Fascinating ice cubes and other promises from advertisements past

vintage ads katie ice cubes cropped

It's ice. In the shape of a cube.

By Katie Beltramo

We live in an early-1920s Tudor Cottage in Niskayuna, which sounds lovelier than it feels. There are many elements of its history that we don't appreciate, like its knob-and-tube electric wiring or the dark little alcove near the stairs that leads nowhere and has become the cat's room.

However, we occasionally enjoy its charms, like when we discovered some c. 1926 newspapers up in the attic. By the time we'd discovered them, they had mostly mouldered away, but I was able to salvage several advertisements. I thought that I'd share a few of my favorites...

I cut out a bunch of the ads to make a collage, which explains why some of these photos show overlapping images. This collage is always a source of amusement for visitors.

I love history, and one of my favorite things about these ads is the way they show a very specific place in time. A few years after F. Scott Fitzgerald's "Bernice Bobs Her Hair," all of the women in the ads have the same stylishly bobbed hair, except for the one in mid-shampoo.

Electrical appliances are huge, with excitement about ice cubes and special motors so that even the sadly not-yet-electrified households could have a washer. And science! Everything's scientific, from arranging furniture to the recently scientifically established "Youth Units" in ice cream! I also love that every woman wishes that she could be just a little bit plumper.

Click on the images for larger view.

Canada Dry
vintage ads katie Canada Dry

"Canada Dry" is so good and pure that it is a safe drink even for children. . . Physicians actually prescribe "Canada Dry" for their patients
Special Hostess Package A new way of packing "Canada Dry." Idea for home use. Twelve bottles in a substantial carton.

vintage ads katie Chair

The time is past when furniture was selected for its utility alone. It is now recognized as a scientific fact that the atmosphere--the environment--the furnishings of the home, play a distinct role in creating happiness and contentment. In this advertisement we are giving a few suggestions that should prove valuable in furnishing you home artistically yet at moderate cost.

Civilization's Greatest Menace
vintage ads katie Civilizations Greatest Menace

The daily bath is no longer a luxury or a task, but considered as necessary a part of personal hygiene as the brushing of one's teeth.
And yet a warped sense of pride allows us to go on in blissful ignorance of the outer signs of internal uncleanliness. Bad teeth, bad complexions, bad breath, nervousness, bad temper--to say nothing of the many diseases from which man suffers--are but indications of an accumulation in the colon of decayed, putrid waste food manner. . . . Man must aid Nature in her struggle to regain the state of normal functioning natural to animals and primitive humans by more careful regulation of diet, more exercise, and the use of Hunt's Internal Bath.
The simplest rules of hygiene and the prevention and relief of disease are contained in the new booklet, "Civilization's Greatest Menace," free upon request.

Fascinating Ice Cubes
vintage ads katie Fascinating Ice Cubes

Instead of having your iced drinks overflowing with clumsy chunks, make them attractive with these crystal-clear cubes.
Ice-cubes are the sign of a thoroughly modern household.

Fast Car
vintage ads katie Fast Car

5 to 30 miles an hour in 13 seconds

vintage ads katie Freckles

Banish Freckles, Blackheads, Muddiness, Tan, Pimples, Sallowness, Blotches and all Blemishes by this wonderful new scientific treatment, which positively clears and whitens your skin after a few nights' treatment.

Fro Joy
vintage ads katie Fro Joy

"Youth Units" are those food elements which have the faculty of rebuilding living cells. The powerful plant salts--organic iron, lime, phosphorus and the essential vitamines [sic]--alone have these properties.
Milk was thought to be the greatest carrier of "Youth Units," but now Science has discovered one twice as effective.
Fro-joy ICE CREAM contains more than twice as many "Youth Units" as milk.

Gain Pounds
vintage ads katie Gain Pounds

In a month I gained 15 pounds.
The First Box is FREE to Skinny Men; Thin Pale Women, Sickly Children
Chemists have now learned how to extract the energy-giving vitamines and flesh-building elements from Cod Liver Oil and throw the fishy-tasting useless oil away.

Grandmother's Bread
vintage ads katie Grandma Bread

The opening of our Albany bakery makes it possible for you to buy a pure, rich, and delicious loaf of bread at a price considerably lower than its quality warrants
LARGE LOAF 1 lb. 5 oz. 9 cents WHY PAY MORE?

Katie is the editor of Capital District Fun, a place to find things to do for kids and families in Schenectady, Albany, and Troy

Later on AOA: More promises from advertisements past


What a great find! We found a similar cache of old newspapers in the attic of our previous home, a circa 1940 bungalow in one of the neighborhoods off Central Avenue; in our case, the newspapers dated from WWII.

When we built a room in the basement, we purposely stuck a couple pages from the Times Union and Metroland in the walls to serve as a time-capsule someday (maybe).

To somebody that works in advertising, this is great to see... thank you! Advertising was so much more interesting back when people used to actually enjoy reading ads.

I was once at a garage sale and found a bunch of issues of Collier's magazines from the 1920s. You've perhaps seen the famous John Caples ad, "They laughed when I sat down at the piano but I started to PLAY..." In this collections I found two other variations (headline and image tests) that are now hanging on my wall.

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