Products from 1962 That Are Long Gone
The Vintage Products page of ROADTRIP-'62 ™ lists several products you could buy in 1962 that you can still get today. There are hundreds of such great brands in every area of commerce, from foods, clothing, gasoline, and appliances, to cars, beer, and newspapers. However, there are also many brands and products that have disappeared in the past 50 years. My name is Don Milne and today, we’ll be discussing those brands. Some are gone because they became technologically obsolete, like typewriters. But most have disappeared due to competition. The companies that made certain products just lost the race to others for one or more of the usual reasons: poor product, poor advertising, price competition (especially from foreign sources), or general poor management. Let’s see what used to be on the shelf and where it’s gone.
Disappearing brands happen across all products: foods, industrial products, household items and clothes, automobiles, and even retail stores. Let’s look at them in that order. Afterwards, we’ll wrap up with a look at some of the defunct products that used to be made in cities right along US-23 in 1962. One thing I noticed while researching is that brands don’t necessarily disappear forever. Sometimes, a brand name is brought back by its original manufacturer, and sometimes another company may re-register the trademark and recreate a product. In late 2010, more than 150 trademarks were auctioned off by Brands USA Holdings, which had been re-registering the brands for some time. The list included beverages, toys, personal care products, magazines, and even an airline! Though the auction didn’t bring in a lot of money and some brand names went for as little as $1000, some of them have been registered by their new owners and we may see them on the shelves again. The new owners have a two year period to do something with them. Lets look at some of the food brands from that auction, and then a few others.
Puss’n Boots cat food, made by the Quaker Oats Company in 1962, along with Ken-L Ration dog food, gives us our category of defunct pet food brands. Quaker’s pet food division was sold in 1995, with Puss’n Boots going to Del Monte Foods and Ken-L Ration going to H. J. Heinz Company. Puss’n Boots is gone but was around as recently as 2003. Del Monte is still in the cat food business with 9 Lives and several other brands. H. J. Heinz does not currently make any pet foods. I have seen people mention that Ken-L Ration was available in 2010 from some other manufacturer, but can find no current references.
Moving on to people food, Allsweet Margarine was one of the early margarine brands. As with others, it was originally white because butter manufacturers feared people would confuse it with butter if it were colored yellow. Eventually, the margarine market grew anyway, and these companies gained enough clout to eliminate the coloring rules, so margarines are yellow and have been since before 1962. Allsweet was made by Swift Independent Packing Company, which was primarily meat a packer. They had a few other food products and then got caught up in the conglomerate movement of the late 1960s to early 1970s. One business they bought was Vickers Petroleum, and they eventually changed the company name to Esmark. As with so many of those mergers of dissimilar businesses, Esmark broke up selling Vickers Petroleum to Total Petroleum in 1980. Vickers gasoline is now another missing brand, so this story is a two-fer! The Swift business was back to foods and bought some other food companies before being purchased by Beatrice Foods in 1984. ConAgra purchased half of Swift in 1988 and the other half in 1990. The Swift & Company assets were sold to a private equity firm in 2002. Finally, in 2007, JBS S.A., the largest beef processor in South America and one of the largest worldwide beef exporters, purchased Swift & Company and JBS Swift Group is now the largest beef processor in the world. Somewhere in all those mergers and buyouts, Allsweet Margarine was discontinued. Beatrice Foods had the Shedd’s margarine brand, which may have been a bigger seller, so a likely disappearing point was during their ownership. No doubt it didn’t meet someone’s business strategy.
Crustquick, a Betty Crocker product of the 1950s, was sold as an easy way to bake perfect pie crusts. Bisquick is another Betty Crocker baking product from General Mills introduced in 1931. While I couldn’t confirm it, it appears to me that Crustquick was intended to be a specialized variety of the earlier Bisquick. Crustquick didn’t last long, as Bisquick was marketed as a "12-in-1 Mix" later in the 1950s. Cocomalt was a malted chocolate drink mix like Ovaltine. Ovaltine is still sold today and is one of my favorite beverages, but Cocomalt didn’t make it this far. It must have been popular as far back as 1938, as Cocomalt sponsored its own comic book then. I have found conflicting information on whether it disappeared in the 1950s or 1960s, so it may have just barely been available in 1962. Both of these brands were among the trademarks sold in late 2010.
Another dairy product brand that was auctioned in 2010 was Lucky Whip topping. This was a spray whipped topping in a can, like Reddi Wip. It had been marketed by Lever Brothers, and the 1961 advertising featured cute kids spraying out mounds of topping onto desserts. In the 1970s it was also sold as a boxed toping mix.
