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[REV 25-NOV-2014]

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Secret Shopper: 1955

Secret Shopper: 1955

April 21, 1955. Using the self-timer on his new Lordox 35mm camera and a roll of high-speed Kodak Tri-X film, my brother photographed himself in what appears to be the canned soup and dog food section of the Rainbow Market, the exterior of which can be seen here. View full size.

On Shorpy:
Today's Top 5

Dr. Ross Jingle

My grandfather Keith Hetherington did that commercial live in L.A. when I was a little girl. I could never figure out how he got into that little box!


Interesting to see which brands made it and which slipped into the abyss.

Puss 'n' Boots jingle

Puss 'n' Boots (Puss 'n' Boots)
Is the best cat food (best cat food)
In the whole doggone world!


Wow! Thanks for jogging that Dr. Ross jingle out from the cobwebby depths of my memory! I can even hear the tune. I'm pretty sure that's what we fed Missie.

Dr. Ross Jingle

"Dr.Ross dog food is doggone good. Woof!"

Pop art?

Is tterrace's brother pre-empting Warhol with his Campbell's cans photography?

What I also love is the Puss in Boots and Jack and Jill cat food!

[Let's no forget the Skippy Dog Food. Which at least was not next to the peanut butter. - Dave]


I would hate to be the shopper that mistakenly grabbed a can of Red Heart Dog Food instead of Van Camps beans. Being 28 years old I like seeing that brands haven't changed all that much in 53 years.

Adjusted prices

Prices adjusted for inflation based on median household income...

The 16 cent can of Friskies was the equivalent of $2.01
The 18 cent can of Campbell's Chicken soup would be $2.26
The 40 cent box of Milk Bone would be $5.03

In 1955, the average family made $4,400 a year and the minimum wage was 75 cents and hour, which works out to $1,500 a year.

Flash Photographer

Realizing it's a small town grocer and not a supermarket, I'm struck by the proximity of Van Camp's beans (and the Campbell's Soups) to the impressive selection of dog food ("Red Heart"...especially sounds icky, now that we all know what goes into dog food). Granted, it's all nicely canned, but today grocers would be loath to locate two such product categories that close.

And Friskies did offer a great logo, label and color combo! Kudos to Milk-Bone for its consistent branding over the last 53 years!

Of course your brother looks like a flasher...but a friendly one.

Decatur, GA, has/had its own "Rainbow Market"...a crunchy granola vegetarian/health food store.

Grocery shopping

I like those prices! The packages seem bigger too. Today we pay more for less. I'd like to see more such photos- say from each decade. It would be interesting to see how grocery shopping has changed over the years.

[I would bet that if you take inflation into account, food now costs about the same, or less. In other words, a day's pay today buys more food than the average day's pay bought in 1955. - Dave]

Not a supermarket

This wasn't a supermarket, but a typical (for then) small town grocery store. He took another shot showing more of the store, including a glimpse of our dad, who worked there at the time. He took these to experiment with available-light photography made possible by the high-speed film, then still something of a novelty. Your average box Brownie snapshot taker wouldn't have been able to get a shot like this.


Wow.. the label has actually not changed. At least not noticeably.

Photo op on aisle five!

This has got to be one of the strangest and coolest photos I've seen yet. What on earth possessed your brother to shoot a self-portrait in a supermarket? Whatever the reason, I'm glad he did it.

[On the shopping list: "Get more Kodachrome." - Dave]


This one has got to be one of the BEST "dumb pictures." Do they still make people like this? i would take this guy out for a beer anytime. Great, love it. Thanks!


My dog had a white plastic bowl with that logo on it. It said, "I love my Friskies!"


One of my favorite 1950s logos. Also one of the great label designs. Maybe the best dog food can ever.

SHORPY HISTORICAL PHOTO ARCHIVE | History in HD is a vintage photo archive featuring thousands of high-definition images from the 1850s to 1960s. (Available as fine-art prints from the Shorpy Archive.) The site is named after Shorpy Higginbotham, a teenage coal miner who lived 100 years ago.

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