Blue Bell Bar-B-Q Potato Chips

Is This Blue Bell Potato Chips Bag the Coolest Thing Ever?

If I didn’t know any better I’d swear that this vintage Blue Bell Potato Chips bag was designed rather recently, and by someone with a real love for retro styling. In fact, this may just be the most perfect example of mid-century packaging graphic design I’ve ever seen.

Let’s take a look and then review why this is so great, shall we?

Blue Bell Bar-B-Q Potato Chips bag

  • The Blue Bell logo is strong, and I love how it incorporates the clapper into the product description. (Not sure what “smoky flavored” is supposed to mean, however.)
  • To further the bell motif, there are musical notes for “fresh” and “crisp,” which is just great. So very mid-century.
  • The yellow portion of the bag design appears to be somewhat Googie-influenced, even if subtly so.
  • Although I had no knowledge of the “10 cents” graphic when I designed my logo, I appreciate the similarity. But just for the record, I was inspired by a few different old logos.
  • That’s some phenomenal design work on the family right there. And as a very nice, subtle touch, note the recursion on the bag of chips the little girl is holding.

Seriously, if you can’t have fun eating chips from a bag that looks like this then I don’t even want to talk to you.

According to what I’ve been able to find on the internet, the Blue Bell Potato Chip Company is still around. Or at least some company called Blue Bell and located in Bend, Oregon is. If anyone reading this is affiliated with them, I would be eternally grateful if you could hook me up with one of these vintage chip bags or anything that resembles it.

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1959 Symphonic Phonographs Catalog

The 1959 Symphonic Phonographs Catalog

While on vacation in Cape Cod recently, I brought a wad of cash to my favorite used book store and went nuts. In fact, I didn’t purchase one book. Instead I walked away with a healthy stack of vintage magazines — everything from old issues of Family Circle, The Saturday Evening Post, and Better Homes and Gardens to random fashion and auto magazines. And this, the 1959 Symphonic Phonographs catalog.

1959 Symphonic Phonographs Catalog

Within these pages lies a bounty of vintage turntable models, all with that special late ’50s beauty. You’ve got your sturdy and fashionable portable players, like the Junior and Sophomore models seen here…

1959 Symphonic Phonographs Catalog (Junior & Sophomore)

… and you’ve got hefty models that double as furniture, as was the style back then, like the Symphony.

1959 Symphonic Phonographs Catalog (Symphony)

You really can’t go wrong either way I suppose. I have no idea what one of these beauties in good working order would fetch on the market today, but I was at least willing to fork over three dollars for the catalog. If you want to see the whole set — including the original order form — you can check it out on my Flickr page.

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Los Angeles Development Boom of the 1950s

Time Capsule: Los Angeles Development Boom of the 1950s

In its July 13, 1953 issue Life magazine ran one of many photo essays on the city of Los Angeles. This one focused on the immense population and development growth the city and surrounding area encountered in the late ’40s and early ’50s. Here then is a gallery of the most interesting photos — some unpublished — that went into its story called “400 New Angels Every Day.” There were all shot in either December ’52 or July ’53 by J. R. Eyerman.

Less than two years after this piece ran in the magazine, Life published another, less sunny L.A. story — this one about an October 1954 smog emergency. You can see those pics here.

Los Angeles Development Boom of the 1950s

Aerial view of busy shopping center parking lot.

Los Angeles Development Boom of the 1950s

Overall exterior view of new CBS Television City complex, consisting of offices and station studios.

Los Angeles Development Boom of the 1950s

Showing a construction site in front of the downtown City Hall building.

Los Angeles Development Boom of the 1950s

Ariel view of new housing development in Pomona, featuring one-story houses.

Los Angeles Development Boom of the 1950s

Expansive view of newly-built houses jammed side-by-side, divided by a never-ending street clogged with moving vans including Pan American Van and Storage, Bekins Van and Storage, McCallson Van and Storage, unloading families’ possessions on moving day in this housing development.

Los Angeles Development Boom of the 1950s

Besiege of the salesmen calling on one family, the first week after they moved into new home.

Los Angeles Development Boom of the 1950s

Exterior view of new Samuel Gompers elementary school in Lakewood, with students and teachers in front.

Los Angeles Development Boom of the 1950s

Ariel subdivider Fritz Burns, flying over new housing development, dictating memos while inspecting the houses.

Los Angeles Development Boom of the 1950s

Closeup of ” Welcome to Lakewood/America’s Fastest Growing Community” sign, featuring census statistics on growth of area.

Los Angeles Development Boom of the 1950s

Control towers at new department stores, with electric signals directing shoppers where to park.

Los Angeles Development Boom of the 1950s

Typical family displaying conveniences needed for living in the area.

Los Angeles Development Boom of the 1950s

Aerial view of road construction in Hollywood.

Los Angeles Development Boom of the 1950s

Group of salesman selling various goods and services, who call on a new family in development.

Los Angeles Development Boom of the 1950s

Garbage disposal salesman demonstrating unit to possible buyers.

Los Angeles Development Boom of the 1950s

Aerial view of construction of cloverleaf.

Vintage Mother's Day ad - Whitman's Chocolates, 1946

A Gallery of Vintage Mother’s Day Ads, Vol. 2

Has it already been a year since my last gallery of vintage Mother’s Day ads ran? Where does the time go? Well, I’m back with another 10 classic advertisements to commemorate that most special lady in our lives — mom.

