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1930s Products, Technology,
Careers, Fads & Fun



Consumer Products
Fads & Fun
For The Kids
At Work

Consumer Products use during the 1930s

meals & snacks

meals & staples
Birds-Eye frozen vegetables
Tastee Bread
Bisquick (1931)
Oscar Mayer wieners
Skippy peanut butter (1933)
Beech-Nut baby food (1931)
Land o' Lakes butter
Carnation canned milk
Kraft macaroni & cheese (1937)
Spam (1937)
White House evaporated milk

Kellogg's Corn Flakes
Quaker Oats
Post Toasties
Kix (1937)
Wheat Puff-Its

Planter's peanuts
Fritos corn chips (1932)
Ritz crackers (1932)
Sunshine crackers
Lay's potato chips
Mrs. Japp's potato chips
Cracker Jack
Jake's potato chips

Hostess Twinkies (1930)
N.B.C. butter cookies
Sunshine cookies
chocolate chip cookies (1930)

Tootsie-Pops (1931)
Life Savers
Sugar Babies (1935)
Three Musketeers (1933)
Snickers (1930)

Potato chips were invented in the 1850s, and were first sold in stores in the 1890s. At first, they were sold in tins or dispensed from bulk containers and barrels. The first potato chip bags were introduced in the 1920s, and were made of waxed paper or waterproofed cellophane. In the 1930s, bags were made of an airtight, moisture-proof paper known as glassine.

Potato Chip Tins


Hires Root Beer
Barq's Root Beer
Orange Crush
Cliquot Club Ginger Ale
Shasta Pale Dry Ginger Ale (1931)
Royal Crown Cola (1934)
White Rock Ginger Ale
Nichol Cola

other beverages
Kool-Aid drink mix
Bireley's fruit drinks
Stillicious chocolate drink
A&P Eight o' Clock coffee
Libby's tomato juice
Dining Car coffee
Mott's Apple Juice (1938)

The first soda bottle vending machines were introduced in 1937. After depositing a nickel in the coin box, you turned a handle to rotate the lid, and pulled the next available bottle out through the opening.

In the 1930s, most soda bottles were either 6 or 6 1/2 ounces. Nehi soda was sold in nine-ounce bottles, and Pepsi-Cola and Royal Crown Cola introduced 12-ounce bottles during this decade. For home consumption, you could buy a Hom-Pak containing six bottles in a cardboard carton. In 1934, soda bottles began to sport the new baked-on color labels.

Milk formed a layer of cream on top, which expanded two to three inches in cold weather. Cream-top bottles provided space in the bottleneck for the cream to expand.

The first successful beer cans were introduced in 1935. That year, Krueger's Finest Beer was the first brand to be sold in cans. By the end of the year, 37 American breweries were also selling their beer in steel conetop and flattop cans. Flattop cans were punched open with a church key can opener.

Soda cans, however, didn't fare quite as well. Cliquot Club Ginger Ale experimented with conetop cans in 1938, but the citric acid destroyed the can's lining, resulting in leakage, flavor absorption problems and can explosions.

7-UP was introduced in 1929. At first, it was called Bib-Label Lithiated Lemon-Lime Soda. The name was changed to 7-UP Lithiated Lemon-Lime in 1930. Later that year, lithium was removed from the recipe and the name was shortened to 7-UP.

Beer Can History
Conetop Beer Cans

health & beauty

cosmetics & skin care
Helena Rubenstein
Max Factor
cold cream
Harriet Hubbard Ayer
Lucky Brown
Liquid Liptone lipstick

Chanel No. 5
Evening In Paris
Blue Waltz
Paris by Coty

hair care
wave clips
Breck shampoo (1930)
Palmolive shampoo
Kreml shampoo & hair tonic

P&G White Naphtha
Lady Fair

health & grooming
Kleenex tissues
Schick electric razor (1931)
nylon-bristle toothbrushes (1938)

Before 1938, toothbrushes had hog-hair bristles. They did a fairly good job of cleaning the teeth, but they also retained moisture and accumulated bacteria. DuPont developed nylon in 1934 and introduced the first nylon-bristle toothbrush in 1938: Dr. West's Miracle Tuft Toothbrush. The new nylon bristles were tough, resilient and impervious to moisture.

"Stop blowing your nose in my Cold Cream Kerchiefs!"
During World War I, cellucotton was a highly-absorbent cotton substitute used for bandages and gas mask filters. In 1924, Kimberly-Clark began selling cellucotton sheets as "Kleenex Kerchiefs, The Sanitary Cold Cream Remover." However, most people used them as disposable handkerchiefs, which prompted Kimberly-Clark to start packaging and selling them for that purpose in 1930.

In the 1930s, Kleenex tissues came in a variety of colors and sizes, and were dispensed from pop-up boxes. These innovations were introduced in the late 1920s.

Kleenex Through The Decades

other products
Argo starch
Brillo pads
Mrs. Stewart's laundry bluing
Rinso laundry detergent
Oxydol detergent



*60 percent of families owned a car in 1930.

*In 1933, a brand-new Chevrolet cost $445. Under ideal conditions, it could get 26 miles per gallon. Most of the time it got 18-20 miles per gallon.

*The 1938 Packard was the first car to come equipped with an air-conditioner.

*In 1929, Ford introduced the first station wagon.

