Song of the Magic Cheese Chips

Decidedly unusual?
Well, yes, we all agree
A chip that’s made of Magic Cheese
Whatever that may be

Is not the usual sort of thing
You drop into hot grease
But this will make you smile all day
For profits will increase.

“No complicated work” unless
Hot oil’s not your métier
Or unless a bubbling vat of orange
Bits gives you dismay.

No house-to-house! No large machines!
The stores will sell for you -
A goldmine made of Magic Cheese
For men – and women, too.

A big and fluffy mystery chip
Is what any bon vivant
Desires in a delightful snack:
It’s just what people want!

Yes folks, this is the very thing
For easy part-time pay -
This frying gig relaxes you
After scrubbing pots all day.

What’s in this Magic Cheese, you ask?
We really cannot tell
It’s orange and it’s salty
Perhaps that rings a bell.

Thank you Heather for the ad. I’ve seen some other fun Magic Cheese Chip ads, all from the early 1930s, so I guess this one is from then, too.

Tennis Fun With Dick and Jane

Dick and Jane are playing tennis. But they are not having any fun. Even though tennis is quite good fun.

What can be the matter?

Oh look. Dick has spotted Beth on the next court. Beth is smiling at the tennis instructor. See Beth’s teeth sparkle in the sunlight!

Dick is really checking out Beth. Boy oh boy, what a smile! Now Dick is smiling too. He does not notice Jane.

Uh oh, Dick. Jane is mad as a wet hen.

Dick is not thinking clearly today. Otherwise he would not say that he finds Beth’s smile quite fetching. No, Dick, no. Jane does not like this sort of conversation.

But Dick blunders on. He suggests that Jane use Dr. West’s Toothpaste. Just like Beth does. Then Jane will have white teeth. Dick thinks that this advice will make Jane happy.

But Jane is not happy. She has had this problem with Dick before. She says: so this time it’s her smile that you admire! Dick is a two-time loser.

Why look at Beth again, Dick? Why, Dick, why? You know that Jane is going to hit you with her tennis racket any second now.

But Dick is enchanted with Dr. West’s Toothpaste. He cannot help himself. Dr.West’s Toothpaste, after all, is Double-Quick.

Just like Jane and her tennis racket.

See Dick duck and run for cover. Run, Dick, run.

[From Ad Access, where there is a bigger version.]

The Mysterious Cupcake

I cannot resist a good bit of over-the-top hyperbole – especially when it comes with a surprise filling. This ad takes the cake, as it were. It was written by a frustrated poetic genius. He was also suffering from a sugar high, not surprisingly.

These little cakes are paradoxical: on the one hand, they only cost a dime and you can scarf them down while you watch Howdy Doody or stuff them in your lunchbox with that tired bologna sandwich. And they come in a cellophane wrapper. Very pedestrian, really.

On the other hand, consider “The Famous Hostess Secret-Blend Flavor of Chocolate from the African Gold Coast and the Blue-Green Jungles of Brazil.” These Hostess people are serious gourmets, traveling the world to perfect their snack cakes. I guess you could almost believe this, as long as you hadn’t actually tasted them.

And the Twinkies? They taste like they were baked “in a heavenly oven.” You’d think they might want to put that sort of thing in a fancy box – not cellophane.

But then we come to the mystery of the filling, which Hostess likes to refer to as the “surprise inside.” Oh, what can that be, do tell? Why, it is something referred to as “creamed-filling.” Not cream. Creamed. Creamed something-or-other. Nobody is sure what it is. Aside from its being – surprising. Is it something the Hostess master chefs found in their culinary travels to the Blue-Green Jungles of Brazil? Whatever it is, they aren’t saying.

[From Life, June 11, 1956, big version right here.]

Dobbs’ Loud Hat

Suburban Zeppo, he’s gone too far
He’s just a turkey in a big pink car;
His suit is shiny, the wheels slide
Suburban 30s guy is going for a ride

But his old tweed suit is too demure –
A Gamebird hat from Dobbs is thus de rigeur
Splish splash, field and streamwards he will dash
The economy of fashion
Is an unforgiving passion -

Dobbs Loud Hat is a Town and Country steal
You will buy, you will buy, you will surely buy
Dobbs Loud Hat comes in Mallard, Grouse and Teal
Don’t ask why, don’t ask why, just go out and buy

In Newmarket
And Hopatcong
They all know that it won’t be long
He counts his pennies
As he had oughter
And draws fedoras on his nice desk blotter -

The Dobbs are ready, they’re in the store
They’re $7.50, why not buy three or four?
Or special order them, you’ll look so fierce!
The Dobbs Hat will fit over your ears.

Dobbs Loud Hat makes a man look really silly
But he’ll buy, don’t ask why, it’s no use to try
Add a yellow Ascot, the excuse is being chilly,
And he’ll buy, by and by, ads would never lie…

[From Life, November 6, 1939; am also making fun of "King's Lead Hat" by Brian Eno, from the album Before and After Science (1977) - an old college favorite of mine. I didn't parody the whole thing because I didn't want to test anyone's patience too much!]

