Sales of Yesteryear

    Maybe, Mincemeat Macaroon, I have been going about this the wrong way.  Maybe we can gently ease the conversation away from food and back to the world of postcards, taking baby steps.  So I thought I would fill a blog with a few things I learned about kitchen and household ways of the past through postcards *and one vintage blotter.)

    I saw a number of these business correspondence cards featuring something called Nine O’Clock Washing Tea and wondered what it was you were going to wash with tea.  This is easily explained: the product for sale is, in fact, laundry soap.  It got its name because the manufacturers advertised that this was a revolutionary new soap that would make the housewife’s life so much easier that by nine o’clock on Monday morning, the laundry would all be washed and hanging on the line, and she could stop for tea.  The product is remembered today not for the amazing qualities of the soap but because the company produced product tie-in clocks with the name of the product running along the outer rim of the face and the numbers farther in.

    Advertisers were looking for things that attracted attention, not things which followed logically with the product.  We are more scientific these days, and do not pull this kind of trick.  (Just occurred to me: what DO emus have to do with insurance?)  Swift Soap and Washing Powder introduces us to the little boy writing endorsements of the product, making hen scratches on the paper, so that his shadow…okay, you got the joke.  (Swift was one of the big meat-packing companies, by the way. A LOT of packing companies handled soap on the side; they were often careful to keep their name off of it, as the association of soap with animal fat does not sell soap.)

    I thought Uncle Ben had a monopoly as a dried rice product spokesman, but he actually had to share his own product with this little stick man…or rice man.  The little fellow, who doesn’t seem to have had a name, saluted you from the box for decades (symbolizing how the individual grains of rice could be seen, not becoming mushy, or something like that.)

   This gag is pretty obvious: the counter attendant is serving his wurst to the worst sort of customer.  The thing about the gag that interested me (though it made me gag) was the nickel’s worth of “Hot Liverwurst”.  Coming from a region where liverwurst is often called Braunschweiger (though in other parts of the world they are completely distinct) I am familiar only with liverwurst served cold.  This does seem to be how it is served through most of the world: either in thick slices on a plate with plenty of pickles or sliced on rye bread with plenty of onions (and/or pickles.)

    I never developed a taste for this (I think I am the only one in my immediate family with this phobia) simply because my parents tended to SPREAD it on bread, and spreadable meat struck me as something otherworldly.  But I think perhaps I would prefer that to eating it freshly steamed.  Yet, searching the Interwebs, I found a few brave souls who do eat their liverwurst hot, mainly serving it just as cold liverwurst is served.  One or two, though, actually chop it and fry it with potatoes.  In dread fear I went hunting for…but no, I could not find a liverwurst pizza or liverwurst burrito anywhere online.  Perhaps a few boundaries wait for other heroes to cross them.

   Oh, on the subject of spreadable meat, my mother declared frequently that tapioca meatloaf was properly done if you had to serve it in a mug and eat it through a straw.  No, I didn’t, to tell you the truth.  I’d wait until the next day, when the leftovers had congealed, and I could slice it onto a sandwich.

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