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CSBG Archive

I Saw It Advertised One Day #2

This is the second in a series (of indefinite length and regularity) of pieces looking at advertisements in comic books over the decades that amused me for whatever reason. In each installment, we’ll take a look at three ads!
Here is an archive of all installments of this feature.

Enjoy!

In keeping with the Butterfinger ad from the first installment, let’s take a look at another Curtiss candy product from that same year (1941) that further demonstrates the inane beneficial claims of dextrose.

I’ll give you a little history recap first, though. Dextrose is a name for one form of glucose that is derived from corn. Glucose is basically sugar. In the 1930s, when dextrose was developed, food companies just wanted to call it sugar, but the beet sugar and cane sugar companies successfully convinced the government (through a major lawsuit in 1940) to differentiate dextrose from “real” sugar, which WAS different, in the sense that cane and beat sugar were a compound of glucose and fructose, while dextrose was pretty much entirely glucose (and as commenter Mary Warner points out, it is interesting to note that modern-day corn sugar now has gone dramatically the OTHER direction, nearly half fructose/half glucose). So if you wanted to use dextrose in your product, you had to SAY you were using dextrose. You couldn’t just call it sugar. So companies, naturally, had to figure out a way of making dextrose sound GOOD, so the way they did so was to stress the fact that dextrose/glucose is, in fact, used as an energy source in humans (which is true).

So that led to Curtiss making a large series of ads where they stressed the energy effects of dextrose, even creating a cartoon spokesman called “N.R.G.” to promote how much energy dextrose gave you.

You saw in the first installment of I Saw It Advertised One Day how Curtiss pushed Butterfinger as something to give kids energy, but today we look at a Baby Ruth ad that goes even further with the nonsensical buzzwords, along with an endorsement of the coach of the New York Football Giants!!!

“Real Dextrose food-energy sugar”?!?! What the heck?!!?

I’m also quite sure that that Steve Owen came up with his quote all on his own.

I love this mid-70s ad from Wayne School because it just doesn’t give a crap.

“Listen, buddy, if you want to graduate high school, let us know. If not, then don’t. We’re not going to bother with any so-called ‘graphics’. Let’s be real, if you haven’t graduated high school yet and are inspired to do so by a comic book ad, you’re probably pretty desperate and don’t really need convincing from us.”

Finally, I dig this 2003 X-Men food products ad for a few reasons…

1. Super Sour Jubes just sounds insane

2. Around this time, Marvel insisted on Wolverine looking the same in all their titles (which really sort of screwed with what Morrison was doing in New X-Men at the time) so that they could have a consistent look for their licensed products. However, if you look at the packages, he has different costumes on each product ANYways!

3. Just the general silliness of seeing Wolverine brand bite size crisps and you know, the very concept of “x-treme snacks.”

That’s all for this installment! If you can think of some goofy comic book ads you’d like to see me feature here, drop me a line at bcronin@comicbookresources.com. Do not make suggestions in the comment section, so that they can still be a surprise for future readers. In fact, I think I’ll just start deleting comments that contain future suggestions.

22 Comments

Around this time, Marvel insisted on Wolverine looking the same in all their titles (which really sort of screwed with what Morrison was doing in New X-Men at the time) so that they could have a consistent look for their licensed products.

How did it mess up Morrison in New X-Men? He was already wearing black and yellow “realistic” clothing with no mask. It really wasn’t that major a change. It didn’t really throw off the tone of New X-Men that much, at least to me.

Technically, cane and beet sugar are not mixtures of glucose and fructose. They’re sucrose, which is a disaccharide formed when a molecule of glucose and a molecule of fructose are bonded together in a single molecule, with a molecule of water left behind. It’s just a minor quibble, but chemically speaking, a mixture and a compound are very different.

Strangely enough, the corn sugar used in most processed foods today is mostly fructose. I’m told that this is because fructose is sweeter than other sugars, so food companies can use less of it and thus save money. (Although they probably wouldn’t save as much if price supports and import restrictions didn’t raise the price of cane sugar so much. This is probably why Archer Daniels Midland, the primary producer of high-fructose corn syrup, is such a big supporter of price supports and import restrictions.) Nowadays this high-fructose corn syrup is being demonised by all sorts of health activists, but as far as I’ve been able to find out, there isn’t much evidence it’s any worse than any other form of sugar.

I recall Wolverine showing up in his Ultimate costume a couple of times on the covers of Austen’s run (yeah, no rush to check inside those issues), but it was pretty limited, and I don’t think it ever popped up in Morrison’s run.

I think I’ll make some suggestions :)

No, not really. I’ll have to send an email.

X-treme! snacks reminds me of an MST3K from the SciFi years. The bots are trying to introduce Mike to things like, iirc, extreme! macrame and extreme! rice.

I was just reading an article in the paper the other day about corn sugar and how the producers of it want to change the name to avoid bad connotations. The more things change…

Didn’t the Morrison run costumes attempt, in a way, to evoke the movie costumes? Or am I just thinking something else?

How did it mess up Morrison in New X-Men? He was already wearing black and yellow “realistic” clothing with no mask. It really wasn’t that major a change. It didn’t really throw off the tone of New X-Men that much, at least to me.

Not the costume, the face. They made them change Wolverine to the new consistent look of Ultimate Wolverine (slicked back and floppy hair and a soul patch). But since the costume would stand out TOO much in New X-Men, they were able to keep him in the standard New X-Men outfit (unlike Uncanny X-Men, where they made the full change).

Luckily, like most edicts like that, they were able to get back to normal within five-six months.

Fair enough, Mary, I’ll change it from mixture to compound for ya! And I like your good point about how corn sugar has now done a complete 180 from the days when it was almost all glucose to now being almost all fructose, so I’ll add that in, as well! Thanks!

