Marketing Ovaltine

While collecting newspaper ads and articles, I’ve noticed a whole bunch of ads for Ovaltine, which Wikipedia calls a “brand of milk flavoring product made with malt extract.” However, the makers of Ovaltine have never been sure how to market it. They’ve tried just about everything.

In the July 7 1923 Toronto Globe, they marketed Ovaltine as a sleep aid:

1923 July 7 Globe

In the September 19 1925 Toronto Globe, they marketed it as a “pick-up” for listless office workers.

1925 Sep 19 Globe

The September 7 1927 Toronto Globe praised it as a sustaining tonic that helped distance swimmer Georges Michel make it across the English Channel. It was apparently his only nourishment during the ordeal.

1927 Sep 7 Globe

The October 1 1928 Toronto Daily Star included “a message of national importance”, offering health for all at lower cost:

1928 Oct 1 Star

Sixteen days later, in the October 17 1928 Toronto Daily Star, they recommended heating Ovaltine to relieve afternoon fatigue:

1928 Oct 17 Star

During the midst of an influenza epidemic, the December 22 1928 Toronto Globe stated that Ovaltine could protect you from the flu:

1928 Dec 22 Globe

In the April 20 1929 Toronto Globe, they were back to marketing Ovaltine as a cure for sleeplessness:

1929 Apr 20 Globe

And, the February 25 1930 Toronto Daily Star suggested that it was a delicious and healthful beverage after an evening of bridge.

1930 Feb 25 Star

This was the end of what you might call The Golden Age of Ovaltine. I found some Ovaltine ads much later, in the 1940s and 1950s – by then, they had settled on their niche, which was that Ovaltine was a useful supplement for babies and small children. From the June 8 1943 Toronto Daily Star:

1943 Jun 8 Star

And from the March 25 1947 Toronto Daily Star:

1947 Mar 25 Star

And, finally, from the February 2 1950 edition of the Toronto Daily Star:

1950 Feb 2 Star

This ad also mentions that Ovaltine can maintain the mother’s health and strength. Or perhaps stave off sleeplessness. Or whatever.

Throughout the years, Ovaltine was always marketed by A. Wander, Limited, first located in Toronto and then in Peterborough. I think I would have liked to sit in on one of their marketing strategy meetings.


Millionaire Dad chases daughter

Here’s a random story from the June 6 1959 edition of the Toronto Daily Star that caught my attention:


Out of curiosity, I did some Google searching for some of the names mentioned in this story. Here’s what I found:

  • There is a Getty Images photograph of Ms. Dowsett and Mr. Langley returning in a car after their marriage had been stopped.
  • A car belonging to Harry Dowsett was put on sale (though it might now have been sold). This page contains more information: to get her away from Mr. Langley, Ms. Dowsett was sent on a tour of Africa and New Zealand, where she met her future husband, Michael Barclay of Hanworth Hall. They married in 1960.
  • The same article pointed out that the elder Dowsett once accidentally shot his chauffeur-valet after a night of drinking. He was forgiven, but his firearms certificates were revoked.
  • Mr. Barclay was in the news in 2006 when he was jailed for illegally buying prohibited specimens of birds for his egg collection. (His prosecutor was apparently named Andrew Bird.) The Guardian has an article about egg collecting.
  • Here’s a photo of the Hanworth Hall grounds.

Hearing aids

The June 6 1959 edition of the Toronto Daily Star contained two different ads for hearing ads. Both of them looked a bit unusual to me.

The first was for the 3-D Super-Powered Hearing Aid:


This company had just set up shop in Toronto, as they did not appear in the 1959 city directory. They are listed in the 1960 city directory as the Universal 3-Dimensional Electronic Hearing Aid Co Ltd. In the 1969 directory (the latest that I can access online), they were listed at 27 Carlton Street, first floor.

The second was for the Acousticon Privat-Ear:


The Acousticon hearing aid was invented by Miller Reese Hutchison in 1902. He turned over the rights to his invention to Kelley Monroe Turner, who improved the hearing aid and applied its technology to other products, including the dictograph. He eventually formed the Dictograph Products Company.

