I should have taken this entire week off, and spared you bootless clicks. Well, not that bootless; there’s Products! below, written when I had a moment this afternoon between finishing this and starting that. I spent the evening on a panel discussion preceded by Steak, which meant Streak two nights in a row. French brother-in-law made steak the previous night, and true to the French style, regarded anything more than the fast quick kiss of the flame an act of BARBARISM most associated with English cooking. Noted with amusement how a British friend had never really tasted steak until he experienced it the French way; they just burned it dead and dumped HP sauce over it. Imagine!

And then he slathered dijon on all over it.

“But you’re doing the same thing,” I said.

He looked at me as if I had taken leave of my senses: this was dijon. Totally different.

And he was right; you could still taste the meat and the marinade. Never doubt a Frenchman’s cooking.

It will be steak tomorrow as well. This means I will not be able to cook what I had intended to cook, which was steak, because there will be steak elsewhere.

Anyway, I ended up in a hotel ballroom flapping my gums on a panel with eight guys who actually had facts. It was fun and I enjoyed meeting everyone and flew home in the best of spirits, because I haven’t had a night like that in a while, and it’s fun to work a mike and make a room laugh. That’s all. But it took the night. So:





Our weekly look at bygone packaging and products, offered in the hopes we may glean a few scraps of knowledge about the bygone commercial culture.

A brand familiar to all who listen to old “Suspense” radio shows: the Auto-Lite sparkplug.


I remember when I was a kid there were lots of ads for sparkplugs; brand identification seemed important. Each had its own attributes and strengths, outdoing all others. Now who knows what brand they have? Possibly Auto-lite; I’d never know.

By the way, the narrow-gap sparkplug was Auto-Lite’s Big Deal until the late 40s, when all of a sudden the pitchmen talked up the virtues of the Wide-Gap Sparkplug. Like they were hemlines or something, subject to the whims of Dame Fashion.


The Barcalounger is synonymous - if recalled at all - with La-Z-Boy type chairs. “Marshmallow” chairs, the company’s own site calls them. For a while they did lawn furniture. Enjoy comfort out of this world in a variety of locations that are in it:



She doesn't look that comfortable. She actually seems to be feigning enjoyment. Was reclining that much of a novelty?

Please take the sit test and let your buttocks and lumbar regions decide for themselves while you emit a gust of exhausted relief:




Another summer favorite, disposable plates. I mention this for one reason:


. . . and it’s this. That’s a store display in the picture; Mr. and Mrs. America is advised to look for the cliched child who has studiously turned his S letters backwards while having the presence of mind to carefully print the name of a brand. Because that’s what kids want - not a picnic, but a BONDWARE one. No one ever saved those displays; ads like these, along with photos - which are rare - are the only reminders of the items that once decorated the aisles of post-war grocery stores.

That’s “Buddy Bondware,” who represented the consumer line of the all-powerful Continental Can Company. They bought Standard Tin Plate Company in 1904 - and don’t you love company names that actually have a clue about what they make? Eventually Continental bought United States Can Company, and squared off against American Can Company for supremacy. If only there was a National Can Company.

Whoa: there was! American bought it in 1985. They became American National Can.

They were done in when opposition to disposable throw-away cans grew, says their wikipedia page, and changed their name to the Continental Group, becoming a conglomerate with many subsidiaries. Lawsuits and declining fortunes unwound the company, and hardly anything is left.


This . . . thing. this old ribbony thing.



And then this one. Even worse.

They’re Pabst mascots. This did not have to happen.


A word used now, if at all, for something flavorless and meek:



The word is from the Latin Pabulum, meaning “foodstuff.” Heinz bought it in 2005, and this page says it’s only available in Canada.

Who'd buy the Barley when there was Oatmeal? Barley?



White Rock’s mixer-sprite:

Wikipedia tells the tale: it was a great Roman story, later influential on 19th century painters who wanted to work in some of that old classical-style sex into their work.

There was once a king and queen,[10] rulers of an unnamed city, who had three daughters of conspicuous beauty. The youngest and most beautiful was Psyche, whose admirers went so far as to neglect the proper worship of the love goddess Venus and instead prayed and made offerings to her. It was rumored that she was the second coming of Venus, or the daughter of Venus from an unseemly union of the goddess and a mortal. Venus is offended, and commissions Cupid to work her revenge. Cupid, however, falls in love with the girl and desires to possess her for himself.

She had two handmaidens, Worry and Sadness. Not bad for something you use to dilute alcohol. There was a rock in her story, one on which she was left after she committed an offense against the gods and looked at her lover. This posture would be more appropriate for Narcissus.

When I was a kid I was mystified by a cartoon in the big New Yorker book - two guys in the reeds, looking at the empty rock. One says “she’ll be along any time now,” or words to that effect. I had no idea what it meant. Years later, I found a White Rock ad: ping!

Psyche was her name, but for a while, apparently, it was Georgie:



A soft-serv maker was invented by Leo Moranz and Harry Axene. They formed . . . Harlee Manufacturing (Harry - Leo) to produce the machine and founded Tastee-Freeze to sell it to franchisees. Brilliant! They were once a strong contender to beat Dairy Queen, but there are less than 50 in the states today. For a while they had a deal on glassware, and many kids would get a little twinge when they'd go home from college and see these were still in the cupboard.


Wikipedia notes:

In the 1950s, Tastee-Freez had the Tastee-Freez Twins mascots: Tee (female) and Eff (male). The mascots were unclothed with ice cream (strawberry and chocolate respectively) on their heads.

Respectively. These things matter.


That's it for today. Except for the Mpls update. See you around in all the usual spots - Strib blog between 12 and 1, Tumblr in the same general area, Twitter now and then. That's what those buttons are for down there, y'know.



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