13 Wildly Irresponsible Vintage Ads Aimed at Kids

#6. Young Fritz Cigars

This ad for Young Fritz Cigars is actually from the label inside the cigar box, so it's not technically an advertisement. But is that better, or worse? In that spot it becomes more like product directions. "INSERT INTO MOUTH HOLE OF CHILD. IF IT CRIES, GIVE IT A SECOND ONE."

Wait, is that "Young Fritz" there in the picture? So the mascot itself is a child smoking? Hell, maybe we should just be happy they did a drawing instead of making an actual kid puff away on a stogie during a photo shoot.

#5. Pet Monkey/Raccoon

"Hey look, Mom, we can just order rabies right out of the magazine now!"

Yes, the 1960s were a magical time, when wild animals were sold in comic books. Where were they getting all these monkeys and raccoons from anyway? Do we want to know? Is there a connection with the fact that the spider monkey is today on the endangered species list? Surely not -- it says right on the ad: "Live delivery guaranteed." These were clearly professionals when it came to cramming monkeys into cardboard mailing tubes.

Also, notice that the monkey is advertised as eating the same food as humans and "even likes lollipops." This is why most houses in the 60s smelled strongly of raccoons and monkey diarrhea.

#4. Rainier Beer

This 1906 ad for Rainier Beer not only encouraged young people to start drinking but specifically says to make a "habit" out of it. Oh, but don't worry -- it "brings the glow of health."

This one has to get credit for going above and beyond Young Fritz up there. After all, that kid could have sneaked a cigar out of Old Fritz's stash without him knowing. But, no, here they're issuing a clear call to the terrifying old men of the world: "Find a young girl and make her drink beer with you." Really, the most irresponsible part of the ad is that it doesn't warn him to hide her revolver first.

#3. Gillette Safety Razor

There are two possible messages from this 1905 ad for a Gillette Safety Razor. The first is that nothing quite says "safe thing for your baby to play with" like a stick with open blades at the end.

Or you could make the fairly logical assumption that in the early 20th century, it was considered a crippling birth defect if you didn't have a thick, full beard at three months. Thus, prior to the invention of the Gillette Safety Razor, parents would have to shave the baby with a straight razor, and this product finally made it safe for the infant to shave himself.

#2. Gilbert Atomic Energy Lab

Yes, the Gilbert Atomic Energy Lab came with real live radioactive materials. It was supposedly low-level radiation and "completely safe and harmless!" though this is 1950 we're talking about. It's impossible to know if they were using the modern definition of the word "safe" or the Iver Johnson Revolver definition.

This toy was unofficially promoted by the U.S. government, which advertised a cash reward along with the toy to anyone who used the toy's Geiger counter to find uranium. There was presumably an additional reward for the first brave little boy to successfully use his Gilbert Atomic Energy Lab to kill a communist.

#1. Cocaine Isn't Just for Daddy Anymore

OK, maybe we're being a little unfair here. Sure, we know cocaine is bad for kids now. But they didn't know back in 1885 when this ad ran. Just like they didn't know that TV rots your brain back when Motorola claimed that TV was a magical learning box ...

Hell, we're just now learning the evils of corn syrup. How should they know not to run an ad specifically telling you to feed babies 7 Up ...

... or just straight corn syrup.

But that doesn't mean that they were worse parents. They still obviously loved their kids, just like parents today. Well, unless the kid's slovenly disregard for her figure was disgracing the family. Then all bets were apparently off ...


"She knows what she did."

For more ads that left us scratching out heads, check out 8 TV Ads That Hate Women and 10 Awesome Ads (For Traumatizing Children).

And stop by Linkstorm to learn more about how our parents' generation really did have a plot to wipe us all out.

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