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22 Odd Ads From National Geographic Magazine in the 1910s

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National Geographic/Cover Browser

National Geographic has been transporting its readers to the most distant corners of the world since 1888. From the start, its pages have been home to some far-out advertisements. If you think the products advertised today are dangerous or wacky, check out what they were peddling in the 1910s.

1. November 1914: Glastenbury Health Underwear

Looking to quell your rheumatoid arthritis and that pesky cough? Get the underwear shown in the ad above (it's guaranteed not to shrink!)

2. November 1914: "The Cure"

Most toxic one liner: “This water is highly Radioactive, which adds to its medicinal properties.”

3. October 1916: Quaker Oats Puffed Rice

Biggest Twist: “Each bubble of wheat is a kernel, puffed to eight times normal size. All its thin, airy flakiness is due to steam explosions. And each has been shot from guns. 100 Million Explosions.”

4. April 1917: American Chain Company

Imagine what the roads would be like if we still used ad space to chastise bad drivers. 

5. May 1917: Monroe Refrigerators

We’re inundated with bills. But imagine getting a letter each month charging you for ice. 

6. May 1917: Johns-Manville Asbestos Roofing

Whoops.

7. June 1917: Parker Fountain Pens

Most likely to be a terrible gift idea today: “What can be more appropriate as an expression of the Christmas spirit than a Parker Lucky Curve Fountain Pen?”

8. June 1917: Pyrene

Saves lives? Not so much. Pyrene was later discovered to cause kidney disease, tumors, and liver problems.

9. June 1917: Beeman’s Chewing Gum

Paraphrased: “My chewing gum relieves indigestion. (Actually, I’m not sure if it relieves indigestion at all, but people say it does, so I’ll go along with it.) Buy today!”

10. August 1917: The Si-Wel-Clo Silent Toilet

They say it’s silent. No word on whether it’s deadly. 

11. September 1917: Portland Cement

Whoever said “concrete roads are permanent” must’ve never driven on a concrete road.

12. September 1917: Ithaca Gun Company

Composer John Philip Sousa, who wrote the march “Stars and Stripes Forever,” was like an olde tyme Ted Nugent. 

13.  March 1918: Cream of Wheat

As American as baseball, apple pie, and cream of wheat.

14. March 1918: Pacific Northwest Tourist Association

It’s your patriotic duty to hike the Washington mountains.

15. April 1918: Locomobile

Originally a steam-powered vehicle, the locomobile sadly died once the Great Depression hit. 

16. April 1918: Bird Houses

We’re still trying to figure this one out, too. 

17. April 1918: The Prophylactic Toothbrush

Winner of both “Worst Slogan” and “Most Unfortunate Product Name."

18. April 1918: Calox Tooth Powder

Back in the day, toothpaste and tooth powder were in a fierce rivalry. (Not many people must’ve been convinced by the booklet “Why a Tooth Powder is Better Than a Paste.”)

19. May 1918: The Acousticon

The Acousticon: Most likely to sound like a medieval torture device. 

20. June 1918: The EAR Magniophone

The EAR: Most likely to inspire a B-Horror Movie.

21. October 1918: Bissell Carpet Sweeper

Well, it’s true if you go through 50 brooms a year ...

22. October 1918: The Balopticon Projector System

Advertising apparently didn’t keep the Balopticon projector afloat. 

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Design
This Amazing Clock Has a Different Hand for Every Minute of the Day
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In the video below, you can watch Japanese ad agency Dentsu transform passing time into art. According to Adweek, the project was commissioned by Japanese stationery brand Hitotoki, which produces crafting materials. To celebrate the value of handmade items in an increasingly fast-paced world, Dentsu created a film advertisement for their client depicting their goods as a stop-motion clock.

The timepiece ticks off all 1440 minutes in the day, and was assembled in real-time against a colored backdrop during a single 24-hour take. Its "hands" were crafted from different combinations of some 30,000 disparate small items, including confetti, cream puffs, tiny toys, silk leaves, and sunglasses.

"In a world where everything is so hectic and efficient, we wanted to bring the value of 'handmade' to life," explains Dentsu art director Ryosuke Miyashita in a press statement quoted by Stash Media. "We created different combinations of small Hitotoki brand items to express each and every minute."

You can check out a promotional video for the project below, which details the arduous crafting process, or view a real-time version of the clock here.

[h/t Adweek]

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History
The Time Walter Cronkite Angered R.J. Reynolds
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If you’re a stickler for the correct usage of “who” versus “whom,” or if you find yourself seething over the “10 Items or Less” sign at the grocery store, you have something in common with Walter Cronkite.

As a respected journalist and news anchor, Cronkite was very careful about his words, from his enunciation of them to the tone in which he said them—so you can imagine his indignation at being asked to deliver a line with purposely incorrect grammar.

In 1954, shortly after being named the host of a morning show on CBS, Cronkite was tasked with a live-read of a Winston cigarette ad. Though it’s hard to imagine Anderson Cooper or Lester Holt concluding a segment with an earnest plug for Budweiser or McDonald’s, anchor-read endorsements were commonplace in the 1950s. Cronkite had a problem with the commercial, but it wasn’t the product he took umbrage with—it was the tagline: “Winston tastes good like a cigarette should.”

Though it may sound fine to most ears, the word “like” is actually used inappropriately. Traditionally, “like” is used as a preposition and “as” is used as a conjunction, but the Winston ad treats “like” as a conjunction, or a connecting word.

Here’s the line in action. Just a warning: If you’re a grammar purist, the phrase “tastes real good” is also sure to raise your hackles.

Cronkite refused to say the line as it was written. Instead, he delivered it the correct way: “Winston tastes good as a cigarette should.” His former English teachers may have been beaming at their television sets, but the execs at R.J. Reynolds, Winston’s parent company, weren’t so happy, and neither was their ad agency. The agency pounced on Cronkite’s correction, but he remained unapologetic. “I can’t do an ungrammatical thing like that,” he told them.

Wording wasn’t the only problem—his smoking, or lack thereof, was also an issue. Cronkite wasn’t a cigarette smoker, but after delivering the offending line to the cameras, he was supposed to take a puff from a Winston. Though he obliged, he didn’t inhale. The agency reprimanded Cronkite for that as well, feeling that a spokesperson who clearly didn’t use the product couldn't convince viewers to pick up a pack. They asked Cronkite to inhale on camera—and that’s where he drew the line. “Let’s just call this thing off,” he says he told them. “CBS was up in the rafters, of course, about it at the time.” It was Cronkite's first and only commercial.

Here’s the story straight from the anchor himself:

For the record, Cronkite wasn’t the only high-profile person who had a problem with the Winston wording. “Like goes Madison Avenue, like so goes the nation,” Ogden Nash wrote in The New Yorker.

Years later, Winston tried to capitalize on the controversy with a commercial that depicted a professor lecturing his students about the sloppily worded slogan. The students doth protest, jumping up in unison and saying, “What do you want, good grammar or good taste?”

Unimpressed, The Wall Street Journal responded to the question in a 1970 op-ed: “It doesn’t matter which you want. In a Winston ad, you don’t get either.”

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