The Canadian arm of this company first appears in the 1934 city directory as the Acousticon-Dictograph Company of Canada. By 1948, they had opened their retail branch at 67 Richmond Street West. The Acousticon brand name remained in use, even though the technology had improved in the meantime.

By 1969, the Acousticon Hearing Aid Company had moved to the main floor of 137 Yonge Street; there is a Goodlife Fitness there now. The Acousticon Dictograph Company was at 81 John.

A Google search turned up all sorts of references to Acousticon, including a picture of a hearing aid manufactured in approximately 1927. And, while looking in the January 14 1958 Toronto Daily Star, I found this ad:


I don’t know how convincing the hearing aid disguised as glasses actually was, but I think it’s a clever idea.

John Collingwood Reade – mentioned in the Acousticon ad – has a biography on the History of Canadian Broadcasting site.


Pepto-Bismol or Pepto-Besmal

You’re probably familiar with Pepto-Bismol, the pink liquid and/or tablet that can be taken to relieve stomach problems. What I didn’t know was that, at one time, it was called Pepto-Besmal in Canada.

The June 6 1959 edition of the Toronto Daily Star contained this ad:


The July 2 1951 edition of LIFE magazine contained an ad for Pepto-Bismol that pointed out that it was called Pepto-Besmal in Canada:


I couldn’t find when the name changed in Canada. The latest reference to Pepto-Besmal was in a drug store ad in 1965, so I assume that the name changed about then. But I don’t know for sure.


The Silver Eagle

The February 20 1935 edition of the Toronto Daily Star contained this syndicated article about a young man who had built a combination boat/airplane, named the “Silver Eagle”, with which he hoped to cross the Atlantic Ocean. The article was less than sympathetic to the young inventor:


$25,000 was a lot of money in 1935 – it is equivalent to over $450,000 in 2018 dollars.

YouTube actually has footage of the Silver Eagle being launched. It doesn’t show the craft leaving the ground, but it does show that it can float.

I could find nothing else on the Silver Eagle or Paul Dudley, but his craft did not kill him, at least not right away. He lived long enough to get married and father a child – his son, a pastor, died in 2010.


Someday my prince will come

The photo section of the April 21 1925 Toronto Daily Star contained this picture:


When I read this, I wondered whether Prince Roufat Magometoff-Haliloff was an actual Russian prince. As it turned out, so did other Russian nobles: eventually, Prince Roufat admitted that he wasn’t an actual prince but was, in reality, a Bey. It was not clear what a Bey was or whether he really was one, but it was harder to challenge.

Ms. Arnold apparently wasn’t convinced either: in 1927, the Ogden Standard Examiner reported that Ms. Arnold had annulled her marriage. The newspaper article claimed – fairly or not – that she had “got rid of him as expeditiously and matter-of-factly as if his name were Smith and he got his start in life peddling fish”.

Searches for Roufat Magometoff-Haliloff and Delight Potter Arnold (the Star had her name wrong) turned up nothing else, so I have no idea who he really was or what happened to either of them. Perhaps his name really was Smith.


More Klim!

On October 17, 1918, the First World War was almost over. That day’s edition of the Toronto Daily Star contained this ad for Klim milk powder:


“Klim”, by the way, is “milk” spelled backwards.

According to Wikipedia, Klim was developed for use in the tropics, where milk tended to spoil quickly. During World War II, it was issued as part of the U.S. Army’s jungle ration, and was issued by the Red Cross to prisoners of war. Flattened Klim cans helped Allied prisoners escape from Stalag Luft III.


Daylight savings time

The other day, I was looking at the September 19 1925 edition of the Toronto Globe, and I discovered that daylight savings time was scheduled to end the next day.

The front page of the paper contained this notice:


In 1925, it was just assumed that everybody would go to church on Sunday.

The paper also had this official notice from the mayor, Thomas Foster:


God Save the King! Thomas Foster (1852-1945) was the mayor of Toronto from 1925 to 1927, when he was well into his seventies. He was a teenager when Canada was created, and lived to see the end of the Second World War; he is now buried in a large mausoleum in Uxbridge that the town cannot afford to maintain. His will left $500,000 for cancer research, money for an annual picnic at Exhibition Park for children, money to feed wild birds in Toronto, and prizes for the mothers who gave birth to the most children in four specified ten-year periods, the last of which was 1954 to 1964.

