Creepy Kids in Creepy Vintage Ads

[Originally posted August 2013. Updated June 2014.]

Message to every American currently between the ages of 55 and 110:  I know your secret.
You had an incredibly weird childhood.
Here you are, living in 2014, pretending like your lives are normal, when as it turns out, your formative years were anything but normal.  They were bizarre.  And so were you.  That’s the only way to put it.
I know this because I just spent all day looking at disturbing ads from the 1900s, 10s, 20s, 30s, 40s, and 50s, all featuring children, and forgive me if I need a few days before I want to be around you again.
Denials will be useless, as I’ve carefully compiled ample evidence below.  Let’s take a tour, category by category:

Girls Who Are a Weird Level of Hungry

This little girl needs to just settle down.  That manic expression and those eager little hands are completely over-the-top.  It’s just some white bread with jelly.

Okay yes, those slabs of low-grade ice cream look pretty delicious.  But they don’t warrant total captivation.  Let go of the bars and get ahold of yourself.

 

I get it, it’s a big plate of meat and you’re hungry, but again, just rein it in a notch.  You’re not a dog.

 

Speaking of which, this girl is behaving like an uncivilized animal.  You can want the Cocoanut and still act dignified.

Kids With Old Faces

That’s way too many eye wrinkles for a 6-year-old.

 

Okay both people in this ad need to get a fucking grip.  I would reprimand the kid, but we can all see where he learned to act like a psycho.  In any case, he should probably spend less time lusting over a glass of V-8 and more time worrying about the fact that both his face and hairstyle look like a 75-year-old Republican.

 

Aren’t you a little young to get someone’s attention with an 85-year-old person word like “say”?  And why are you drinking so much soda—you’re like 7 months old.

 

Oh well this is a great life path.  So apparently the kid in the previous ad decided to make a career out of his little act and actually got a job with Hires’ Rootbeer.  All the soda has taken its toll, as he now looks 50.

We might as well explore this phenomenon, now that we’re here—

 

More Infants Drinking Soda

 

The Soda Pop Board of America was just like, “So let’s write down the things we want to be true and then make that the ad.”

 

Pure pleasure!  Yes, you’ve really achieved something here by giving a fizzy, sugary drink to someone who has been alive for 50 days and getting a positive reaction.

 

That’s it.  Shove it down the newborn’s throat.

Segues nicely into:

Parenting At Its Finest

 

Modern parents give their 2-month-old a pacifier.  Maybe a blanky.  In 1905?  They handed the baby a razor and told it to start shaving.

 

Sun deprivation is the least of this baby’s problems, considering that he’s locked in the bathroom.  This is literally a product for parents who are incubating their child in the gross, dark corner of the bathroom, never letting them see or know about the outside world.

 

On the sad little girl’s chest, it says, “Papa says it won’t hurt us!”  So papa’s reasoning is, “I got a gun that has a child lock on it—now my 2-year-old daughter can finally sleep with a gun.”

 

“You see so many good things in Du Pont Cellophane.”  Like, apparently, babies being murdered via suffocation.

 

No comment.

Babies With Intelligent Observations About Their Mother’s Cigarette Addiction

Really, lady?  Your smoking habit has escalated to the point that your non-sentient infant can’t help but comment on it, and you respond as if you’re just talking to an adult, articulating the merits of this particular brand of cigarette?

Well now what the hell is going on here?  Does this kid work for Marlboro?  Where did he learn to pull manipulative shit like this?

 

Let’s just list the facts here:

1) This mother has a smoking addiction
2) She also beats her baby sometimes
3) The baby knows both #1 and #2, and has actually learned to outsmart this horrible woman by knowing her patterns well enough to use her addiction to mitigate the abuse.

Let’s move on.

 

Impossibly Annoying-Looking Redheaded Boys Excited To Put Food In Their Shit-Eating Mouths

 

I can barely look at this picture it annoys me so much.

 

A somewhat self-aware kid might not appreciate such an obvious and derogatory nickname.  But Ginger here is so ragingly giddy to drink this soda that no other thought can enter his brain.

 

This kid looks rowdy as fuck.  Good thing he took a break from egging the neighbors’ houses to climax over a glass of orange juice.

 

Yeah I bet you do “wish you had a million oreos.”  You know why?  Cause you’re a creepy 50s ad kid who is outrageously into food.  Let’s also note that this isn’t a photo, it’s a drawing—and they still chose to make him a red head.  I’ll never understand the 1950s fetish with prepubescent redheaded boys.

Murderous Nightmare-Inducing Children

 

This is some kind of judgment by Pears’ Soap.  They had an ad team and a budget.  They had time.  And at the end of it all, they decided to go with a drowning baby trying to claw itself from the jaws of death.