Station Wagon

Fads & Fun

radio stuff

In the early days of radio, it was fun to scan the dial for distant stations. When you found a new station, you could write to them with the details of the program you heard. If the information matched their records, they sent back a card imprinted with their call-letters. Serious collectors sent preprinted cards, which came back with a stamp affixed to the front and were placed in a special album. Collecting these verified reception cards and stamps was a very popular hobby.

"We acknowledge with thanks your communication reporting reception of a recent program. Your comments are of distinct value as practical contributions to the success of broadcasting and the planning of the programs of station WGY."
--verified reception card from WGY in Schenectady, 1934

Members of Little Orphan Annie's Secret Society could send away for rings, badges, bracelets, Ovaltine shake-up mugs and decoder pins that deciphered Annie's secret code.

Radio Orphan Annie's Secret Society
Ekko Reception Stamps
Radio Station Letterheads & Reception Cards

Now you can have a bank vault, just like Jack Benny!

recreation at home

bridge parties: In the evening, married couples enjoyed inviting another couple over for dinner and bridge. Housewives belonged to bridge clubs, and young people at college gathered in the dorm to play bridge.

party games: Simple games weren't just for kids anymore....adults enjoyed them, too. Many games were silly: sitting on balloons to break them, spearing peanuts in a bowl with a hat pin, or spooning dried beans into a pie pan balanced on your head. Others tested your mental abilities and powers of observation. Some, like musical chairs, were just plain fun.

card clubs: Housewives belonged to bridge, pinochle and bunco clubs. Members took turns hosting the weekly parties, where the ladies played cards, gave out prizes and ate a delicious luncheon provided by the hostess. In my town, the groups had clever names like the Gingham Nine, the Easy Aces and the Peppy Eight.

Monopoly: During the Depression, the inventor of the board game Monopoly thought it would be fun for people who didn't have much of anything to pretend to be wealthy real estate tycoons, if only for a few hours. Parker Brothers put the game on the market in 1935, and it was an instant success.

stamp collecting: Another hobby that didn't require a great deal of money, stamp collecting became very popular in the 1930s.

depression gardens: Chunks of coal were kept in a planter with some water. When salt was dumped on the coal, crystals formed. With a little imagination and some artificial coloring (laundry bluing for blue "flowers," mercurochrome for pink "flowers"), you could grow a beautiful crystal garden.

Who Invented Monopoly?
Make A Depression Garden

Serve Coca-Cola at your next party....
always delicious & refreshing!

For The Kids

paper dolls
Most little girls played with paper dolls. Popular paper doll subjects included Shirley Temple, Sonia Henie, Buck Rogers, Gone With The Wind, Jeannette MacDonald, the Dionne quintuplets and Britain's Princess Elizabeth and Princess Margaret Rose.

Shirley Temple Paper Dolls
Virtual Shirley Temple Paper Doll

reading material
Ted Geisel was a magazine cartoonist who took the name Dr. Seuss when he wrote his first children's book in 1937: And To Think That I Saw It On Mulberry Street. The rest is history!

Big Little Books (1932)
Nancy Drew (1930)
Dr. Seuss (1937)

sports & action toys
Daisy air rifle (1938)
pedal cars
Radio Flyer wagons

vehicles & role playing
electric train sets
cowboy outfits
space toys
die cast trucks & fire engines
balsa wood model airplane kits

other toys & activities
Mickey Mouse collectibles
Shirley Temple dolls (1934)
Campfire Girls

imagination & ingenuity
Money was scarce in the 1930s, so kids had to be very creative when it came to their toys. Round oatmeal boxes cut in half lengthwise made ideal doll cradles, and pieces of scrap wood nailed together made great dollhouses. Paper dolls were cheap, but cutting the ladies from mail order catalogs to make your own paper dolls was cheaper.

Shirley Temple paper dolls

Chicago boys playing marbles

All In A Day's Work

common jobs
soda jerks
elevator operators
telephone operators
doctors making house calls
railroad workers
the milkman
streetcar conductors
telegram delivery boys
cigarette girls
the ice man
Pullman car porters

hours & working conditions
In 1935, the Wagner Act gave workers the legal freedom to unionize.

The 1938 Fair Labor Standards Act prohibited children under 14 from working. This law didn't apply to paperboys.

Shorter work weeks became common in the 1930s. The standard six-day week began to vanish as more employers granted Saturday afternoons off. Other employers followed the example of the Ford Motor Company and switched to a five-day work week. Paid holidays, yearly vacations and an eight-hour day were also becoming more common.

typical salaries
bus driver................................$1,373 per year

secretary.................................$1,040 per year
-----------................................$15 per week
manager of loan company.........$45 per week

department store clerk............$5 to $10 per week

dressmaker..............................$780 per year
textile worker............................$435 per year

teacher...................................$1,227 per year
college professor.......................$3,111 per year

hired farm hand.......................$216 per year
live-in maid..............................$260 per year
female domestic servant...........$1 per day

(wages for maids and farm hands may have been low, but keep in mind that many of them were live-in workers who had their lodging and meals provided for them)

doctor........................................$3,382 per year
congressman..............................$8,663 per year

In 1930, 70 percent of all milk sold in the United States was distributed door-to-door by the milkman. Divco trucks were first used for milk delivery in the 1920s, but many milkmen continued to use a horse and wagon well into the 1930s.

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