The Time and Date website has the complete history of daylight savings time in Toronto. The amount of yearly DST has changed frequently over the years since it was first instituted in 1918:

  • The first four years were April 14-October 27, March 30-October 26, May 2-September 26, and then May 15-September 15 in 1921. Mid-May to mid-September remained in place until 1923.
  • In 1924, DST was revised to be from the first Sunday in May to the third Sunday in September.
  • In 1927, there was a slight change: DST went from the last Sunday in April or May 1 if the last Sunday in April was the 25th, to the last Sunday in September or October 1 if the last Sunday in September was the 24th. This must have been a bit confusing, but it remained in place until 1937.
  • In 1938, DST would have started on May 1, but the city decided to go with April 24th instead. Similarly, in 1939, DST ended on September 24, not October 1. I have no idea why.
  • During the war, starting April 28, 1940, DST remained in force all year round, ending finally on September 30, 1945. In 1946, the city reverted to the last Sunday in April to the last Sunday in September.
  • In 1947, 1948, and 1949, for some reason, the city decided to set its clocks forward and back at midnight instead of 2 a.m.
  • In 1949 and 1950, the city experimented with ending DST on the last Sunday in November instead of the last Sunday in September. I guess that this proved unpopular, as the city reverted in 1951 to moving the clocks forward at 2 a.m. on the last Sunday in April, and then moving them back again at 2 a.m. on the last Sunday in September.
  • In 1957, the city started moving the clocks back at 2 a.m. on the last Sunday in October. This remained in place for 30 years.
  • In 1987, clocks were moved forward on the first Sunday in April, not the last. This remained in place for 20 more years.
  • In 2007, the city changed to its present system: clocks are now moved forward on the second Sunday in March, and back on the first Sunday in November.

Way Sagless Spring

The September 19 1925 edition of the Toronto Globe contained this ad for a bedspring:


I tend to want to read the firm’s name in the voice of a stoned surfer dude: “This spring is way sagless.”

I looked up the Way Sagless Spring Company in the Toronto city directories, because why not. Here’s what I found:

  • The firm doesn’t appear in the 1925 directory; its first appearance is in 1926. So the company had just moved into the Toronto market when this ad came out. (They were also in the United States – see below for more details.)
  • By 1930, they had moved to 48 Abell Street, which is not far from where the Drake Hotel is today. They remained there until at least 1941 (I was checking at about five-year intervals). In 1941, the firm was doing well enough to purchase a bold-face larger-print entry in the city directory.
  • By 1946, they had moved to 81 Riverside Drive in Swansea, and there was a Way Sagless Lunch Bar (!!) at the same location. By 1951, the lunch bar was gone. The firm remained there until at least 1956.
  • In 1961, they were at 11 Kingsway South in Swansea.
  • By 1965, they were gone.

A Google search for Way Sagless Spring Company turned up references to older ads, mostly in Minneapolis, where the company was originally from. (Popular Science has a link to a somewhat creepy-looking Way Sagless Spring ad from 1917; it’s clearly the same illustration.) There is also an old ghost sign for Way Sagless Springs in Brooklyn.


Auto-Knitter Hosiery

Here’s an ad from the September 19 1925 Toronto Globe that caught my eye:


Some snooping in the Toronto city directories yielded the following information about the Auto-Knitter Hosiery Company:

  • The company first appears in the 1917 directory at 257 College Street, with Alfred W. Orme as its manager.
  • Thomas W. Chadburn (pictured in the ad) took over as manager in 1918.
  • In 1920, the firm had moved to 607 College Street, and then moved to 1870 Davenport Road before 1923.
  • The firm remained in business until 1945, at which point Mr. Chadburn apparently married his long-time secretary-treasurer and became vice-president of a medical products company.
  • He appears in city directories as late as 1965 – his occupation isn’t listed, so he was probably retired by then.

A search for “auto-knitter hosiery” turned up the following:

  • The Grey Roots Museum and Archives site has a page on the company.
  • The 100 Hidden Histories blog has photographs of a knitting machine.
  • The Trampled by Geese blog describes trying to get an auto-knitter to work.