Monday, December 31, 2007

it's not meat loaf, it's chef boy-ar-dee enhanced meatload

Vintage Ad #434: Polpettoni Saporiti, Chef Boy-ar-Dee Style
As it's New Year's Eve, may we offer this fine dining suggestion from the wonderful folks at Chef Boy-Ar-Dee?

While I don't recall ever buying the Chef's sauce on its own, Amy and I devoured Mini Ravioli, Beefaroni, Roller Coasters, Mini Bites and all of their related canned pasta dishes. We loved canned pasta as kids, except for a misstep the Chef made involving "Papa Smurf's special sauce". Mom had to make sure one of us didn't receive more meatballs than the other. I probably lost most of my taste for Chef-Boy-Ar-Dee due to a disgusting university roommate who liked using it uncooked as a sandwich filling.

Ettore (Hector) Boiardi (1897-1985) was a restauranteur in Cleveland who found take-out requests for his sauces so high that he opened a factory in the late 1920s to keep up with demand. Boiardi's products hit the national market just as spaghetti and others Italian foods became popular in American homes - his kits offered a quick, tasty, economical meal. The line's eventual name was based on the phonetic pronounciation of his name.

Here's Boiardi pitching his economical spaghetti dinner in 1953, as discovered by RW-TV:


Source: Family Circle, December 1967 

Friday, December 21, 2007

season's greetings from mario's of bramalea

Vintage Ad #422: Season's Greetings from Mario's Staff
As part of a Bramalea Town Centre flyer celebrating the holidays, we recently discovered this gem of an ad for the mall's salon. We think it was a nice gesture ti include a line for each employee, allowing potential new clients to zero in on who they'll choose for their first visit (though we'd like to know why Stella was good as gold).

There were a few employees who missed the photo shoot and didn't make the final ad. Our crack research team has discovered the lines that would have been used for these unfortunate souls.

MORGAINE - Our resident mystic will tell your fortune as she curls your locks.
SHEMP -This hair expert is no stooge.
BRUCE - Because laws enforcing stereotypes about those working in hair salons dictate that we have at least one employee named Bruce.
HEPZIBAH - A professional since 1916, let her 60-plus years of experience guide your hair through any time period. She will surprise you!

Source: The Toronto Star, December 7, 1977

Wednesday, December 19, 2007

try a winter warmer - a dr. pepper boomer!

Vintage Ad #341: Winter Warmer
Now that winter's here (OK, officially it's still a day or two off), it's time to dust off seasonal drink recipes for your next soiree or ski trip. The fine folks at Dr. Pepper developed "the Boomer" to warm your spirits. Only your digestive system will determine just how devilish this concoction is.

As one commenter noted when I posted this ad on Flickr, all that's missing are happy sweater-clad skiiers (it's hard to tell just what the stickman skiier on the right is wearing).

Source: Playboy, February 1966 

Friday, December 14, 2007

shufflin' off to buffalo, art deco style (2)


Previously: City Hall
After leaving City Hall we wandered around downtown for a few minutes, noticing the utter lack of life and ominous black smoke belched by a building close to where we parked. After lunch at a diner further up Main Street, we initially intended to check out the Darwin D. Martin complex designed by Frank Lloyd Wright. Unlike City Hall, there appeared to be a lineup and we suspected we might not make one of the last tours.

Buffalo Central Terminal
We headed to the Buffalo Central Terminal. Located east of downtown,the station was opened by the New York Central Railway in 1929 and remained in use as a passenger station until Amtrak pulled out in 1979. Two decades of neglect and stripping of artifacts by various owners followed until the site was turned over to the Central Terminal Restoration Corporation in 1997. Since then, Volunteers have gradually restored the site. There's a long, long way to go, though the work to date gives a sense of how neglected the site was.

Stone and Broken Windows (2) Lower Area
We started by exploring the perimeter of the station, which combined ornate architecture and smashed windows.

