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!

1920 Hormel’s Dairy Brand Bacon Advertisement

Advertisement for Hormel's Dairy Brand Bacon
Source: Good Housekeeping (June, 1920)

When browsing through hundred-year-old magazines I occasionally come across advertisements that make little sense. Today was one of those days. This advertisement for Hormel’s Dairy Brand Bacon left me with more questions than answers.

  • Why is a pork product called “Dairy Brand”?
  • What is the food the woman in the ad is holding, and does it contain bacon?
  • Did this advertisement increase sales? . . . or did it totally flop?

1920 Egg Preservation Method Advertisement

Advertisement showing eggs in stoneware crocks
Source: Good Housekeeping (April, 1920)

Chickens generally lay more eggs at some times of the year than others. Historically there was a plethora of eggs during the Spring, and they could be purchased very inexpensively – and eggs were much scarcer and more costly during the winter months.

As a result, people often preserved eggs using the water glass method. They mixed water and water glass (hydrated lime) together in large stoneware crocks or jars. Eggs were then placed in the liquid to preserve them.

According to a 1920 advertisement by the Stoneware Manufacturers Association (who would have guessed that there was a Stoneware Manufacturers Association) which represented the manufacturers of the crocks:

Eggs properly preserved in stoneware jars will keep fresh as the day they were laid for 8 to 12 months. 

When I googled water glass eggs, I discovered that some people still use this method to preserve eggs. For example, Homesteading Family and Timber Creek Farmer each have posts about how to use the water glass method.

1920 Food Cost Comparison

Several foods (Quaker Oats, meats, eggs, muffins, potatoes, custard) with a cost comparison beneath them
Source: From a Quaker Oats advertisement, American Cookery, January, 1920

Food is expensive today. A hundred years ago people also worried about the high price of food. A 1920 Quaker Oats advertisement compared the costs of different foods, and (of course) determined that Quaker Oats was an inexpensive source of calories. Somehow I don’t think that the relationship between calories and cost would be featured in an advertisement today . . . but on second thought, maybe it still works. Not sure.

1920 Coffee Trade Association Advertisement

promotional advertisement for coffee
Source: Good Housekeeping (1920)

Is drinking coffee a good or bad habit? People have been asking this question for more than a hundred years.  A 1920 promotional advertisement by a coffee trade association called the Coffee Trade Publicity Committee of the United States claimed that the debate was over – and that coffee is good for us. 

However, a quick online search suggest that the trade association was over-optimistic, and, that the debate continues. According to the Mayo Clinic there are both benefits and risks related to drinking coffee:

Coffee may offer some protection against:

  • Parkinson’s disease
  • Type 2 diabetes
  • Liver disease, including liver cancer
  • Heart attack and stroke

Coffee still has potential risks, mostly due to its high caffeine content. For example, it can temporarily raise blood pressure. Women who are pregnant, trying to become pregnant or breastfeeding need to be cautious about caffeine. High intake of boiled, unfiltered coffee has been associated with mild increase in cholesterol levels.