Were Radio Sponsors
"And don't forget your change."
of Avalon Cigarette commercial
Lincoln, Me. (DG)---
Since network radio began, many products either had their
names on the programs they sponsored, or when direct selling became a reality,
were featured in commercials. Many of these products are famous in the
United States--- and in some cases, worldwide. We already know of Ivory Soap's floating
ability, champion athletes eating Wheaties,
and Johnny's call for Philip
Since you already know about these products, we're
NOT going to talk about
any other famous product in this article. This is the first
of a series of articles that will give those obscure products some recognition.
begin with a product that was a mystery to me until a couple of months ago
(as of February 3, 2001 when this article was being prepared). The product
in question is Cal-Aspirin. When I was doing my own personal
research on old time radio, I came across Cal-Aspirin
as a sponsor of 3 different daytime serials during the 1930's
and early 1940's. I did have a clue it was made by
Sterling Drug, the
people who made Bayer Aspirin---
which explained why I had a hard time finding it in the magazines I have.
Not that they really care (and rightfully, they shouldn't),
Sterling Drug is the
most difficult company for a researcher (like me) to find its products in
magazines that were printed during radio's golden age. While some brands were
featured in magazine advertising, others were not. Unfortunately for
was an example of the latter. It wasn't until I surfed
the Internet, when I found a picture of a Cal-Aspirin
box--- and I would get an idea what kind of a product it
If you examine the name closely,
Cal-Aspirin was what
the name implied. It was a pain reliever that featured an unusual combination
of calcium and
aspirin. The tablets appear to be
small in size, because they were packaged in a narrow tubular container.
According to what it said on the box, it was 20¢ for 12 tablets. Whether
or not the calcium helped to relieve pain I couldn't say, but the calcium
could certainly help strengthen the bones inside the regulation human body.
As I stated earlier, Cal-Aspirin
was either the sponsor or co-sponsor of (at least) 3 network
daytime serial programs. During the 1935-1936 season, it was the sponsor
of PAINTED DREAMS
and co-sponsored NBC(Blue's)
AMANDA OF HONEYMOON HILL
during its first 2 seasons (1940-1942) with
While the 2 soaps had various successes, Cal-Aspirin
achieved fame as being the very first sponsor of
YOUNG WIDDER BROWN,
which would become one of radio's most popular serials. Its fame was brief, because it sponsored the program for only its initial season before
turning the sponsoring duties over to Bayer
During the 1930's and 1940's, there were a lot of cigarette
brands for a smoker to choose from. Of course, the people, smokers and
non-smokers alike, knew of Lucky Strike,
Camel, Old Gold, Chesterfield,
and Philip Morris
for the simple reason they were major sponsors of radio programs
during the height of radio's golden age. The lesser known cigarette
brands had a major uphill battle to compete against the 5 major brands.
Despite the odds, Avalon Cigarettes
gave it a try.
was a brand made by Brown &
Williamson. Like the major cigarette
also used fine quality tobacco, while giving its smokers
a mild smoke and a rich tobacco taste. The only difference between
Avalon and the major
brands was a noticeable one. It costs a few cents less. The radio
commercials focused on the saving of money when a smoker bought
Avalon. It closed
with a cashier ringing a cash register and telling her customer,
"And don't forget your change."
On radio, I come across 2 radio programs sponsored by
The first was SHOW BOAT,
which returned to the air on NBC's Red Network
after a short absence. The second program was appropriately
called AVALON TIME,
also on NBC(Red).
This variety program was famous for being the first radio program
to star Red Skelton.
that we're in a new millennium, it may sound a little strange that
Ice was a radio sponsor.
