Brow-Furrowing Ads of Successful Farming Magazine


How did farmers in the 20s, 30s and 40s learn the tricks of their trade? Why, by subscribing to Successful Farming magazine!

Yet, today, I'm not going to tell you how to go whole-hog in tending those pigs...

Or how to be popular with the chicks (petite pullets, that is)...

Or even ask you to lend an ear on growing corn.

Nope! Today, in the first part of The Thrift Shop Romantic's special two-part post, we'll dig into the magazine's advertising-- a wild and wondrous world of disembodied heads, testimonials from people you've never heard of, wagonloads of exclamation points, and cartoons, cartoons, cartoons...


We start here with... Sal Hepatica laxative. "Sal Hepatica"... Hm, sounds like the name of a personal injury attorney from my hometown in Jersey.


Here we meet Mrs. A, and Mrs. B... And we're told the bazaar is spoiled for Mrs. A...


Once she gets to that church parking lot, she knows the competition will be fierce. Yessir, she's got to sell more desserts than that haughty Mrs. B, or she'll never live it down!

Why, last year, that woman rubbed it in for months, simply because she sold three cupcakes more than Mrs. A did. Three cupcakes! Is that kind? Is that Christian?!

So having to leave suddenly for, well, personal reasons would almost certainly put Mrs. A behind-- in more ways than one.


And so, like the trooper she is, poor Mrs. A. goes to the bazaar anyway, and is surprised to discover that her constipation seems directly-related to the marketability of her baked goods.

Yes, it was a simple case of being unable to get her bundt in gear.

Mrs. B, on the other hand, has a lovely day...


These church bazaars are just teeming with women who need laxatives. But the morning of the bazaar, Mrs. B. called on her old buddy Sal Hepatica, and he came to the rescue right away. So how were Mrs. B's sales?


It's all in the salesmanship, we see! And in the Sal Hepatica.

Okay, well, moving on, let's examine another topic. And what have we here?..


How nice that Mrs. Chas. W. Hallock of Suffolk County shares with us her recipe for muffins!


Erm... bran muffins.

"They're not only nourishing, says Chas. W. Hallock, the chef's husband, "but they also give you bulk to help prevent constipation!"


He looks really happy about it, too, doesn't he? Sitting there with his cartoon breakfast.

I bet you didn't know this, but everyone ate hand-drawn breakfast back in the 40s. Yep, illustrated eggs over easy... Stipple-effect bacon... Dry brushed toast... It's why everyone was so slim. The most illustrated meal of the day, they used to say.

"Life is Swell, When You Feel Well..." Words of wisdom!

Well, now that we've taken our Sal Hepatica and enjoyed a bulky bran muffin, let's check out another ad...


For Fletcher's Castoria castor oil. Perfect for-- yes, you're probably starting to notice the trend here, you clever bunnies-- constipation. In this case, we enjoy a short, Castoria-sponsored morality play.


Bill Todd's anger management classes haven't been working out and he seems to have ticked off his sister-in-law, this Judy Garland impersonator. He claims the wife went to the hospital to have a baby, but who knows? It's going to be pretty hard for her to explain those shoe-shaped bruises, either way. It's no wonder little Billy's next on the hit list.

Let's see what drove Bill Todd to this, shall we?


"...You've never heard a rumpus like the one Billy made when he saw that laxative!" says Mr. Todd.

Or maybe, just maybe, he noticed that shoe you were holding behind your back, Sir. Toddlers have wicked-good eyesight for things like that. And, of course, the answer for a child who's uncomfortable and cranky in his lower intestines is...


To beat the livin' tar out of his delicate regions with a hard object. Yes, that'll loosen things up, all right.


But thankfully, Judy Garland intervenes. She says beating him with a shoe-- oh, wait, no-- giving him adult laxative, could shock his nervous system. So what is the answer?


Fletcher's Castoria! And it's so effective, it will "solve Billy's laxative problem for years!" One dose lasting for years? Wow, now that's powerful.


