The Stories Behind the Brands

In the 1950s, in Britain and everywhere else, electrical good were still in their infancy. Most were home grown brands and were manufactured here. Some of those brands still exist but very few still manufacture in Britain.

In the 1950s, when I was child, if you had an electric kettle, it was probably a Russell Hobbs. Your iron and hairdryer would most likely be Morphy Richards and if you were modern enough to have a food mixer it would be a Kenwood. If I wanted to buy a new kettle today, I would go online or visit my local supermarket where I would have numerous brands to choose from and a multitude of styles.

I decided to look into the rise of electrical manufacturers and learned that Bill Russell teamed up with Peter Hobbs in 1952 and began by making a toaster, an electric iron and a then the first coffee maker with a keep warm function. In 1955 they made the world’s first automatic electric kettle.

Image result for 1950s russell hobbs kettle

Donal Morphy joined forces with Charles Richards in 1936  making first electric fires then irons. By the 1950s, many households had electric irons and most of them would have been made by Morphy Richards. When hairdryers became more common – I well remember our first one – they too were dominated by Morphy Richards. The company  was one of the few manufacturers to sell appliances with a factory-fitted BS 1363 plug before this became a legal requirement.

Image result for 1950s swan electric iron

Image result for 1950s Morphy Richards hair dryer A 1950s hairdryer exactly like the one we had.

When food mixers arrived on the scene here the household name was Kenwood. The name is from the manufacturer’s name which was Kenneth Wood. Kenwood began in 1947 and made toasters first then food mixers and processors.

Image result for 1950s kenwood mixer  I remember hearing about Kenwood Chefs but we didn’t rise to those dizzy heights. My mum had a small hand mixer like this one.

The main brand in TVs in the 1950s – when television was just a baby – was Bush. The company was founded in 1932 as Bush Radio from the remains of the Graham Amplion company, which had made horn loudspeakers as a subsidiary of the Gaumont British Picture Corporation. The brand name comes from Gaumont’s Shepherd’s Bush studios. From radios they moved on in 1950 to making TVs and in 1959 transistor radios.

Image result for 1950s Bush TVs

 

Roberts is British company which has been making radios for over 80 years   They made the first digital radio in 1999.

The Roberts Revival RD60 DAB was inspired by a handbag belonging to Harry Roberts’ wife Elsie. I have one of these and I didn’t know this!

Dansette was a British brand of record players, radiograms (remember them?), tape recorders, and radios, manufactured by the London firm of J & A Margolin Ltd, The first Dansette record player was manufactured in 1952 and at least one million were sold in the 1950s and 1960s. Dansette became a household name in the late 1950s and 60s when the British music industry shot up in popularity after the arrival of acts such as Cliff Richard, The Beatles and The Shadows. Teenagers would have used various Dansette players to take to and from parties to listen to the latest records.

Image result for dansette record player Everyone of my age remembers these!

 

 

In the early 20th century the company registered The Swan brand name. In the 1920s, the company began manufacturing domestic electrical appliances including kettles and irons. They pioneered the first electric element that could be immersed in water. This was a very important breakthrough because it meant that a whole 6 pints of water could be boiled in just over 9 minutes. This led to a whole range of products based around their “immersion element”, including tea urns, kettles, steamers and coffee percolators.

Later, they developed and patented a unique safety cut-out for kettles, where the connector would be automatically disconnected if the element overheated.

swan - heritage so elementary kettles

 

Before the 1950s most homes were heating their irons over the gas ring or still putting hot coal in them. I remember staying at my grandmother’s house and she would have two flat irons (non-electric). One would be doing the ironing while the other would be heating on a rack over the fire. When one cooled down it was replaced with the hotter one and put on the rack to heat.

 

Not strictly an electrical appliance but another household name was Ever Ready. When I was a child, most torches and batteries were made by Ever Ready. They also manufactured radios from 1934 up until 1964.
Image result for ever ready torches 1950s I had to put this one in – I had one EXACTLY the same in the 1960s!
Image result for Ever ready batteries 1950s and 60s

How to Get a Man – 1950s style.

Unlike most of my posts, this one isn’t based on my own personal memories of childhood in the 50s and 60s but has been triggered by something which amused me.

Recently, I was on a train and I picked up a copy of the free newspaper Metro. In it was an article inspired by McCall’s magazine’s list of ‘129 ways to get a husband’ which has recently resurfaced online. Fair enough, even now single people can struggle to meet a partner if they live somewhere remote, work in an environment dominated by their own gender or are extremely shy and lacking in confidence. Dating apps and websites are replacing the small ads and can be a great way of meeting people as long as certain precautionary measures are taken in order to stay safe.

