22 Odd Ads From National Geographic Magazine in the 1910s
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
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.