The Eleven Minute Blonde

Anyone older than 42 is out of luck, and anyone younger than two – is lucky. That’s the way this powdered hair dye works! You must be between those ages. Because by the time you’re two, well – you’d better start thinking about how your hair’s darkening. That’s no good! That would be “old-looking.” Of course, so’s a toddler with a Jean Harlow peroxide job, but no matter…

So here’s Blondex, a “fragrant powder” (oh goody, it doesn’t stink!). Apparently those of us whose blonde hair darkened as they got older have a “dingy, dust-laden film” that Blondex will remove. This is akin to the men’s Grecian-Formula type things that “restore your natural color” or “comb away grey.” It isn’t your true destiny to have dark blonde or light brown hair! You must lighten and brighten. Starting almost as soon as you have a full head of hair!

The two year old looks skeptical. She’s the brains of the operation. She is also thinking that the 12 year old’s bow is mighty silly. She may have to grab it.

The twelve year old has Blondexing for ten years, I guess. The frozen happy-face is a just a side effect. As is a desire to be the new 1940s model Shirley Temple.

The elderly-looking 22 year old is the happiest one of the bunch. She loves that Blondex all right. Her hair is unwaveringly blonde and can withstand a hurricane. That’s happiness all right.

Finally, the 42 year old is – well, kind of thinking things over. She hasn’t got much time left to be happy and blonde. Enjoy it while you can, once you hit 43 it’ll be all over.

I am very thrilled and pleased to tell you (hanging head modestly) that Kitchen Retro has been chosen as a SlogBite Featured Site. SlogBite is a terrific community of bloggers run by the amazing Mel Kaye, and I highly recommend that you go and check it out. There are lots of wonderful bloggers hanging out over there and it is a beautifully run place.

What The Ox Is Really Thinking

1. “This guy is the worst conversationalist I have ever seen!”

2. “And he claims to have won every staring contest he’s ever had. Wow, I am SO impressed. Not.”

3. “I guess he would’ve made a good snack, at least – except for the fact that someone marinated him in – what is that stuff called? – Vitalis.”

4. “This advertisement is unfair to musk ox. I have gorgeous hair. But that’s because I use Halo, of course. In the beautiful gold bottle.”

Halo Kitty

A Susan Boyle moment of the mid-1950s: great singing voice, too bad about that hair.

Here we have two lovely, gossiping ladies (the 1954 version of internet commenters) saying: “Isn’t it a pity about stringy-haired little Kitty!* The other Kallen kids are so cute!”

These ladies are pros. They can diss people in rhyme! They are the ones who should be up there in front of the microphone, doing a little ladylike retro rapping.

But it transpires that even Kitty thinks no one likes a singer with “gruesome hair.” Honestly, Kitty, it looks OK to me. But once she discovers the right shampoo her hair “is as big a hit” as her voice. Which means – what, exactly? Does it sing too? Or rap?

Now, that would be worth buying a bottle of Halo for. Definitely.

[*Kitty Kallen was a popular singer of the 1940s and 50s, best known for her 1954 hit "Little Things Mean A Lot."]

Advertisement (1954) from Ad Access. There’s a big version there, so you can read the whole saga if you like (if I make the images too big here, it’ll take about an hour to load the site, so…I don’t). But you can probably imagine it from here.

The Dreft Dodger

“Mom? Mom? Oh fine, she’s hypnotized herself with that glass again. Now I can stop putting these stupid yellow dishes away and get back to my real work: hanging out the window yelling to my friends, inviting everyone over for drippy ice cream sundaes in my room, and putting makeup on the dog!”

Yes, Mother is so thrilled by Dishwashing Power and Beauty Mildness that she’ll be out of commission for some time.

Just remember to get her out of that trance state in a hour because she needs to start production on the tuna noodle casserole. Otherwise it’s TV dinners all around!

Guess where this slightly wrinkly ad is from. Oh, take a guess…Yeah, I’m still mining that archeological find. I’ve got plenty. And this is a huge improvement, wrinkle-wise, from the state it was in. Just saying!

Noxzema Haiku

A poor complexion
Is no reason to give up:
Spotty chins up, girls.

No need to look glum
As last week’s Sunday paper
Left out in the rain.

Just buy a big pot
Of medicated white cream -
It’s called Noxzema!

O wondrous potion
That makes unsightly skin glow
With happy smoothness!

