Wesson Oil has been around for more than a hundred years – though its composition has changed over time. It originally was a cottonseed oil. Today it is a mixture of oils, and may contain soybean oil, corn oil, canola oil, or sunflower oil.
I tend to think that there were no commercially prepared foods in the mid-1800s – but I’ve learned that’s not true. Some food products have been around for more than 150 years. According to a 1917 advertisement, Gulden Mustard is one of those foods.
When browsing through hundred-year-old cookbooks, I sometimes see fireless cooker recipes. Until I saw this 1916 advertisement for a Rapid Fireless Cooker I couldn’t quite figure out how they worked.
Fireless cookers were the crockpots of their day, and were quite popular in the early 1900’s. Food was first heated on the stove and then placed into a heavily insulated container to continue cooking.
Today we know that “breast is best” when it comes to feeding infants, but that formula is often used. I know of no one who would give an infant cows’ milk, but apparently a hundred years ago there was a discussion about whether the milk from one breed of cows was preferable to another for babies.
I have vague childhood memories of people telling me that Puffed Rice was good for me because it was made by shooting the rice grains from a cannon – though I was clueless as to why shooting the grain made it more nutritious. Well, now I know; it’s easier to digest. The cannon (or gun) promotion for Puffed Rice has been around for a long time. I found this ad in a hundred-year-old magazine.
Sometimes I’m in awe of (or perhaps a better wording is “shocked by”) some of the things I find in advertisements from a hundred years ago. This 1916 advertisement for saccharin appeared in a trade magazine for food processors.
Saccharin was banned in 1911 by the Pure Food Referee Board in the U.S. Department of Agriculture. According to an article in National Food Magazine called “The Passing of Saccharin”:
It has a preservative power and is very cheap. But the Referee Board, which has been investigating Saccharin, has found it guilty of causing indigestion and otherwise injuring the system. Therefore, the government has issued a ruling entirely prohibiting its use after July 1.
National Food Magazine (June, 1911)
In 1912, the government reversed the decision and again allowed the use of saccharin, but it remained controversial – thus the advertisement in the trade magazine explaining why saccharin “won”.
Are branded goods that are promoted with advertising of higher quality than similar “no-brand” items? That’s a question that has been around for at least a hundred years. Here’s a 1917 National Biscuit Company (Nabisco) ad which argues that consumers should, “Buy advertised goods – Do not accept substitutes.”