Vintage Ads Show How Not to Raise Kids

Published by in Offbeat
18th Nov 2008

There are many different parenting styles and philosophies out there but I’m sure that none of these ads has anything to do with how kids are raised nowadays.  I really do try not to be judgmental about how other people raise their children but it’s amazing how much things change over time…

Blatz beer — so both baby and mom are blatzed!  This beer is described as having “Nourishing qualities” and “appetizing, stimulating tonic”.  Well, I’m sure everyone slept better at least!

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Cute kid.  I can’t believe they’d use babies to sell cigarettes back in the day.  I’m not sure what they mean by “over-smoked” although I was a smoker for years.  Unfortunately, this Marlboro ad is just one of many cigarette ads featuring babies and kids.

This Motorola ad is hysterical.  If you own one of their televisions, it will help kids get their homework done promptly.  And it will strengthen family bonds to sit around and watch t.v. together.  Better behavior at home (because they’re zoned on the t.v.) and better marks at school (as if).  I’m sure my kids would love it if this was still how people thought!

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Wow.  This one is wrong in so many ways.  When you think of today’s childhood obesity rates and how many schools have pulled pop from vending machines, this ad seems so ludicrous.  At least drinking pop will help them with “fitting in during those awkward pre-teen and teen years”.  Yikes.

Oh, and if they’ve had too much television and pop, I guess you’ll have to order the “special” fashion book.  Lane Bryant is one of today’s major “plus-sized” retailers.  I’m not sure how much business they’d get now if they called it a store for “chubbies”.  Those poor girls having to order out of this fashion book.

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This weird ad seems to suggest that it’s so safe even a baby could use it.  A baby could use a razor???  Begin early, shave yourself?  I have no idea what the heck they were thinking with this ad.

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This one is just plain funny.  You can’t pin that smelliness on the baby — it’s Dad’s bad breath!  Hysterical.

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Not sure what to get your kids for Christmas?  How about guns?  Okay, okay.  I know some people out there probably do give their kids guns.  These are apparently only BB guns (Thanks to Reader Tor for pointing that out).  Still a 7 year old with a BB gun?  I’m not so sure I want to arm my second grader.

“Absolutely safe” and “Papa says it won’t hurt us”.  These people are flipping insane!!!  I like how it says these guns are not toys but show a little girl clearly playing with one.

Cocaine toothache drops only fifteen cents.  I bet kids feel no pain when they have these!

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And if the kids didn’t turn out how you wanted them too….  This ad is just hysterical.  It didn’t really fit but I just had to include it based on sheer haha value.

I wonder what people 50 years from now will think of our advertising?

  • jacob brumfield

    The first ad is actually correct. Our pediatrician recommended that my wife drink a dark beer 2-3 times a week after we had our baby.

  • lsrandall

    I had forgotton these ads. Times have changes since those
    were published. Thanks for sharing.

  • Sotiris

    great article! I think that they used every mean possible just to sell. They didn’t care if their product harm people and especially children.

    Thanks for sharing.

  • Mark Bentley

    I love these old ads! Definitely a different time with less worries about things like child safety.

    It looks like the little girl is sleeping with her hand gun to feel safe? Scary! Maybe she is afraid someone is after her cocaine drops and beer!

  • Ben Johnson

    I love old adverts, I wonder how insane our ads will be in 50 years time?

  • Tor

    Nice line up. You do know that Daisy makes BB guns, not real guns, right?

  • eddiego65

    Some of these ads are really ridiculous! They showed how businessmen place profits above the welfare of consumers! I think businessmen nowadays are no different from businessmen of yesteryears, it’s just there are consumer and environmental protection laws in place today that somehow temper their greed at least to some extent. Excellent and entertaining article though!

  • Joie Schmidt

    Good things times have changed!!



    -Liane Schmidt.

  • Gordon G

    These adverts do seem insane now and I am sure in 50 yrs they will think our ads today are just as insane to tell the truth sometimes I wonder about some of the one’s I see on t.v. now….lol

  • Michael Degenhardt

    These are just too funny. Goes to show you where the values were then and why they’re so lax now. An enjoyable presentation. Michael

  • Kathy Ransom

    Hysterical. That just shows what kind of goofballs started all of it.Apparently not smart ones but thanks for the laugh.

  • papaleng

    a well-research, written and presented article,

  • T G Houle

    Great article. The coke cola one is frightening. Never too early eh? Phosphoric acid leaching calcium from baby bones anyone?

  • Michael Gant

    Wow, this is funn. Great article!


    This article was really hilarious! I’ve never seen ads from back in the day, thanks.

  • Schaller

    darn funny. Very good article. Where’d you get all these great adverts? Man alive, some of the stuff they used to beleive. Wonder if it was a case of not knowing better, not caring, or more likely a combination of both. I guess people have always been stupid, its just not a modern thing. Thank you.

  • Karen Gross

    Amazing that anyone raised by this generation ever survived. I can recall being sent to buy cigarettes at the corner store when I was 4, mom often let me have puffs of her cigarette, my parents took us along to parties and my sister got drunk when she was 9 months old, and we even played lawn darts!
    These old ads display rather atrocious parental negligence, but I personally think that the cultural pendulum has swung a bit too far to the side of neurotic parents who drive their kids everywhere and have to be electronically connected at all times.

  • Debra Mann

    Being a mother myself I am completely dumbstruck at the lack of intelligence that was used back then. These adds are so insulting and with out merit. to see how often babies were exploited for a quick buck.Thank God we have pass this stage in our life time. Then again we still have war and babies are being murdered everyday. A nice enlightenment!
    God bless you!

  • Blue Buttefly

    Funny stuff as always and I am never bored reading your post. Love it.