 

Oh you know, just a murderous little girl covered in blood-colored dye.  Zero remorse in her sociopathic facial expression.

 

Okay here we get to the kid that is going to haunt my sleep for the next few weeks.  This is not a human child.  All I can picture is being his parent and walking into his room at night to check on him, and when I’m standing over him, suddenly his eyes open wide in that smile, and his head starts spinning around and I’m in the shit trying to escape.

 

Here he is again.  When he’s not knifing his parents to death, he keeps busy with his ad modeling career.

 

He’s not even trying to be non-sinister here.  Somehow, the ad team at Karo cooking products looked at this ad and decided it was ready to go to the presses.

 

Incredibly Racist Children

 

“Why doesn’t your mamma wash you with fairy soap?” What a braggy little bitch.  Also worth noting is the first class ire going on on the black girl’s face.

 

This girl just fully goes for it.  Full-force bigotry.  Two other questions—why is the boy wearing a dress, and why is the girl wearing shoes in the ocean?

 

Another gem from Pears’ Soap.  Their claim is that black people are actually just really dirty white people.  See?  This nice white girl gives him the first bath of his life, and—voila!  He’s white!  The dude looks as shocked about it as I am.

 

And of course, if washing doesn’t work, well, you can always use paint!

Some kind of time you grew up in, 55-110 year olds.

 

Roly-Poly Rosey-Cheeked Rapey-Looking Four-Year-Old Boys Smugly Eating Something Sloppily

I really don’t know what else to say about this prominent genre of ad in the 40s.  Let’s just meet at the bottom.

I think I’ve made my point.

55-110 year olds—any explanation for yourself?

 

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FROM THE WEB

  • http://www.blogger.com/profile/11604765644703171033 Grayson

    My new favorite blog.

  • http://www.blogger.com/profile/01290758835270673671 Cupcake Murphy

    The third roly-poly cheeked boy reminds me of Val Kilmer. In a bad way.

  • http://www.blogger.com/profile/09492156665800981450 Lauren D. McKinney

    I can only thank God that I’m still 54.

  • http://exquestation.wordpress.com/ exquestation

    awesome, simply awesome…

  • Anonymous

    BRILLIANT.

  • http://www.blogger.com/profile/04137315885563923150 shanna

    Freaking hilarious! And frightening as hell. :)

  • http://www.blogger.com/profile/05286322894627712053 Damian

    For what it’s worth, the “Soda Pop Board of America” ad is fake.
    http://grist.org/food/food-vintage-soda-ads-can-you-spot-the-fake/full/

  • http://www.blogger.com/profile/03827141168060541862 Daniel Mckinzey

    The Dont Sun Starve your baby has a demon shadow hand coming from the wall and its touching the baby privates =/

  • http://www.blogger.com/profile/01362931499460654437 Mattiavelli
  • http://www.troublesometots.com/ Alexis

    Yeah but these parents new how to get their kid to eat. I DEFY you to find a modern kid under 10 who is even willing to eat (insert: steak, canned beans, etc.) so apparently these kids worked.

    Now I’m going to go haul the crap out of our old air conditioner and sell it as a high-end Swedish baby bed…

    • Anonymous

      I’m pretty sure everyone loves steak. I’m one of the pickiest people I know, and I’ve always loved steak.

  • Anonymous

    How come all the Karo Syrup kids are naked?

    • Anonymous

      Karo Syrup…proud supporter of NAMBLA since 1947,

  • http://www.otcsoukii.com/ Nicole

    I discovered the older generation’s preoccupation with redheads when I had 2 redreaded babies. Old people would come up to me and just go crazy for my redheads! It was weird. But someone explained to me that they were popularly featured in color movies/tv when it first came out to emphasize the new technology (think Shirley Temple, Lucille Ball, Ron Howard, etc). Now I see all these ads with redheads and it is like this generation was brainwashed to “Notice. All. The. Redheads.” So weird. And I’m purposely not commenting on the stereotype of the redhead boys looking wild and crazy. What’s that about?

  • http://www.blogger.com/profile/01014042850951668756 NICHOLAS MILLER

    I remember something about the racist Pears ad when I was studying graphic design. It’s late Victorian, obviously, and when a version of it was published in the British press, Pears got so many complaints they were forced to publish an apology.

  • Anonymous

    I’m 55. I have no explanation. But thanks for finding the pics and writing the captions…..it was very funny. I’d like to share it with it my friends, but most of them over 55 won’t like the frequent use of the f word

    • Anonymous

      I’m 66, not bothered at all with “today’s” language, I in fact use the exact same language with all the words available. Why not? I want to be understood on a contemporary basis. My countenance belies my physical age, my vocabulary must have reverse aging phenomena going on, possibly still maturing to a younger perspective or something. English is a robust language, the more words you use the better it is.

