Just in time for Halloween, a vintage ... hot dog ad?
Let’s face it: Nothing says Halloween like vacuum-packed wieners.
“No tricks,” this 1966 ad promises, though we beg to differ. For this seasonal promotion, Armour Star Franks included a “Halloween whistle” in every pack of meat products. How … festive?
“And every Armour Star Frank contains the energy for an evening of tweeting,” the copy goes. “Or treating.”
Lots to unpack here. For starters, let’s breathe a sigh of relief that the Halloween tie-in isn’t suggesting that we distribute the dogs to trick-or-treaters. It is, however, suggesting we feed them to our kids so they’ll have “energy” to trick-or-treat. (Or maybe it’s a subtle ploy to turn their stomachs so candy will seem less appealing? Unclear.)
Reading this in 2019, that word “tweet” has a very different connotation. There is at least one person who comes to mind when we imagine someone “tweeting” after having gorged on processed meat products. We won’t name names, though.
Founded in 1867 by the Armour brothers, Armour had by 1880 become one of Chicago’s most prominent businesses. In the first decade of the 1900s, Dale Carnegie emerged as the company’s most prolific salesman, an experience he would write about in his best seller “How to Win Friends and Influence People.” Missing from that book is any mention of wacky whistle promotions.
Armour is also the company behind Dial soap! A byproduct of the rendering process (you don’t want to know), soap had long been made at meatpacking plants. But in 1948 some ingenious Armour chemist put a germicidal agent into the recipe that combated body odor by killing bacteria. Dial was such a smash that Armour’s consumer products business would explode in the coming years. Armour-Dial would be incorporated in 1967, the year after this ad ran.
Things would only get weirder at Armour, though, which in 1970 was acquired by Greyhound Corporation—the bus company. (Sounds like a trick to us.) The intervening years saw a series of takeovers and acquisitions, starting with the purchase of Armour Foods by ConAgra in 1983. Today the Armour brand is owned by pork industry giant Smithfield Foods—which is currently facing multiple sexual harassment suits at its processing plants.
Maybe it’s time to bring back the whistles.