Snow Crop was the first frozen orange juice. The brand was later extended to other frozen foods. Snow Crop Frozen Foods division was acquired by the Minute Maid Corporation in 1958. I cannot find when Minute Maid retired the brand, but I did find reference to a 1975 study that may have focused on it in the past tense. This trademark was sold in the 2010 auction of old brands, but the juice trademark was not registered by the new owner. However, the rights for frozen foods was registered in June, 2011. This may indicate that Minute Maid had retained the brand name for juices, even though they are not currently using it. Or perhaps the purchaser of the brand has no intention of using it for juices.
There were a variety of candy brands auctioned off also. The Old Nick candy bar was introduced in the 1920s by Schutter-Johnson Company of Chicago, Illinois. Schutter’s also made the Bit-O-Choc and the Bit-O-Coconut bars. Old Nick featured milk chocolate over fudge and nuts. In the 1960s, Schutter’s sold out to the company that made Chunky. They discontinued the Old Nick, noting it was too similar to their much more popular Oh Henry bar. The James O. Welch Co. made a candy called Pom Poms, and while the brand name is gone, the candy is not! They also made other popular brands, including Junior Mints, Sugar Daddys, and Sugar Babies. Because they had such popular candies, National Biscuit Company (now Nabisco) bought them all in 1963. After being acquired by Nabisco, Pom Poms was renamed Junior Caramels to go with their Junior Mints. They are a chocolate covered caramel similar to Milk Duds. The Welch brands were sold to Warner-Lambert in 1988 and then to Tootsie Roll Industries in 1993. Tootsie continues to make them today under the Junior Caramels name. Another of the Welch’s candies was not offered at auction, so there is little hope of it returning soon. Welch’s Rum Frappe disappeared sometime in the 1960s, perhaps after Nabisco bought the company. It was dark chocolate covered, rum flavored fudge or nougat, with raisins. For more information on candies you could buy in 1962, check out How Sweet It Was.
Of course there are discontinued products that were not part of the 2010 brand auction. Dreamsicle is one. The sherbet-like shell of the Dreamsicle is identical to that of the Creamsicle, but the Creamsicle is ice cream, whereas the Dreamsicle was ice milk. Popsicle®, Creamsicle® and Fudgsicle® are still registered trademarks of the Unilever Group of Companies. Don’t know why they didn’t keep Dreamsicle. Someone else thought it worthwhile though, and registered it in 2011 for use on frozen yogurt, gelato, ice cream, and sorbet. Finally, a few cereals that were introduced in 1962, all by Post, and all gone today. Post Extra was a crispy wheat flake cereal promoted that appears to have been created to compete with Kellogg's Total cereal, which was introduced in the year before. Post Count Off was like Post Alpha-Bits, but with numbers instead of letters. Apparently, there was not room in the market for both. Post Crispy Critters cereal was animal shaped bites and even had its own lion cartoon show tie-in. That didn’t sell enough cereal and it disappeared by the late 1960s. It was briefly reintroduced by Post in 1987, however, it didn’t work then either.
Let’s take a big leap from food to industrial products. Typewriters are a product that nearly disappeared because of technological change. There are still a few typewriters sold in the United States, but many more are made and sold elsewhere. South America is still a good market for manual typewriters because they do not need electricity, which is not universally available. Quite a few typewriter brands have been discontinued in the US since 1962, including Remington, Royal, Underwood, Olivetti, and even IBM. Remington had been making typewriters since 1873 but could not withstand the onslaught of the personal computer as a replacement technology. Remington was also part of Sperry Rand, and also had the misfortune to make a brand of giant, mainframe computer, the Univac. These giant computers saw many of their functions taken over by the combination of personal computers and networked servers.
Underwood was another major brand of typewriter. Underwood actually started in business supplying typewriter ribbons for Remington. When Remington decided to manufacture its own ribbons, the Underwood Company decided to make their own typewriters! Their most popular model was the Underwood #5, first produced in the 1920s and still found today as used machines from their later years. While electric typewriters were first produced in 1902, they weren’t really popular until 1935. Two years before, an early manufacturer, Electromatic, was acquired by IBM. IBM then redesigned the Electromatic and created their Model 01 in 1935. They introduced the IBM Selectric typewriter in 1961, which came to dominate the office market. The late 1970s and early 1980s were the period when typewriters met word processors. Technology changed so rapidly that clerical staff often had to learn several new systems over a period of just a few years. Of course, the word processor and its successor, the word processing program on a personal computer, won that battle. One of my brothers was typewriter repairman until computer printers took over the market, so he had to change careers. The demise of typewriters also meant that typing products disappeared, such as the Perfectype and Britetype products from Perry-Sherwood. Perfectype was a correction tape, and you can still buy other brands today. Britetype was a product for cleaning the typewriter keys, which is no longer necessary.
