Wednesday, December 07, 2011

Mommy Wants More Housework For Christmas

It hardly seems fair: before the 1960s, common gift ideas for men that were advertised included booze and grooming products, but for women it was usually anything housework related, most notably vacuums and ovenware. More amusing was that some of these ads implied that the man would not only be assured a cleaner house, but a little nooky for his gift giving efforts. By the 1960s and beyond, advertisers were promoting cameras and fragrances as gift ideas for women, but in the 1950s* I'm afraid Santa was a bit clueless:

*The Toastmasters appliances and Chesterfield cigarette ads look like they're from the 60s. Same with the Kenwood one which also isn't specifically for Christmas but I thought it would be fun to throw it in there. 


ApacheDug said...

As much as we all love these nostalgic ads, seeing stuff like toasters, irons, sweepers and coffeepots as GIFTS FOR YOUR WIFE are downright offensive--those "Mad Men" of the 1950s/early 60s were mad alright!

I just wish I knew how those housewives back then actually felt about getting appliances--when I was a kid, my mom's rules (to my dad) about holiday gifts to her were quite clear; jewelry or cash, nothing else & NO exceptions. :)

Darrin.. said...

HA! My wife wants an electric mixer so bad.. but I've avoided getting her one for fear of becoming "That Guy". LOL

Desiree said...

I'm not going to lie, I definitely want some kitchen stuff for Christmas but that's mostly for my own amusement. What I can't understand is the Chesterfields ad. Cigarettes? For Christmas? That's like my boyfriend buying me a big pack of toilet paper.

sewducky said...

I, however, did get an iron for Christmas. And I asked for it.

(Not any iron, though, this is a dry iron. I also asked for the clothes sprinkler, too.)

I feel weird asking for jewelry. If a man wants to give it to me, then I feel he should do so on his own. Which might explain why I don't have any.

Nick and Nora Charles said...

I think there are more than a few chronology snobs here.

Considering that up until the 1970s a woman's occupation was most likely to be 'housewife' - then appliances to make her domestic work easier *would* be a gift.

Sure, diamonds are nice but an electric refrigerator, for instance, would reduce a woman's workload by anywhere between 3-4 hours a day.

Considering that in my grandmother's youth (1950s) all of her domestic washing was done mostly be hand and would take all day (not to mention ironing time), the gift of an automatic washing machine that reduced the drudgery to a fraction of the time was incredibly welcome.

And yes, I've asked my husband for a stick blender this Christmas.

-- Nora

The Working Home Keeper said...

Maybe I'm a bit odd (it's possible!), but I love getting appliances as gifts! And pretty aprons, I love those too! This year for our anniversary, my husband got me a steam mop. Absolutely perfect because it makes cleaning the floors easier for me. For Christmas, I've hinted at wanting some Le Creuset bakeware. It's pretty pricey, so I'm not getting my hopes up. But I'd also be happy with a really nice roasting pan to replace my cheap, crappy one!

Mary Ellen
The Working Home Keeper

Pam@GoRetro said...

I think it depends on the woman...I am looking for my own home, and one thing I have not purchased yet is a vacuum cleaner...and I would be perfectly happy if someone bought me one. And Mary Ellen, I love Le Creuset cooking and bakeware, too!

Nonetheless I just think it's interesting seeing the differences in gifts that were promoted back then. There are no snobs, here, Nora--just retro aficionados!

Retro Hound said...

Gifts in general used to be more practical. Nowadays everyone expects to own all the practical time-saving stuff, so it seems demeaning as a gift.

Luis said...

I also think this post suffers from the mistake of judging the past with today's politically correct (hyper) sensibilities. I find nothing here that is "downright offensive" as ApacheDug has stated. These ads were a product of their times and as such we must see them.

sewducky said...

I think today, like back then, depends on the woman in question.