What is different about this is how dated it now sounds now and also how extremely sexist! Were men given similar advice? This links with my last post which covered sexist brands and ads from the 50s and 60s. In it I showed some adverts which implied that a woman had to be great in the kitchen in order to keep her man. I’m sure there weren’t any equivalents for men urging them to be handy with the DIY tools so that the woman didn’t leave him for a more capable model!

What follows are some quotes from the ‘129 ways’ list.

‘Don’t whine — girls who whine stay on the vine.’

‘If your mother’s fat, tell him you take after your father. If your father’s fat too, say you’re adopted.’

In the list women are advised to sit on a park bench and feed the pigeons, or ‘accidentally’ spill the contents of their bag in the hope that a handsome stranger will come to help.

The next one is particularly bad!

‘Make and sell toupées. Bald men are easy catches.’

Some examples from the actual list, taken directly from Metro online –

Inline_2083728_16.9

Inline_2083727_16.9 (2)

Inline_2083902_16.9

50s wife       1950s-housewife-850x1211

50s couple   wife-53-600x728

The-perfect-50s-housewife

I also did a bit of Internet searching to see if there was a similar amount of advice offered to men at the time but found very little. Some of the tips I did find still managed to turn it around to what was expected of a wife e.g. ‘When you come home to a clean house and a hot meal, be sure to thank your wife for providing you with these things. Surprising her with flowers or another small gift will take you far.’

Finally, this list – abbreviated for the post – gives a list of nine things a wife must always bear in mind if she wants to keep her man happy. All advice was given by so-called marriage experts of the time.

1. A Smile Goes A Long Way

2. Keep Quiet

3. Wear Pink Underwear

4. Don’t Let The Kids Be Too Much Trouble

5. Expert Cooking Will Keep Your Man Loyal

6. Put As Much Care Into Your Appearance As Dinner

7. Don’t Be Too Sexual Or Too Prude

8. Don’t Be Mad If He Goes Astray

9. Remember That The Man Is In Charge

Have things changed? For the better or not? I leave you to be the judge of that This is for entertainment purposes only and I hope you’ve enjoyed it!

 

 

As always, my disclaimer is that all pictures and some information has been accessed online. If anyone has an issue with anything in this post, or in any earlier ones, please let me know and I will remove it.

Mansize Tissues – and Other Goods

kleenex

So, after 60 years, and following complaints about sexism, Kleenex are getting rid of their ‘Mansize’ tissues and renaming them Extra Large. This got me thinking about other goods past and present which could possibly be considered offensive by some people.

He-Man

This is a brand which has always amused me. Driving Instructors’ cars often used to carry a sign on the back saying ‘Fitted with He-Man Dual Controls’. Suggesting perhaps that only men can teach people to drive? I looked the company up as I’m not sure I still see the signs and I found that they are still in existence and still fitting dual controls in cars.

As I started to look around on the Internet for examples of brand names from the 50s and 60s which could be perceived as being sexist, I found instead some examples of current things which have caused a stir.

doritos    doritos-women-lady-crunch-low-snack

This one is from earlier this year. The quote below is from the Independent;

‘The “lady-friendly” version of the popular tortilla chips will make less of a crunch noise when you eat them, will be smaller in size and the packet is being specifically designed to fit inside a handbag. Because struggling to fit packets of crisps in our bags and the noise that comes with eating tortilla chips is clearly of huge concern to women today.’

Apparently, these ‘lady-friendly’ Doritos were never actually launched and the whole story stemmed from an interview with PepsiCo. CEO Indra Nooyi in which she discussed the idea of launching handbag sized packets of the product. Maybe the whole story was a bit of a ‘storm in a crisp packet’.

Gendered-Toys

There have been complaints about Kinder Surprise being gender-specific. Blue wrapped eggs contain ‘boy toys’ and pink ones ‘girl toys’ although the wording carefully avoids mention boys and girls.

Dolly Babe shoe

 

Another current one. Clarks have received complaints about this model of girls’ shoe which was named the Dolly Babe.

waitrose

Waitrose have renamed this sandwich after complaints from customers.

Bristol Ale   Noelle beer

Oh dear! And these are current – in spite of having a 50s look and being incredibly sexist.

Relish

This is one I’m just slotting in here for fun. Gentleman’s Relish spread has been around since before Victorian times and is still sold in higher-end food stores and delicatessens here in the UK. I couldn’t find any record of anyone objecting to it. I have occasionally bought it as a tongue-in-cheek birthday or Christmas present for male relatives.

 

So, I set out to look for sexist brand names from the unenlightened 50s and 60s and have ended up finding plenty of current ones. I’ll finish with a few truly terrible ads which are from the 50s – I’ve shown some of these in earlier posts.

Sexism-In-Vintage-Ads-14     Sexism-In-Vintage-Ads-11

Sexism-In-Vintage-Ads-15     offending_lysol1

Mordine        marriagead

 

 

Images taken from Google Images. If anyone has reason to object to the use of any pictures used, please contact me via this blog.