Advertising is supposed to convince people that they should buy a product. Sometimes an ad that apparently worked well a hundred years ago doesn’t work quite as well today.
If I wanted to promote salt, I won’t say “white as hoar-frost on pumpkins.” Is it just me, or do others not know what “hoar-frost” is? Of course, I could google the term – but by then I’ve lost all interest in buying the product.
And, would an ad today promote the “sanitary package”?
I often learn new things from doing this blog. For example, today I noticed a small advertisement in a hundred-year-old magazine for Farwell & Rhines Gluten Flour. Since some people have health issues that require them to go gluten free (or at least minimize their use of gluten), I was surprised to see high gluten promoted. How did cooks in 1919 use this flour? . . . Did they mix it with other flours? Use if for bread making?
Gluten is a protein. Flours with higher gluten content rise better when making breads. According to SFGate, all-purpose flour typically contains 11-12% gluten. Bread flour is considered a high gluten flour, and it contains up to 13% gluten. Cake flours only have 7-8% gluten. There are also products sold that are just called “gluten.” Gluten is sometimes added to other flours to increase the gluten content when making bread.
Old advertisements provide lots of information about which cooking ingredients were available at different periods of time – and they also sometimes provide information about how those goods were packaged. The waxed paper wrapper surrounding the Swans Down Cake Flour package was obviously seen as a key selling point in this 1919 advertisement.
Today some people believe that coconut milk has health benefits. A hundred years ago, advertisers were also promoting the use of coconut milk – but to save milk and shortening. Coconut milk could be substituted for the milk and some of the fat in recipes. Back then coconut apparently came in cans which contained a mixture of shredded coconut and coconut milk – and cooks had to drain the coconut (and find uses for the coconut milk).
I was surprised to see an advertisement for refrigerators in a 1919 issue of Ladies Home Journal. Was the refrigerator electric? And, was the electricity dependable enough to ensure that food stayed cold in the refrigerator?
I’m often amazed by the advertisements that I find in hundred-year-old magazines. Some of the most fascinating ones are the small advertisements in the back of a magazine that individuals with entrepreneurial aspirations place. For example, I never would have thought about selling a recipe for toothpaste . . . but maybe I lack imagination. I wonder how many recipes he sold.