The New York Central Railway Back Entrance
The back entrance to the main hall, which did not quite prepare us for what lay inside...

To Buses & Taxicabs To Street & Buses
To Train Concourse
Ticker Booths (1)
The three of us could only come up with two phrases to describe the terminal:

1) "Wow..."

2) "Holy shit!"

Imagine going on an archaelogical dig of a giant train station in the far future or after an apocalyptic event. It was a hard feeling to shake, combined with all the other ghostly sites we'd seen earlier in the day. Definitely one of the most awe-inspiring sights I have ever seen.

The Union News Company
Restoration work on a news kiosk. Another one was used as a booth for volunteer information and souvenirs.

Filiing Drawers
Furniture found in the former baggage check area.

The terminal has found all sorts of interesting uses in recent years, from artistic gatherings to weddings. Posters promoted an upcoming Halloween party. I suspect the transfer to the volunteer group was made just in time, or else the site could have decayed further to the state of ghost terminals like Detroit's Michigan Central Station.

All photos taken October 14, 2007. Full set on Flickr More stories from the day's adventures at Squiddity. - JB

Wednesday, December 12, 2007

lubrication is a matter of timing

Vintage Ad #410: Lubrication is a matter of timing
Just because a lot of people I know could use an unintended-by-the-advertiser (maybe) cheap laugh this month...but if you're really interested in industrial-grade petroleum products, read on.

Source: Time, March 13, 1972 

Wednesday, December 05, 2007

christmas 1975

First Christmas With Child
To mark the holiday season, a shot from my first Christmas, though some may argue I was around for Xmas '74 in embryonic form.

This is a typical family scene from the first quarter-century of my life - Dad and I (or Amy when she arrived on the scene) doing something that amuses Mom. I'm pointing at something, perhaps training for my childhood habit of pointing down any road I wanted to explore on family drives. We lived in this house through my early teens, with the same layout up until we moved.

The Santa ornament in the foreground hung on the tree for years and still swings on Amy's tree. This tree lasted for three decades, until the colour coding on the branch wires wore off...which weren't really necessary towards the end, as knew where each limb was supposed to go.

Putting up the tree began with a trip into our large, slighty musty crawl space, where the Christmas decorations were buried back behind boxes of preserves, old football yearbooks and cheap mystery novels. The tree's location varied over the years - here it's in the upstairs living room, since my grandparents visiting from Toronto slept on the sofa bed in the basement. Usually we played our small handful of Christmas records while putting up the tree, featuring the good, bad and ugly of seasonal music. I would wake up around 3 a.m. to poke at whatever Santa brought, usually sneaking a chocolate coin and turning the TV on as quietly as possible. Mom and Dad probably knew I was up but left me alone to have my fun.

Photo taken in December 1975 

Tuesday, December 04, 2007

first steps into the snow

Pink Tower (2)
Scenes from a Psychogeography walk through the Financial District after the first major snowfall of the year.

The CN Tower in purple/magenta/pink mode, contrasted with fully-lit offices on the south side of King Street.

Eternal Flame of Hope (2)
Outside of Metro Hall, we gathered around the Eternal Flame of Hope, first lit by various dignitaries in 1996. The wind tried to snuff out the flame, but a hissing sound indicated this gas-fueled light wasn't going down without a fight. No fingers were singed while testing how close one could get to the fire. Further east, an Enbridge team was working on a steaming manhole, the likes of which I've usually seen only in Detroit.

Illuminated Walkway (1)
We wound our way down to the Bay Street entrance of BCE...er...Brookfield Place (I'm still not used to the name change). Atop the illuminated walkway was Vibrant Communities in Focus (warning: link goes to Photosensitive site in general), an exhibit of works highlighting the effects of Ontario Trillium Foundation grants over the past quarter-century. I think my camera pulled through in capturing the lighting - I like the effect on those walking through the exhibit.