Your first post in this series inspired me to flip through all of the actual comic books (as opposed to trades) that I now have in my meager collection -a smattering of titles ranging from 1973 to about the mid-2000s. What I found interesting (& I remember this occurred to me when I was in high school back then) is that while the ads in comics from about the mid-1980s onward are mainly for toys, candy/snacks, movies and video games, plus comics-related merchandise, the ads from the 70s, besides hawking toys/novelties, candy/snacks and opportunities to win prizes by selling seeds or X-mas cards, also include those for career-changes, getting a GED, getting a trade certification from a correspondence school, etc. You can draw your own sociological conclusion about who was reading comics back then, or at least who the publishers and advertisers thought was reading comics.

That explains why that gross soul patch showed up in Uncanny and New X-Men. So lame. Millar and Kubert gave him the soul patch to establish that their Wolverine was a complete, irredeemable, douchebag.

Sorry to put you through all this, but I did some fact-checking. High-fructose corn syrup (except for some rare versions) still contains a lot of glucose, usually around half. That’s still a big difference from old-fashioned corn syrup, such as Karo, which is nearly all glucose, but it really isn’t accurate to say that it’s nearly all fructose today.
I majored in Biology, but I never graduated, and it’s been a long time since I learned all my basic biochemistry. So some of the facts may not always be exactly as I remember them. (Also, high-fructose corn syrup was just taking over back then, so I never studied it in detail.)
Sorry. You don’t have to go back and change any more. What you have is probably accurate enough for a comic-book site. If anyone complains, just blame me.

That Wayne ad screams “targeted at Viet-Nam veterans” to me. “No job, despite how hard you can work? Seeking to avoid stressful environments like school that could trigger ‘battle fatigue’ aka PTSD? Important to be seen as an adult? Our education takes place in a *relaxed* environment where you won’t be judged.”

Whoever first drew Wolverine with a soul patch should be ashamed of themselves. (This goes for any other character as well. Along with anyone who’s ever worn one in real life.)

Super Sour Jubes ought to have Jubilee on the packaging, don’t you think?

That Wayne ad screams “targeted at Viet-Nam veterans” to me. “No job, despite how hard you can work? Seeking to avoid stressful environments like school that could trigger ‘battle fatigue’ aka PTSD? Important to be seen as an adult? Our education takes place in a *relaxed* environment where you won’t be judged.”

I may be too young, but I had the same reaction except my first thought was ‘underprivileged black kids’ and then I pinched myself and thought ‘nah, ex-convicts’.

Super Sour Jubes ought to have Jubilee on the packaging, don’t you think?

You’d think so, but after 2000, Jubilee wasn’t really a big enough character to sell anything (unlike in the ’90s when cartoon fame carried her to the lofty role of being in toys, video games and even a Happy Meal prize).

However, Wolverine is apparently always big enough to be a spokesman, since he is on each and every one of those packages. Really, they should just call them Wolverine Snacks instead. I do find the fact that the famed anti-hero is hawking something as wholesome as oatmeal cookies actually pretty funny.

Tom Fitzpatrick

October 17, 2010 at 1:53 pm

I miss those Twinkies ads!

They always made me hungry! ;-)

That X-men ad is pretty funny. I just like the juxtaposition of Wolverine and oatmeal cookies or oven baked, ranch flavored, bite size crisps.

I bought those sour candy rolls and I actually still have some. I kept them for collector’s purposes, completely unopened. I can just imagine what it would look like inside. :P I probably got them from a dollar store.

I also have some older gum from the 90s. It was actually kind of neat, it came in a hard plastic packaging similar in look to that unidentified object next to the sour candies. It had comic book pages printed on the inside. The gum was a giant sheet of blue gum coated in sugar that was as hard as the gum that came with baseball cards.

The Baby Ruth ad is amusing, but don’t candy bar ads today make basically the same claim? Snickers has sold itself as a quick-energy fix for decades.

Not the costume, the face. They made them change Wolverine to the new consistent look of Ultimate Wolverine (slicked back and floppy hair and a soul patch). But since the costume would stand out TOO much in New X-Men, they were able to keep him in the standard New X-Men outfit (unlike Uncanny X-Men, where they made the full change).

So if it’s not even the whole look that was adopted but just the hair and the soul patch, how did that as you put it “really sort of screw with what Morrison was doing in New X-Men at the time?” I agree it was ugly, but it seems more like a very minor annoyance than really screwing with the book. If anything it seems Austen was the one who was really screwed with over in Uncanny, not that it matters since the book was already a mess to begin with.

Having one of your main characters look completely different because of some editorial edict based on licensing issues is “really screwing” with a book.

Meanwhile, over in Uncanny, everyone had already gotten new costumes (and in some cases, new looks entirely) a few issues earlier, so Wolverine’s new look did not stand out.

Had to look it up because it was in Chicago: Wayne School was an unincorporated division of “LaSalle Extension University.” They eventually got shut down over their aggressive advertising, including ads which led people to believe they could get their law degree through correspondence school. But it’s been pointed out elsewhere that correspondence schools were vital in getting technical and trade education for minorities who were shut out of most trade schools. That address is currently student condos for the downtown DePaul campus.

“but as far as I’ve been able to find out, there isn’t much evidence it’s any worse than any other form of sugar.”

…Try checking into Type 2 Diabetes research. The skyrocketing number of cases of T2D has been pretty much linked to the switching from cane sugars and dextrose to corn syrups. One major smoking gun has been in South Africa, where the Coca-Cola bottlers of that nation refused to switch to corn syrups when Coke pulled the “Old Coke/New Coke” scam, and South Africa has a significantly lower ratio of T2D cases per sample than the US.

What exactly is opera cream? Sounds vaguely exploitative.

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