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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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technology
The iMac Was Almost Called the MacMan
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John G. Mabanglo/Getty Images

After breaking out with its Macintosh line of personal computers in the 1980s, Apple was in a slump. Sales had flagged as Microsoft's Windows operating system made waves. In 1998, the company was set to unveil a product that it hoped would reinvigorate its brand.

And they almost blew it.

According to Ken Segall, the advertising genius behind their "Think Different" campaign, Apple founder Steve Jobs was expecting the iMac to reverse the company's ailing fortunes. Where older Macs had been boxy, beige, and bland, the iMac came in an assortment of colors and had a transparent chassis that showed off its circuitry. The problem, as Segall writes in his new book, Insanely Simple, was that Jobs didn't want to call it the iMac. He wanted to call it the MacMan.

"While that frightening name is banging around in your head, I'd like you to think for a moment about the art of product naming," Segall writes. "Because of all the things in this world that cry out for simplicity, product naming probably contains the most glaring examples of right and wrong. From some companies, you see names like 'iPhone.' From others you see names like ‘Casio G'zOne Commando' or the ‘Sony DVP SR200P/B' DVD player."

According to Segall, Jobs liked the fact that MacMan was slightly reminiscent of Sony's Walkman branding concept for its line of cassette players. (Later, Sony had a Discman, Pressman, and Talkman.) But Segall, who named products for a living, feared the name would take away from Apple's identity as being original. It was also gender-biased, and alienating an entire demographic of consumers was never a good thing.

Instead, Segall suggested "iMac," with the "i" for internet, because the unit was designed to connect easily to the web. Jobs "hated" the idea, along with other suggestions, even though Segall felt the iMac could provide a foundation to name other devices, just as Sony's Walkman had. Segall kept suggesting it, and Jobs eventually had it printed on a prototype model to see how it would look. After encouragement from his staff, he dropped MacMan. With this key contribution, Segall made sure no one would be lining up to buy a PhoneMan 10 years later. 

[h/t FastCoDesign]

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entertainment
The Bizarre Reason Burger King Wants to Keep It Out of Russia
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Warner Bros./iStock

For decades, Burger King and McDonald’s have been engaged in one of the most competitive corporate rivalries in fast food history. In the 1980s, the two actually went to court over accusations about Burger King's sourcing and preparation of meats. In 2016, a BK restaurant in Queens, New York, was draped in sheets and made to look like the ghost of McDonald’s.

The sniping continues, but this time McDonald’s isn’t really involved. According to The Hollywood Reporter and coming our way via Eater, the Russian branch of Burger King has filed a complaint with the country’s Federal Anti-Monopoly Service (FAS) over the recent horror blockbuster It. The reason? They claim the movie’s evil clown, Pennywise, is so reminiscent of Ronald McDonald that the release will constitute an unfair advertising opportunity for their competitor.

While this sounds like either a prank or publicity stunt hatched by Burger King’s marketing arm, the FAS confirmed to The Hollywood Reporter that the burger chain did indeed request the movie be banned. That doesn’t mean it’s not a marketing ploy—there must be economic advantages to comparing a chief competitor’s mascot to a child-murdering clown—but it does offer some substance to the claim. The FAS told the outlet that it “can’t be concerned” with a fictional character in a movie that has nothing to do with hamburgers, but hasn’t made any final decision.

Owing to the recent scary-clown hysteria, McDonald’s has actually dialed down Ronald’s appearances in public over the past two years, which does raise suspicion over what he’s been doing with his downtime. It: Chapter Two is scheduled to infuriate Burger King even more when it’s released in 2019.

[h/t Eater]  

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