When A Plate Of Ribs Was $1.35

Today we take a quick look at yearbook ads in the back of my 1955 University of Miami, Coral Gables, Florida yearbook. Yes, ads might seem banal, but I enjoy the localized details, like this dry cleaning ad.

The cartoons are simple but fun; you can even see cleanliness emanating off the fabric. I like the dime price, the cellophane, and the so very Florida salute to the explorer who led the first Spanish expedition to the state over 500 years ago, Ponce de Leon. In case you’re wondering, yes “peaceful protesters” did vandalize the Ponce de León statues in Miami. What else are you going to do when you’re on unemployment to kill time?

Next up is a BBQ menu with prices one can’t even begin to process.

Have you ever heard of “corn-on-cob”? I’ve only eaten corn on the cob, but I respect the brevity. To think that in one lifetime, a rib plate could go from $1.35 to now $19.00 under this administration is absurd. Why, two chicken plates back then would barely buy me an iced tea today. Another fun fact is the location on the Dixie Hi-Way, which of course, doesn’t exist. The Dixie Chicks had to become the Chicks, Lady Antebullum had to become Lady A, so the Dixie Hi-Way gave way to a series of roads with boring names.

With Florida only being a stone’s throw from the not yet communist-oppressed Cuba, how could they not peddle some cigars? And look! If you buy two instead of one, you save an entire penny! One red cent! Go on, get your college kids some smokes to burn off the steam from finals.

We wrap it up with an all-American product that may surely contribute to diabetes, but don’t it go down nice?

Ah, yes, the delicious and refreshing teeny weensy bottle of Coca-Cola. Imagine how much energy it could provide to the person who had to draw that ad, with all those little lines upon that hand. Plus, it’s fun to note the six digit phone number. Well, that’s all from Coral Gables, y’all. Go out and enjoy a $19 rib plate.

But I Only Like Domesticated Cherries

Both of these ads are tucked inside my January 1951 LIFE. Both cough drops, both wild cherry, both manufactured by brothers. Which to choose?

The Smith Brothers were the first to produce cough drops in the US, initially sold from glass jars on countertops. However, to ensure that drug stores sold their quality product instead of fakes, they began to shove them in little boxes with the faces of the bearded brothers.

The Pine Brothers, by comparison, began selling their glycerine tablets out of a confectionary shop, not a drugstore. In these ads, Pine Brothers cost twice as much. Is it because glycerine doubles as a laxative or because they have PINE printed on them? The drops are still stamped PINE to this day, and softish as could be. Softish? Yes, as in stool softener.

Personally, I’ve never had either. We’ve always been Luden’s folks. What about you?

Frosty, Man, Frosty

1958

Now in Detroit! I’m not sure why this ad was targeted specifically at Detroit, giving its citizens (comprised of avid surfers along the Detroit coastline) access to the friendly Pepper-Upper. “Frosty, man, frosty” seems consistent with the beatnik counterculture depicted in the Dobie Gillis show that would air the following year. But isn’t the temperature of the drink dependent on its storage, and not its ingredients? Couldn’t any drink be frosty, man?

Like a pineapple, which is neither pine nor apple, Dr Pepper is neither medicinal nor peppery. But that didn’t stop the jingle makers of the 1977 commercial from using the bandwagon formula of letting all of America know that he, she, and they are peppers, and you might ought to get in line and become a pepper yourself. My friends and I loved to sing along with David Naughton when he appeared on our little black and white screens, donning a vest, and cavorting about. Oh, to be peppers!

Having lived in Texas my entire life, where DP was omnipresent, it was always an option. Many of us have visited the Dr Pepper Museum, as well as the Dublin Dr Pepper Bottling Company. We know it was created by a pharmacist in Waco 100 years before we started drinking soda, and we knew the period after Dr was dropped in 1950.

