We’ll Always Have Fels-Naptha

LHJ 1936 Fels-Naptha Soap

Another day, another marriage saved by a bar of soap. Or drain cleaner. Or some other product. Seems to be a theme in these 1940s ads, doesn’t it?

Today, may I present the astonishing (and golden – don’t forget golden, this is important) Fels-Naptha soap. It’s hyphenated, it must be good! Actually they did not mention that, I don’t know why. They mention just about everything else about it.

As per usual, we have an angry husband on the rampage because his shirts aren’t as white as Willy Wonka’s TV studio. But in this case it is the wife who is about to leave. The big brute is being such a pain. Yeah, I have to agree with her on this one. If you aren’t bleaching and bluing the laundry, you’re making gingerbread and pies and stuff for hours. Or scrubbing the bathtub and cleaning the drains. And this is the thanks you get. Oh hell no! You used to be a glamour girl!

But let me just ask this: why is gray tattle-tale, and what is it tattling on? The wife, I guess. Such a trouble-maker, that gray grimy shirt, whispering whispering in the big brute’s ear: hey, listen pal, that dame is no good at washing a shirt, she doesn’t even use Fels-Naptha! Imagine it using a Humphrey Bogart voice.

Well, now that you mention it, Fels-Naptha is not a bad idea. It’s a “richer, golden soap with lots of naptha added to it!” Now, naptha is distilled from petroleum, used as a cleaning solvent or in making high octane gasoline in the petrochemical industry, according to my pal Wikipedia. Well, glad to know there’s lots of it in the soap!

And there’s “soothing glycerin in every golden bar” so your hands and your silk knickers will also be pleased. Oh, there’s something for everyone in this product. Petroleum by-products AND soothing glycerin. It’s like a symbol of the marriage, by golly.  Somebody quick, there’s a Ph.D in there somewhere!

But why does she say it takes two weeks? What takes two weeks? Cleaning with this stuff or fixing up the marriage?

In any case, all’s well that ends with clean laundry so white it appears to be pulsating with light. And if that big brute gives you any more trouble, honey, you can wash out his mouth with the Fels-Naptha. Just the thought of a mouthful of golden suds will bring out the compliments in a hurry!

Oh, and you can still buy Fels-Naptha soap, yes indeedy. Here’s a link, in case you have any gray shirts around the house gossiping behind your back.

The Tale of the Silver Dust Soap

LHJ 1936 Silver Dust Soap

Once upon a time there were a lot of princesses in Joan Crawford hats and suits, who were plagued by an army of dirty dishes.

And then along came a scientific lady in a white coat and a clipboard. She made a box of magic dish soap appear upon her table.  Although ‘Dust’ may not be the best word to put in the name of a soap, it was called Silver Dust Soap, so the princesses would know that it was good. Silver is always a good thing, you see (although gold is not bad either, and calling it Diamond Soap would have been really terrific, but never mind all that).

There will be silver dust, possibly, all over the dishes….No, wait. That can’t be right.

The magic clipboard lady said that she was conducting a social experiment. She wanted to see just how long it took for the ladies in their gorgeous hats to start fighting over the dishwashing soap. After all, it is a white sudsy soap! That is what makes it really special.

Actually, this was what was scientifically known as a “dishpan test.” You swished the soap and some water around in a quart jar. Like magic, sudsy suds appeared.

After the excitement of the dishpan test, the ladies had to answer three questions. This is a fairy tale requirement.

1. Do you want plenty of suds?
2. Do you choose your soap by depth of suds?
3. Are you convinced that Silver Dust deeper suds make dishwashing quick and easy?

(Hint: the correct answer to all these questions is Yes. Yes I said yes I will yes…)

And if you too can answer all these difficult and tricky questions correctly, then you will also live happily ever after with the Silver Dish Soap – and a magically reappearing pile of dirty dishes. Even the magic clipboard lady cannot break that kind of spell.

There may be a prince involved too. He is the fellow out in the dining room yelling for more gingerbread.

1930s ad from that lovely book of fairy tales, the Ladies’ Home Journal.

This is my offering for Vintage Thingies Thursday, hosted by the lovely Queen of Aprons, who reigns over her retro kingdom with enormous finesse and charm.

A Drain Drama With A Happy Ending

IMG Drano ad 1934 LHJ

We’ve all had some drain dramas, haven’t we? I remember one in Boston years ago, and our landlord was acting just like the charming fellow in this comic strip. The house (and the sink – AND the drain) was about as old as this ad from 1934, so it didn’t take much to cause a little melodrama in the plumbing.

There was a plumber involved. And a metal snake. And a fair amount of money. Ah, if only I had been as clever as Ann Snickers, with her disproportionately large head. But I was a hapless grad student – pretty good at Victorian novels, absolutely hopeless at household management (and drain management).

Mind you, Ann is talking to the drain in the second panel…that is a bit off. And what’s with the “here goes down your neck, and you’ll wake up in a hurry!” So the head is the sink? And the drain is asleep? Ann has clearly been driven mad by living with Grumpy with the shaving brush.

However, Ms. Snickers has the last laugh (so to speak) as she gets $3 (and a considerable profit margin) after fixing the sink problem. Mr. Snickers is now so happy he doesn’t care. If she keeps the sink running, he’ll keep handing over dollars - and he won’t ever be angry again either! (Oh yeah? If you believe that, I have a nice bridge over in Brooklyn for sale…)

But it’s cheaper than therapy, I suppose. And at least we’re spared the inevitable drain drama with an unhappy ending – because I think I’d rather skip that, thank you.

You can see some more of F.G. Cooper’s comics over at David King’s blog, here and over here too at Filboid Studge. Oh, and also here at toaster.org. He was quite a well-known cartoonist in the 1920s and 1930s.