  • Anonymous

    Ya, my generation has stupid ads: yours has a amazing vocabulary-can’t seem to make a point without use of words beginning with f or s

    • http://www.blogger.com/profile/05441596997035272777 Rex White

      I’m sorry the blog hurt your obviously superior sensibilities.

      Old fogie.

      • Anonymous

        Why are you sorry? Is this your blog?

    • Anonymous

      I totally agree. I’m considered today’s younger generation, but the young ones today (mostly 35 and under) swear too much as if it’s normal words. They can’t complete a sentence without having to put those words in there. They are not as refined, not as self-educated, and the truth is that they are OWNED by those words (and they are media’s guinea pigs as well), and a bad habit. It’s actually more work too. Just speak and talk regularly and straightforwardly as was always done!

    • Anonymous

      will you just fuck off already you boring shit?

      language and it’s use changes over time- accept it or go learn Chinese or something

      • anonymous

        Amen. We can say whatever we fucking want. Perhaps the reason we like to curse so much is because our parents told us not to do it.
        I was reading this article about cursing among teens and young adults, in which the article ended
        “The best thing a parent can do is explain the importance of not cursing, and hope that the lesson sticks. ”

        I’m sorry, but what IS the importance of not cursing? Other than cursing at the wrong time and place, such as at a funeral or at a job interview, I see no reason why we should censor ourselves because its just innately “bad” and offends old people. Seriously, who give a flying fuck? They’re just words, a form of expression the freedom of which was paid for by the blood by our ancestors.

        • Anonymous

          Language and it’s use change, but being polite is still being polite. And polite people do not use curse words in a polite conversation. This is true even for Chinese or something.
          In either case, the author here is so taken with these ads, he can not control himself, lol

        • Anonymous

          if they are just words then you should choose them wisely…the more you use a word, the less it actually means, whether it be LOVE or FUCK..you only show your ignorance when you stomp your feet and say wah wah wah we can do whatever we want to…which of course you can, the more blatant use of such words desensitizes people of it’s actual meaning, making it less intense and powerful, so that when you do want to really be emphatic, your words are powerless so why not show some education, taste, class, and creativity and find more effective and colorful ways of expressing ones self. text speak and declining grammar and manners are turning us into savages, yes you CAN do it, but WHY?

      • Anonymous

        so you are going to equivocate the evolution of language itself with the unnecessary use of profanity? is this your defense? then to use one of MY favourite contemporary curse words…you are a complete and total fucktard ;-)

  • http://www.blogger.com/profile/04076164080096427562 Sean Gill

    Wow. That first Pears Soap one looks like a William Blake nightmare painting.

  • http://www.blogger.com/profile/13498366243284139417 Gunmetal Geisha

    Holy sh*t, I’m too creeped out to laugh at the hilarity of your accompanying text. I keep thinking, how can this be real? Not one or two, it’s dozens upon dozens. The rapey-looking leering four-year-olds! The naked imp-child ready to stab us all! The truly mind-boggling racism! “At the end of it all, they decided to go with a drowning baby trying to claw itself from the jaws of death.”

  • http://www.blogger.com/profile/08903912175506495484 Inside & Out

    No such thing as a bad commercial, as long as people got the product wedged in the mind — love it, hate it, think it totally ridiculous. The demon spawn looking kids were an intentional hook, an angle. These pale by comparison to the literal fine art that went into cigarette and booze ads, 9 out of 10 doctors prefer Camels and life will be transformed into a carefree paradise with Reunite on ice. Of course, today there are cartoon lizards selling insurance and hidden choirs singing jingles about flooring. Same game, different page.

  • Anonymous

    Okay, I know I’m really late for the game, but thank you for finally explaining my mother-in-law’s collection of Annalee dolls. If you don’t know what these are, do a google image search of Annalee elves. They are so frightening I can barely sleep in her house. Now I know it was just her totally screwed up childhood. Thanks “wait but why!”

    • Anonymous

      Mother of god

  • Anonymous

    Hilarious stuff! But your skills at guessing the ages of babies are wayyyyy off.

  • Anonymous

    I believe the “nice white girl” in the final Pears’ Soap ad is actually a nice white boy with really girly hair.

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  • MK

    Ridiculous Ads – just as today’s Ads are ridiculous. But why all the bad language? I was told when young, “Anyone can swear – it takes a lady not to.” But of course today not all young women WANT to be ‘ladies’.

  • Kristen Lee

    Okay, you literally had me tearing up here with laughter. Thank you!