Of course, the usual suspects are here — flowers and chocolates — but I think this year’s gallery manages to mix things up a bit. I think this is the first time I’ve seen a Mother’s Day champagne ad after all.

Vintage Mother's Day ad - Lady Buxton, 1939

Lady Buxton, 1939

Vintage Mother's Day ad - Lejon Champagne, 1970

Lejon Champagne, 1970

Vintage Mother's Day ad - Bell & Howell, 1957

Bell & Howell, 1957

Vintage Mother's Day ad - Whitman's Chocolates, 1946

Whitman’s Chocolates, 1946

Vintage Mother's Day ad - FTD, 1970

FTD, 1970

Vintage Mother's Day ad - Kentucky Fried Chicken, 1968

Kentucky Fried Chicken, 1968

Vintage Mother's Day ad - AT&T, 1967

AT&T, 1967

Vintage Mother's Day ad - General Electric dishwasher, 1969

General Electric dishwasher, 1969

Vintage Mother's Day ad - Pyrex, 1955

Pyrex, 1955

Vintage Mother's Day ad - Playtex pillow, 1952

Playtex pillow, 1952

1954 Super Homemakers' Guide Volvelle

This 1950s Super Homemakers’ Guide Volvelle Is Super

Long before the days when handy housekeeping tips were just a click or an app away, the housewives of America and Canada had to make do with decidedly more crude technology. But man was some of it ever spiffy. Case in point: the Super Homemakers’ Guide volvelle (aka wheel chart), published by Super Publications in 1954.

1954 Super Homemakers' Guide Volvelle

What do I do if my volvelle gets stained?

The idea is simple — just dial up whatever you need to mend or wash, and the wheel tells all. For instance, thanks to the guide you know that when you cook cabbage you should place a dish of vinegar on the stove to remove the cabbage odor. Not sure how you get rid of the vinegar odor, as there’s no slot on the volvelle for that.

This was made with the intent of business buying in bulk to advertise themselves, as on this eBay listing specimen.

Pretty neat, no? Now you know how to get booze stains out of your rugs!

1953 Zenith radio ad

This 1953 Zenith Radio Ad Is Beautiful

I don’t think I need to say anything else about this stunning ad specimen for the Zenith Super De Luxe clock radio, from a 1953 issue of Look magazine.

1953 Zenith radio ad

Let’s take a close look at that main picture, shall we? Just click to embiggen:

1953 Zenith radio ad


Yup, that’s the coolest thing I’ve seen all day. And I love the color choices, like French Green and Scotch Grey. Here’s a current photo of one of these De Luxe bakelite beauties on sale on eBay (clock works, radio doesn’t) for $40.

1950s Zenith Super De Luxe clock radio

Christmas, Michigan

Ho Ho Ho! A Gallery of Vintage Santa & Christmas Postcards

For this batch of vintage postcards, I wanted to go for some mid-century Christmas kitsch rather than the really old stuff. Because that’s how I roll, as loyal readers must know by now.

Santa's Village (Sky Forest, CA, 1950)

Santa’s Village (Skyforest, CA, 1950)

(via Flickr user califboy101)

Santa's Village (Skyforest, CA, 1950)

Santa’s Village (Skyforest, CA, 1950)

Santa and His Reindeer - North Pole, New York

Santa and His Reindeer (North Pole, New York)

(via The Pie Shops)

Santaland (North Pole, Colorado, 1966)

Santaland (North Pole, Colorado, 1966)

(via Calsidyrose)

Christmas, Michigan

Christmas, Michigan

(via Neato Coolville)

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1955 Ford/Mercury

Car Capsule: Photos of the 1955 Ford and Mercury Lineup

1955 Ford/Mercury

Some time in 1954, Life magazine photographer Yale Joel ventured to an unknown destination. His assignment was to photograph a group of brand new cars — 1955 Ford and Mercury models, to be precise. I don’t know how many of these pictures ended up in the magazine, as I’ve been unable to find any associated article in the Google Books archive, but some of these are real stunners.

I wasn’t sure at first if these were actually 1954 models, but the dead giveaway was the distinctive look of the ’55 Ford Fairlane. That stainless steel Fairlane stripe on the side was what tipped me off, as the Fairlane debuted in model year 1955 (replacing the Crestline). Also present — as far as I can tell — are the Mercury Montclair and Monterey, as well as a Ford station wagon.

Owing to the fact that these are raw photos from a session, some of the pictures do look very much alike. But hey, one can never have too many vintage car photos if you ask me.

If you enjoyed my recent retrotisements gallery for the 1960 Ford lineup — and I know you did — this will be right up your alley. If any car buffs can verify the model or trim for specific photos please let me know!

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Vintage Toys: Cape Canaveral Satellite Monitor, Circa 1950s

Cape Canaveral Satellite Monitor toy bus, circa 1950s. Produced by Yonezawa Toys.

Via the Smithsonian —  This toy “Cape Canaveral Satellite Monitor” bus is a tin toy produced in Japan for export to an American market. In post-WWII Japan, producing space-themed “tin toys” originated as a way to tap into an international market for “penny toys” or cheap playthings. By the late 1950s, however, this home-crafted industry had become a successful international business manufacturing creatively-designed, complex toys with moving parts and/lights that competed successfully with Western toymakers. This toy’s maker, Yonezawa Toys, Co., Ltd., was one of the biggest manufacturers in Japan of tin toys, many of which carried space themes. The design of this toy, which features lithography created to appeal to an American market, tapped into the American fascination with the new NASA human spaceflight program while also showcasing the toy’s battery-powered features.