Milk in wartime

In 1942, the Canadian government published “Canada’s Official Food Rules”, which was the first nutritional guide that it had produced. (The name was later changed to “Canada’s Food Rules” and then to “Canada’s Food Guide”.) The initial Official Rules treated milk as a food category all its own, recommending half a pint of milk a day for adults and more than one pint for children. (The Canadian government page on the history of its food rules and food guides is here.)

Naturally, milk manufacturers saw this as a marketing opportunity. Silverwood’s Dairy Products included a reasonable approximation of the Food Rules, naturally listing milk at the top:


And the Milk Foundation of Toronto also included the list of foods, in a slightly different order but once again with milk at the top:


The 1944 Canada’s Food Rules actually increased the recommended quantity of milk, suggesting one-half to one pint for adults and 1 1/2 pints to one quart for children. The recommendation reverted in 1949 to its original level of a half-pint for adults and a pint or more for children.


Hitler’s Children

Here’s a somewhat sensational movie poster from the March 24 1943 edition of the Toronto Daily Star:


Hitler’s Children was a black-and-white propaganda film released by RKO Studios. Despite being panned in the New York Times as being “obvious” and “conventional”, the film was a huge hit: it was the fourth-highest grossing film in 1943.

It was grimly ironic that the atrocities described in this poster weren’t actually as horrible as what the Nazis were actually doing.


Come-home-to girl

The March 24 1943 edition of the Toronto Daily Star contained this photo of aspiring actress Donna Reed:


I’m not sure how the voting was conducted – how were the candidates chosen?

The film critics who selected Donna Reed (1921-1986) for stardom were prescient: she went on to appear as James Stewart’s wife in the 1946 film It’s A Wonderful Life, and won an Oscar for Best Supporting Actress in From Here To Eternity in 1953. She then became a TV star, appearing on The Donna Reed Show from 1958 to 1966.

Her final screen role was in the TV series Dallas in 1984-1985. When she was fired from the show, she sued for breach of contract and won; unfortunately, not long after that, she died of pancreatic cancer.


Wrestling from 1943

The June 8 1943 edition of the Toronto Daily Star contained this ad for a wrestling match:


One thing I want to know is this: when did newspapers stop using a period when abbreviating a first name? It used to always be common practice, when shortening a name such as Edward, to write it as “Ed.”. They don’t do that nowadays. When did it stop happening?

(I also want to know when they stopped writing “today” as “to-day”, but that’s another question.)

All three of the main protagonists in this ad have Wikipedia entries:

  • Ed (or Ed.) “Strangler” Lewis (1891-1966) was a four-time World Heavyweight Wrestling Champion, having started in his chosen profession at the age of 14. At the time of this match, Lewis was legally blind, having contracted trachoma; this did not appear to disqualify him from refereeing. Sadly, he died destitute, relying on his wife and acquaintances to survive.
  • “Whipper” Billy Watson (1915-1990), whose real name was William Potts, wrestled professionally from 1936 to 1971; his career ended when he was hit by a car. During his lifetime, he raised millions of dollars for Easter Seals and other charities. In the last twelve years of his life, he gained 130 pounds, weighing 350 pounds when he passed away.
  • Yvon Robert (1914-1971) was known as “The Lion”. He wrestled professionally from 1932 to at least 1959.

I could find nothing on Andre Vadnais, the Quebec Habitant Angel.


The Next Of Kin

The June 8 1943 Toronto Daily Star contained this rather stark advertisement for a movie:


The Next Of Kin (1942) turns out to be a wartime propaganda film, stressing the importance of avoiding careless talk with what could possibly be enemy agents: “Be Like Dad: Keep Mum”. I’m not sure whether viewers lured in by this ad would have been disappointed or not; you can decide for yourself, as it is available on YouTube.

The Internet Movie Database rated this movie 6.8 out of 10. It was filmed at the Ealing Studios in London, which produced a number of critically-acclaimed films after the war.

The movie starred Mervyn Johns (1899-1992), who for some reason isn’t listed in this ad. Johns appeared in a number of Ealing movies, and appeared as Bob Cratchit in the 1951 version of A Christmas Carol (my favourite version). He appeared in his last movie in 1976.

Wikipedia also has pages for listed starsĀ Nova Pilbeam, Phyllis Stanley, Basil Sydney, Reginald Tate, and Mary Clare.


Mystery possibly solved

When looking through the June 5 1944 edition of the Toronto Daily Star, I found this ad for a dry cleaner:


This ad refers to a Retex dry cleaning method, which might explain these ads from 1932.

The 1944 city directory lists 24 branches of Langley’s, in addition to their main offices at 241-253 Spadina Road. During the war, they were looking for married women to serve at their locations, as shown by this June 8 1943 ad in the Toronto Daily Star:


By 1955, Langley’s was down to 16 branches from their wartime 24. By 1965, they were down to 10 branches, and presumably the count gradually diminished after that.


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.