  • joystick7

    Wow! This was good!

  • Carina McCoy

    WOW. Well done on this article, even though it’s appalling to see the lack of moral they had back then. Still pretty funny though.

  • oniovo lee

    there’s is a part of my brain that use to think people from the past were wiser, but your aticle proves that they might not really be anyway near it, i guess our generation wil be viewed the same way in years to come

  • nihil

    “You’ll shoot your eye out kid!” Ah The glories of watching the movie “A Christmas Story,” every year around Christmas. What kid didn’t want a BB gun??? Heck my only request for my 26th birthday was a pellet pistol!

  • Rana Sinha

    Nice article. Thanks.

    It just shows how ridiculous our current beliefs turn out to be later.

    Gunlaws – does anyone really believe that violence can be checked and society will become an abode of eternal peace by just changing gun laws? In those days they definitely didn’t beat about the bush “You may need one only once in your life, buy now!” You’ve got to hand them that they were honest about greedily wanting your money back then. Nowadays they use smokescreens like customer-centred service, statutory health warning etc to hide their greed.

  • Brian James

    Haha. Those are great. Advertisers are still saying the same things now of course, but just slightly less blatant.

  • Joce Boldi

    Weird, but funny!!!!! Advertising has come a long way!

  • Patrick Bernauw

    Times have changed!

  • 3cardmonte

    I can’t believe I went to the dentist for my toothache when all i needed was some cocaine toothache drops! Imagine!

  • Jo Bingham

    And they blame the next generation…

    Advertising sure has come along way. Now, instead of using kids – we use geckos and caveman :o p

    * (¯`·. ¤ Jo

  • Tony Downing


  • C Jordan

    Good article. I think only the words of the adverts have changed. Anybody bold enough to leave a comment about US gunlaws, Pepsi, Coke or McDonalds?

  • Paula Mitchell Bentley

    Wow C Jordan…way to try to poke the bear! Don’t you think I’ve been getting enough bizarre comments lately???

  • Amy Wing

    Great article! I love old ads! The Colgate ad reminds me of many I’ve seen from the 40’s and 50’s about how the dashing young man (or woman) fails to get the girl (or guy) because of unsightly dandruff, and then using the right shampoo has them flying off into the sunset together! Also, pretty much all VD ads are fantastic, but the one you have here is a real treasure!

  • Paula Mitchell Bentley

    Thanks everyone for all your great comments here. I’m so glad that you liked this and shared your thoughts with me! That last comment had me laughing hysterically. Thanks, I needed it.

  • Damon Reichardt

    Just goes to show how much times have changed, and how they haven’t, I mean just look at all the pharmaceutical direct to consumer ads!

  • cody

    hey man- you gotta put links to images that are big enough to read that small print-
    i dunno if you are scanning these or pulling them off the internet, but i wanna read these great ads for myself!

  • Anna Ski

    Interesting article, but that was then, look at now!!!

    They want what they want and that’s it!!!

    We have to be really firm with them and say NO!

    We have to tell them who, what, where, when and how. It gets to that stage where you think, oh what the hell! But you have to persist, it pays off, trust me, but you have to keep on it. Don’t give up.

  • Glynis Smy

    Now you understand why I am like I am, I was that kid!!! ;) )) LOL I am from the era of adverts you describe. Lovely article!!

  • Melody SJAL

    Weird and funny. Great article as usual, Paula, thanks.

  • Scooter Penn

    I seem to have missed out on a lot, not being able to drink beer, over-smoke cigarettes, shave, and shoot my Daisy Air Rifle. Maybe I can partake when I’m older.

  • Chambo

    These are classic. The best has to be the first one. Beer provide all the nourishment and goodness your baby needs! Brilliant. Well done Paula.

  • Genevieve Mitchell

    I loved this article and want to share it with so many people.


  • ur guide

    superb article…

  • harymarris

    Great and humorous article. Advertising has changed but I’m not so sure it’s for the better. My 10 year old daughter and I were watching TV last night when a commercial came on of some very young dancers with thongs on, doing very sexual dancing. Finally, one thong-clad girl turns around and bends over in front of the camera – that pose where her legs are apart and perfectly straight, in high heals. I was sitting there thinking, “What the heck are they advertising here?” It turns out that it was a car commercial or something like that. I can’t remember what it was but it was totally unrelated. They ended it by saying something like, “You want this!” or “Gotta have it!” or something like that. I’m not so sure if I prefer the kids with the gun or young girls in thongs bending over for the cameras. Too much exploitation these days. I would love it if Paula does an article on updated ads that leave you feeling offended or violated while the actual product remains vague.

  • Jax Appleby

    A great article. Very funny, but very sad.
    This just goes to show you that companies will stop at nothing to sell their products, even exploiting children is fair game.

  • tommyP

    So funny I was just shushed by the Librarian!!!
    The #12 comment by Karen Gross hit it perfectly,(”…but I personally think that the cultural pendulum has swung a bit too far to the side of neurotic parents who drive their kids everywhere and have to be electronically connected at all times”) I grew up the same way, born in ‘62. We never wore helmets riding bicycles, and as Karen stated that very fun but dangerous game of JARTS!

  • duke

    The Soda Pop ad is a fake. There is no such address as 1515 W. Hart in Chicago and no such thing as the Soda Pop Board of America.
    In the Daisy ad the youngest kid is likely holding a pop gun, not a BB gun. Daisy made many toy guns that only made noise or shot corks at very low power.

  • Paul

    Just amazing. seems these images ar lost in time.

  • Sue Atkins

    How extraordinary – thanks for digging them out – how times have changed!

    Sue Atkins
    Author of “Raising Happy Children for Dummies”

  • Chrissy

    A lot of these are fake, made up ads…. for example…

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