However, it could never top Coke in my opinion, so I opted out of consuming it thrice daily during times of low blood sugar (10, 2, and 4). In fact, I’ve never even ordered one at a restaurant. Perhaps it’s a guy thing. My husband adores it. Oft times, I’ve ordered Coke in a restaurant, and been challenged with “Is Pepsi okay?” which it never is, so I settle for iced tea. But no server ever asks, “Is Mr. Pibb okay?” Never. DP is always available, and unlike a box of chocolates, you always know what you’re gonna get.

giphy.com

Miller High Life Scores A Win

Keeping up with new Hallmark movies is exhausting these days, whatwith new movies every Friday, Saturday, AND Sunday (which cuts into Bible Study), and sometimes new movies back to back at both 7pm and 9pm. We can’t keep up. But watching hundreds of Hallmark movies means we’ve seen dozens of gingerbread houses being constructed (mostly poorly) in family homes, B&B’s on the verge of bankruptcy, and town festivals. Sometimes simply building them brings two foes together.

But IRL, I’ve never made a gingerbread house. I’ve spent Christmas with different families in different cities, and I’ve never even SEEN a gingerbread house in a person’s home. Do people even eat them? Aren’t they messy? Do they wind up in the Glad bag on December 26th?

But today I saw Miller High Life’s take on the seasonal hobby, and I have to say I’m impressed. Who needs a house when you can have a dive bar?

It’s no joke, and it’s perfect for 2021. Despite all the fear and oppression of American liberty, some industries have banked record revenue, like Big Pharma, Domino’s, and beer. Pfizer reportedly nets $268 million PER DAY and counting, as long as more and more boosters are required. And they will be. Granted, beer hasn’t seen vax $$, but nothing makes folks want to drink more than living through the 2020s.

While many restaurants have folded during the pandemic, we’ve seen craft beer pubs pop up all over our city, and adjacent cities as well. The parking lots are always full, despite pint prices that were $4 last year, now doubled for ales like Electric Jellyfish. Beer is in, man, and it won’t quit. Sure, not Miller High Life. God in heaven, not that. But dive bars? You betcha.

And you just know that when that Gingerbread man enters, everybody knows his name. Who wouldn’t want to grab a pretzel cue stick and play some billiards under actual working lights? Maybe take a load off on some peppermint stools. The kit even offers syrup to drizzle on the floor.

To the marketing geniuses at Miller High Life, I raise a glass of cheap, bland domestic ale to you. Just this once. God bless us one and all.

When CVS Has Mom’s Bipolar Meds On Back Order

etsy, 1960

Poor Dad. When Mom’s off her mental meds, he’s on the receiving end of her crazy. Sometimes it’s diluted Coke or the cold poke of an unwarranted hose spray. Either way, Mom’s a handful with a devilish grin. Shouldn’t she be grateful Dad’s kept so fit, in spite of sipping soda? He’s still got a great head of hair, a healthy tan, and can rock lemon yellow shorts like nobody’s business. Perhaps it’s not her meds at all. Maybe she’s just going through the change. In that case, she needs the pause that refreshes for the menopause that depletes. Hand Mom a Coke and a smile today!

Swiss Miss Chooses Coke

Ah, springtime in Switzerland! Love is in the air, on the cool of the crisp, pure breeze, the crusts are cut off our picnic sandwiches and a German Alpine hat-donning senior has just procured more bottles of Coke for us! How could life get better?

1958

Over 60 years have passed, and Coke is still going strong in Switzerland. Although the national Swiss drink is Rivella, which sounds like a lot like rubella (aka German measles), Coke is still number one. If you ain’t first, you’re last. Sorry, Rivella. I won’t even show you the ugly label of a Rivella bottle, which looks like a second grader won a label art contest, and the contents appear akin to diluted tea. Hard pass. Coke wins.

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Vertical Vacations

Back in 1937, TikTok didn’t demand five hours of each day, so folks would actually sit and read a 44 page article about a foreign country in National Geographic. The folks at Nat Geo knew their fascinating photos and clever captions would wet the whistle of those with the traveling bug, so travel ads were placed in portrait style near the end of the magazine.

This first ad designated certain activities for different ages, like remodeling a colonial cottage, an easy task for a 100-year-old to tackle.

images from National Geographic, March 1937

Other ads designated the means of travel, like this one for Oregon highways. Why not drive? Gas was cheap, and you were probably about to be evicted due to the high unemployment during the Depression. Hit the road, Jack!

Other ads just plain scared the tar out of you with images of Irvin Cobb’s unfortunate countenance.

Who wouldn’t want to angle or loaf or tramp in Canada? It’s where they film all the Hallmark movies. And as long as you’re already up north, might as well hop aboard a nine day Alaskan cruise, for just under $100. You might see indigenous peoples wearing blankets and holding indigenous art. They may or may not come in peace.