Brookfield Place Ceiling Lights Big Christmas Balls
Like most of the office towers we passed, Christmas lighting had been erected in Brookfield Place. Most of the group looked in awe at the sparkling lights hanging from the ceiling.

Cereal Under Glass
Seeing a fast-food stand that specializes in breakfast cereal, like this branch of Cerealicious in Royal Bank Plaza, feels odd, as cereal tends to be the ultimate in lazy cuisine. If had the room, this set-up would work fine in my kitchen, given the number of boxes sitting above my sink.

Amuse-O-Matic Centre
Over in Union Station, we quickly discovered the video arcade in the lower level. The 70s style letting in its sign provided a hint of some of the vintage games we discovered inside. Not since my days of leering over hardcore players while waiting for my Saturday morning bowling league to begin have I seen games like Burger Time and Gauntlet available for play.

Doctor Who Pinball (3)
A detail from a Doctor Who pinball game, one of several cult property tie-ins. The art for the Patrick Troughton-era grouping on the left looks to have been copied straight from a late 1960s production still.

Bopping Along
Among the newer games we were quickly hooked on was Dance ManiaX, which required a combination of dancing and air drumming to play. It also featured a duck springing forward from a cuckoo clock to the strains of Doodah!. Three tried it and quickly got into the game's groove.

Come As You Are...
The evening wound down at Jack Astor's at Front and University. As it was Grey Cup weekend, we saw numerous fans, including one with a scooped-out watermelon tightly affixed to his head (the effect of which reminded me a little of a Kids in the Hall character). Drawings, such as this one of Bubbles from Trailer Park Boys, hung throughout the restaurant. A caricature of Dubya above our table was unusually critical for a chain restaurant, criticizing his lack of movement on global warming issues.

Full photo set on Flickr. All photos taken November 22, 2007 

Tuesday, November 27, 2007

out cold!

Vintage Ad #338: Out Cold!
Some people claim to have out-of-body experiences while lying in an accident-induced state of unconsciousness. In today's ad, our friend Jack Lewis had an out-of-diploma experience.

Perhaps it wasn't just thoughts of a career change and a desire to avoid further head traumas that led to Jack's moment of clarity. Perhaps those boxes that knocked him out cold were filled with textbooks. Days of working on the line at an educational publisher may have subconsciously swayed Jack's decision.

Or perhaps we're really stretching this possible scenario behind Jack's life-changing moment. At last report, Jack took early retirement after 36 years with the firm, the last 33 spent happily with the chirpy coworker in panel 8.

ICS regularly advertised in a variety of magazines and comic books. The company is now known as Penn Foster Career School, though the Scranton address remains the same.

Lingering question: while Jack lay delirious in the infirmary, did the goddess of workman's compensation pay a visit?

Source: Marvel Tales #32, November 1971

Monday, November 19, 2007

fashion flareup by botany 500

Vintage Ad #389: Budding Game Show Hosts
"Fashions by Botany 500." For years, this acknowledgement was a staple of the end credits for game shows. While other clothiers provided wear for emcees, Botany 500 remains the butt of most jokes.

Today's ad was originally shot during auditions for a failed ABC game show, Masterpiece, with neither of these two gentlemen becoming the next Bob Barker or Bill Cullen. The set featured mod colours with a Jackson Pollock-inspired flair. Two teams competed, each consisting of a contestant and celebrity (the pilot featured Vincent Price and Alastair Cooke). Two rounds of questions revolved around the arts. The winning team moved on to the final round, which featured an obscure piece of art or classical music by a well-known artist, presented by a leggy model. Audience testing revealed the show was too highbrow for network television, though a version with Ivy League professors as the "celebrities" briefly aired on PBS in 1970. Not wanting their model shots to go to waste, Botany 500 received permission to use them in a print ad campaign.

Source: Playboy, September 1968

Sunday, November 18, 2007

the two mr. belvederes

Tyler 8-7100. WE DO GOOD WORK.

