Grocery time machine: A 78-year-old circularDevon
My mother-in-law recently found this newspaper circular from Danahy-Faxon grocery stores in Buffalo, NY. The date: August 6, 1936. The copy, illustrations, and prices: fascinating. From what I could find, the 130 Buffalo-area Danahy-Faxon stores were the result of a July 1929 merger of two local family enterprises – a series of meat packing plants and stores (Danahy) and a 102-location grocery chain (Faxon). They were purchased by a larger Philadelphia-based chain in 1946, then renamed Nu-Way, then Acme, operating until 1979 when the company announced it was no longer operating in Buffalo. Many local stores were absorbed by Tops and Super Duper. (Summarized from “The Glory Days of Buffalo Shopping by Michael F. Rizzo.)
Take a look at what things cost, the items that were on American family tables back then, the gender-specific nature of the language, and some early pre-cursers to the importance placed on “local” and “grass-fed.”
“Women pass the word along Faxon brand canned goods are the finest packed supreme quality!” And x-rayed eggs for 37 cents a dozen.
I assumed that nearly all stores in the 1930s were locally owned, but the tone of this “shop local” message has an urgency that struck me – especially for placement on the front page of the circular.
Short ribs – 12 1/2 cents! And again with the 14-cent French Dressing from the cover. Fresh-ground hamburg
(no “-er”) steak – 14 1/2 cents.
Could this be the turning point of American consumers’ preferences from grass-fed to grain-fed?
Buffalo’s ethnic influences of the time are evident here: Home-grown cabbage, 2 lbs for 11 cents. Streusel Kuchen “for Sunday breakfast,” 12 cents each. Corned beef, 19 cents. I don’t know what “beaver lobster” is, but it doesn’t sound good.
1) 35-cent bacon?! 2) I love ad copy from this era – fish “From Icy Deep Blue Waters” 3) Wieners and franks are different things
These illustrations are so wonderful. Also, “The cream from which Danahy-Faxon’s Sweet Cream Butter is churned is actually richer than whipping cream, and sweeter than the cream in your morning coffee! Such cream commands a premium for the dairyman. Danahy-Faxon’s gladly pay this premium price to bring you the finest sweet cream butter made!” Later on in the copy – “Better get two pounds at least.”