1921 White House Coffee Advertisement

Advertisement for White House Coffee
Source: American Cookery (November, 1921)

Advertisements provide a window into the culture (or at least an idealized culture) of the times. This advertisement for White House Coffee makes me glad that I live in 2021 instead of 1921. The role of women was definitely different a hundred years ago.

19 thoughts on “1921 White House Coffee Advertisement

  1. I was just thinking a woman would also need something to get her through the day. Keeping a home back then would have been a full day of household chores, shopping, cooking and don’t forget the kids.

    1. After getting her husband off to work, hopefully she had a chance to take a few minutes and relax with a cup of coffee before tackling those many other tasks.

    1. Now that you mention it, you’re right, she doesn’t look very happy. I wonder why the artist doing this ad choose to create a less than happy expression.

  2. You are so right about ads reflecting cultural norms or at least idealized norms. But even today do you see an ad featuring a man pouring coffee for his off-to-work lady? We came a long way baby but how far?

  3. Hmm. That would have happily been Granny in 1921. She had stood long hours as a waitress before her 1910 wedding and had been a working woman since her mid-teens! In his Memoirs, my Granddad said that the 8- hour day had come into being around 1917. He had started his logging career in the woods as a cookhouse flunkey at 12 years of age in the late 1880s and toiled more the day than half its hours. He had made his mark by 1921, and the couple would have thought themselves in heaven, being now afforded the opportunity to finally sit for breakfast together, as in that advertising scene. Granny felt herself blessed and fulfilled every one of her 57 years of marriage. Her husband’s roll was not to keep her down, rather, their heads above water. We tend to forget that the plight of men has also changed over time, and most did not have any easier a go, than did their woman. I think that still pertains to very many men, today. It really is a thought provoking ad! Thanks, Sheryl.

    1. And, thank you for helping me think about the roles of men and women a hundred years ago, and how that breakfast scene suggests that life is good for the couple. It had to have been stressful for men to have full responsibility for providing the family income in many cases.

  4. Thought provoking ad! I guess I’m a throwback to one hundred years ago. My husband worked ‘outside the home’ for his entire career – in the early days on rigs in the high arctic. We moved, with the job, 16 times in 30 years. I was the stay-at-home mom – the domestic engineer who made those breakfasts and dinners and kept the family together. I didn’t want to trade jobs with hubby because staying at home gave me opportunities to do volunteer work, join arts and crafts groups, start blogging, etc, etc.
    Many men and women work in the food service industry – for those who have made it their career, I would think they take great pride in knowing that the steaming cup of coffee and meal they serve to their clients helps people get through their day!

    1. It is a thought-provoking ad. Over the years, sometimes I’ve worked out outside the home, and other times I’ve been a stay-at-home mom. You described some the wonderful aspects of being at home.

  5. I don’t know. Younger women talk about the years I grew up in as the dark ages and so on. In the meantime, my friends and I remember the good things that were part of our life — most of which now have disappeared. I’m just glad I was a child and young woman when I was. Yes, there were limitations, but many women today don’t seem willing to claim the freedoms we fought for and won.

    1. I’m also glad that I grew up when I did. Sometimes I’m surprised at how much has disappeared over the years – and how I never noticed most of the gradual changes until something was gone.

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