Company branding has come a long way since the advent of social media. But once upon a time, print ads were the main way to get as many eyeballs on your product as possible – and never was that more evident than during the competitive holiday season. From screaming children and shriveled raisins to veggie fat and a wine-swigging Santa Claus, we’ve compiled some fun, unique and hilarious vintage ads that will transport you through time.
Early 1900s: Batger's Crackers
CRACK! For many British and Canadian families, that familiar snapping sound is a true sign the holidays are in full swing. Those bonbon-shaped festive table decorations that, when pulled open, reveal jokes or tiny gag gifts are a Christmas staple. Known for their bold, playful print ads, Britain’s Batger’s and Company released a series of fun ads throughout the late-1800s and early-1900s, like this gem featuring a poor little Scottish lad whose dog has run off with his Christmas cracker.
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1900: Mason's Wine Essences
Forget the traditional cold glass of milk: what Santa really wants for Christmas is a bottle of the finest raspberry wine. The Nottingham-based company released a slew of light-hearted ads centred around family and friends getting sloshed for the holidays. Although the company is no longer in existence, the empty bottles are a hot commodity in antique shops across the globe.
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1909: Borlan's Provision Store
Nothing screams “Christmas cheer” quite like a holiday ad done up in a muted colour palette and featuring a gigantic apple-stuffed pig’s head. That being said, kudos to this old-school grocery store for providing a variety of rather… niche… dinner options.
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1953: Crawford Tartan Shortbread
The real question is: what is Christmas without a classic vintage holiday ad complete with a giant, beaming face looming over you trying to cajole you to eat? This hilarious throwback is the sort of old-school advertising gem that makes us smile.
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1954: Chivers Jellies
In the mid-1950s, it was all about force-feeding Santa a cake made of jelly apparently. Although currently owned by another company, Chivers and Sons – an Irish brand which still sells a plethora of jams and preserves to this day – boasts a variety of best-selling dessert jellies and Christmas puddings. There’s no word on whether Santa is willing to make another ad appearance, however.
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1954: Kia-Ora Fruit Drinks
The orange-slice reindeer is the real star of this charming vintage ad. Now a subsidiary of the Coca-Cola Company, this Australian-made concentrated fruit juice was first introduced in 1903 in its native country, New Zealand and Britain in 1903. Although the majority of flavours have since been discontinued due to low sales, Coca-Cola still produces the sugar-free orange and sugar-free mixed fruit versions in Britain. Fun fact: kia ora is a Maori greeting that literally translates to “be well/healthy.”
1955: Trex Veggie Fat
Since 1932, the British company has been a reliable go-to for families who love baking, especially during the holiday season. Trex was ahead of the trend with its emphasis on dairy-free options and low-fat baking, so props to them. However, we can’t help but smile at this peppy, seasonal vintage ad extolling the virtues of… veggie fat. Yum!
1955: Holly Brand Stoned Raisins
There are two camps in this world: those who love raisins and those whole loathe them. But regardless of how you feel about those little dried grapes, there’s no denying that seeing them piled high on a plate doesn’t exactly conjure up images of holiday desserts – unless you’re a hardcore fan of the classic fruitcake.
1955: Bird's Nest Custard
We love a good custard – but poured on top of a slice of perfectly delicious pie from a gigantic pitcher? Not as much. Yet, this ad is so charmingly 1950s that we can’t help but love it – while getting a little hungry at the same time.
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1956: Sharps Toffee
There’s something so classic and yet oh-so-confusing about this holiday ad. Is the woman holding a toffee tin or a photo of her child? Regardless, Sharps was one of the biggest sugar manufacturers in Britain when it first opened its doors in 1951, and their toffee line was their highest-selling product. Fun fact: At one point, the factory produced a whopping 600 wrapped sweets per minute. Want one of their iconic vintage tins for your holiday decor? Head to eBay or your nearest antique shop – they’re in high demand.
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1956: Caley Dari-Rich Chocolates
“Caley au lait-itee!” Yodeling children and cows with giant green Christmas bows equal holiday fun in this charming chocolate ad.
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1956: Schwepps Soft Drinks
Props to the Schwepps advertising department for this creative little nativity-esque ad that conjures warm thoughts of childhood Christmas concerts while staying loyal to their brand. We love when an ad can strike the perfect balance between nostalgia and their brand.
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