Fred and Antiknock Ethyl

Ethyl Cleaner Life Feb 3 1947
Life, Feb. 3, 1947

Well, there are some mighty strong opinions flying around about Ethyl. Never mind. Everybody smile! And hold up the stuff you’ve been getting Ethyl to clean for you.

Ethyl is not some poor lady who lives down the hall from Lucy Ricardo and has to cope with Fred Mertz. No, Ethyl is a Cleaner full of Chemicals. And if you take a look at the container in the ad – well, it looks like it belongs in the garage. Not in your sink or washing machine.

[Short research break here...]

Ethyl Booklet Pop Sci Aug 1943
Popular Science, Aug 1943

Apparently, in the 1940s, the Ethyl Corporation (which is still around, see here) was mainly known for selling Ethyl gasoline to service stations. This explains the car-polishing man in the Bing Crosby hat whose folksy “I think you’re both right!” has averted a neighborhood feud fought with frightening smiles, easy-to-throw plates and sopping-wet woolens.

The Ethyl Corporation also made “Ethyl fluid” to put into regular gasoline “to prevent knocking.” Note: this does not mean Ethyl is going to prevent Fred Mertz from knocking on the door dressed up in something he found in that old vaudeville trunk of his, ready to do a little song-and-dance number for Ricky’s new revue down at the Tropicana. You can’t stop Fred when he’s in one of those moods. He’s a free spirit, don’t you know! The only known free spirit who wears trousers belted under the armpits.

Equally unrelated to gasoline is the “What’s In A Name” booklet you could have ordered from Ethyl and friends in 1943 (above right).

On your left is a lovely antique gasoline pump decorated with Ethyl’s mark of approval (this is from Wikipedia). That antiknock fluid was full of pollutants, I’m sorry to say. I can’t imagine what was in the dishwashing compound, but – I didn’t see any ads after 1947, so I dfon’t think it was on the market for very long.

All of which is just another reason that it’s just better to let the Mertzes get up on stage and have at it. You know they’re going to find a way to sneak into the Tropicana anyway.

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3 thoughts on “Fred and Antiknock Ethyl

  1. Washing dishes with ethyl? I don't really know what it is, but I associate it with gasoline and so it just sounds so toxic. I'm surprised the women are douching with it to stay "dainty" like with Lysol.

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