1923 Occident Flour Advertisement

Advertisement for Occident Flour
Source: American Cookery (June/July, 1923)

Sometimes hundred-year-old advertisements work for me; other times they don’t. I’m still trying to decide whether the phrase “Costs more – Worth it!” makes me want to buy Occident Flour.

48 thoughts on “1923 Occident Flour Advertisement

  1. This reminds me of the tag used by Loreal “because you’re worth it”.
    I chuckled reading “no obligation on your part” at the bottom of this ad, but they would send you coupons, I bet!

    1. I wonder what kind of obligations they were trying to assure readers didn’t exist. Were they saying that there was no obligation to buy the flour if they sent the coupons?

      1. I think they were seeking writers (Domestic Science) who would write informative articles, and that asking for more information would not obligate them. Or, it could have meant to write for (i.e., send for) the information, but there was no further obligation. Russell-Miller kept expanding their business due to the demand for the flour–so perhaps they did get what they paid for, or else at least thought they did.

        1. It’s interesting how they approached marketing back then – though probably not really that different from today except that now things happen faster with social media, etc. instead of via mail.

  2. On the other hand, it may be worth remembering that the opposite would be, “Costs less, but isn’t worth the money you pay for it.” If the company already was developing a reputation for a good product, that slogan might simply be a reflection of what people already thought. It would be interesting to compare different companies’ sales at the time. There’s a reason I pay more for ground beef that my neighborhood butcher grinds right in front of me, and buy eggs from a local farmer who’s willing to introduce me to her chickens.

    1. Based on the newspaper articles, and the later research items, it was cheaper because it was mixed wheat–more like what all-purpose flour is now–okay for bread, better for cakes and cookies as it is softer. Bread flour was just that–for bread. Interestingly, you can still buy occident flour now, although it is not the brand name, it refers to bread flour. Other articles discussed using a mix of occident flour with ‘softer’ flour when you did not want a chewy texture. I suspect it is one of those things that because most of us no longer bake all the bread the family eats, don’t know much about the difference in flours. I am reminded of Dorothy of the New Vintage Kitchen always recommending King Arthur…so I bought it. 👩‍🍳

      1. It’s interesting that occident flour is a type of flour now. We occasionally bake bread – and I now am curious about the characteristics of the different brands of bread flour that are available today. Are they all about the same, or are their differences?

        1. Since I do not bake bread, I am sure Dorothy would be more qualified to answer this! I guess I should do a taste test using King Arthur flour, Gold Medal, and whatever the name of that other flour is that we find on the shelves here that I buy when I don’t know any of the brands.

          1. I know that we bought the store-brand of bread flour one time, and the bread didn’t rise as well as with other flours. I’m wondering now if it had less glutin. We were also using a new package of yeast, so we never were quite sure whether the issue was the flour or the yeast – but we never bought the store-brand of bread flour again.

    1. I’ve wondered about that, too. Some of the other old-time flour brands are still around, but I think that this one is long gone. Maybe people weren’t willing to pay more for it.

  3. It definitely works for me. We’re lucky enough to be able to care where our food comes from and how it got there, and at what environmental cost. We’d sooner go without other things than buy food with a poor sustainability record.

  4. The items in the 1923 newspapers indicated Occident Flour was made “entirely from the hard, glutinous Spring Wheat of North Dakota.” It guaranteed the flour with a money back guarantee because of the purity.

    1. It almost sounds like they were advertising it as a high glutin product – which seems so different from today when people often want low (or no) glutin.

      1. They were–apparently the gluten was what made bread taste “chewy” with a nice crust and softer insides, and made a better tasting bread. The way they cleaned it also kept it from tasting “nutty” like breads from winter wheat and mixed wheat. The company started in the 1800s, and by 1957 was the 4th largest in the US. They were bought out by 1959 by milling companies (making flour) that we all know the names of now.

    1. In an era in which, in a lot of smaller towns, you still told the grocer what you wanted, and he went and got it for you, rather than you take it off the shelf, I wonder how many people asked, or at least thought, that same question.

    2. I did a check of various newspapers for 1923 and found it was difficult to tell the difference due to some ads not specifying the size of the sack. When they did, however, 50 pounds of Occident went for $2.75 in Pennsylvania, and 50 pounds of White Crest in Mississippi was $2.33, but 50 pounds of White Shield was $1.91. In Montana, a sack of Lutana, Lyon’s Best or Occident went for $2.20 each. My favorite ad was the one from Burlington, Vermont that advertised Polar Bear Bread Flour for 85 cents and “the best price on Occident Flour in the State by the barrel.”

      1. I’ll take a barrel of flour. Seriously, this makes me think about how people often purchased flour in much larger quantities years ago when families were often larger and when they regularly baked bread at home. I have vague memories of hearing that flour was sometimes sold in sacks that were made of colorfully printed cloth – and that people sometimes made aprons or children’s clothes out of the sacks. People were so frugal back then, and so little was wasted.

  5. Thanks for sharing. I’m assumming it was painted a long time ago, but even if it was painted mid-century, the “costs more – worth it” slogan must have worked for them since it appears to have been used for many years.

    1. I think you are right, Sheryl. To be bought out when you are the 4th largest company in the nation probably indicates they either had really good flour and someone wanted to take them over, or they had really good marketing leading to really good sales and someone wanted to take them over. Apparently, a large part of Occident’s business was to the wholesale trade, like bakers.

      Thank you for such an interesting post that generated a lot of questions and comments. Wouldn’t it be fun if we could ask our Grandmothers who were alive and baking bread in 1923 about flours?

      1. The fact that a large segment of their business was selling to wholesalers and bakers makes me think that they had a high-quality product. Bakers would know what made a good flour. It would be fun if we could ask our grandmothers about baking and which flours they used. There are so many of those little details that get lost over time, yet really convey so much information about the person and the times.

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