Thursday, November 28, 2019

Thanksgiving in 1919 Showed National Advertising, Probable Decline of Corner Store

The advertising for Thanksgiving in 1919 is a little different from that in years past.

November 27th, 1919
In particular, there aren't the features for neighborhood grocery stores that we have seen previously, and I think this means that a number of corner stores had closed and that shopping patterns were shifting with the rise of the automobile. Clearly there were changes with the post-war economy and culture.
And just in 1919 several interesting transportation stories and the rise of autoism:
As deep background, the red scare and summer of race riots probably informed the way Thanksgiving was understood and celebrated, but I don't have a reading of that yet. (But see Rigdon's poem arguing for a purge.)

After World War I, the industrial capacity of the nation needed to switch back to peacetime production and to find the demand for all that production capacity. There's also emphasis on new electrification and driving demand for electricity, and on the objectivity of scientific management.

Electrically toasted, scientifically managed
November 26th, 1919
This ad for rolled oats is intensely up-to-date on these measures, so much so that it's a little laughable today.
Rolled oats are a Staple that Builds up and Holds up a Splendid Vigor....Through long and searching tests made in our laboratories, every detail required to produce Superior Rolled Oats was completely and originally determined.
Salem Electric started to sell washing machines
(But not the modern coop!
See notes on Frank and Clara Barton here and here)
November 29th, 1919
Advertising was being professionalized and nationalized. All year there was a funny campaign that was essentially training consumers to follow and buy from advertisers, and to trust the information in advertising, as if advertising offered up objective fact, and was not primarily to stimulate appetite and demand. It might also signal the start of consumerism as pop culture, brands as conversation starter. At least here in Salem, this campaign was new.

Advertising, nationalized brands, and patriotism
February 15th, 1919

Advertising as trustworthy information
October 22nd, 1919
More specifically for Thanksgiving, our tastes and notions of what is "special" for a feast have shifted. Prepared foods we take for granted as very secondary today were novel and centered then. (There's that celery, too.)

Many of these foods are no longer special or prized
November 25th, 1919
The newspaper industry was so different. Capital Journal fed their newsies and sent them to a show at the Bligh.

November 28th, 1919
And advertising for Christmas had already started mid-November. This was a couple of days after Thanksgiving.

November 29th, 1919

1 comment:

Walker said...

Well, as we know, advertising is the art of appealing to human intelligence — in order to overcome it.

Interesting, the first “Love Big Brother” ad for ads echoes the Red Scare theme with “there can be no division in a such a country” ... Show Your Loyalty, Support National Brands, in other words.

There’s a good book called “Land of Desire” about department stores that has a lot about this period.