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Foot of the Market: 1920

Foot of the Market: 1920

Washington, D.C., circa 1920. "John D. Hayes" is the caption here, perhaps indicating a connection to the Fanny Farmer chain of candy stores. Economics majors have probably heard of Adam Smith's "invisible hand" of the market; here we see evidence of its phantom foot. National Photo Co. View full size.


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Scotch Toast

Here you (incl. loribl) may find a recipe for "Scotch Toast," together with recipes for other Scotch stuff, like Broth and Eggs.
And with a Scotch in your hand you might even bring a Scottish Toast like:

We toast ye, the nicht, the hill and the heather,
The lad o' the bonnet, the plaid and the feather,
The land o' the mountain, the stream and the river,
The land o' our ancestors, Scotland for ever!

Psyllium Later

The 1920s was not the last time that Kellogg's flirted with psyllium. I started working at Kellogg's HQ in Battle Creek in 2000, not long after they discontinued the short-lived "Ensemble" line of products (known in the parlance of the time as "functional foods"...because regular foods serve no function!). The hope was that psyllium would be the next oat bran, but that didn't come to pass. Ensemble struggled along for less than a year before being axed.

One of the fun things about working at Kellogg's HQ was the framed vintage ads all over the building. There were beautiful ones, odd ones, and fair number having to do implicitly or explicitly with constipation, including one (for Krumbles, I think) that mentioned it by name painted sky-high on the side of the Cereal City building. (Cereal City was the attraction in lieu of the factory tour, which had stopped being offered in 1996, because, I was told, it made corporate espionage too easy for Kellogg's competitors!)

Pickwick Ale

Pickwick Ale & Stout bottles from Haffenreffer & Co. of Boston are nice displays here. You would think they'd have local brands in the store.

Re: Auto-Intoxication

Today, auto-intoxication is more widely known as colon cleansing.

Inner Hygiene, 2000,
James C. Whorton.

The Cultured Abdomen: Dietary Prevention.

… Cereal, moreover, was hardly the only option to cathartics that the health food industry provided. John Harvey Kellogg's company also produced LAXA Biscuits ("crisp, crunch biscuits of bran and agar"), Lacto-Dextrin (a preparation of Bulgarian bacilli that worked as a "refreshing colon food that … displaces the bad germs that destroy health"), and Psylla. The last was a preparation of psyllium, plant seeds that had been frequently used for laxation between ancient times and the nineteenth century, but that had fallen out of favor with the 1800s' enthusiasm for calomel. Appreciating the appeal of novelty, Kellogg reintroduced the seeds in two product lines, Psylla White and Psylla Black, and advertised them aggressively among physicians and pharmacists. In the late 1920s and early 1930s, Psylla was marketed in tandem with Lacto-Dextrin (in a "vast campaign," in the company's words) as a one-two punch against autointoxication. "When the Colon is Crippled What then?" a 1929 ad asked. Then it was explained, "Surely it is time to change the intestinal flora," by removing the old flora with Psylla and implanting a new, acidophilus flora with Lacto-Dextrin (alternatively, one could take Paraffin Tablets, a blend of paraffin oil with Bulgarian bacilli). …

The ladies in the "cashiers' cage"

Up on the second floor, the ladies wait at the cash drawers, ready to make change. The elderly men who actually work on the sales floor will take the customers' money, write up the receipt, and put it in a little wire basket. The little wire basket hangs from those pulley-and-wire mechanisms (you can see four) that run from spaces above the sale s counter, up to the cashiers' cage. Once the basket is full, the salesmen pull a handle and whizz! The basket travels to the cage, where the ladies make change and stamp the receipt. then they send it back.

You used to see stores with this system until the 1960s and 1970s, before cash registers operated by the salesclerks themselves became the standard.

Wire payment.

A grocery in our area around 1952 or so still had this mechanism. An assistant put the invoice and money into a cylinder which screwed onto the bottom of the little trolleys. A smart pull on a handle sent the trolley on its way to the cashier. Later the validated invoice and change came similarly back from the cashier. In the meantime the assistant wrapped your purchases (no paper bags supplied, you brought your own basket).

It must have dated from the 1890s but still worked perfectly. At the age of 4 the whole setup, the dark wooden handles, the steel wires and the sparkling brass fittings, absolutely fascinated me.

A few brands have lingered.

I see 9/57ths of the Heinz line, one Campbell's Soup item, and Junket (rennet tablets to thicken milk for puddings, cheese, and such, still sold today).

Potential disaster

Do not let your kids run wild in this store!

Thin lips and familiar labels

Perhaps I am deluded, but it seems to me that besides Fannie Farmer, some other familiar names appear here. Below the third display table on the right end, I believe I see bottles of something with the label with the picture of a woman with long ringlets who I recall as Virginia Dare, a company which today makes vanilla and other baking supplies. Also behind the counter I see the keystone shaped label of the Heinz Company. And I recognize the Royal Box -- Cigars?

The gents behind the counters and displays seem to be related. Most of them are grim with thin lips down-turned. These days you'd be hard pressed to find so many people working in one small shop.

A nice pair

of ankles, beating a hasty retreat from the three frosty old guys.


"Auto-intoxication"??? WHAT is that? Also, what the heck is Scotch Toast???

Sanitarium brand

There are some cans on the floor in the 2nd row that are marked "Sanitarium Canned ...". Any help on the last word on these?

Send it by wire

I'm intrigued by the ingenious pulley system to tranfer what I assume is the customer's payment up to the cashier/gestapo. Judging by the bars on the cashier's windows at bottom, this might have been in a rough neighborhood, which required the elaborate mechanism.

FIg-Nuts Agar

"The Perfect Corrective!"

Kellogg Diet

Based on the labels I can make out in the photo, it would appear this store is catering, perhaps exclusively, to those following the food guidelines of the Battle Creek Sanitarium.

Advertisement, Washington Post, May 8, 1929.

Woodward & Lothrop

Eat Battle Creek Health Foods
And Keep Healthy

Woodward & Lothrop has these foods — the same as are used daily on the tables of the world-famous Battle Creek Sanitarium. They contain just the elements needed to build good health — to keep perfect health. Among them are —

Blood Building and Fattening Foods: Food-Ferrin, Savita, Zo, Malted Nuts, Sal-Savita, Vita Wheat, Fig Bran.

Laxative Foods: Bran Biscuits, Branola, Vita Bits, Laxa Biscuits.

Food for Auto-Intoxication: Lacto-Dextrin, Psylla, Paralax, Paramels, Agar.

Reducing Foods: No-Fat Butter, No-Fat Mayonnaise, Gluten Bread, Laxa Biscuits, Bran Biscuits, Savita, Canned Fruits and Vegetables (unsweetened).

Miss Ethel Barnes, Battle Creek Dietician is here to give you expert advice in your selection of Battle Creek Health Foods. Battle Creek Foods, Fifth Floor.

Head Start

Those old guys make it look like a lot of our first jobs, it won't be much fun. We just have to hang on.

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