The best part is Little Billy loves the Castoria! Indeedy, kids do love a good dose of castor oil. Right after they enjoy a big plate of liver, eating all their vegetables, and cleaning their rooms.


A giant family-size bottle of Castoria has saved the day! And it's more safe and effective than a visit from Child Welfare Services! Thank you, Judy Garland impersonator!

Now here we have a little girl "Doing her best for Daddy," and setting the table with all the Monarch brand products Daddy loves...

The text reads:
"All women are born with the knowledge that men like good things to eat. She is a lucky woman who learned as a little girl that the Monarch's 'Lion's Head' trademark always means pleasing and satisfying foods. More then 200 items bear this dependable token of Purity, Flavor and Excellence."
Yes, it's innate, that knowledge. We females come out of the womb and think, "Gosh, I bet my dad could use a Pure and Flavorful can of Monarch Teeny Weenie Sardines and a cup of Monarch Coffee right about now."

We just don't know how to articulate it.

Now, I loved this one. "Are You a Modern Motorist?"...

If so, you probably have:
  • An automatic windshield wiper
  • And front and rear bumpers

Yep, front and rear bumpers! The 1927 coolness equivalent of SatNav.

Have you been taking your front and rear bumpers for granted lately? I know I have. So the next time you get in your car, give 'em an affectionate pat. They've earned it.

And here we have a Creepy Sneering Bellboy or a Pink-faced Organ Grinder Monkey telling us...


...Philip Morris cigarettes are healthier for us than other ciggies! Yes, indeed, protect your throat with these finely made sticks of cancer. The text reads:

"It's a fact-- all smokers sometimes inhale. More smoke reaches delicate nose and throat passages. And chances of irritation increase! But now look at the findings of eminent doctors who compared five leading brands of cigarettes... and report that:

In striking contrast to Philip Morris-- irritant effects of the four other leading brands averaged three times as high-- and lasted more than five times as long!

Some inhaling goes with smoking... but worry about throat irritation need not go with inhaling. Change now to Philip Morris-- for pleasure without penalties. Why wait?"

Um, yeah. No comment.

But hey-- why is Uncle Sam looking so stern?


Let's take a closer look...


"Uncle Sam says we must drive our cars longer." And so who is there, ready to give us terrific advice on ways of making these cars last longer and save on resources...? These American cars whose fuel burns red, white and blue... ?


Some unshaven French dude in a beret! And French Dude (Dude de Francais) recommends Hastings Steel-Vent piston rings. Thank you, Dude de Francais! Now my American car can endure even more trips to the cabaret to listen to Marlene Dietrich-styled torch songs, while I eat pomme frites and caviar and drink boujoulais.

Ooh-la-la! Uncle Sam will be so proud.

But before we go...


Yes, yes... We know already. You folks never tire of bran. It's been made abundantly clear.

Join me for Wednesday's post, when we take a look at a few more ads from Successful Farming. I know that may seem a bit irregular, but I assure you-- this time the ads won't be.

Hope to see you then!

21 comments:

Da Old Man said...

Who knew that constipation was the bane of the 20's-40's?

Perhaps that was the cause of WWII?

Mimi said...

Well, for the first time today you had me laughing out loud here at the kitchen table. Gosh, who would have thought that taking a p**pie was so darned important in the 30s and 40s. OK, guess it's important in the 2000s, too. Gotta keep things moving right along! Great blog, I'll be back for sure...just to get a laugh!

Down Comforter said...

OMG!!! Too funny :) Wish I had a copy of this gem.

ThriftShopRomantic said...

Da Old Man- You mean Hitler was just searching the world for a really effective laxative? Hm. Interesting revisionist theory! :)

Mimi- I was just as surprised about the trend as you were. Glad you got a laugh!- My work here, then, is done. :)

Down Comforter- It was pure luck to find these. They were at the bottom of a box of Popular Mechanics from the 80s. I don't even know what made me look.

Andrea said...