Touché, Trushay!

Mind that plate, won’t you, while you’re checking out your manicure. And just so you know, an early model (i.e., Pre-Rhinestone-Age) Liberace is lurking there behind you. I have a different take on the Efficient You versus the Enchanting You, though:

Efficient Me:

I stumble into the kitchen in old jeans and a T shirt and cardigan. Observe that there are dishes in the sink, a cat meowing in front of its food and water (which look fine to me, but not to her), and all sorts of stuff on the table. What is that stuff, anyway? Huh. Maybe I should do those dishes. Maybe I should think about dinner. I look in the fridge and wonder what’s in the plastic containers. What’s for dinner, what, what? Try and think. But I am busy thinking about mystery plotlines and something I saw in the Brooklyn Daily Eagle in 1883 and how we’re almost out of laundry detergent and – aw, forget it…

Enchanting Me:

Hey, I “want to look my best for a BIG evening.” Sure, why not? What’s that, anyway? Takeout sushi and the Olympics on TV, probably. Maybe I will wear my formal jeans (no patches) and that T shirt I got secondhand that says “Vancouver 2010″ on it. I could try and find that T shirt, I guess. I think it’s in a drawer somewhere. And I am supposed to use Trushay hand lotion, because it will make me look Enchanting. Cannot find any Trushay lotion, as it is from 1950s. Will make do with whatever is around house. St. Ives is around, I think. Not enchanting, but it probably works. Wander off stage right, hunting for takeout menu and hand lotion.

[1950 ad is from Ad Access, where there's a big version.]

Mind the Airplane, Gertrude!

Boy, that airplane is flying a little close, isn’t it? The happy orange people have not seen it, though. They are just too busy enjoying their very own Pleasure Island which Dr. Pepper gave them. That’s not a bad gift, coming from a little can of soda, is it?

This is the sentence they want us to complete. Best answer takes the island (it’s in the Bahamas, apparently):

Dr. Pepper heads the list of things I’d want on my Pleasure Island because….

(a) …because otherwise I won’t win the island, will I?
(b) …because it tastes better than salt water!
(c) …because it is the perfect beverage to drink with whatever we catch or fruits that bonk us on the head.

On a closer reading, I think you are just getting a trip there – not the title deed to the island or anything. But still. That could be good. However, Dr. Pepper is not heading my particular List of Things to take to an island retreat. My list includes Things like a Kindle, dark chocolate, a reservation for luxury accommodation and a boatful of money. Oh, and Diet Coke with Lime, sorry, Dr. Pepper. (Guess I would not have won this, anyway, I wasn’t even born yet!)

How about you? What do you want to have the most on your island retreat?

[From Life, June 23, 1961, big version over here.] 

A Spoon For the Misbegotten

-Gee honey, that’s swell. Look at that spoon! You are incredible!

-Yes, I can balance a spoonful of cereal right on one finger, see?

-I can’t take my eyes off it! And if my hair wasn’t slicked down with half a bottle of Crisco, it would be standing on end.

-Want to know my secret?

-Of course, dear.

-I put a dab of Elmer’s glue on my index finger first. And now -


-I’m…just going to stay like this. It’s quite fascinating. And – the Rice Krispies are really very…light. Nutritious, but – well, light.

-How are you planning to eat them? I mean, if the spoon’s glued to your finger and all.

-I’m not planning to. Because – well, dear, maybe you didn’t notice this but…the stylist for this photo shoot didn’t use milk in our bowls.

-No? Why not? What stylist?

-Dear, this is an ad. Don’t tell me you didn’t know that! And there are a bunch of dry Rice Krispies sitting on top of what looks like yogurt, in our bowls. Those little Krispies sink in milk, you know. Well, eventually. And we’ve been sitting here a very long time.

-Wow, honey, you sure know a lot about breakfast! And science. Yogurt, huh?

-Or maybe they found my stash of Elmer’s Glue in the cupboard. I can’t take my eyes off the spoon so I wouldn’t know.

[Rice Krispies ad from Life, July 9, 1956; Elmer's ad from Popular Mechanics, May 1952.]

The Kreml Three Stooges’ Valentine’s Day

Well, which Valentine are you?


A love of Brylcreem and of oil
Will any head of hair bespoil
Moe adds a mustache and is able
To look like a shiny fake Clark Gable.*


Larry is terribly confused
And his hair is also much bemused
To see him in an awful rush:
He has not thought about a brush.


No nyuk-nyuk-nyuk will come from him
His humor is quite stark and grim
Because his hat is smaller than his nostril
And as a cover-up is prepostril.


Then there’s the guy whose hair’s a dreaml
Who smiles and primps and likes to beaml
He has a lot of self-esteeml
Because of course he uses  Kreml.

Happy V-Day from the Ersatz Three Stooges, and, of course, Kreml shampoo!

* Please note that at the bottom of the ad they say that Kreml is 80% olive oil! So how is that going to help Moe?

