The Dancing Bellboy

Hard to believe that the manufacturers in Fargo, North Dakota really thought that this Dancing Bellboy was “your chance to ‘MAKE IT’ in 1951.” Note that “MAKE IT” is in quotation marks. They’re covering themselves. They know that the road to fame and fortune is not likely to be populated with little Dancing Bellboy toys.

The C.A.M. Distributing Company (which was short, no doubt, for Creepy And Misbegotten) made this horrid little thing. They thought that it “looks ALIVE…acts ALIVE.”

Everyone else was thinking: cheap marionette, jiggling on a table.

How was this supposed to be educational? What would it teach you? How to carry luggage? How to demand tips? Not really. Or how to dance jerkily on top of a table? Possibly. But this is not something that one needs to know to succeed in life.

In fact, if you really want to “MAKE IT,” perhaps you do not want to emulate the Dancing Bellboy. Maybe, like George Costanza, you should do the opposite!

So: Not Entertaining! Not Educational! It was New, though. They got that bit right, at least.

From Billboard, March 21, 1951.

A Lion Is Forever

A man in silly oversized goggles and a karate uniform

    is my love, apparently.

Red in the face and all too sure of himself.
And now he’s going to make me ride
On a motorcycle that spews
Orange clouds of exhaust which,
However groovy the graphic style
Still look bad for the air.

Also the wheels on his motorcycle
Have been cut in half
So we probably won’t be emulating Easy Rider
Any time soon.
We are stuck here, as a matter of fact
Not far out at all.

But most of all
I keep thinking:
Why is there a huge wild animal
Hanging out in the sidecar?
And just because Orange Dude
Gave me a big old diamond
Does that mean I also promised
To travel around with a lion?

[From the University of Virginia American Studies digital collection (and thank you to them, of course), link here.]

Aldora the Explorer

This woman is not on the go, not really.

The stick figures are not all that energetic either. It’s about all they can do to pose with luggage or walk past a counter holding a clutch bag.

So unless Aldora can show me someone running a 5k in July, or doing a week’s grocery shopping with a small child hanging off one of her legs saying “Mommy, I want cookieeeess!” at the same time as she is pushing one of those carts with one stuck wheel (causing it to make sharp unexpected turns into displays of stacked cans) – I will not be convinced of its efficacy.

And I don’t think the woman in the ad is really convinced.

Having said that, she isn’t convinced about the running or the groceries, either.

Thank you Hairfinder for finding this retro hair ad! They say it is of 1960s vintage, I am thinking it’s from the first half of the decade.

Magical Mystery Meal

Her: Darling, what is this doing here?

Him: Well, sugar – I thought…I thought you might know. I don’t even really know what it is.

Her: Do you think the cook made this? Is this supposed to be – dinner? And why is it right in front of me? I can hardly open my eyes up to get a good look at it.

Him: Maybe that fifth coat of mascara was a mistake.

Her: Maybe you should come here and deal with this instead of hiding behind me. It’s only something strange in a bowl. Just like lots of meals around here! But – what is it?

Him: You know I don’t deal with anything in the kitchen, my little overly-made-up pumpkin. I just show up at the table, clutching my jacket and looking like I just ate a lemon on a cocktail stick. Why you serve lemons for a snack with our martinis I’ll never know.

Her: To prepare you for the delicious main course, evidently. Darling.

The Bowl: This is Stouffer’s Frozen Creamed Chicken.

Him: Good Lord, that – thing is talking to us!

Her: At least we know what it is now.

The Bowl: You Taste A Priceless Difference! That’s what the tagline says, right under me. See it?

Her: Priceless difference indeed! I’m just going to pick up this spoon to defend myself.

Him: I’ll be down at the club, I think. I’ll just grab something to eat there.

The Bowl: Hey lady, I like what you’re wearing. It’s the same color as my packaging. Just one suggestion, though. The mascara -

Her: I know, I know. Too much.

The Bowl: Yeah, it’s a little over the top. Just like the Stouffer’s I’ve got going on. I think I might go change. Maybe you could put down the spoon and get me a martini for when I get back. And hold the lemons, please.

[I found this 1962 ad over at TJS Labs Graphic Design, for which I thank then very much.]

A Lovely Swank Tie

Different and glorious
Truly uproarious
Lovely swank wrinkle-proof tie

Amaze all your friends
With the means and the ends
Of your quest to become a cool guy.

Amazing, spectacular
Glowing vernacular
Questioning yes no or maybe:

You’re a guy who thinks girls
Adore glow-in-dark churls
And appreciate being called “baby.”

This tie is so bold
Leaping into the fold
Of what guys think no girl can resist:

Glowing letters appear
But the “me” is unclear:
Is the guy or the tie to be kissed?

Either way, it’s a No.
Any girl will say so,
But here is some wonderful news:

The most tacky of ties
Distracts even sharp eyes
From the hideous state of your shoes.

