Monday, July 7, 2008
Vegetable Oil Ads Through the Years
Fats, oils, and butter have always been an indispensable part of cooking. Even going as far back as medieval recipe books, animal fats were used. So it's not surprising that ads for vegetable oil in vintage magazines are so commonplace. I decided to compare three of these ads from various time periods to see how much had changed from year to year.
The first ad, on the right above, is for Wesson Oil from the November 1924 Good Housekeeping magazine. The text talks about the fact that a housewife would know that Wesson is the best salad oil for dressings, the best shortening for pastries (contrary to the many Crisco ads of the time, of course)... but it is also the choice fat to fry with! It seems the advertiser's fear was that the woman would consider Wesson too good of a fat to use for mere frying, so the ad assures the cook that using Wesson will actually make your fried foods as wholesome as possible. Today it is quite a stretch to view fried foods as wholesome, but at this time the magazine were full of recipes for frying foods.
On the left is another Wesson ad; this one is from the September 1936 issue of Better Homes and Gardens. Again, the use of Wesson Oil as a salad dressing is understood. The bottom of the page features a basic french oil dressing which isn't any different than a basic salad dressing recipe of today. However, this time the ad introduces the use of Wesson oil in cooked vegetables! Here, Wesson is used to promote health and nourishment in combination with hot vegetables.
Finally, below is a Mazola ad from 1968. This time, health is emphasized even more. Now we are beginning to see words like saturated fats and polyunsaturates. And here, the oil comes also in a margarine form. Still, though, the ad boasts of "light, crispy fried foods" and again the tangy salad dressings of the past.