The American consumer economy was in full swing by the 1950s as World War II receeded in to the past. Americans moved into the suburbs and the baby boom was in full swing. Most American boys commonly wore jeans and casual clorhes after the War. They still dressed up for formal occassions. Hair cuts were short. Advertising tended to enphasize forml clothes, but there were plenty of depictions of casual clothing. Magazine and newspaper advertizing were still the major medium for selling clothes, but television which appeared in the late-1940s became a major force in the 1950s.
Here is a little booklet advertisement for "Homepride" flour. The booklet is aimed at children. Presumably the company hoped the children would convince mum to buy Honepride flour. Or perhaps mum liked the idea of bringing something home for the kiddies. The booklet features a little boy main character: "Tommy Homepride". The booklet is undated, but we would guess dates from the 1950s. It includes, stories, jokes, puzzles, and ganes that might amuse children. I'm not sure if this is a brand that is still popular in England.
Carnation, better known for canned milk, was promoting instant milk crystals in the 1950s. A boy is pictured enjoying a glass with a "milk moustache". He wears a plaid shirt and jacket, unfortunately the outfit is obscured by the ad copy.
We notice magazine advertisements for boy's Hamilton watches in 1951. The boy pictured in the illustration was a teenager wearing a bowtie and erringbone sports jacket.
Tobacco companies spent huge amounts of money on advertising to dispel the griowing understabnding that cigarettes were a health risk--especially a cause of cncer. The companoes were some of the most common advertisements on TV and in magazines. Cigarette ads seem an unlikely place to find boys clothing depicted, but we see some. I remenmber at the time how I was bothered by my dad's smoking, but knew nothing about the health risk. The R.J. Reynolds Tobacco Company adopted the 'More Doctors Smoke Camels' ad campaign in the 1940s and it continued into the early-50s. These ads featured comments like 'More Doctors Smoke Camels than any other cigarette' or even 'Doctors recommend Camels to their patients'. The idea was to create an aura of health to cigarettes. The idea was to use doctors to give the idea of health some credibility and authority by suggesting that doctors and medical professionals in general preferred Camels over other brands of cigarettes. So we see boy's depicted in doctor's offices with doctor's promoting Camel cigarettes. Camel was a major advertiser in the 1950s, I remember a lot of Canmel ads. I think they were superceeded by Marlboro in the 60s. Marlboro was no longer pushing the doctor angle, but Marolboro was pushing the healthy ioutdoors life style--especially clean air. We now know that comoany exexutives were very well aware of the health risks.
We notice a 1954 magazine ad for Schweppes Ginger Ale. We are not sure about the magazine, perhapds the Saturday Evening Post. The ad shows a sophisticated-looking beared man in a suit with a boy. The boy wears a grey Eton short pants suit with black knee socks. The ad was to give Schweppes an air of upper-class sophistication, hich is why an Eton suit was chosen for the boy. He looks to be about 6-7 years old. The ad copy begins, "This is a photograph of an American boy called Billy drining his first glass of Schweppes Ginger Ale. A great event in anyone's life. The grand panjandrum on the leftg is Billy's English Uncle Whitehead, the Schweppesman from London. ...." The English association adds to the sophistication.
Chevrolet in 1955 depicted a father and two sons (the older brother (11/12) in a long pants suit and the younger in a short pants suit and peaked cap waliking from the church to their new Chevy. Such formal clothes with cars were still fairly common in the 1950s.
From about 1957 Kellogg's Corn Flakes had a boy about 6 or so, in a red gingham short sleeve shirt, grey shorts, and knee socks eating a bowl of cereal.
Coca Cola sponsored a series of ads in the late-1950s and early-60s featuring Boy Scouts and Explorer Scouts. For some reason they did not have Cubs or for that matter Girl Scouts and Camp Fire Girls. Perhaps Cubs were not see as potential customers as mom made most of the irchases. Teens were different. They appeared in major magazines, I think like Life and Look. I also remember seeing them in National Geographic. The boys are shown enjoying a Coke in a wide range of settings, including camp and canoeing. Here is an example from 1959 (figure 1 ). The boys here are shown as stopping at a general store, I think during a hike. however, their back packs are very large, perhaps to emphasize that they worked up a thirst.
Many of the advertisers we have found are from well known companies. Here is one we have never heard of before -- Andy Boy Broccoli. This is a family owned comppany in New York state which was founded jist before the Great Depression in 1927. They promototed fresh produce, still a novel marketing ploy at the time. The ad we have found is undated, but looks to us like the late-1950s or even the early-60s. Hopefully we will eventually find the date. We are not sure in which magazine it appeared. One might think Life or Look, but I do not recall it. The children are alldressed up in their best party clothes. It is quite a clever image, the idea of wooing a young lady with a bouquet of broccoli.
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