Back in the 1800s, crackers were sold in bulk in open barrels in general stores. They were frequently stale by the time they were purchased. Then, in the 1890s, Adolphus Green created the National Biscuit Company and developed a lighter, flakier cracker that would stay crisper longer, thanks to a nearly airtight package. A liner using interfolded wax paper and cardboard kept out moisture and prevented the crackers from losing their crunch. To emphasize this feature, the company created a mascot: a boy in a rain slicker, usually shown in a downpour, carrying a box of Uneeda Biscuits.
By 1904, when this full-page ad appeared in the Post, that boy would have been a familiar sight to readers. They’d already been subjected to the company’s $7 million advertising campaign, the first to introduce a new product to the entire nation. It had been so successful that Uneeda ads didn’t have to bother using copy to sing the praises of the cracker. The National Biscuit Company, soon to be known as Nabisco, simply showed the familiar mascot.
This article appears in “The Vault” section of the March/April 2018 issue of The Saturday Evening Post. Subscribe to the magazine for more art, inspiring stories, fiction, humor, and features from our archives.
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