Yes, it's the same stuff we enjoy in cooling lemonade on a hot day, and swear
at when we slip on it during the wintertime. When radio's golden age
was at its peak, Ice
was very important for refrigeration. If you
"New Generation Old Time Radio Fans"
ever wondered where the term "Ice
Box" came from, it was a
refrigerator that had a special area where a large (and usually heavy) block
of ice was placed. The Ice
cooled the food inside the refrigerator. When it was
time for a new block, housewives across the United States were anxiously
"Waiting for the Ice
Man to cometh." When he
did come, the Ice Man,
with the size and strength of Hulk Hogan, brought a large block of
Ice with his trusty
ice tongs and placed it into the Ice
Even during the 1930's,
Ice and the
Ice Box were in a competitive battle with
the new electric refrigerators that were becoming popular. What gave
them a fighting chance was this competition originally took place during
"The Great Depression"---
and it did cost a sizable amount of money (by 1930's standards)
to buy an electric refrigerator. The commercial implied that food
kept in an Ice Box
stayed fresh days longer because of the consistency
of keeping the right amount of moisture and cold. Its famous line on
the air was "Cold ALONE
is not enough."
If you're wondering, Ice
(under the name of the National
Ice Headquarters) sponsored
PARTIES AT PICKFAIR,
a program that featured celebrities, talk, and music at the home of actress
Mary Pickford. This program was heard on the
Columbia Network from 1935-1936.
HOMEMAKERS' EXCHANGE from 1937-1938.
It was a daytime program of cooking and household hints hosted by Eleanor
The following sponsor wasn't well known because it was
only sold in a 2 state region (California and Arizona to be exact).
Before unleaded gasoline became a reality, petroleum companies had interesting
and colorful nicknames for the gasoline they sold. A motorist heard
of (Texaco) Fire Chief,
Good Gulf, and
(Esso) Extra, to name
just a few. Believe it or not, there was a gasoline that was
"Cracked." Now let's
examine this for a moment. Cracks have the reputation of being rather
unpleasant. For example, a person with butterfingers was inclined to
drop something on a piece of valuable china. The end result was a crack
for their trouble. As a rule, cracked china, no matter how valuable
they were before being cracked, ended up in the trash. With this
thought, could "Cracked
Gasoline" be beneficial for the typical motorist?
On paper, it sounds like a person was a little cracked
to buy and use this gasoline, but in real life, he/she
definitely had all his/her marbles intact. The gasoline,
Rio Grande Cracked,
was the performance fuel that more police and fire vehicles in California
and Arizona used than any other brand. The announcer stated if
professional vehicles got quality performance with
Cracked Gasoline, imagine what it could
do with everyday cars and trucks that weren't used as vigorously and constantly.
Rio Grande Cracked Gasoline
and Rio Grande
stations in California and Arizona were the sponsors of
CALLING ALL CARS, a
popular police drama program heard on the west coast stations of the
conclude this article with Glim
a dishwashing liquid made by the makers of Bab-O
Cleanser. If this product
wasn't the very first dishwashing liquid on the market, it was one of the
first. If anyone saw Glim
on their dealer's shelves for the first time, he/she might
think the people of B.T. Babbitt, Inc.
(who made Bab-O
were a little cracked--- and I don't
mean the gasoline! The reason for this thought was
Glim's unusual packaging.
The bottle that contained the liquid was placed upside down inside its metal
holder (don't ask me why they did this). Once the
Glim was purchased
and taken home, the user removed the bottle and placed it right side up in
the metal holder. Now the weird stuff was out of the way, using
Glim for dishwashing
was a pleasant and faster alternative to soaps in bar or powdered form.
Whether the water was soft or hard enough to eat,
Glim washed the dishes clean and quickly
with equal consistency.
was a nationally known brand of cleanser,
Glim helped its
fellow Babbitt brother co-sponsor DAVID HARUM
and later NBC), LORA LAWTON (NBC),
and NONA FROM NOWHERE
I have a large list of little known radio sponsors, but
I think it's wise to put an end to this particular article. In Part
II of this series, we'll take a look at more of the little known products
that shared the airwaves with the established brands.