Appetizing or not, looking back at food ads throughout the years can spark memories for many Metro Detroit residents.
I must admit I find the old advertisements for food products of great interest. Or, maybe, I am always hungry when I cruise the William Davidson Digital Archive of Jewish Detroit History. Nevertheless, during my peeks into the Archive, while searching for information on a particular subject for a Looking Back column, I collected some food ads I found unique.
It appears that, beginning in the 1930s and continuing through the 1960s, there were lots of ads in the JN for particular food products. Although I love the names, I must admit that some of the food stuffs just don’t seem all that appetizing.
For example, there was an ad in the Feb. 27, 1948, issue of the JN for “Tamar Hamburger Steak” in a can. It was kosher, sure, but hamburger steak from a can? Now, I have eaten a lot of beans from a can, whether at home or in the military. That seems natural. But I just cannot seem to visualize anything called “hamburger” coming from a can. This does not seem natural.
Growing up, like a lot of Detroiters, I did drink milk from United Dairies, as well as from Sealtest and Twin Pines. Until reading an ad in the JN for Dec. 24, 1948, however, I didn’t realize that “Guests Will Always Ask for More” of the “Hi-Test Milk” from United Dairies. I could not help but think of Hi-Test gasoline from the 1950s when I read this ad. It also touts United Dairies new product, “Sme-Tana,” to garnish your latkes instead of sour cream. Now, it seems that Sme-Tana is, indeed, sour cream, but the difference is that it is real, honest-to-goodness sour cream. Apparently, there is something just a little bit dishonest about those other sour creams on the market.
Sometimes the names of products seem a bit odd, like Mar-Parv Margarine. Again, it doesn’t sound particularly appealing to me, but it does make more sense when the ad informs the reader that the Mar-Parv Margarine is both kosher and parve.
Other ads are self-evident. For example, see the advertisement in Dec. 29, 1967, issue of the JN for a “Kosher Submarine.” First, it is highly visual. A nice big bagel loaded with sausage. The ad also provides a very simple recipe for this dish: “Split a fresh bagel. Fill generously — very generously — with Menorah All Beef Kosher Salami.” Something tells me that Menorah would like you to buy lots of salami.
There are also some old standards. Vita Herring is still around, as well as Heinz beans. The latter product was and is certified kosher. And there are prepared dinners. If you like cheese kreplach, you will certainly like Chef-Boy-Ar-Dee Cheese Ravioli says the ad in the Dec. 28, 1962, issue of the JN.
Perhaps my favorite advertisement is the Chef-Boy-R-Dee ad from Dec. 29, 1963, that compares its spaghetti sauce to being in Eden. “Ta’am Gan… How do you say Paradiso? Eden is undoubtedly the word that Chef-Boy-Ar-Dee was searching for to describe the true Italian-style flavor of this wonderfully rich sauce.” Eden? Paradiso? It doesn’t get any better than that! Maybe the description for this product is also a bit “rich?”
After 1970, the advertisements for food products largely disappeared from the pages of the JN and other newspapers, as manufacturers turned to television and radio to tout their wares. I wonder if Chef-Boy-Ar-Dee is still “Ta’am Gan” on TV?