Archive for the ‘Americana’ Category

During the period of time when Ellis Island/the Port of New York were open and processing immigrants, millions of people from far shores entered the United States to start a new life. As would be expected, most people were everyday folks – known only to friends, family and their employers. Sort of like most people living their lives all around the world today. But also, as would be expected, a small percentage of these immigrants differentiated themselves from the teeming masses by their remarkable accomplishments on the cultural and scientific landscape. Read the rest of this entry »

The period from the end of the Civil War to 1920 was a dynamic time of change in the United States. It was influenced by massive European immigration and major population shifts amongst the various regions of the country. One of these major shifts was a vast migration from rural farming communities to urban centers. City populations exploded during this time.. In fact, during this fifty year period, the nation’s city dwelling population increased from less than ten million to more than fifty million people – a remarkable 500% increase in population. All manner of working people benefited from an increase in personal income and leisure time that city life offered. Tourism in America suddenly became available to masses of people, annual vacations became the norm, and city dwellers even began reducing their work day – as compared to their rural counterparts. With all this extra free time, inexpensive amusements of all types appealed to growing numbers of people -rich and poor alike. Read the rest of this entry »

Theodore  “Teddy” Roosevelt was known for his endless energy. Buffalo Bill called him “a cyclone” and Mark Twain called him “an earthquake.” As a young man he spent two years as a cowboy on his ranch in the Dakota Territory. When Spain and the U.S. went to war in 1898, he organized a Volunteer Cavalry (an army unit on horseback), which was called “the Rough Riders.”

Roosevelt came back from the Spanish-American War as a national hero. He liked to say, “We had a ‘bully’ fight.” “Bully” was a slang word at the time that meant “first-rate” or “splendid.” Another phrase he liked to use when facing a problem was “never around, always through.”

Roosevelt was a very determined president. During his term, he forced coal mine owners to negotiate with striking miners, pushed through laws to conserve land and won the Nobel Peace Prize for helping to end a war between Japan and Russia in 1905.

Roosevelt’s love of nature and wildlife inspired him to help conserve land and create national parks. While he was president, he created 51 national parks, four big-game refuges, and the first national game reserve. He also added 43 million acres of national forest. When Roosevelt believed in something he worked hard to promote it. He believed that the only thing worth doing in life was hard work for a worthy cause.

Would you rather eat delicious, creamy ice cream from a bowl or a cone? Over time, several inventors around the world developed ideas of filling pastry cones with ice cream, and versions of the ice cream cone were invented. The walk-away cone made its debut World’s Fair debut in St. Louis in 1904. Of course, before the cone, someone had to invent ice cream.

The origins of ice cream go way back to the 4th century B.C. when the Roman emperor Nero ordered ice to be brought from the mountains and combined it with fruit toppings. In the 13th century, Marco Polo learned of the Chinese method of creating ice and milk mixtures and brought it back to Europe. Over time, people created recipes for ices, sherbets, and milk ices. It became a fashionable treat in Italy and France, and once imported to the United States, ice cream was served by George Washington, Thomas Jefferson, and Dolley Madison. Jefferson’s favorite flavor was vanilla.

Whatever flavor ice cream you like best, you can make it by mixing cream, sugar, and flavorings (like chocolate or strawberry) and then carefully lowering the mixture’s temperature until it sets. The discovery of using salt to control the temperature of the ingredients, along with the invention of the wooden bucket freezer with rotary paddles, were major breakthroughs in the creation of ice cream as we know it. A Baltimore company was the first to sell it to stores in 1851. Finally, with the introduction of refrigerator-freezers came the ice cream shop, which has become a symbol of American culture.

When television advertising first begain, it was very different from what we now experience. TV advertising began as a series of shows that were created by advertising agencies to sponsor a single product or company. The advertising agencies then paid the television networks to run these sponsored shows on their networks. This model worked great for advertisers until rising costs made the investment prohibitive. This dramatic rise in cost over the years force a rethink of television advertising by everyone involved in the industry: the TV networks, the advertisers and the advertisign agencies.

In the late 1950’s, NBC executive Sylvester L. “Pat” Weaver came up a with a soution that would work and would also be very favorable to the networks. He introduced the “magazine concept” of television advertising. In this arrangement, the spondors would purchase blocks of time (typically one to two minutes) in a show rather than be a sponsor for an entire show. This idea would allow a variety of sponsors – up to four was the number imagined – for a show. Like a magazine, the networks would now control the content as no one advertiser would “own” a particular show.

Like all new ideas, this one was originally resisted by Masison Avenue but after a bit of experimentation, they found that this method would work very well for a variety of packaged-goods companies manufacturing a cornucopia of brand names, such as Procter and Gamble with such disparate products as Tide (laundry detergent), Crest (toothpaste), and Jif (peanut butter).

By 1960, the magazine concept dominated television advertising, as it has ever since. Instead of relying on audience identification with a specific show, sponsors now spread their messages across the schedule in an effort to reach as many consumers as possible. The ability to spread their advertising dollars out to reach a broader segment of the population proved to be very effective for the sponsors. Where once they were locked into a specific time block every day or every week on a particular network, they could now choose the times and the networks where they wanted their message to be seen.

This evolution of magazine concept advertising is truly the birth of most modern television advertising. The one exception is the infomercial which is really a throwback to the sponsored show model used in the early days of television advertising.