We do miss the glory days! The ads of the past had few rules telling them what was inappropriate or uncomfortable for others to see.
Not even a visit to the nearest primary school can give you the same dose of creepy kids as this article. Crudely drowned by accident or on purpose, the disturbing faces of these vintage kids sent ‘Chucky’ back to the drawing board.
1. Little Girls Staring At Food
Retro ads had a rudimentary understanding of how to replicate some of the basic human emotions. You might say they did it on purpose.
This is how childhood traumas begin in the first place – seeing others touch and eat your food. We can only estimate the primitive savagery this little girl barely contained.
We bet everything that she ate not only that jam sandwich, but also the whole bread, the plate, and the fingers. No cellophane is robust enough to resist those teeth.
As for the second girl, she can barely grab hold of her milk glass. The painfully slow speed of the plate coming towards her makes reveals the worst. She already gave her mother the stare of death twice during that meal.
2. Ginger Marketing
We don’t know why, but it seems that making ads with gingers hits gold each time.
Whether you are selling “Canada Dry” Pale Ginger Ale or Franco-American Spaghetti, the red hair and freckles work their magic on the unsuspecting buyer. You could say that such ads go to one’s heart, but then we acknowledge the irony. Gingers have no soul.
The word pun is awful, and we hope they will never include “gingervating” in the dictionary.
Ginger marketing shows the one chapter at which vintage ads are unmatched – using innocent children to promote activities suitable only for adults.
Then, as it is now, underage drinking was not ok. However, allowing companies to advertise their product this way was dubbed ok.
3. Children And Pigs
Make children as fat as pigs.
That was and continues to be the cornerstone of every successful parent. However, only a deeply troubled mind would take the sentence and give it a real-life form.
At the price of just 50 cents Grove’s Tasteless Chill Tonic solved one problem that bugged parents since we first get out of the caves. How to encourage a child to eat better and be less picky.
We are superficial enough not to notice that the ad also addresses adults. Why in the world would you want to be fat as a pig? Beauty standards were more than curious when this gem first reached the printing press.
The photo bellow includes such a vast range of emotions we are left numb. The girl is showing the little piglet how his brothers and sisters ended. However, she stresses the fact that only good little pigs have the honor. Macabre is the least you can call the add.
4. Licking Children
Remember? We have all reasons to believe the little boy remembers having a girl licking him on the face for the first time.
We will never know if this kinky side of the ad was intentional or not. With no Photoshop to make the job easier, designers had a hard time unleashing content that was clean of every controversy.
It doesn’t even matter what the ad promised. The most disturbing commercials are those that make the reader think of hidden message residing beyond the obvious.
We should be grateful for not living the God-forsaken times when children licking things were considered suitable material for the rest of the world to see. Yep, marketing doesn’t compromise, but there should be a limit.
5. Creepy Toddlers
Art historians identified epochs and styles of vintage ads depending on the way toddlers were depicted.
Ads belonging to Awkward-ism pictured babies as evil masterminds who had no other better thing to do than stare at you with their cold and savage eyes. Some would say that all hopes in humanity died together with this vintage poster. Even the title works to raise hairs on the back – “Got Milk?”
As for the photo below, it got us so puzzled we decided to conceive a little test. We removed any reference to the product advertised, challenging you to come up with the most plausible explanation.
You can dismiss all those nasty captions that come to mind. Although loose, censorship did not allow things to step beyond a certain line.
6. No Skins!
Add wieners and creepy looking kids in one image and what you get is an awkward add that can’t escape the many sexual references that come to mind.
We hate that know-it-all Bill! He thinks he is cool just because he discovered a way to fool his mother into feeding him two Wieners.
Take the same scene and put it in a more contemporary context. Bill and his skinless hot dogs would be the laughing stock of the entire school.
Reading the fine print often makes ads like this one even more unsettling. The Skinless Wieners are always straight, never curved. Can you read the previous sentence without picturing an awful context?
As for the photo below, it shows the prototype of the consumer – brain-washed and able to get high on anything, even Wieners.
7. Storing Babies In Plastic
You should think twice about keeping your baby outside its wrapper.
Both ads are clear to suggest that using Du Pont cellophane is the best way to go. You can imagine the number of lawsuits coming their way. Mothers ended up harming their infants after failing to acknowledge one crucial thing.
Most commercial distort reality and should never be used as Instructables. Just stop for a while and pay homage to the hundreds of couples that browsed the Sears catalog in the hope of finding a way to order such finely wrapped babies.
If you ever wondered how the stork delivers all that babies in better shape than your national postal service, the answer is in front of you. The best things in life come in Cellophane. The risk is to receive them dead.
8. The Face Of Pure Joy
Back when photography was just a distant dream, expressing enough emotion was a delicate ballet that usually turned bad.
Generating vivid emotions boosts sales. However, there should be a limit to that. Not only are their facial expressions unrealistic, but they gear strongly towards the creepy.