Finally in the industrial area is a basic construction material: steel. This country makes only a fraction of the steel we did in 1962, and much of that is produced in different ways than it was back then. As a result, some famous old brand names have disappeared in that arena also. Bethlehem Steel is one, but it was once the second-largest steel producer. Their steel was used in many of the skyscrapers of New York City and elsewhere, and in every bridge and tunnel between New Jersey and New York. The company was still growing during 1962, building its largest plant at Burns Harbor, Indiana, between that year and 1964. The U.S. golden years for steel lasted into the 1970s as the industry operated with little foreign competition. Eventually, foreign companies constructed modern plants using techniques such as continuous casting and electric furnaces (mini-mills), while U.S. companies generally paid employees more and provided rising pensions and other benefits. By 1975, imported steel was generally cheaper than domestic steel. In 1991, Bethlehem Steel stopped mining its own coal and began closing steel mills. At the end of 1995, after about 140 years of production, it closed the main Bethlehem plant. Bankruptcy followed in 2001 and the brand is now defunct.
Back to your home, here are some household items and clothes that were advertised during 1962, that I cannot find anymore:
- Vi-Jon Mouthwash, vitamins, other health items – The company dates to 1908 and it’s products were carried in the old dime stores of the 1940s through 1960s. Today, Vi-Jon Laboratories makes a large variety of private label products for companies like Target. They make only a few of their own products, none of which carry the Vi-Jon brand.
- Fitch Shampoo – Fitch was originally intended for barbershop use, and was known as a "hard" shampoo. It was made to clean the hair and scalp, remove dandruff, and wash out a week of hair groom products. The Fitch company was sold in 1949 to Bristol-Myers. As the introduction of milder "soft" home shampoos began to shift the focus from the barbershop, Bristol- Myers kept the Fitch name, but reformulated Fitch as a "soft" shampoo and also sold it over the counter. It still came in a glass bottle during the 1960s.
- Defencin pain reliever – I couldn’t find any info. If you have some, please send it to me.
- Toni hair care products – The last evidence I can find for this is a 1985 ad showing that it was made by Gillette.
- Admiral televisions – The Admiral brand is still used for some appliances and is an exclusive brand of Home Depot. At this time, only washers and dryers are available, not televisions.
- Stripe Toothpaste – First sold by Unilever in 1958, it quickly faded from the market. Today, Colgate sells several striped toothpastes under its regular brand names.
- Duz laundry soap - Originally a powdered laundry soap and later a powdered laundry detergent. Famous for having glassware and plates in each box.
- Durene Mercerized cotton – This was one of several brands of mercerized cotton. Mercerizing chemically treats the cotton so it retains fabric dye better, prevents shrinkage, and adds a shiny luster. Different chemicals were used, so the mercerizing process varied from manufacturer to manufacturer, and other brands are still sold.
- Lovable bras – An Australian brand once sold by Hanes in this country and still sold in Australia.
- Spun-Lo Eiderlon fabric and/or clothes – Some of their trademarks appear to have expired between 1965 and 1969, and advertising appears to have run out by 1976.
- Ironwear Nylons –Manchester Hosiery Mills made these; some of their trademarks expired in 1984 so that may be when they disappeared.
- Blackstone washers and dryers - William Blackstone invented the first washing machine, a manually powered machine, in 1874. I’m unsure whether this company was a successor or perhaps was named for him.
You can watch a 1960s Blackstone model at work!
- Johnsonian shoes – The last advertising I found was from 1965.
- Roblee shoes – This was a line of premium men’s dress shoes made by the giant of American shoe manufacturers, Brown Shoe Company. The last advertising I found for Roblee was from 1968. In the period 1985 to 1996, they closed all their domestic manufacturing plants.
- Porto-Ped shoes – The last advertising I found was from 1965.
- Madison Square shoes - I couldn’t find any info. If you have some, please send it to me.
Even automobiles have disappeared over the years, along with parts makers. General Motors discontinued their venerable brands Oldsmobile in 2004 and Pontiac in 2009. At its end, the Oldsmobile was the oldest automotive brand name in the United States, behind only the Daimler name worldwide. It was named for its founder, Ransom E. Olds, who started the Olds Motor Vehicle Co. in Lansing, Michigan in 1897, and became part of GM in 1908. Pontiac made its debut in 1926 at the New York Auto Show. It was intended to fit between Oldsmobile and Chevrolet in the GM lineup. It developed a reputation as a muscle car in the 1960s, especially with the GTO, which helped make Pontiac the third-biggest seller among U.S. car brands. The Pontiac Solstice coupe was their last new model, and may become a collector’s item.
