1918 Advertisement for Skookum Apples

Source: Ladies Home Journal (January, 1918)

This 1918 advertisement for Skookum Apples intrigues me on many levels. I was awed at how good transportation systems must have been in 1918. Until I saw this ad, I had no clue that family and friends could ship boxes of apples to soldiers in France during WWI.  Apples from Washington and other northwestern states apparently were transported across the U.S. on train, and then put of ships for Europe – and then somehow shipped to wherever the troops were.

At the same time, I was dismayed by some of the language and images in the ad.

And, I was surprised to see that “Skookum” meant “bully.” Who would have thought that the word “bully” apparently had positive connotations a hundred years ago?

32 thoughts on “1918 Advertisement for Skookum Apples

  1. “Bully” had positive connotations even when I was growing up. The expression, “Bully for you!” was often used by people as a way of saying, “Good for you.” It could be used straightforwardly, or a little sarcastically. President Roosevelt introduced the phrase “bully pulpit,” which lingers as a political term for a way to communicate with people even today.

    It’s a word that’s really changed meaning over time. Merriam-Webster says, “The earliest meaning of English bully was “sweetheart.” The word was probably borrowed from Dutch boel, “lover.” Later bully was used for anyone who seemed a good fellow, then for a blustering daredevil. Today, a bully is usually one whose claims to strength and courage are based on the intimidation of those who are weaker.”

  2. I’m frankly amazed it was possible to ship apples to Europe at all during the war. I wonder to what extent that proved to be really true?

    The US had a very extensive rail system at the time, but it was engaged in sort of a titanic mess right then. The US had just taken over all the railroads to address that: https://lexanteinternet.blogspot.com/2017/12/today-in-wyomings-history-december-26.html This week, the US actually found itself suspending all industrial output east of the Mississippi in order to save fuel https://lexanteinternet.blogspot.com/2018/01/industry-stopped-industry-vacation-of.html Granted, this company must have thought that shipping apples could be done, but I wonder how that turned out?

    1. Whew, it sure sounds like the U.S. was struggling to get the infrastructure in place to support the war effort. I doubt that I’d be able to find anything, but this makes me want to do more research and see if there are any news articles later in 1918 that discuss issues related to this. (I’m imaging headlines that say something like “Elderly mother scrimped to send apples to her son on the front in Europe, but unscrupulous company never sent them. “)

  3. Thanks for posting about the apples. I’m so glad they shipped well and helped out our troops.
    This is interesting. I always wondered where the word ‘Skookum’ came from in reference to ‘Skookum Dolls’. Now I understand, they were named for the apples that their heads were carved from. The dolls have the look of s Native American, but were not created by them. We have one of the dolls that came in an old chest my husband inherited. I posted about it on my blog a couple years ago. If you want to see it, run a search for Skookum on my blog or let me know and I’ll post you a link to it here.
    I agree with ShoreAcres about the word bully. “Bully for You” was a great compliment when I was praise for doing something good or achieving something. It certainly has changed through the generations.
    I got curious and researched further, according to Wikipedia: Skookum is a Chinook Jargon word, it can mean strong, greatest, powerful, or brave,monstrously significant. And it says alot of other things including an association with a words meaning Bigfoot.
    I enjoyed learning the history of the Skookum apples and learning more in association with Skookum dolls.

    1. Thanks for all the information about “Skookum”. I hate to admit it, but I knew nothing about the word Skookum when I did the post, and just assumed that it was an apple variety. It’s fascinating that it is used in connection with the dolls – and that it means strong or brave.

  4. Bully for you came to mind when I read your comment. Meanings change these days among young people: what used to be mean something bad means something good. I would not have thought apples could have been shipped either.

  5. What a fascinating post! I enjoyed reading it – and the comments that followed. I learned some tidbits that I did not know before this and greatly enjoyed reading this. Thank you!

  6. The ad was tilted toward the “Bully” War Campaign. According to Wikipedia, “Skookumchuck is a Chinook Jargon term that is in common use in British Columbia English and occurs in Pacific Northwest English. Skookum means “strong” or “powerful”, and “chuck” means water, so skookumchuck means “rapids” or “whitewater” (literally, “strong water”), or fresh, healthy water.[1] It can mean any rapids, but in coastal usage refers to the powerful tidal rapids at the mouths of most of the major coastal inlets.” I’m from Seattle and when we drove to Oregon, we always passed the Skookumchuck River.

    1. Thanks for researching this. I’m learning so much from your comment and others that people put on this post. I knew next to nothing about the meaning of “skookum: when I did this post.

  7. Who would have though that “dainty, delightful” apple dishes could be a “nerve tonic”! I just wonder how many boxes of apples actually got to the boys in the field, but what a nice idea. They had to ship better than cookies and they are so nutritional. An interesting find!

      1. I am sure you do Sheryl and yes I do I always learn something and also that some things don’t really change and much does so it fascinates me 🙂

  8. Be interesting to know ..how the apples held up going to France. That’s a good bit of distance to go even for fruit that stores well.

    1. I’d love to find a follow-up story that tells a little about whether the soldiers actually got the apples – and about how edible they were. But I doubt that I’ll ever come across anything.

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