Ankling For Business

Just when you thought you had enough to worry about – there’s another bit of your anatomy that needs fixing. Yes, even your ankles are not safe from scrutiny.  And even the perfectly swell looking ankle in the ad – that gets circled and arrowed, too. It is just terrible, you see. 

It must be and will be moulded with Madame Montague’s Ankle Culture System. Heaven only knows how she does this. It is probably best not to ask. For Madame is an Ankle Expert, and wise in the ways of all things that are delicate and perfect. Why, even her brochure is “dainty.”

I found some 1924 ads from Madame, in which she talks about “the embarrassment of thick, shapeless ankles.” Madame, that is not dainty talk at all. And why exactly does your “dainty brochure” needs to be sent “under plain cover”  from Room P.G. (Parental Guidance)? Our ankles may be thick and shapeless but we know something is a little shady when we see the words “under plain cover”!

[This 1925 ad is from LiveJournal Vintage Ads.]

International Can of Mystery

International Cans Life Dec 8 1961Wow, a remarkable new eating experience: dinner out of a can! Aren’t you thrilled already?

And if you have a travel poster in the dining room, it will almost feel like you are in Europe, eating in a Fancy European Bistro.

“People can’t believe they come ready to heat and serve.” Listen up, people: this is food in cans. That is exactly what you do with food in cans: heat it and serve it. No one said you had to actually eat it after that, though. That is optional.

So what is on the menu at your Fancy European Bistro?

Chicken Cacciatore: chicken in sauce

Kottbullar: meatballs in sauce

Beef Stroganoff: canned beef in creamy sauce

Garbanzo Soup: soup with chickpeas

French Onion Soup: soup with onions (no, it will NOT come with the toasted baguette slice and the melted cheese in the can  – one hopes).

The end of the ad asks: “Are there any more Famous Foods of the world coming? Suspicious activities are visible, but test kitchen chefs maintain a discreet silence.”

I’m sure there are plenty of suspicious activities going on in those test kitchens. And I’m not surprised that the chefs don’t want to talk. Austen Powers needs to look into this, because I think Dr. Evil is involved, somehow.

That Lazy No-Good Scalp

Lazy Scalp Life May 26 1941
from Life, May 26, 1941

Oh, it seems so obvious in retrospect. Your scalp used to work so hard, doing – well, whatever a scalp does. Pushing out hairs. Tingling when you did your one hundred brushstrokes a day. It was the boss of your hair, telling it to look shiny and perky when you came near a mirror.

But now? It is LAZY. How do we know this? Because your hair is dull. Lifeless. And talk about hard to manage. Tell your hair to shape up, some mornings – and what does it do? Absolutely nothing. You can almost hear it saying “Um, I’m having a bad day! Leave me alone!”

Or perhaps that is you talking to your reflection. When you have a Bad Hair Day, it really is a Bad Scalp Day. Whatever is going on – it’s bad.

But your scalp just needs to wake up. You can’t yell at it or put a jangling alarm clock on like a hat (well, you can, but it will not work). And you can’t pour a cup of coffee over your head and think that’s going to help. It will drip down your face. And it will ruin the alarm clock.

Enter the Vitalator! It looks like a tiny cement mixer. It will make your whole head vibrate. Yes, how relaxing it will be for you to hold this heavy whirring thing up to your head.

Your scalp will not relax, though. It might think about starting to work again. Then again, it just might start looking for another job.

A Riddle Wrapped In A Jell-O Mold

Jell-O Riddle Life April 9 1956I just couldn’t resist this 1953 Jell-O ad, for here we have Mr. Weatherbee from Archie dressed up like Old King Cole. Everyday is Halloween at Riverdale High! I guess that is Jughead’s previously-unknown younger cousin coming to the principal’s office to drop off a big Jell-O mold. If he drops it off all over the floor – and this does seem likely – there will be trouble.

Whatever the back story is, we need another 4th line for the beauteous poem in the ad. “Jell-O of course,” indeed! I can think of some other things, too:

Riddle me, riddle me, riddle me ree
What dessert tastes as good as can be?
What’s economical? Quick to prepare?

- I have no idea, now get out of my hair.

- Stale cookies? Old cupcakes? I really don’t care.

- How ’bout some grapes or maybe a pear.

- I think we still have that old frozen eclair.

- I’m sure there’s some pudding in the green Tupperware.

- Veronica tried to make brownies: beware!

The Magic Fruit Opera

Squeeze thought of this pun, actually

I was looking at some of the search terms Alexa says people use to wander over here and some of them were quite amusing:

1. Retro song you can call me crazy: You can call me crazy but I have no idea what this one is about. I do write about retro songs sometimes, though. That’s true.

