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Vintage Ads Show How Not to Raise Kids

Published by Paula Mitchell Bentley in Offbeat
November 18th, 2008

Oh, the good old days. When nursing moms were supposed to drink beer, television was good for kids, smoking wasn’t bad, and cocaine was legal. What the heck were they thinking?

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…

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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.

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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.

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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.

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“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.

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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?

Liked it
  1. Posted November 18, 2008 at 3:23 am

    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.

  2. Posted November 18, 2008 at 3:49 am

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

  3. Tor
    Posted November 18, 2008 at 4:16 am

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

  4. Posted November 18, 2008 at 5:30 am

    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!

  5. Posted November 18, 2008 at 6:49 am

    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

  6. Posted November 18, 2008 at 7:49 am

    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

  7. Posted November 18, 2008 at 8:06 am

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

  8. Posted November 18, 2008 at 9:16 am

    a well-research, written and presented article,

  9. Posted November 18, 2008 at 10:12 am

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

  10. Posted November 18, 2008 at 11:30 am

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

  11. Posted November 18, 2008 at 11:38 am

    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.

  12. Posted November 18, 2008 at 11:40 am

    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.

  13. Posted November 18, 2008 at 12:35 pm

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

  14. Posted November 18, 2008 at 12:43 pm

    Wow! This was good!

  15. jacob brumfield
    Posted November 18, 2008 at 1:16 pm

    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.

  16. lsrandall
    Posted November 18, 2008 at 2:19 pm

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

  17. Posted November 18, 2008 at 3:40 pm

    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!

  18. Posted November 18, 2008 at 6:47 pm

    Good things times have changed!!



    -Liane Schmidt.

  19. Posted November 18, 2008 at 10:35 pm

    Wow, this is funn. Great article!

  20. Posted November 18, 2008 at 11:48 pm

    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!

  21. 3cardmonte
    Posted November 19, 2008 at 6:08 am

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

  22. Posted November 19, 2008 at 7:31 am

    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?

  23. Posted November 19, 2008 at 8:13 am

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

  24. Posted November 19, 2008 at 3:22 pm

    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.

  25. oniovo lee
    Posted November 19, 2008 at 3:23 pm

    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

  26. nihil
    Posted November 19, 2008 at 3:26 pm

    “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!

  27. Posted November 19, 2008 at 3:31 pm

    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.

  28. Posted November 19, 2008 at 4:12 pm

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

  29. Posted November 19, 2008 at 4:49 pm

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

  30. Posted November 19, 2008 at 5:11 pm

    Times have changed!

  31. Posted November 19, 2008 at 6:38 pm

    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

  32. Posted November 19, 2008 at 6:46 pm


  33. Amy Wing
    Posted November 19, 2008 at 8:57 pm

    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!

  34. Posted November 19, 2008 at 9:56 pm

    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.

  35. Posted November 20, 2008 at 12:32 am

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

  36. Posted November 20, 2008 at 8:40 am

    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.

  37. Posted November 20, 2008 at 8:59 am

    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!!

  38. Posted November 20, 2008 at 12:58 pm

    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.

  39. Damon Reichardt
    Posted November 20, 2008 at 2:17 pm

    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!

  40. cody
    Posted November 20, 2008 at 8:30 pm

    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!

  41. Posted November 21, 2008 at 4:44 am

    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.

  42. Genevieve Mitchell
    Posted November 21, 2008 at 6:56 am

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


  43. Posted November 21, 2008 at 8:07 am

    superb article…

  44. harymarris
    Posted November 21, 2008 at 9:01 am

    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.

  45. Jax Appleby
    Posted November 22, 2008 at 4:54 am

    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.

  46. tommyP
    Posted November 22, 2008 at 12:19 pm

    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!

  47. duke
    Posted January 24, 2009 at 3:21 am

    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.

  48. Paul
    Posted August 4, 2009 at 10:10 pm

    Just amazing. seems these images ar lost in time.

  49. Posted January 17, 2010 at 5:37 pm

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

    Sue Atkins
    Author of “Raising Happy Children for Dummies”

  50. Chrissy
    Posted November 8, 2010 at 5:59 pm

    A lot of these are fake, made up ads…. for example… http://rjwhite.tumblr.com/post/472668874/fact-checking

  51. Posted December 4, 2010 at 5:01 am

    Great content..

    Would you like to check my new blog which I created 3 months ago..


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