If you grew up within antenna or cable distance of Detroit from the 1960s onward, there's a good chance that phone number and slogan are burned in your brain, thanks to Belvedere Construction.

I don't recall seeing today's YouTube find when it originally aired, though there were so many ads featuring Mr. Belvedere (aka Maurice Lezell) they may have blurred in my brain. Note the painters cap and the bumper sticker on the belly of the robot. Perhaps its mouth doubled as a credit card reader or spit out estimates for good work.

According to a 2002 Metro Times article, Lezell named his company after both a street in Detroit and the character played by Clifton Webb in a popular late 1940s movie series...which later inspired the 1980s sitcom. While searching for more of the classic Detroit commercials, I stumbled upon this odd club for kids...


I suspect that admitting that you were a member of this fan club was a one-way ticket to a schoolyard pounding.

Friday, November 16, 2007

shufflin' off to buffalo, art deco style (1)


A month ago, I took a carload down to Buffalo to check out the city's first cross-border edition of Doors Open. Time only allowed us to explore two buildings, but both proved to be wise decisions on a day full of surprises.
The first surprise came when we reached the border. I had prepped the others, in my usual semi-paranoid state, what to expect when crossing the Niagara River. Turned out none of this was necessary, as we had a border guard who didn't seem partially cybernetic. We handed her the Doors Open program, which she thought looked interesting. No strange questions were asked and we passed through without any strange looks.

Niagara Square
Coming into downtown via Elmwood, we parked near Niagara Square, which was devoid of life. The combination of grey skies, solitary monuments and wide, empty streets left us feeling like we were in a zombie movie (28 Days Later was tossed around). We expected a creature to shuffle down the street at any second.

The monument in the square is dedicated to President William McKinley, assassinated a few miles north during the Pan-American Exhibition in 1901.

The Maple Leaf Forever!?!
We crossed the street to Buffalo City Hall, noticing a modest numbers of vistors. Had this been a Toronto Doors Open, the line would have wound around the block. Opened in 1931, the face of this art deco gem is awe-inspiring.

Vintage Fruitage
The region's agriculture heritage is among the themes celebrated in the building's artwork. It was also the first time I had ever seen the word "fruitage".

Oct 11-14_07 Ravines and Buffalo 061 Oct 11-14_07 Ravines and Buffalo 058
Classical personifications line the upper walls and entryways in the lobby.

The Mayor's Desk
We were impressed with the council chamber. Admirable qualities, such as "fortitude" are etched into the pillars of the semi-circular room. Shwon above is the mayor's seat.

Stained Glass Ceiling
The ceiling of the council chamber, showing a stylized sun.

Next stop was the observation tower, which provided great views of the city. Despite the clouds, we were able to see the spray from Niagara Falls and a fire to the east (though it didn't appear far enough to be in Cheektowaga).

WKBW Channel 7 Buffalo
Looking south at WKBW-TV.

Sabres Country
Two homes for the Buffalo Sabres. Up front is the Buffalo Memorial Auditorium (1970-96), backed by HSBC Arena (1996-present).

The Statler
The Statler building, outside of which we found a bird that met a sad end. Buffalo was the birthplace of the Statler hotel chain - this one was the company's second incarnation in the city, opened in the early 1920s.

Next: Awestruck at the Terminal.

All photos taken October 14, 2007. Full set on Flickr

Wednesday, November 14, 2007

fake hair for men and women department

Vintage Ad #400: Hip Huggin Hairdos and Face Fastenin Fuzz
Another day, another find from the fabulous world of late 1960s fake facial fuzz. The top half of this page features the largest Masculiner ad I've seen, in garis...glorious living colour. This one must have been aimed at young teens, unless the older audience for Archie comics in 1969 was unusually large.