This 1942 ad is from Ad Access. Large version here.

The Kleenex Habit

If only Helen had made a habit of Kleenex, instead of – goodness, what HAS she been using to blow her nose? Those burlap handkerchiefs were clearly a big mistake. And now she has a Heavy Date. What can she do, besides coat her honker in layers of pancake makeup?

Luckily, she has – as do all 40s-ads cartoon gals – a “helpful” friend hanging around her boudoir.Who let her in, anyway? Did she climb through the window? At first I thought this was Helen’s mother, but her mother definitely would know what was wrong (see #3).  Here’s a quick guide to being a 40s Ad Friend:

1. Point out the obvious: “Gracious, Helen, your nose is red…”

2. Don’t forget the unnecessary insult: “…as a stoplight!”

3. And then the – dare we say, nosy – follow-up: “What’s wrong?” Bonus points: sound as if you are hoping for a Juicy Story.

4. Look appalled and bored at the answer: “That’s what a cold does to me…raw red nose and dozens of hankies to wash.” Eww, thanks for sharing.

5. Insult your friend’s intelligence by acting as if she was a complete moron not to know about the Advertised Product: “Silly! Don’t you know Kleenex Tissues are soft and easy on your nose during colds?”

6. Bonus insult: “Kleenex ends washing, too!” So don’t put them through the wash, Helen, duh.

7. Wait for the desperate acceptance: “I’ll try anything! I’ll die if I’m not at my best for Prom!” Hand over giant sized box/tube/bottle of Advertised Product. (Odd note: Helen is already dressed up for the Prom, so the Kleenex won’t help unless she makes a fake nose out of it and wears that.)

8. Cue the Happy Ending (Friend either disappears or becomes disembodied head): Date is (ironically enough) attracted to the very feature/thing/body part that the Moron was all worried about. Wow, he is so attracted to her “cute pug nose.” And then she jokes that she “won by a nose.” These two are made for each other: witty, Kleenex-loving, and obsessed with noses.

9. The Dénouement: Friend or Strange Lady We Never Saw Before tells us one last thing about the product. Like, for example: you can have Kleenex in your car! In a special Auto-Serv dispenser. Helen’s date probably has several of these in his little roadster. He’d better.

[From Life, February 19, 1940; big version here.]

The Sinister Hat Check

He was young just a moment ago.

He knew it had been a mistake to meet his blind date at a bar called the Last Follicle. Even though he had put on his favorite little hat. Walked into the joint with wavy locks even a pre-Delilahfied Samson would have envied. All the girls loved his hair. Everyone did, really. He was the King of the Gigolos, he used to tell people; he enjoyed seeing the annoyed looks cross their jealous faces.

Blind Date Sally had asked, how will I know you, Sam? He’d said: “Oh, I have really long, luxurious wavy hair – the color of autumn chestnuts. In fact, it’s the best hair you’ve ever seen.”

And she had laughed and said: “Autumn chestnuts, huh? We’ll see about that.”

Then she suggested a little club he’d never been to. Said it was the hippest place in town, where all the models went. That would get him over there in a hurry, she thought.

He walked through the door of the strange little club, down at the end of Boiled Egg Alley.

Walking into the Last Follicle was his first mistake. But using the check-room was the second. A little voice said: “Sam, look out now, do not check your hat!” He looked around. “In here,” said the voice. “This is your pocket comb talking. I’m warning you, buddy, stay out of here! This place is dangerous!”

But he didn’t listen. He wouldn’t listen. I can do whatever I like, he thought: why, I’m Sam Samson, owner of the best head of hair in Chrome City. He looked into his pocket and glared. “Shut up,” he said to the comb. “Just shut up.” The hat check girl stifled a giggle. 

But he left his youth in the check-room along with his hat

Sally was not pleased. Her plucked eyebrows alone were angry enough for five ordinary women. “You disregarded the warning your comb gave you when it carried away your hair,” she said – which was one way of saying hello, perhaps.

“You read Kreml ads, I see,” Sam said. “Your dialogue is stilted, sister. And anyway, there’s something strange about this place.”

“It happens to be under the management of the Kreml Company,” Sally said. “And I am their top saleswoman.” She pulled a big bottle of Kreml from her tiny evening bag (how she did that he could not say). “Try this. It will make your hair behave without giving that sticky gigolo look.”

“Oh, so that’s your racket.”

“Yes, if there’s one thing I can’t stand it’s a sticky gigolo. And a girl has to be careful these days.” She stood up and smiled a scary little smile. “Bye bye, Sam. I think you’ll find that when you leave, if you put your hat on very carefully  – and behave yourself with all those girls who like Byronic curls on a fellow – you might just get your hair back on the way home. Just – remember: skip the gigolo bit. And use Kreml – lots and lots of Kreml.”

Sam grabbed his hat and jammed it on his head as he ran up Boiled Egg Alley. And from deep within his coat pocket he heard muffled laughter.

[From Ad Access. Giant version here.]