1920 Swift & Company Advertisement

Swift and Company Advertisement
Source: Good Housekeeping (June, 1920)

On a recent hot summer day, I lazily flipped through the pages of 1920 issues of Good Housekeeping. There were the usual advertisements for baking powder, canned fruit, bacon, and other foods. And, then I flipped another page – and  saw this1920 Swift & Company advertisement defending the large size of this corporation. Discussions about the size of businesses have been taking place for a long time!

30 thoughts on “1920 Swift & Company Advertisement

  1. That’s an intriguing and informative advert. I wonder why Swift & Company felt the need to use it? Seems uptight by today’s standards.

  2. I think this may have been a pioneering “branding” effort… to establish Swift as trustworthy in a national market (which was no doubt a new thing in the meat business at the time). Because the ad references “last year,” it may also be something of an “annual report” to its customers. Of course, it’s also possible that a big company seeking to make a nationwide mark would come under criticism and be regarded skeptically. Nothing new in that, as Sheryl points out.

    1. Until I read your comment, I hadn’t really thought about how branding may have been a relatively new concept for the meat business in 1920.

  3. Hehe! And they were even trying to say that they weren’t making a killing off the sales! No corporation now days would dare be so bold. To top it off I’m guessing the Swift Year Book is sort of a prospectus…

    1. The way issues are framed differs from one time period to the next. This ad makes me want to learn more about the issues surrounding corporations in 1920. It’s a little after the “robber baron” era, and just a little before the teapot dome scandal.

  4. My eyes got hung up on the statistics for meat and chicken.
    People ate twice as much pork as beef! The mutton and lamb stats were also amazing. I don’t know anyone who eats lamb regularly these days. I dodged the point of the ad, but I really enjoyed that peek at what people ate.

    1. Wow, I hadn’t keyed in on the mutton and lamb statistics until you mentioned it. You’re right – lamb must have been much more popular back then.

  5. Very neat read! Have to check out if there’s a record for how much we eat today. I know I take grocery stores being well stocked for granted when I go grocery shopping.

  6. From family history I know that Swift was busy buying out small butchers in Chicago and pressuring others to sell. I suspect this was public relations on their part.

  7. I’m curious now about what “dressed beef” is! I’d also LOVE to leisurely flip through 1920s issues of that magazine! Do you do this online, have physical copies yourself, or do so in a library? I’m writing a book that takes place in the 1920s, and there are so many fun clues to find in old magazines and ads about life a century ago. Thanks for creating a fun blog to read.

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