Take the first photo. Where will you be when the vegetables kicked in? The boy and mother look stoned, and we might suspect they put something extra in that V8 drink to make it addictive.
We all experienced the struggle of avoiding vegetables as children. Who the hell they are fooling?
The disturbing daughter finished up that bowl of cereals like there was no tomorrow. As for the proud mother wearing excessive makeup, seeing her offspring lick the bowl and ask for more was probably the highpoint of her domestic career.
9. Precocious Toddlers
Some ads pushed the limits of what a toddler’s lifestyle should accommodate.
Take a look, and judge for yourself! Toddlers shaving their face or replacing milk with soda drinks was perfectly normal for the cold-hearted bastards that create such monstrosities.
Everything is cute until one baby cuts its cute little neck with a Gillette. As for the “begin early” advice, you can’t imagine how much fuss it caused amongst mothers lacking common sense. The barbershops were hit hard once toddler discovered the convenience of shaving themselves with Gillette Safety Razors.
As for the 7Up poster, it explains why most toddlers act like devils in the first years of life. Give that baby more sugar than its body needs and he/she will wreck your house.
10. It’s A Schwinn!
Getting to ride a Schwinn was the equivalent of a happy childhood.
Just read that young lad’s face. He is overwhelmed by emotions as the dream vehicle finally made its way on Santa’s list. It can get better than that and marketers know how to push the envelope even further.
Even the mighty Schwinn gets outdated when newer models come for sale. The Schwinn Phantom promised more fun than the basic model. It’s enough to look at the disturbed face of the teen hiding before the billboard.
For those who don’t know, the Schwinn bicycle was the ultimate pussy magnet of the time. Neighborhood cats were drawn to it like by force impossible to resist.
Those chrome fenders saw a lot of nasty stuff, that’s for sure.
11. Impressive Food
Ads involving children sell best, and the pioneers of printed marketing knew all about that.
Before ethics made their way in the field, many unsuspecting buyers took the bait. How could a gorgeous little girl act other than innocent? If one child loves it, it means it is good for them. The perfect logic here!
As for the food itself, it’s impossible to tell what they were selling back then. Last time we checked, food companies used many ingredients in the past that now count as cancer-inducing.
Dairy products looking pink? Vintage was never accurate in depicting natural colors. Even so, it’s hard to say what got the girl sweating in excitement.
Chances are our ancestors from the era of vintage ads included beef on the list of dairy products. Savages!
12. Children Of Satan Enjoy Their Beans
Beans have always been a staple food.
That meant ads had to get truly creative to engrave the memory and influence the buyer. The theme exploited here was simple.
Little boys doing the work of Satan get their energy from Van Camp’s Pork and Beans. Spreading evil and chaos build quite an appetite. Growing up to become Satan’s little helpers relies on a large intake of calories and nutrients.
Nevertheless, we tend to ignore that the second ad can have another key to interpretation. The sadistic youngster might as well feast on the kidneys of unborn babies.
Please understand the way our minds work. We don’t like making silly assumptions, and we base our guess on that unsettling smile of his.
13. Root Beer Toddlers
Go ahead and contemplate the wonderful past when toddlers drinking root beer was a scene that shocked no one.
Yep, we leave dark and troubled times when little humans only have milk as the right kind of beverage for them.
The two vintage ads show just how prevalent root beer was in a toddler’s menu. The first boy doesn’t settle for one glass and commands his mother to bring another.
The second commercial shows a dog trying to force his young master out of the habit. That on his face is a standard gaze a drunkard takes when his bar tab exploits all the credit.
Times were tough back when 2-year-old boys had to take a job to support the family. Good thing alcohol was around!
14. The Joy Of Good Eating
When ads are about food, you have to make it clear that what enters the mouth is exquisite.
Look at this boys feasting and experiencing the supreme pleasure life can offer. Once you go past the weird, it starts to make sense.
Eating spaghetti like a sadistic little prick brings in mind a clear connection to the Mafia. The boy can’t wait to finish his portion and cast you some Concrete Shoes.
As for Junior eating raw tomatoes, the industrial process of making Ketchup played a cruel trick on his complexion. Forget about industrialization. Given the vintage feel of the ad, they most likely used his digestive system to process the vegetables into a finite product.
If you are uncomfortable with the two stories, use your mind to come up with more plausible scenarios!
15. Racist Vintage Ads
Going back in time can sometimes bring shame rather than nostalgia.
Racism was a dark chapter, and these vintage ads show just how enrooted was the idea that skin color makes a difference. Companies selling bleaching or soap products used the white-black contrast to showcase the superiority of their merchandise.
Few people saw this kind of strange posters as inappropriate. The crooked depiction of African-Americans failed to produce something else rather than a giggle.
Some would argue that putting the racist message in a cartoonish form makes it blunt. We don’t agree with that and invite everyone to read about the real scale of horrors brought by race-based discrimination.