It's almost midnight, I'm sitting here reading your hysterically funny comments, and laughing until the tears come. Because the computer is in the bedroom, I'm trying not to laugh too loudly and wake my husband up. I'm trying not to get the hiccups!! The guy with the shoe and the Judy Garland impersonator sent me over the edge!
I just bought this vintage cookbook for kids. Only four recipes in the whole thing and what kid wouldn't want to know how to make Prune Whip??? I would imagine that it had the same effect as Sal Hepatica. How did they ever come up with THAT name??!!

ThriftShopRomantic said...

Andrea- I guess child-rearing was viewed somewhat differently in the 40s... Nothing a good ol' shoe couldn't solve! (Or at least traumatize.)

Prune whip... Yum! Just what every kid's going to dig right into. Y'know, after that delicious teaspoon of Castoria.

Ninfa DepAlma said...

Andrea, I had to live with a semi monthyly dose of Flectcher Castoria! I can certainly apperciate these ads! You have made me laugh so card I am crying1

Thanks for the laughs!

Thrift Shop Romantic said...

Ninfa- Oh NO!! Not Castoria! Please tell me you also did not get hit with that shoe! :)

I'm glad to know you can laugh about it, anyway.

unfinishedrambler said...

Sal Hepatica. For some reason, it sounds like a type font to me.

Thrift Shop Romantic said...

UnfinishedDude- Heh, yes, indeed, it really does! Helvetica... Zapf Chancery... Sal Hepatica...

I guess it would be kind of a bloated, lazy-looking font. :)

Carolina Gonzalez said...

oh what a FUN post! Instant favourite! Count me as a devoted follower :).

Jenn Thorson said...

Carolina- Glad you enjoyed it! Welcome.

Theresa Rankin said...

I just found your blog through blog catalog...and I am sure glad I did!! It caught my eye for several reasons...Thrift-shop Romantic for one...second your blog today on old advertising which I adore...and third..well the writing is just darn good and funny to boot! Thank you for letting in a little more sun in this world! I am adding you to my blog page as a recommended blog read!

Jean said...

Great post! I was a child of the 1940's.

If I whined, a whopping spoonful of Fletcher's Castoria was poured down my little gullet. Later it was Sal Hepatica. A really bad cold called for Castor Oil. No wonder I was a skinny kid; regular purging!

When I had measles, my mother taped a sheet of newspaper over the window to protect my eyes, and I was instructed that I could not read. Down the side of the paper in huge letters was 'PHILLIP MORRIS.' I read those words over and over, worrying that I might go blind.

Thanks for a great piece of entertainment.

Thrift Shop Romantic said...

Theresa- Oh, I'm very glad! It's not old advertising every week, but I do post regularly on that topic-- including funny vintage decorating and recipes-- so there might just be some good stuff there to continue to make you smile.

Jean- Over 60 years too late, I send you my greatest sympathies! Holy heck, Jean, you've endured your share of purge-products. Thanks for sharing your past pain-- and I hope you won't have to deal with flashbacks from it!! :)

Melanie said...

I never knew constipation was such a big deal in the old days. Wow.

How about an old article or two from Succesful Farming?

ThriftShopRomantic said...

Melanie- I'd hoped to go that direction with it-- but most of the articles aren't very scintilating. One of the magazines, however, had some stuff related to Christmas, which I plan to save for next year.

Must pace ourselves! :)

chyna said...

Of course he was going to beat him with a shoe. Haven't you ever heard of the phrase "kick the crap outta you"? ;)

Funny but scary!!! I think they were addicted to vitamins too. My honorary aunt and uncle were constantly stuffing a One A Day down my throat as a child in the 70's. And they'd offer me Metamucil every night. Crazy times!

Lana Gramlich said...

So, long story short, most of these people are just full of $h!t? *LOL*

ThriftShopRomantic said...

Chyna- Yes, but the foot would be IN the shoe, the shoe wouldn't be kicking solo... :)

Lana- Heh-- I'm glad someone finally said it :) (That made me laugh... so WRONG.)

Millie Motts said...

Thanks for the laugh! You sure have a way with words! And what great material to work with. ;)