Vintage Dessert Ads That Will Make You Question Everything

August 08, 2019

As long as there have been products to sell, there have been advertisements to broadcast to the masses. We don’t think about it all the time, but the truth is that those ads wield great power over the public. Not only do they encourage people to make purchases, but they also help to create the pop culture of each generation. A sample of ads from any time period can give you a good sense of what life was like at the time. And sometimes those ads can just make you question everything.

People in the past had different sensibilities and those got reflected in the ads. Sometimes that meant that the ads were a little sexist and overly traditional. It probably wouldn’t fly today to have an ad that shows a man spanking his wife for not cooking dinner properly, but it was totally fine in the mid-20th century.

Some other vintage advertisements are just plain old weird. Sure, it makes sense that advertisers would do whatever they could to grab people’s attention, but apparently in some cases that meant including obscure animals or creating bizarre recipes for their products. These vintage dessert ads will give you just a taste of weird ideas advertisers had back in the day.

1. Add melon to your ice cream!

Melon and vanilla ice cream don’t usually go together.

But for some reason, Foremost Dairy Foods thought it made sense to pitch melon as an ice cream topping. In the same ad, they tell people to add a scoop of ice cream to their iced tea, which just sounds like a melty mess.

We’re not sure we’d be into either of these combinations.

2. Ladies!

A lot of ads vintage assume that women are the only ones shopping and cooking for their families.

This 1951 ad for My-T-Fine pudding is specifically directed at women and assumes that they’re the only people making decisions about the kitchen. Because heavens forbid a man know how to cook and care for his family. Perhaps if more ads encouraged men to do the shopping, they would have done so.

3. Exercise for your teeth.

This ad for chewing gum tried to sell it as a form of exercise… which is just not the case.

It’s difficult to try to convince people that eating something sweet can also be exercise, but the people behind Dentyne gum tried to do exactly that by claiming that you get “dividends” back when you chew it. The ad doesn’t include any doctors backing up the claim, which maybe would have helped their argument.

4. “I wish I were a mule.”

Comparing your customers to stubborn farm animals is a very weird tactic, but it’s one that Jell-O attempted in 1954.

This ad featuring a mule was part of a larger ad campaign that encouraged consumers to collect numerous animals. None of it really makes you think of gelatin, but I guess it worked for them since the company is still around today.

Turns out that people just love Jell-O — farm animals or not.

5. The best way to a man’s heart…

In this ad, Crisco assumes that a woman is after a man, and that the only thing he wants from her is her food.

This 1945 ad promises to help a woman get what she really wants: a man. And the only way to really do that is with food — specifically, food made with Crisco.

I’m sure many women enjoyed eating their own desserts as much as their husbands did, so this ad certainly doesn’t age well.

6. Ice cream in powder form.

Jell-O tried its hand at more than just pudding and gelatin.

The famous dessert company also offered customers a new invention: powdered ice cream, which sounds like something an astronaut would be into. It’s unclear if this is a powder that turns into ice cream or if it’s eaten as is. But no matter what, there are definitely better ways to eat the frozen treat.

7. Betty Crocker attempted to take over fruit.

At one point, there was a product that helped you create a somewhat edible mush out of your canned fruit.

It was called “Fruit Helper” and it was supposed to make dessert easier. But, it seems like all it really did was turn fruit into an indistinguishable goop in a bowl, which isn’t exactly what we’d consider “making easier.”

Sorry, but we like our fruit to look like fruit… and not something we can’t exactly identify.

8. Captain Tootsie to the rescue!

Apparently, there was once a Captain Tootsie who asked everyone to eat all the varieties of Tootsie Rolls.

This mascot never went on to have the career of some of his more notable counterparts. Maybe that’s because the name Captain Tootsie just never caught on. Or maybe it’s because his only superpower was telling kids to eat candy. We’re going to go out on a limb and say that both were factors.

9. Heinz dessert condiments used to be a thing.

Everyone knows Heinz ketchup and mustard. In the 1970s and 1980s, there were also Heinz desserts.

Condiments usually get added to foods that you eat at lunch and dinner, like sandwiches and hot dogs. Heinz tried to market sugary spreads, but it’s not really clear what you’re supposed to do with these. I imagine chocolate doesn’t go great on burgers, so it’s probably best that Heinz has mostly stuck to ketchup.

10. Potato Fudge

Potatoes and chocolate don’t usually go together.

That might be the case, but Kraft tried to tell people to put a scoop of fudge on top of their baked potatoes. This one isn’t exactly a dessert since Kraft was telling people to serve chocolate potatoes at dinner. But, since fudge is usually a dessert treat, it seems like it belongs on this list.

11. “Tough Guy” Pudding

If there’s one thing that’s clear from all these vintage ads, it’s that women are supposed to cook and men are supposed to be tough.

This ad for a Christmas pudding takes that idea even further by telling boys to celebrate the holiday with something that looks (and presumably tastes) tough. It doesn’t sound like something that would be very tasty, let alone something you’d want to eat during the most festive time of the year.

12. Kool-Aid Frozen Dessert

Once upon a time, Kool-Aid tried to sell itself as a dessert.

This idea sort of makes sense, especially since the drink is already filled with so much sugar so it’s super sweet. But, Kool-Aid didn’t really hit its advertising stride until the Kool-Aid man was introduced, which wouldn’t happen for another decade or two. They likely figured out that Kool-Aid does much better as a drink than a dessert.

13. Hershey’s for your health.

Chocolate is great for a lot of things.

Unfortunately, being a healthy food is not one of them. That didn’t stop Hershey from marketing its chocolate as part of a regimen for good health. If only all a child needed was canisters of chocolate to lead a healthy life; life would probably be a whole lot tastier and sweeter.

14. Colorvision Cake

Betty Crocker has always been an innovative brand, and in the 1950s it took things a step further.

Colorvision doesn’t sound like something you want to eat; instead it sounds more like something that belongs in a movie theater. And the bright colors of this cake don’t look very edible, either. The concoction was a mix of gelatin and “partycake mix,” and probably a bunch of chemicals too.

15. Jell-O Salad

Nowadays we think of salads as dishes that only include fresh ingredients.

But, in the 1950s, Jell-O salads were all the rage. They weren’t technically a dessert since people would often mix vegetables (or whatever was leftover in their kitchen) with the gelatin. But, it looks an awful lot like what we would call dessert today. It also looks pretty disgusting, but I guess tastes change over time.