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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July 12, 2013 - 8:05am
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