Monday, February 4, 2013

From 1916: Hey kids, sell Friend Soap and get a free baseball outfit

The Super Bowl is over. Baseball spring training is just days away!1

This awesome advertisement comes from the August 1916 issue of Little Folks, a magazine for children.2

Friend Soap Co. offered boys a free baseball outfit in return for selling some of its soap. Young men simply had to get 25 cakes of "Olive Oil Castile Soap" to sell for 10 cents apiece.3 Then, upon sending the $2.50 to the company, a boy would receive a "splendid baseball outfit."

The description of the baseball outfit is my favorite part of the advertisement:
"SHIRT, handsome grey flannel, broad shoulders, very long, three button front, double sewed.
PANTS, well made, very strong, wide belt, straps, knee elastics.
CAP, snappy new 1915 League shape.
BELT, new style, bright colored, patent nickel buckle."
This wasn't the only sales enticement aimed at children that Friend Soap, based in Concord Junction, Massachusetts, was involved with. I did some Googling and found advertisements from this same time period in which Friend Soap offered fountain pens, watches, furs, dolls, teddy bears, soldier suits, a "moving picture machine" and even violins in exchange for hawking its various products.

I should make a gallery of all of their advertisements, because they're pretty hilarious. I think it's safe to say these weren't exactly the highest-quality products, and that these advertisements have a lot in common with some of the stuff that my generation is familiar with from comic books of the 1970s.

1. This post from last month had a guide to more of Papergreat's baseball content.
2. I plan provide a more thorough post on the entire Little Folks magazine, which is quite dandy, later this winter. Today, I just wanted to highlight the advertisement.
3. Ten cents in 1916 is the equivalent of about $2 for a bar of soap today, according to The Inflation Calculator.

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