Alaska not your cup of tea? Well, 1937 is a great time to tour Germany. Hurry, before war breaks out. At that point, they may not offer so much Gemütlichkeit, or good cheer, for which they’re famous.

Need more neutral surroundings? Nothing like a travel ad to seduce you with the devaluation of the franc, and how much more you can buy with your boss US dollars. Think about it: reduced rail fares, no visas, no “money formalities,” no vax card. Don’t overthink it; just go.

Perhaps neither cruise, plane, nor Oregon highway tantalizes. Then all aboard the Milwaukee Road Hiawatha (fun word alert), headed toward the unspoiled Northwest.

Take in the “sea-girt” peninsula. That means surrounded by sea. Feel free to use that word later today. I can think of lots of things that the Northwest is surrounded by, especially in the inner cities. But not in 1937! So there you go, folks. Do you think any of these ads would have enticed you if you had been alive then? Which one beckons most?

I’m Leaving Formal City For

1962 Marietta, Georgia

Actually, this nation has gone too far to the casual dark side. Time was, when a gal wouldn’t show her bra strap in public, much less her thong whale tail. Now, you can’t throw a stick without hitting a high school girl’s bum cheeks spilling out of her shorts. If I never saw another fool wearing pajamas out in public, it would be too soon.

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It takes just as long to pull on pants as it does pajama bottoms. Have they no sense of decency?

I’m not going to go so far as to say a parent who allows their children to wear pajamas in public is a bad parent, but there is a time and a place for everything. Pajamas are private.

giphy.com

Now I’ve Had The Prime Of My Life (No, I Never Felt Like This Before)

I remember reading an article when Ronald Reagan passed, stating that, at his year of birth in 1911, life expectancy was 49 years old. Reagan died at 93. Clearly, medical care had improved during those 93 years. But it’s still hard to believe the age was 49, due much in part to children dying. This ad from 1937 claims that many folks could actually expect to live past 60 at that point. Some of you have already hit that milestone, with decades yet to come.

It’s Christmas, and no one has time to read a 5,000 word count life insurance ad, so here’s the gist: 40-60 is the prime of life. Anything past 60 is a bonus. Don’t get Bright’s disease (kidney issues). Let your doctor use fluoroscope and X-rays and sorcery to see inside your body. And most of all, DO NOT SCOFF AT BEING CODDLED. Remember, you’re in the prime of your life!

“It’s Swell To Get Camels Again”

You’ve probably never heard the name, Jerry Ambler. As you can see in this 1947 ad, he was a bronc-riding star, winning the North American Saddle Bronc title in 1941 and 1946. Born in Alberta, Canada, Ambler became the best of the best. The Canadian Pro Rodeo Hall of Fame Jerry’s asserts that his greatest achievement came in 1946 when he was declared the World’s Champion Saddle Bronc Rider. Though the ad seems to imply his experience with off brand smokes was during service in WWII, I find no record of military service, only rodeo competitions. Perhaps simply the rationing of cigarettes was enough to make him long for Camels.

As often happens with spokespersons in these post-war Camel ads, they pass from cancer. Ambler did not. A car accident took his life at the age of 47. Let’s hope that during those years, the Camels pleased his T-Zone and took the edge of a long day in the saddle. As the years pass by, fewer and fewer of us remember how important the T-Zone was back in the day.

Our collective perception of cigarettes has changed so much since this ad was published, when doctors both smoked and endorsed cigarettes.

Cigarette sales peaked in 1981, and have been falling ever since. In a world of manufactured viruses and death by Grand Canyon selfies, smoking remains the leading cause of preventable death, and these ads remain an interesting testimony of the world that was.

Gifts For Dad For 2021

1954

An era of subtlety, the 1950s was not, as evidenced by these Cutter Cravat artist originals. Frankly, it’s difficult to interpret what the patterns actually were. We have words for argyle and houndstooth and checkered, but these are littered with sprigs and swirls in bold (and often clashing) colors. What man dare sport the blue one in the center, that splays out at the bottom? It appears to depict an engagement ring.

Note how wide one appears against the lapel of this jacket. A bold and festive statement. Would you dare?

1951