Another fabulous find from Chicago, Popular Science, March 1945.

In The Doghouse

Once more, here is the tragic story of someone who isn’t using the right soap, or in this case, the right toothpaste – and thereby puts his or her entire social life in jeopardy.

Sometimes that’s just an excuse though. Because a lack of Colgate is not the only problem with Not So Hot Dan (the Non Mustard Man*). How does he fall short?

- Well, the dog says that Dan “pulled a boner.” Ahem. All right then. Back in the day, this was slang for “made a mistake.” But still.

-Stuffing oneself into a doghouse is also a mistake. This has nothing to do with dental hygiene.

-Taking advice from a bossy child named Cookie.

-Oh, and from the 1957 version of Triumph the Insult Comic Dog.

-And finally, for not brushing his teeth in the first place.

-And for wearing a silly yet boring red bow tie. Boring because it does absolutely nothing! Tomorrow I’ll show him (and you) the sort of tie he ought to be wearing. After he goes out and buys some Colgate, of course.

This delightful comic strip ad dates from 1957 and comes from the equally delightful Medicine and Madison Avenue collection. You can see it clearly over there, sorry about that. I’ve been trying to get it to scan better but as you see, not with a huge amount of success.

* My dear pal Heather sent me another Hot Dan ad and it is fabulous! I am working on writing something worthy of it. It is really excellent.

Some Like It Fake

Some like pie
Some like cake
And some like cherries
That are startlingly fake

They probably were real once
And hanging off a tree
But that was back before the war,
A distant memory.

They are sitting in a syrup
The consistency of glue
They’ve been soaking up that bright red dye
Since 1942

But here they come packed in a can
The model of convenience
A constant in each cake and pie
Despite the changing seasons.

So practical these cherries are,
That if your lights should blow
Your guests will locate their dessert
By its phosphorescent glow.

Image from Graphic Design Institute, link here (hope they don’t mind – please let me know if you do, Graphic Design Institute, I don’t see any contact info anywhere). The ad is originally from Ladies’ Home Journal, November 1950.

The Sales Hit Of 1952

What sort of parties are these people going to, anyway? Look at them all clustered around a guy with a change purse made out of – an argyle sock. It is a real, genuine sock too. Not a fake sock. That is good to know, when you are showing it off.

Plus I suppose you could buy two and wear them when you run out of clean laundry. Only the Standard Purse Frames might be a bit uncomfortable.

All your new friends will go “tee hee,” it looks like. Oh, tee hee! A Sock-O-Purse! What a “laff riot”! And a “Teen-Age fad sensation.”

And practical, too! Because you can – ahem – sock away the profits in it. Get it? Huh? Well, do you? Boy, that’s a riot, Alice. Tee hee!

From Billboard, January 28, 1952.

The Heavenly Twinplex

Hey, lady! Yeah, you with the odd staring expression. You know what you should get your guy for Father’s Day? A razor blade sharpener, that’s what. He will use and appreciate it daily!

Unless he has a beard. In that case, he probably won’t use it at all. And he might not appreciate it.

And you – hey, you, mister! I guess you belong to the lady: you have both been stunned by the same zombie curse. In which case…should she really be getting you a Twinplex? It is pretty sharp. And you don’t look ready to handle something dangerous.

Still, clip this ad! Oh wait – you are going to need scissors for that. Sharp scissors. Maybe you should just tear out the ad as best you can. Then leave it where she’ll see it. Hmmm. But she’s walking around in a hypnotic state. She wouldn’t notice a clipping even if it was dancing on top of the piano singing “Tie Me To Your Apron Strings.”

Maybe you’d better just put the ad right in front of her face and shout, “I want a Twinplex!”

Then you can tell her the secret you have learned: a sharp blade shaves better. Wow, that is an amazing truth! And usually you have to pay at least fifty cents to get secrets like this. Why, just look how happy the guy at the bottom is. Is that shaving cream on his face or a Santa Claus beard? And he has the same staring eyes as the couple at the top. I believe that has something to do with the Twinplex.

I think he may be sharpening a pencil with it. Because after you shave, you just want to go on using it and bragging about it. I think we must have had a Twinplex bolted to the walls of every classroom in elementary school.

Happy Father’s Day!

Another fine product from Chicago, from Popular Mechanics, June 1946.

The Quickie Vacation

“There’s a brand new trend in travel…the ‘Quickie Vacation’ by Greyhound!”

In this Greyhound bus
There is plenty of leg room
And elbow room, too.

Housework won’t alarm
This beatific fashion plate
Nor yet tie her down.

But such happiness
Never was found on a bus:
The subtext must be

That this is a dream
Trip in grey land with pink trees
And reality

Is her daydreaming,
Sitting on the crosstown bus
That’s stuck in traffic:

Quickie vacation?
Only until she gets back home,
And ties it back on.

Ad from 1947, from Ad Access.