Wednesday, December 23, 2009

I'll Be Home for Christmas...

...after I stop at the grocery store for the 17th time. Here are a few scenes of supermarket Christmas displays from the early and mid-1960’s, as pictured in Progressive Grocer magazine. The first is from a Stop & Shop store, with a “festive Christmas painting…executed by store personnel” below the store directory and above the meat display case. Had I worked at the store, I would have volunteered for this back in July!
Ah, those fond memories of going to visit Santa Claus at the supermarket. (?!) And they have a (really young looking) Mrs. Claus as well! She definitely has that “I’ll kill you if you take my picture” expression, don’t you think? This scene is from the Food Mart store in Berlin, Connecticut, right next door to the Topps.
All decked out in red dress and pearls (and black gloves. Wow.), a young woman looks over some snowballs for sale at the Hughes Market in Westdale (L.A. area) California. Well, she couldn’t have found any outside, could she?
An addled-looking Santa Claus (am I the only one who finds this disturbing?) looms behind a gift display end cap at an unknown supermarket – must be somewhere in Southern California, given the Manning’s Bakery display in the background. And the chinos.
From the original caption – “A housewife’s dream world of new appliances in this non-food display of high-profit gift suggestions.” Mmm, capital idea there. Except for the fact that waffle irons can really hurt, depending on how hard they’re thrown.
A holiday nut display at a Big Bear supermarket, Columbus, Ohio. A little tweaking of the slogan would have made this one a sure-fire winner – “Yule go nuts for these values!”, eh? Or maybe not.
Baking supplies “in the round” (or “in the octagon”) at an Albers supermarket, also in Columbus. To the right is a display of “Spry”, a now-defunct brand of vegetable shortening that competed with Crisco. From the ‘30’s through the ‘50’s, Spry had a very well-known spokeslady, the menacingly helpful “Aunt Jenny.”
“Colors of Christmas shine brightly in the slanting rays of winter afternoon sun”, in a Colonial store in Durham, North Carolina. I don’t have much to add, other than it’s kind of a nice effect. I do wonder what’s in those stockings, though…mini fruitcakes?
Tobacco gifts for Dad in this Christmas display at an unnamed store. Hav-A-Tampa cigars are at the end of the display. To the left are Camel and Winston cigarettes in little chalet-shaped cartons, below the green cardboard candlesticks. Anyone who, as a kid, gave a carton of cigarettes to your Dad for Christmas, raise your hand. (sigh.) Anyone who tried to convince him to quit smoking years later, raise your hand. I’m glad my Dad did, after a 40-plus year long habit.
Lastly, a colorful if somewhat jumbled scene, complete with white and yellow striped walls and the 1960’s Food Fair “honeycomb” logo. The decorated tree to the left of the photo really puts me in the Christmas spirit. Then again, the red, white and blue cardboard medallions really put me in the 4th of July spirit as well. Heck, let’s just celebrate all the holidays at once!


  1. The display of nuts is a reminder how Christmas has changed. Nuts play a much smaller role, as do the candied cherries that usually shared the display. I would guess that there is less scratch baking than in the past.

  2. Dave, you should title this post "Yule go nuts for these photos!" I laughed at loud when I read your re-tool.

    I love the lady dressed in the red coat and black gloves and, of course, envy the person wearing chinos (It's been rainy and snowy here) and, strangely, I don't find the addled Santa disturbing at all...

    Merry Christmas!

  3. I think Manning's was a Northern California operation-- at least their cafeterias and other food service was limited to that part of the state. And I've never heard of a place anwywhere near LA named "Westdale." Westwood, Lawndale, yes.

  4. Christmas was in the 50s and 60s a much more authentic religious and family centered holiday and the meal aspect (dessert included) was more proninent. Sadly it shows you what Christmas has become today to an increasing majority of people. instead of chestnuts roasting on an open fire. it's about $500 Jordan sneakers and $500 Sony
    Playstation4's with the newest Grand Theft Auto release. These pictures take you back to a simpler time.

  5. Mannings was a San Francisco cafeteria and also had coffee and baked good I believe. I remember seeing billboards in San Francisco when I was a kid in the 1970's (way past their heyday!)and my father had old Mannings coffee cans in the garage filled with nails/nuts/bolts. I loved seeing these photos since I really didnt notice and elaborate holiday displays in the markets this year.

  6. Manning's had restaurant and bakery operations in several Western states. They actually started in Seattle and the company headquarters moved to San Francisco in the '20s.

    A number of Safeway stores in the Seattle area carried Manning's baked goods from roughly the late '50s through the early '70s. The photo here doesn't look like a Safeway store, however.

  7. Anonymous – I wouldn’t doubt at all that much less scratch baking takes place today, despite a trend towards more natural foods with less preservatives, etc. People seem so much busier now, and for many life is much more complicated than it was in the era during which these photos were taken.

    Didi – Should have. I think the “lady in the red dress” is the gem of this bunch, as well!

    After all these years, I still like the Coca-Cola Santa image the best.

    Anonymous – Westdale is in West Los Angeles near the 405 Freeway. If you formed a triangle between Westwood, Santa Monica and Culver City, it would be close to the center. Thanks for the info on Manning’s.

    Anonymous2 – It very much was simpler and more authentic, and far more meaningful I would say. Gift-giving doesn’t have to be about the big bucks, and the expensive items you mention are available year-round. I’m afraid that’s what much of our economy is built on, sad to say though.

    Mr BlueLight – Cool memories! Glad you liked the pics, especially if your local supermarkets went a bit light on it this year!

    Tkaye – Thanks for that additional background on Manning’s! Interesting note about the Safeway connection. I agree, it doesn’t look at all like that Safeways of that era.