Girls, this stuff is grand,
Life-changing for thousands who
Were thrilled beyond words!

So go out right now
And spend some money, honey:
Go buy lots and lots

Of you-know-what cream.
And very soon you will smile
Pretty much non-stop.

Yes, it is that good.
No, the supplies will not last:
Get cracking, sister.

Advertisement from Song Hits magazine, February 1942. So you could sing a little song on the way to the drugstore, you see. Through the paper bag over your head. You know the Before Girl is thinking about doing that.

The Picture Stays In the Ring

Think of all the fun you could have with this – you could use a candid photo of someone making a funny face, or eating spaghetti, or sticking their tongue out at the camera. That would make a nice ring!

Or you could use a photo of your cat. I would like that one, actually. Just send them a picture and a paper ring in your size. And then let’s hope they don’t just paste the photo on the paper ring and send it back.

Then after you get your ring you can start selling photo rings to all your friends and MAKE MONEY.

Please note that if you or your friends are Canadian they have to send an extra 48 cents. Why is that? Why the penalty for throwing the rings across the border? Are they tossing the packages across Niagara Falls? Are they portaging across the Canadian Shield? And why 48 cents rather than 50?

This 1942 advertisement is from my latest find – a magazine called Song Hits, which I found in a bin of sheet music in an old bookstore yesterday. It is full of bizarre lyrics to popular songs (one-hit wonders all, never to reappear again!), plenty of peculiar little ads, and a man on the cover making the funniest face I have seen in a long time (and that is saying something). I might scan that cover for tomorrow. The best $2.50 purchase ever! And I didn’t even have to pay a 48 cent tax, since it was already here in Canada!

The Box From Another World

One day it just appeared on the coffee table. We weren’t sure who had given us the black box, or why. “It might be from another dimension,” Marvin said. I said he’d been watching too many bad movies.

Shiny, plastic, inscrutable, it sat on our coffee table. We left it there for days. Didn’t talk much about it. Tried to ignore it. But there it sat – that black box. “Wonder what’s in it,” I said. “We’d better not open it,” Marvin said. “Anything could be in there.”

We puzzled over it. It really gave our brain cells a workout, I tell you. It sat there – sinister and waiting – for a week.

One day we just couldn’t take the stress anymore. “I’m just going to flip that switch,” I said. It was just making me mad, is all. It was driving us crazy. You don’t know how crazy. We were fighting over little things. Couldn’t sleep, thinking about the box. Making lists of who might’ve sent it. Maybe Marvin’s Aunt Lucy, who had never forgiven him for leaving the milk out overnight all those years ago.

Maybe my old roommate Dolly, who liked practical jokes. She was always putting rubber spiders on my desk. “Maybe it’s Dolly,” I told Marvin finally. “I just have to know. Maybe there’s a note inside. I’ll bet it’s her.”

“Whoever sent it, I just want to know what’s inside. Little puzzles, maybe. Or candy – maybe there is candy inside. Sometimes fancy chocolates, they come in a black box,” I said. If it was candy, it wasn’t from our world, I thought. That made me curious to see, so I flipped the switch and took a few steps back. We waited.

The box had began to jump. “Probably it isn’t candy,” I said. “Maybe Mexican jumping beans?” The lid rose slowly…very slowly. Marvin retreated to the doorway, ready to bolt.

And then the hand reached up out of the Mysterious Box. We stared at it, frozen.

It waved impatiently, like it was hailing an invisible taxi. “Hey you out there!…Yeah you, c’mon, come over here. I’m not gonna bite ya. Not unless you’re a cookie! Har har….Speaking of which – you got anything good to eat?”

“You’re a hand,” I replied, trying to hide my dismay.

“It’s not for me, folks. It’s for him.”

“The big intellectual genius in here.” The hand made a huffing sound. It jabbed a thumb downwards. “He’s been thinking inside the box for too long. He says it makes him hungry.”

Marvin muttered “OK, I’m out of here.” Didn’t see him for three weeks after that, either.

“Well – um, OK. What does he like?” I said. “We have some leftover clam dip, I think.”

“Nope, no good, sorry Charlie! What else? Desserts, how about desserts? He likes chocolate chip cookies. Even graham crackers would do, in a pinch.”

“Sorry. We ate up all the Chips Ahoy last night. But I do have some Jell-O salad, I think. It’s called Ring-Around-The-Tuna.”