Elsie and Lady Borden Life Oct 24 1949
Elsie does retro karaoke, ca 1949

2. Magic fruit opera: My favorite search term. It just has a fun ring to it, doesn’t it? I envision a really big mango belting out Cosi fan tutti-frutti (pun is not original, I wish it was). Maybe The Magic Flute is the idea here? But I have never mentioned any operas. I try not to, if I can help it. Borden’s Magic Fruit Cake is closer to the mark, I think. And perhaps Elsie the Cow (the old 50s Borden’s mascot, whose cartoon ads I keep meaning to write about) would sing about Magic Fruit Cake. Yes, yes she would.


3. ring-ding blogspot: Never wrote about Ring Dings either. Until now!  Not to be confused with the Hostess Ding Dong, a similarly round chocolate cake filled with – white, um, filling. Or it might refer to this post.

4. Giant plastic dixie cups: Oh, this is about The Dixie Cup Horror post, I guess. Only the cups were very small. They do loom large in the ad, though.

 from fantasytoyland

5. Pelicon [sic] costume: I think this one has to do with the Maidenform ad. But it made me think of Halloween, too. Is there such a thing as a pelican costume? Wait a sec, let me go look. Oh my stars, there is. Um, OK. But does the pelican dream he was wearing a Maidenform? (Let’s hope not.)

6. Fishflakes cocain [sic] making: No idea about this, because I haven’t written about fishflakes. Or cocaine. Or how to make cocaine out of fishflakes.

7. Eat plain frosting: How plain is this frosting that we’re going to eat? Plain as in vanilla, or plain as in there is no cake attached to it? Either way, this is a much better idea than fishflakes cocaine.

Gets ‘Em Every Time

Hot Dan Poetry Life Mar 31 1941They hail you, maybe, that is true -
They don’t know what to make of you,
Annoying little condiment
Who misinterprets sentiment
Takes glassy smiles for happy joy
At seeing a strange and cheflike boy
Appearing suddenly in town
Who’s grinning like a circus clown
Obsessed with mustard from a jar
That’s yellower than the sun by far.

It’s smooth and bright, just as you say
But so is floor wax on parquet;
When something shines like finished wood
It’s not the same as tasting good.
Furthermore, suppers vary so
You can’t assume they all will go
In happy harmony with mustard
What if a person just wants custard,
Or just a little soup and toast
Or maybe crackers at the most?
But seemingly you’d go and force
Some French’s on the salad course
Or on some dowager’s soufflĂ©
Much to Escoffier’s dismay.

So take it easy, little Dan -
Or those people will stick you in a can.

[From Life, March 31, 1941.]

More Hot Dan ads:

Hot Dan the Mustard Man
Hot Dan Redux
Trouble For Dinner in Gotham City

These Official Shoes

Boy Scout Shoes Boys' Life Feb 1960I was a Girl Scout back in the 1970s, and I can tell you that we did not have our very own official shoes. Although looking at this ad from Boys’ Life (Feb 1960), I am glad we didn’t. I mean, look at them. They are old-guy business shoes.

Don’t tell me you’re really going to be able to go out in the wilderness and rescue people and run around in the mud and mulch and whatever, in those shoes. The soles are as shiny and smooth as an ice-skating rink.

Also, no one who’s hauling someone to safety ever says things like:

“Glad I wore these official shoes!”

But I’m glad they say it here. Because that’s my new Favorite Thing To Say. So versatile! You can use this line anywhere, really. And with any shoes. I plan to say it next time I’m doing something like scooping out the cats’ litter box while wearing my horrible old black Crocs. And that’s just the beginning…

[Want to read the whole story? The bigger version is over here. And yes, I actually managed to remember to make the photo public this time...]

Two Wild and Crazy Smith Brothers

Hey, all you Romeos out there – take some advice from these suave guys who, clearly, are out for – foxes! And these brothers are always a big hit with girls because – well, just check out those fabulous beards. That’s one thing they have going for them. But now, for the first time, Trade and his brother Mark share the other, less obvious secret of their social success with you. Are you ready?

Menthol or licorice cough drops. With VITAMIN A.

Yes, you too can enjoy a successful love life – don’t let spreading cold germs hold you back. Even if the ladies don’t care for menthol (or licorice) cough drops, your mucous membranes will thank you for all that delicious Vitamin A. Now all the Smith Brothers just need some blue hats and plaid pants.

This alluring 1939 ad is from Medicine and Madison Avenue.

The Mad Money Bracelet

A little Charm for a Dollar Bill
Should you ride with a boy and the meter stands still
And he begins the old line of talk - 
If you wear your charm – there is NO NEED TO WALK.

You’re supposed to “walk into Offices, Crowds, Factories” – because that’s where girls are. Sure, just walk into a busy office in the middle of the working day. Or start bothering women on a crowded street. Or on the production line. They’ll be mad, all right.

“Mad Money,” of course, was what you carried on a date; if your date got fresh with you, you could take a taxi home. The Dictionary of American Slang gives an alternate definition of “mad money” as money a woman saves for when she will want to make a “mad” or impulsive future purchase. I don’t think you could save much in this bracelet though. You’d be walking home or saving up for a pack of gum, from the look of things.

[Billboard, October 25, 1947.]