As gifts,I have gotten things that some would look at and ask why. I've gotten a potato bin, a 50s travel percolator, books, patterns, fabric, brooches, a bread machine and all an apple peeler (to name a few). All things that I want, all were found at thrift stores/ebay/used. I don't mind these things, because to me it says someone (be it my SO or my 12 year old) knows me well enough to find items that I would like, and in some cases, use.

I imagine that it held true back then, as well. Some women liked these gifts, others felt slighted that it was all they got.

ApacheDug said...

Can I comment again? I feel like I touched a nerve, saying these ads were almost offensive--fyi, I see nothing wrong with getting appliances as gifts; I'm a single guy & have lived on my own since 1990, and for years my mom got me stuff like an electric kettle, blender, toaster oven. And it was stuff I asked for, too.

I guess I just saw those 1950s ads as "Look honey, I got you a new toaster--now you won't burn MY toast when you're making MY breakfast in the morning."

I didn't live during that time so I can't say--and I can see a couple "gifting each other" with some major appliances. But gee whiz, a percolator for your WIFE for Christmas?? Unless it's for her little art studio above the garage, then it still sucks :)

Pam@GoRetro said...

Well said, Doug--frankly I'm surprised some people took this post and the comments that seriously (and someone called us chronology snobs... LOL!) The ads are what they are...and like I said, I found it a little baffling that they only Christmas gift ads I could find from that time period aimed at husbands were instructing them to buy household items for the lady of the house.

As you said, I don't think there's anything wrong with buying appliances if that's what the person wants/loves but let's face it--the salt and pepper shakers and cigarette (give your wife the gift of cancer) ideas are pretty effing ridiculous!

The Working Home Keeper said...

Pam - re vacuum cleaners, may I suggest a Dyson. I celebrated 10 years with my company this Spring and used my service award points for a Dyson DC25 Animal Ball and a KitchenAid mixer. I love, love my Dyson! With 3 kids and 4 cats in the house, it's the best thing ever! I've owned several brands of lower priced vacuum cleaners throughout the years. But the Dyson is definitely worth the extra investment.

Mary Ellen
The Working Home Keeper

ApacheDug said...

Pam you're the last person I'd label a 'chronology snob'! However, I do like it & may get that tattooed somewhere :)

Nick and Nora Charles said...

Hi Pam,
Don't get me wrong I love the retro stuff too. I have a long neglected blog called Nick and Nora's Nifty Knick Knacks.

The reason why I mention (to borrow from CS Lewis) the 'snobbery of chronology' is that we forget that while the past seems familiar to us through film, TV and magazines it really is a different country.

In the same way we wouldn't think twice about buying someone chocolate or a bottle of alcohol as a gift, people in the first half of the 20th century didn't think anything of giving cigarettes as gifts - especially since more than half of the adult population smoked. Before anyone asks, no I don't smoke.

To be bemused and askance that anyone would give and be delighted to receive cigarettes (for example) is to not truly understand the period in which the ads were produced.

Pam@GoRetro said...

Nora--I think you may be taking this post way too seriously. I have yet to visit a retro/vintage blog that doesn't poke fun at old ads. I don't think it means that the bloggers who post them don't comprehend or respect the period in which they were produced. I grew up in the 70s and 80s so I think I understand the two eras but that doesn't mean I'm not going to make fun of the hair, clothing, etc. Many times on this blog I've looked back at past social norms or trends and have thought, "yes, they had it right." And other times I disagree and shake my head. As a blogger I have that right to my do the writers behind any other site.

This blog, like so many others, is meant to amuse and entertain in addition to providing tidbits of pop culture history. Personally I thought these ad examples were funny. Sorry that you apparently didn't get the joke.

Pam@GoRetro said...

Mary Ellen--Thanks for the Dyson suggestion. I was very interested in one for a while, although Consumer Reports tested a few models and wasn't crazy about them. Not that CR is the be-all and end-all, but they mentioned a few brands that they liked better for less money.

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