Saved By the Bob

Alice and Biff
Scott, Zelda and Monica
Sit glum at this party
Which lacks a harmonica

From New London to Burbank
And Maine to Arizona
Any party’s improved
With the toot of a Hohner.

So they all pine for Bob
Who, alone of this crowd
Not only owns one
But can make it sing loud

How they wish Bob was there
The Victrola won’t do -
And the bathtub gin’s weak
And the mood is dark blue.

Oh, boy! Here comes Bob!
The “Hoorays!” will not stop
Let the tootling begin,
Put an end to this flop.

 [From Popular Mechanics, April 1930 - big version here. Oh, and more party music over here, too. Just imagine the excitement if Ukelele Guy and Bob were at the same party!]

Mrs. Peek To the Rescue!

Mrs. X. has a dilemma:

She can keep working as an Air Raid Warden during World War Two.

Or she can spend the entire day trying to cobble together a Hot Meal for crabby old Jim, a Vincent Price lookalike who is (clearly) used to better things.

Thank goodness for Mrs. Peek’s tinned pudding! Jim thinks that having pudding means that his wife is back on KP. But it doesn’t. She is “still helping her country” (a possible dig at Jim, who seems only to want to look after his stomach) and Mrs. Peek will “look after your dinner.” And that’s how it’s going to be, buster!

This ad has a very different tone than the equivalent American one, over here, doesn’t it? Mrs. X tells it like it is – the Chef Boy Ar Dee lady is placating. I’m with Mrs. X, of course. The link is from the Kitchen Retro archives over at WordPress (I know, I know – I really need to transfer them all over here, but last time I checked you had to do this one post at a time and I keep putting it off).

I am posting a little bit less often, and not always getting to the comments (for which I thank you so much, as always!) – the Dreaded Novel and Real Life are pretty much knocking me for the proverbial loop these days, plus I now have my traditional Out Of Season Cold (hence Monday’s post, BTW). And I also just realized that last week marked the 800th Kitchen Retro post here on Blogger (not including the WordPress detritus) so…I got a little tired thinking of that!

Still, more to come, down the pike – as always!

[Ad from Steve Johnson's Cyber Heritage.]

The Listerine Hootenanny

Sir, if you’ll stop shouting
And pounding the table
I’m sure that your throat
Will feel less unstable

No Listerine rinse
Will assuage your malaise
If you are the type
Who spends all your days

Berating clinicians
And scientific testing;
Just have some hot tea
And try plain old resting.

Now please go away
And try not to stew –
I am sure you’ll feel better
And likewise, us too.

[From Duke University's Medicine and Madison Avenue.]

An Aroma De Luxe

Today’s earth-shattering question: Was Sheik Lure Perfume supposed to lure Valentino-like sheiks, or turn you into one?

The answer: both, of course – depending on whether you were a flapper or a Jazz Age dude.
Either way, you just slicked back your hair, put some kohl around your eyes, and practiced a few sultry looks in the mirror. But you must not forget the Sheik Lure perfume!

And what might that be? It is solid perfume in a “Beautiful Ruby Transparent Case” – in other words, a Red Plastic Case. I don’t know what’s in it but it is powerful stuff – you can Lure Both Sexes with it and “everybody adores it.” You also get a lovely America Sheik and Sheba in a Crystal Glass Dome when you order the perfume – not the two people in the ad, I trust. That guy is goofy looking, not alluring. And the woman is trying to pretend that he isn’t there. So whoever is using the Sheik Lure – it ain’t working.

When your order arrives, pay the postman a dollar. Or else just wave the Sheik Lure in front of him – he will be so entranced, he’ll forget all about collecting the money.

[From Popular Mechanics, June 1924. The movie poster is for the 1921 Valentino movie, which thrilled female audiences - the guys, according to Wikipedia, hated it and would often start laughing during the love scenes. So I don't know if they would buy Sheik Lure perfume.

I Googled Lure Importers but this ad seems to be all that remains of them - I got some fishing lure sites but that is another matter altogether. One hopes. Anyway, please note also that Evanston is just north of CHICAGO! So this gets filed in Retro Chicago, too.]

Perfect Self-Esteem: 1930s Edition

It’s good to go off for the day feeling that you are fine just as you are. But that won’t help the Leg Guys in Chicago* or the Nose People of Newark make any money, now, will it? And it’s 1930, the Depression is upon us – so you’d better go out right now and get these things. Then everyone will be happier. Guaranteed!

First we have some remarkably uncomfortable-sounding aluminum Leg Forms to conceal your bow legs or knock knees – for men only, of course. Don’t wear them when you’re trying to sneak into work late though, because people are going to hear you clanking from miles away.

