This week’s theme seems to be unlikely books: books which you are unlikely to have seen before, and books with contents you might find unlikely from the title. We have an Encyclopedia of Railroading, the volumes of which seem mainly to consist of diagrams and instructions of different types of equipment on a train, as provided by the manufacturers of that machinery. One volume is a good thick tome about the Westinghouse Air Brake, with information provided by Westinghouse. Another is about the New York Air Brake, with data supplied by the New York Air Brake Company.
Over here we have a children’s book called Poetry For You, written by a British Poet Laureate. Nice enough little book, but why doesn’t it have any poetry inside?
Right over there is an encyclopedia of images which are essentially abusive, from Adam to Zombie. The author’s artistic streak merged with his emotional issues from being an Adult Child of an Alcoholic and pit him through about 400 pages of therapy (if that’s what this is.)
But this stack in the middle is a magazine you are unlikely to find in many homes or libraries, are unlikely to pick up, and, I fear, unlikely to buy in July. And yet, I am going to try to sell these dainties, because of the unlikely contents. I cannot vouch for EVERY customer’s response, but for those in a certain age group (or those who study the unlikely corners of American history) these are a treasure trove.
The magazine is called Food Business, which is about as lackluster a magazine title as I’ve seen for a while. It was published in Chicago for people who sold food, and maybe for ad agents who had the advertising accounts for such people. (It notes that it has been combined with Food Marketing, another sock-pow magazine title.) Our issues date from 1963 to 1965.
The magazine is slender, but contains articles which no doubt were important at the time (the issue in my hand has a story about how Bruce Wax handles product specialization) and items of late-breaking news (Stokely’s Beans went through eleven false tries before getting the colors right on its labels.) More interesting from a nostalgia point of view, there are great big product ads to show off advances in marketing and packaging (Dow has a new line of individual plastic packets for, say, ketchup, and we HOPE you don’t think your ad reaches more people during a show like Bonanza than a good old fashioned print ad in the Chicago Tribune.)
But three regular columns in every issue provide enough trivia for wonder or competition: New Packaging, New Premiums, and New Products.
The issue in my hand shows off freebies companies were using to lure in customers, from luxury dinnerware specially marked down from $2.25 to $1 with your purchase of Reddi-Whip to a Strainer Drainer perfect for making Kraft Home Cooked Dinners, available for $3.85 plus a boxtop from guess what product. Dubble Bubble bubblegum was selling its gum with a real balsa wood glider (some assembly required) and Musselman’s was offering a Teflon frying pan, making other applesauce companies look SO 1950s.
In packaging news, Purity Croutons are now available in a bag printed in FIVE colors, with a little window so you can see the croutons, and Dash Dog Food is now available in sixpacks. (This must not have caught on.)
Of course, the New Products get the most space, because this was a time of excitement and experimentation in the Food Business. Gorton’s of Gloucester has just introduced a line of heat and serve entrees. (The Gorton’s Fisherman was still in the future.) Fulham Brothers is competing with a heat-and-serve entrée of fish sticks in pizza sauce with cheese. (Nothing much was in the future.) General Foods has something called Shake ‘n Bake (who can forget that child in THOSE commercials?) while Swift and Co. is introducing three flavors of Waff-L-Dogs (who can remember any commercials for this hot dog in a waffle?) I can hardly contain my excitement over the first announcement of Weidemann Beer (never needs refrigeration), Grapes Jubilee (grapes that look like cherries), Cream of Oats, and other luxuries for the Sixties Consumer. Ah, the wonder of all the products you never knew you needed! Thank goodness in our day of computers and cable, advertisers would never try to sell us such stuff, but it’s a blast from the past to look at these exciting advances in Food Business.
You’ll have to wait until July to buy this, though. For one thing, I have to finish reading them.