Monday, April 23, 2012

Straight Arrow Injun-uity card from Nabisco Shredded Wheat

More than six decades ago, this piece of cardboard was situated between big biscuits in a box of Nabisco Shredded Wheat.1

The card -- intended to pique kids' interest in eating "hay bales," as some still call shredded wheat2 -- features a Native American named Straight Arrow giving instructions on how to create a travois -- a frame that could be used by humans, dogs or horses to drag loads over land.

The small type at the bottom of the card, which is copyright 1949, states:
  • NABISCO SHREDDED WHEAT
  • Book One
  • Card No. 35 in a series of 36 STRAIGHT ARROW INJUN-UITIES

For the complete history of the Straight Arrow Injun-uity cards, you need look no further than Roland Anderson, who has documented them in fine detail on his personal website.3

Here are a few excerpts from Anderson's in-depth history:
  • "Straight Arrow was a fictional American Indian character.4 He was portrayed as a Comanche Indian orphan raised by whites as 'Steve Adams.' ... Each Straight Arrow tale had Steve reverting to his true 'secret Indian identity' in order to right some wrong, often committed against the Indians."
  • "Straight Arrow ... made his first appearances almost simultaneously on a radio program and on 'Injun-uity cards'. These two projects were tightly coordinated projects backed by the National Biscuit Company and its advertising agency, McCann-Erickson."5
  • "A package of Shredded Wheat contained 12 ... biscuits, packed in four layers with three biscuits in each layer. Separating these layers were three gray cardboard dividers. Starting in 1949, 'Straight Arrow's Secrets of Indian Lore and Know-How' were printed on these cardboard dividers in an effort to increase the popularity of Shredded Wheat among children."
  • "The cards were published in four series called 'books.' ... All the cards of the first two books were published as an single 'Injun-uity Manual' with a stapled binding in 1951. This manual was available through the mail from the National Biscuit Company for 15 cents and a Shredded Wheat box top."
For more information, including the names of Straight Arrow's horse and sidekick, check out Anderson's website.

Footnotes
1. Here's a Flickr image by Paul Malon showing what the vintage Nabisco Shredded Wheat box looked like. Shredded Wheat is now made by Post, which acquired the brand in 1993.
2. In 2006, readers of The Straight Dope shared their thoughts on how they liked to eat their shredded wheat.
3. Anderson's website -- a true find -- is full of other fascinating stuff, including:
4. Straight Arrow was featured in cereal cards (like the one in today's post), a radio program, a comic book, a newspaper comic strip, toys and clothing.
5. McCann-Erickson was also mentioned in this March 2011 Papergreat post: The Future of America (57 years ago).

3 comments:

  1. the nabisco plant was in my home town of niagara falls and I would like to purchase the full set of the injun-uity cards

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  2. I still can rember the true shredded wheat as i was 13 in 1949.

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  3. I have a copy of the booklet "Straight Arrow, 72 Injun-Uities which features the complete series. I purchased it from Nabisco with box tops in 1951. Anyone interested in buying it?

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