Saturday, February 6, 2021

Advertising Age

We'll be time-tripping to the 1940's this week folks, courtesy of some vintage trade magazine ads run by Topps.  BFF o'the Archive Jeff Shepherd was (and is) offering these on eBay and while I snagged the one I wanted, the graphics on the others caught my eye for sure.

The March 1940 issue of International Confectioner magazine brought us this little beauty:


I won one of these displays a while back and it's a sweet piece, made of Bakelite:


Theres a blonde verison as well and it seems a lot harder to find than the black ones, which pop up from time to time:


The flagship Topps Gum spawned several amusing ads throughout the 40's, including this gem from the July 1945 International Confectioner, and the "Don't Talk Chum, Chew Topps Gum" slogan even lasted a couple of years or so past the end of World War 2, a testament to its selling power:


Exactly two years later Topps, in the same publication, was pushing their Gum as a "changemaker" on store counters across the globe


The 1948 Candy Buyer's Directory showed just how well the new slogan was working:


Change (groan!) was coming though, as this Candy Merchandising ad from December 1948 succinctly shows:


We've seen that SSI slogan before and sales of various Topps products were pretty much booming at this point. The "changemaker" catchword was still there though and would be for another year at least. 

Bazooka was really the flagship brand now but still only available as a nickel roll and Topps took a leap of faith introducing their first "novelty" product, Tatoo gum, as it wasn't clear at all to them if a competing penny product would harm the sales of the "Changemaker".  It seems like that's exactly what happened though and once Bazooka went to their own penny tab in mid 1949, Topps Gum started slowly fading away, undergoing a conversion to a chiclet style that was a staple of military rations for another ten years or so but increasingly a non-entity as a retail product.

I like how this ad backstops the initial 1948 date for Tatoo as some Topps PR blurbs indicate a 1949 debut (commonly accepted issue dates are 1948, then 1949 with its bigger wrapper and even then more subjects came in 1953). The 1949 issue with its redsigned wrapper that used graphical instead of textual application instructions, if I'm not mistaken, no longer appeared in the little round canisters Topps used in the first decade of their existence, instead residing in a square bin-style box. In fact,1948 Tatoo was the only Topps novelty (their first, not counting five cent Bazooka) I could find that came in the round style used by Topps Gum

I suspect Tatoo was actually perennial through 1954 or so, or very close to it. Topps issued a very hard to find set of generic Davy Crockett Tatoos in 1955 (possibly into early 1956) until new tatoo issues started appearing in 1957 as Popeye debuted a new line that would usually feature the hottest kiddie TV cartoon or comic book stars of the day.  This trend lasted yet another decade before fizzling out and giving way to a newer style once again at the end of the 60's. If you issued three essentially identical versions of a cheaply produced product over a five or six year period, it must have bene popular, so why stop selling it?


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