And if you aren’t feeling enough self-esteem – wait! There’s more! You can also fix that nose of yours. You know you want to. The mysterious Anita Institute (Anita has her own building too) has a gorgeous Anita Nose Adjuster just for you to wear when you’re sleeping. It’s quick, safe and painless – unless you wear it during the day, in which case the pain will be felt by everyone who sees you, because it hurts when you laugh for a long time, doesn’t it? That might mean they need some kind of stomach medicine. You could probably sell them something to offset the cost of the Nose Adjuster and Leg Forms.

There’s another Nose Adjuster over here on my other blog, by the way.

[From Popular Mechanics, April 1930.]

*Three cheers for Chicago!! Yes, where else? Click on the tag “Retro Chicago” to see why it is the Capital of Kitsch and Retro!

The 900 Calorie Diet Drink

A 900 calorie drink? I think we’ve blown the diet right there, actually.

What they mean, when you get down to the small print, is that a quart of this stuff is 900 calories and you slurp on it throughout the day. And that’s it.

But the way the sentence reads, it sounds like one glassful of drink. Can you imagine what they’d have to put in a drink to make it 900 calories? A quart of Haagen Dazs. And Devonshire cream. Oh, and don’t forget the melted chocolate truffles.

But seriously, Borden’s was just ahead of its time. You just know they’re inventing the frappuccino version of this at Starbucks right this second, just in time for summer.

[From Life, June 2, 1961, big version here.]

The Comedy of Kitchen Errors

You know, Sally, it isn’t just those dishwashy hands that are giving you away. Because most people at the PTA meeting haven’t dressed up like they’re going to a ball in Venice during the Renaissance.

Or like the jester in the Levittown Community Theater production of Shakespeare’s lost masterpiece, A Midsummer Night’s Sinkful (too bad it didn’t stay lost).

Sally has some enormous paws too, doesn’t she? Also they have a tendency to “scream.” Yikes. I don’t think that Ivory Soap is going to help her much, do you?

From Ad Access.

Meet the Purple

I must get away from here! Everything is purple in Amesville. Derek’s car, all the signs – and now – sob! – my hair!

What is happening to my hair?! I was a brunette last Tuesday when Derek and I started our wild and reckless Love Story. I realized that he was – well, orange – and only wore orange clothes. But I thought that was fine. And when we went out to dinner, he refused all foods except Kraft Dinner with Spanish onions, followed by tangerines and grapes. He told me it was what all the hip city folk were eating these days and I – I believed him.

And his favorite topic of conversation was how well orange and purple went together. But still, I was in love – and love, you know is color blind. Or something.

If only they would just sell me a ticket on the first bus out of here now, before I turn into a giant eggplant.

[From Cover Browser.]

Rose of Green Pickles

Rose Brand Pickles’ special spicing’s
So entirely enticing
You will hardly notice all the startling green
That permeates the pickle
Bright food coloring all a-trickle
And will never pause to ask “what does it mean?”

In Charlottetown and Guelph
Not a jar’s left on the shelf
Every grocery betrays a pickle shortage
And from Maine to Manitoba
Housewives’ faces grow more sober
As they wonder, is it possible to portage

Through suburban wilderness
For a pickle such as this
Which alone of retro foods that once were sold
Unaltered were quite able
When they stood upon the table
To outshine a Technicolored Jell-O mold.

[Thanks yet again to LiveJournal Vintage Ads.]

EXTRA EXTRA! Please go and visit my friend Chris at The Snack Hound for an in-depth look at the Rose Brand pickle operation!

The Joy Of Pep

Oh, how the twins wish they could date a hottie like Mr. Green! But he only has eyes for Aunt Ollie, Margaret Dumont’s glamorous cousin, in her cunning little hat and mink coat, and her pre-Mamie Eisenhower bangs.

Naturally, the twins want to know how you can attract guys like Mr. Green. They know it isn’t just those Mamie bangs and a disturbingly bright stare. Could it be that Aunt Ollie is vamping like an elderly Theda Bara? Or could it be that she actually wore something other than a bathrobe?

Why, no. It is Aunt Ollie’s breakfast cereal, Pep. We know, say the twins when they learn this amazing secret, you’ve been getting all your vitamins!

To which Aunt Ollie, queen of the subtle put-downs, replies: Plenty of vitamins wouldn’t do you two any harm at all. You two bathrobed sadsacks, garnished lightly with curlers.


Plenty of vitamins? Auntie means really means too many vitamins.  And perhaps some other secret ingredients, too. Just get a load of her in the last panel – she’s practically going into orbit.

From Life, February 6, 1940; big version is here.