This is also the only time I've ever seen these ads paired with women's wigs. Eager readers could now race to the nearest go-go bar to test out their new look. While reading this ad, we suggest listening to mod or soulful 60s instrumentals - how about Hip Hug Her by Booker T & The MGs? Anyone who still has a warehouse full of these wigs in black might be able to make a few bucks peddling them to Amy Winehouse lookalikes.

Pep began in 1940 as a superhero title, headlined by the patriotic Shield. Archie made his funnybook debut in issue 22 and soon took over the title, which ran through 1987.

Click on the "fake hair" tag below for more fake facial fuzz follies.

Source: Pep #230, June 1969 

Tuesday, November 06, 2007

a hallowe'en stroll


Wanting to catch some of the Hallowe'en spirit, I went for a neighbourhood stroll along with Dylan and Nadia last Wednesday. Our route took us through Rosedale, St. Jamestown, Cabbagetown and Church Street.

Nauseated Pumpkin
This pumpkin snuck into the candy bowl early and paid dearly for it. One of the many well-crafted gourds across Rosedale.

The neighbourhood seemed to be divided between streets bustling with activity and streets with an invisible fence keeping trick-or-treaters. While we kept to streets full of decorations, we'd peer down others where one wouldn't even know it was Halloween.

The Dead Wear Dora Diapers Bad Flight Plan
Left: This skeleton excited a large group of trick-or-treaters - "look, he's wearing Dora the Explorer underpants!" One kid rambled on for at least five minutes in disbelief. In terms of views on Flickr, this is the most popular picture of the evening, though I'm not sure if I want to explore the reasons too deeply.

Right: A witch who made an error in her flight path. Accident-prone witches are not as prevalent as a few years, which makes my Mom happy. She saw so many around Essex County and Detroit that she vowed never to buy one.

Melted Witch
Abandoned costume element or a witch who was doused with water? You be the judge of this find on Sherbourne Street.

Off-Model Big Bird
Next stop was Cabbagetown, where we caught this horrifyingly off-model statue of Big Bird in a convenience store window. This was the most fright-inducing sight of the evening - just look at the eyes!

The Children's Television Workshop would not be amused.

Halloween Couple
As we wandered east of Parliament, the last of the trick-or-treaters gave way to adults dismantling displays. We caught this couple watching the cleanup of a tent with a coffin that was once full of candy. After a long night of greeting kids, it was time for them to kick back and enjoy leftover eyeball stew.

Living Tetris Halloween Crowd (2)
After a rest stop at the Tim Hortons in the old Winchester Hotel, we wandered over to Church Street to check out the costumes. We hit a wall of people at the barricades and crept north through the crowd. The packed conditions weren't helped by stage set up on the street, which didn't make sense to us as the point was to watch the crowd. Feeling slightly claustrophobic, we ducked into a back alley, wandering back over to find more breathing room near Wellesley.

As usual, the costumes were spectacular. We liked the guy dressed as a box of take-out noodles (not shown, as I couldn't find a good angle to shoot). We ran into a few people we knew, such as the group of Tetris blocks on the left.

Full picture set. More stories over at Squiddity.

Saturday, November 03, 2007

holiday inn is #1 in people pleasin'

Vintage Ad #394: Pleasin' Dreams
This pretty much sums up my day - kind of slumbery, except for a short roadtrip into the 'burbs in search of pickle curry spice mix (it was an excuse).

When I was kid, I was fascinated by hotel directories, mainly due to the maps. We usually had the latest Holiday Inn guide kicking around, as it was the chain we tended to stay at. We often picked them up at the downtown Windsor location, which burned down ages ago. Located on the Detroit River, one had to drive down a long ramp to get to the lobby. It also included an Odeon movie theatre, which we rarely went to (the last movie I saw there was Lawnmower Man, which wasn't my choice but since friends were going, why quibble?).

This campaign appeared in early 1980s directories, usually as bookends.

Source: Sports Illustrated, November 30, 1981