbury Bake-off.
Flour milling was a major industry in Minneapolis MN a hundred years ago. Both Pillsbury and Gold Medal flour were produced there.
I read a book about the flour mills a while back. I don’t remember what it was, but it also discussed the fictional beginnings of a Betty Crocker type character that helped to sell the products.
This reminds me that I have a vague memory of seeing pictures which showed how the drawings of Betty Crocker have been tweaked across the years to make them more modern and appropriate.
How great to know the flour I use was the “best” 100 years ago. They certainly had some innovative marketing people even then.
Sometimes I surprised by how sophisticated and savvy the ad campaigns were in the early 20th Century.
I agree. 🙂
I love these old ads! I ran across one for some kind of graham cracker. A lovely ad followed by a dozen sponsored recipes in the book. What I really enjoy is the language! The vocabulary and sentences are complex and rich to convey feeling. Today it’s images and music in ads. Very different means of communication. Thanks for sharing!
Text was so much more important a hundred years ago as authors tried to create word pictures that enabled readers visualize foods.
Great for building vocabulary!
Not only was there competition between companies, there was a very clear acknowledgement of social distinctions, and a suggestion that even the humblest housewife could have the same as the family “on the hill.” All her life, my mother would draw the distinction between lace-curtain Irish and shanty Irish — which she felt she was. She would have been a sucker for this ad. 🙂
I hadn’t thought about the class distinctions that this ad addressed until I read your comment. But now that you mention it, it’s very obvious that the advertisers were really aiming this ad at people who were less prosperous (the humblest housewife).
Ooh! How interesting. And that’s what my mother was reading the year she got married.
Wow, it really personalizes the ad by placing it in the larger context. I can just picture a young bride-to-be reading magazines like Good Housekeeping and planning what she will cook and the ingredients that she’ll purchase.
Pillsbury is still one of my favorites. They’ve earned their place of respect.
The company sure has a long history.
The emphasis on the product always being exactly the same is so interesting. That makes a big difference in baking, but it tells me that that was trouble sometimes for bakers.
Your comment makes me wonder if there were mills and stores that sold unbranded flour a hundred years ago that varied a lot in quality. Maybe even some branded flours back then differed depending upon the “lot.”
I really think it was like that! We are so used to same-same now.
Never would have guessed that Pillsbury has been around long. I trust Pillsbury or Gold Medal flour for my baking, I rarely buy cheaper generic brands.
I do sometimes buy the store brands. Fortunately, I’ve never had any issues with flour quality.
I am fascinated by old advertisements. We have the unique perspective of where the companies are today so the ads are even more interesting and sometimes funny.
You’re so right. I know that I generally find the old ads of companies that I never heard of less interesting than the ads of companies that are still around.
I loved those old ads! They are so different from the ones we see now that they are a little glimpse of the past.
It’s wonderful to hear that you enjoy the posts with old ads. I also enjoy reading old ads.
I use Gold Medal as that is what my grandma used. Do you have an old Gold Medal ad?
No, but I’m looking for one. 🙂
I so appreciate your posts and learning more about the “recent” past.
I wasn’t aware that both Pillsbury and Gold Medal originated in Minnesota
I have so much fun pulling the posts together, and it’s wonderful to hear that you enjoy them. According the the Mill City Museum (Minneapolis MN) website:
“Beginning in 1880 and for 50 years thereafter, Minneapolis was known as the “Flour Milling Capital of the World” and more informally, as the “Mill City.” The city grew up around the mills. In 1870, the city’s population was 13,000. Twenty years later, it had grown to nearly 165,000. Grain came in via rail lines that stretched across the Northern Plains grain belt into the Dakotas and Canada. Trains also carried the milled flour to Duluth and to eastern U.S. destinations both for export and domestic distribution. After World War I, the milling industry in Minneapolis began to decline.”
Thanks! I always love seeing these old ads.
You’re welcome. It’s nice to hear that you like the posts with old ads.
Here’s another approach, on the side of a building in Fairview, Montana: http://paintedbricksofcasperwyoming.blogspot.com/2017/08/occident-flour-fairview-montana.html
Thanks for sharing the link. The “Costs more. Worth it.” line is an advertising gem. It’s interesting to think about how advertisers make decisions about how to market a product.
I love Pillsbury’s response to General Mills, it’s so snappy and seems to make a bit more sense than the “eventually” question.
It is a nice snappy response, and works well. I found it interesting that Pillsbury directly addressed the ad of another company.
Amazing and so are the comments and conversation thanks ladies!