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Tuesday, July 7, 2015

Vintage S.F. Ads: Piggly Wiggly and the Melancholy of Listerine

Posted By on Tue, Jul 7, 2015 at 11:00 AM


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Old newspapers are fascinating, but they’re usually only found nestled between empty beer cans and dead housecats at hoarder houses. We recently took a tour through the archives of our sister publication, the San Francisco Examiner, and found some astounding news:

The Bay Area was once awash in Piggly Wigglys!

The iconic Memphis chain — which killed the old-fashioned general store and pioneered the “get it your damn self” supermarket concept in the early 1900s — apparently spread all the way to the Pacific Ocean before retreating to the Deep South again. An ad from July 29, 1929 (just a few scant months before the Wall Street crash!) shows El Puerco Aquado dotting the Peninsula from S.F. to Menlo Park and even South San Francisco.

Prices were good during the "MONTH END SALE THAT DOES NOT BOOMERANG!" Lemons were $.30/dozen, Quaker Puffed Wheat was only $.12 per package, and pineapple was only $.20 (but it came in a can).

Among the inscrutable details, the Pig-o-Wig touts its friendliness to the “18-day Diet," which means a strict regimen of grapefruit — and the runs. 

So what else would you have found at the Piggly Wiggly? Chocolate, the breakfast appetizer you can't resist! 

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Listerine! This lass smells like a latrine at noon! 

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No tour through vintage ads would be complete without some debunked patent medicines. Why yes, I do feel bilious and tongue-coated! 

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Giselle Velazquez

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