The hand shuddered, and made a – well, a very rude gesture. Then it grabbed the switch, turned it to OFF and slid back into the box, slamming the lid behind it.

I didn’t want to touch the box but I wasn’t staying in the room with it either. Went in the kitchen and had a look at the Ring-Around-The-Tuna. It was a “beautiful jewel-like entree salad,” that what it had said in The Joys of Jell-O. But it was also a powerful weapon against the unknown and unseen.

The Jell-O salad shimmered strangely, looking more luminous than when I had made it – I was sure of that. It was positively glowing. Something was happening. And things were going to be different around the house from now on. I was sure of that, too.

Bee Hive Yourself

For ACTIVE people…a great source of food energy!

…Yeah, and it’s also a great source of energy for hyperactive people, too! I mean, just take a look at what is going on over there on the right.

This gentleman clearly does not need to be consuming any Bee Hive Corn Syrup. In fact, it might be wise to keep him away from sugar of any kind, altogether.

And also away from the furniture, come to think of it.

I really don’t like the perky look in his eye. And he doesn’t seem to be holding the axe properly, from the little I know (I have watched other people split firewood so, yes, big expert here!)

Also, the can of corn syrup is roughly the same size as the tree trunk. We really need to take that away, too. That’s going to be split in two next.

This slightly wrinkly ad is from the 1950 newspaper that was in the basement floor joists until last month, when it was recovered during an archeological expedition which was taking place alongside some renovations. I am going to be ironing and scanning the rest of the paper later today. I hope I can get more wrinkles out than I did with this hyper woodsman and his axe.

An Oily Warning

Dear Beauty Expert:

I am a married woman with a big problem. And his name is Waldo.

Waldo thinks he is some kind of Valentino clone and is constantly giving moody smouldering looks to other girls when we are out at nightclubs and parties. And as you can see from the enclosed photo-bubble, those little floozies are not exactly telling him to go fly a kite!

I have tried everything, Beauty Expert. I have dyed my hair the exact color of a corn muffin. I am a heavy makeup user. I am charming and refined in my celery velvet lounging pajamas. And not only am I gorgeous, but practical, too: I made them out of the boudoir curtains.

Tell me, what can I do to attract Waldo’s attention once and for all?

Signed, Miffed in Manhattan

My dear Miffed,

First of all, go straight out and buy a case of Palmolive soap. Then wash your face with it. Wash it a lot. That ought to impress him, as well as make a dent in the pancake makeup you have got going on there. I am sure you will both feel better when you’re down to the last layer – don’t you?

But you will probably need to follow this up with something a little less subtle.

So the next time you go to the Stork Club, and Waldo starts making eyes at that saucy minx at the next table – try throwing a bar of Palmolive at him (wrapped or unwrapped, that is up to you). Because not only is Palmolive full of oils that make your skin divinely soft, they are just the right size for a glancing blow.

That will make him notice you, all right!

Yours very truly,
A Beauty Expert

[From Ad Access, 1932]

The Emperor Of Jell-O Ice Cream

Comedian Jack Benny wants to know if he likes ice cream. Well, Mary, does he? Of course he does!

And Mary, do you like that plaid jacket? Maybe not so much as Jell-O Freezing Mix, which is New and Amazing. Jack’s jacket, on the other hand, is Old and Appalling.

Jack Benny (1894-1974) was a famous comedian in vaudeville, radio, TV and films. At the time of this ad in the late 1930s, he and his wife, Mary Livingstone (a cousin of the Marx Brothers, and a comedienne in her own right), were starring in the very popular radio show, The Jack Benny Program. Jack was especially known for his violin playing and his comic timing. According to Wikipedia, one of his trademark phrases was (are you ready?) “Well!” I am disappointed that he is not saying that here. Because that is the perfect response to Jell-O mix that is whipped up with some cream and stuck in the freezer.”Well! Will you look at that…frozen stuff.”

That frozen stuff came in “six gorgeous flavors” with varying degrees of authenticity about them. The fruit is real, the walnuts in the stuff Mary’s whipping up, they’re real. Also the vanilla. But the maple flavor? Sorry, it is fake. But then, this is really not ice cream. It is Jell-O pretend ice cream:

Let Jack Benny’s jacket shout its loudest hello/ The only emperor is the emperor of Jell-O.

It’s still National Poetry Month, you know…but I promise I won’t do this every single day. This advertisement is from the Canadian newspaper Saturday Night, August 1939.