  • Tany

    I was laughing and crying because of laughing while reading through this :’D

  • anonyme

    i’m waaaay over the hill as i near 70 but you can’t stick any responsibility for these idiocies on me. my generation suffered greatly from having this crap shoved down people’s throats, especially those who had any authority at all, such as cafeteria staff. No, you have to raise the age bar to the “Greatest Generation”.

  • Miho

    The funniest thing I’ve read in a very long while. Very well done, I’m still trying to control my tears.

  • 5 shades media

    hello there and thanks to your info

  • Jen O

    You make me laugh so hard I cry.

  • palboheitmeyer

    THIS IS FUNNY SHIT!!!

    My stomach and face hurt!

    This is one of your best works yet!!!!!

    P

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  • C~

    There is no excuse for our ignorance of the past. But there is no way I can show this to others of my generation because you can’t make a point without swearing and making yourself look like a fool in the process. Why don’t you clean up your own mess and DO SOMETHING about it instead of griping at us and blaming us for your failures.

    • DLM

      Its called humour – clearly you have none.

  • spdybug

    Peeing my pants laughing. Thank you for this!!! I needed it.

  • DLM

    HAVE NOT LAUGHED SO MUCH IN AGES! WONERFUL STUFF!

  • Tommy

    That Pear’s ad of the toddler struggling, to his death has haunted me since the day you posted it. His gasping for air is only assuaged be the hilarious commentary. You’ve transcended child death. Well done, Sir.

  • Kent

    Includes several ads about “The Marlboro Women” — but none about “The Marlboro Man”, who was advertised frequently. Is this gender discrimination — or the long-prevailing low concern about men’s health? Is this gender discrimination — which often then and still today minimizes the father’s role in the family? One other quite notable ad about “Camels” cigarettes showed a male doctor (MD) smoking one — with the statement: ” Nine out of ten doctors prefer Camels”.

    • Fred

      Well, the topic is “Creepy -> KIDS <- In Creepy Vintage Ads". And here the ads containing creepy kids just happened to be targeted towards women. I'm pretty sure if Tim had found an ad targeting males via creepy kids, he would have included it (although that is highly unlikely, given the different family structure and parenting roles in the 50s).

      So it's really more a matter of choice of topic than one of gender discrimination in public health.
      (I'll just assume you aren't trolling)

    • Anonymous

      also….it was acceptable for men to smoke…
      the advertising agencies were trying to appeal to a new market..
      pretty transparent demographics 101

  • Fernanda

    Dude, you’re hilarious! hahahahahahaah I’m trying to control myself here ’cause i’m laughing like crazy-weird-50s-child

    Well done!

  • Paul

    I laughed so hard I turned RED!! (and almost peed my pants)

    Awesome post!!

  • Fgt

    OP IS A FGT

  • Boobs

    Did you delete my comment because I said this is basically copy-pasted from a Cracked article?
    Poor form indeed.

    • Wait But Why

      No, we didn’t delete any comment, although sometimes comments don’t post for some reason or get stuck in the spam filter.

      As for Cracked, I haven’t read it since 1999 during a horrible procrastination spiral when I was doing my high school junior thesis. I’m sure if they did an article on weird old ads, they also used some of the same ones above, since when you go through archives of old ads, there aren’t that many, and they probably picked the funniest ones, just like we did. And there are probably a bunch more articles making fun of the same ads. Our commentary on the ads is totally original– if there are similarities, they’re coincidental. We’d never copy anything from another article (and what a silly thing that would be to do considering that if we did, we’d be called out by hundreds of readers).

  • Jenn

    Hey congrats WBW! Wishing you stellar adventurous travels and, hey, be sure to make it back here in one piece so that we all may continue to enjoy your fabulous writing. Onwards!

  • Anonymous

    55 year olds were very young and had nothing to do with these ads back then. However your comments are funny and they are really very weird and creepy and very ugly racist. I was a sixties child and with me came the change and the rebellion against all the norm of the day. There was one I remember as a child depicting a crazy looking girl chasing a chicken with a salt cellar. I thought that was mad and the girl was evil looking.

  • Penelope

    This shit was hysterical.

  • Ana

    This is absolutely the funniest thing I came across on internet in ages!!!

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  • Amy

    This is scary funny. But even scarier, while flipping through a magazine the other day, I spotted a child in an ad for Belgard Hardscapes that had the creepiest face! Is this a revival in marketing of “the good ole days”? I hope not! I wrote a short blog about it so others could see this creepy kid in the advertisement I am talking about.

    http://amytrueblood.com/creepy-kids-in-creepy-vintage-ads/

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  • kira-kira girl

    U didn’t even mention that the peanut pie kid is NAKED.
    Totally weird.

  • pbv

    This shit is amazing!!!!! Pro at weird! XD

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