National Geographic/Cover Browser
National Geographic/Cover Browser

22 Odd Ads From National Geographic Magazine in the 1910s

National Geographic/Cover Browser
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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How Frozen Peas Made Orson Welles Lose It
Rebecca O'Connell (Getty Images) (iStock)
Rebecca O'Connell (Getty Images) (iStock)

Orson Welles would have turned 103 years old today. While the talented actor/director/writer leaves behind a staggering body of work—including Citizen Kane, long regarded as the best film of all time—the YouTube generation may know him best for what happened when a couple of voiceover directors decided to challenge him while recording an ad for Findus frozen foods in 1970.

The tempestuous Welles is having none of it. You’d do yourself a favor to listen to the whole thing, but here are some choice excerpts.

After he was asked for one more take from the audio engineer:

"Look, I’m not used to having more than one person in there. One more word out of you and you go! Is that clear? I take directions from one person, under protest … Who the hell are you, anyway?"

After it was explained to him that the second take was requested because of a “slight gonk”:

"What is a 'gonk'? Do you mind telling me what that is?"

After the director asks him to emphasize the “in” while saying “In July”:

"Why? That doesn't make any sense. Sorry. There's no known way of saying an English sentence in which you begin a sentence with 'in' and emphasize it. … That's just stupid. 'In July?' I'd love to know how you emphasize 'in' in 'in July.' Impossible! Meaningless!"

When the session moved from frozen peas to ads for fish fingers and beef burgers, the now-sheepish directors attempt to stammer out some instructions. Welles's reply:

"You are such pests! ... In your depths of your ignorance, what is it you want?"

Why would the legendary director agree to shill for a frozen food company in the first place? According to author Josh Karp, whose book Orson Welles’s Last Movie chronicles the director’s odyssey to make a “comeback” film in the 1970s, Welles acknowledged the ad spots were mercenary in nature: He could demand upwards of $15,000 a day for sessions, which he could use, in part, to fund his feature projects.

“Why he dressed down the man, I can't say for sure,” Karp says. “But I know that he was a perfectionist and didn't suffer fools, in some cases to the extreme. He used to take a great interest in the ads he made, even when they weren't of his creation.”

The Findus session was leaked decades ago, popping up on radio and in private collections before hitting YouTube. Voiceover actor Maurice LaMarche, who voiced the erudite Brain in Pinky and the Brain, based the character on Welles and would recite his rant whenever he got the chance.

Welles died in 1985 at the age of 70 from a heart attack, his last film unfinished. While some saw the pea endorsement as beneath his formidable talents, he was actually ahead of the curve: By the 1980s, many A-list stars were supplementing their income with advertising or voiceover work.

“He was a brilliant, funny guy,” Karp says. “There's a good chance he'd think the pea commercial was hilarious.” If not, he’d obviously have no problem saying as much.

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How Google Chrome’s New Built-In Ad Blocker Will Change Your Browsing Experience
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If you can’t stand web ads that auto-play sound and pop up in front of what you’re trying to read, you have two options: Install an ad blocker on your browser or avoid the internet all together. Starting Thursday, February 15, Google Chrome is offering another tool to help you avoid the most annoying ads on the web, Tech Crunch reports. Here’s what Google Chrome users should expect from the new feature.

Chrome’s ad filtering has been in development for about a year, but the details of how it will work were only recently made public. “While most advertising on the web is respectful of user experience, over the years we've increasingly heard from our users that some advertising can be particularly intrusive,” Google wrote in a blog post. “As we announced last June, Chrome will tackle this issue by removing ads from sites that do not follow the Better Ads Standards.

That means the new feature won’t block all ads from publishers or even block most of them. Instead, it will specifically target ads that violate the Better Ad Standards that the Coalition for Better Ads recommends based on consumer data. On desktop, this includes auto-play videos with sound, sticky banners that follow you as you scroll, pop-ups, and prestitial ads that make you wait for a countdown to access the site. Mobile Chrome users will be spared these same types of ads as well as flashing animations, ads that take up more than 30 percent of the screen, and ads the fill the whole screen as you scroll past them.

These criteria still leave room for plenty of ads to show up online—the total amount of media blocked by the feature won’t even amount to 1 percent of all ads. So if web browsers are looking for an even more ad-free experience, they should use Chrome’s ad filter as a supplement to one of the many third-party ad blockers out there.

And if accessing content without navigating a digital obstacle course first doesn’t sound appealing to you, don’t worry: On sites where ads are blocked, Google Chrome will show a notification that lets you disable the feature.

[h/t Tech Crunch]

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