Ford axed the Mercury line of cars in 2011, with the Mercury Mariner being the last car produced for retail sales. It was created in 1938 by Ford to fit between their entry-level Fords and their luxury Lincoln cars. Chrysler stopped making the DeSoto in 1961, and more recently the Plymouth in 2001. We would have seen the a few of those 1961 DeSotos on the road with us in 1962, but not too many, as they stopped production in December of 1960. Plymouth was discontinued during the years when Daimler owned the Chrylser Corporation. They kept some of the models by giving them names in other Chrylser lines. For example, the Plymouth Voyager became a Chrysler Voyager, and the Plymouth Neon became a Dodge Neon. The Plymouth was introduced back in 1928 as a direct competitor to the Ford and the Chevrolet and occupied a low-cost end of the car market.
A couple of entire automakers have even disappeared: Studebaker, Rambler, Willys, and Checker. Studebaker closed in 1966 when they shut the plant in Hamilton, Ontario, Canada, where all Studebakers had been manufactured since 1963. That makes 1962 the last year production occurred in the United States. Studebaker began as a carriage maker in South Bend, Indiana in 1852, switching to cars in 1902. Like some of the food brands mentioned, someone has resurrected the Studebaker brand name and is trying to raise capital to begin making cars and motor scooters under that name again. They currently occupy warehouse space in Colorado.
The Rambler and Willys stories are intertwined. The Rambler nameplate ceased to be used in 1969, though its parent company, American Motors continued production of other cars. American Motors was bought by Chrysler in 1987, mostly for the value of the Jeep brand which is still made today. While the last Willys passenger car was built in the United States in 1955, Willys shipped some tooling to Brazil, where it was built nearly unchanged until 1962. The Willys name disappeared here in 1963, when the company changed its to Kaiser-Jeep Corporation. Kaiser-Jeep was sold to American Motors Corporation in 1970, and that's how they ended up with the Jeep brand.
The Checker is best known as a taxi and that is indeed what they produced most of. I remember riding in these when my mother needed to take us anywhere, as she never drove (a common situation in the early 1960s). The folding extra seats in the back were really neat! The company was established in 1922 and made those taxis, but only entered the consumer automobile business in 1958. They only made a total of 8,000 vehicles in 1962! The final models were produced in 1982.
My strangest experience with defunct brands has been the cars I've owned. Over the years I've had an assortment of car brands that no longer exist. I've owned an American Motors car, a Plymouth, a Mercury, and two Oldsmobiles (they were really great!). Fortunately for our ROADTRIP-'62 TM, the Chevy Impala is still made. Though just barely: it was not produced from 1986 to 1993. When it returned, it was an entirely different car, much smaller than our model. Originally introduced in 1958, our 1962 model was on its way to become the best-selling automobile in the United States by 1965. Between that date and its temporary end in 1986, it had gradually morphed into the Caprice.
Even brands as large as retail store chains have gone missing since 1962. Kinney Shoe Stores is one of these. In 1956, Kinney merged with Brown Shoe Company, then the nation's third largest retailer. This merger ended up in the Supreme Court because the government claimed the merger created a monopoly. In 1962, the Supreme Court issued a decision agreeing that the Brown-Kinney merger had produced a monopoly in the shoe industry. Kinney was then sold to the F.W. Woolworth Co. the next year and operated as a division of that company. Once the largest shoe retailer in the country, Kinney closed in 1998, when Woolworth’s closed. During the 1960s, it had begun experimenting with niche shoe stores in addition to the Kinney brand. In 1974, they created Foot Locker, which is still in business. This story is another two-fer, as F. W. Woolworth is also gone.
Along with Woolworth's, S. S. Kresge was a similar store that is also gone. The company stayed around because it got into the discounting business in 1962, creating the Kmart brand that still exists. Other dime stores we may have shopped at in 1962 have disappeared, including McCrory's. This chain's history is intertwined with Kresge at both the beginning and end. Sebastian S. Kresge was an early invester in John McCrory's stores and the two men separated in 1899, both opening their own stores. In 1987, the Kmart Corporation sold its remaining Kresge stores in the United States to McCrory Stores. McCrory operated stores under many different names, including J. J. Newberry and TJ&Y. In 1963 it was the fourth largest retailer in the United States. All stores closed in 2002.
In 1962 we would have found Rexall drug stores all along our route. By 1958 Rexall was the nation's biggest drug chain, with 11,158 franchised stores, and more stores in small towns than in big cities. Even today, the brand name lives on because the familiar orange-and-blue Rexall signs have survived on with many stores, both open and vacant. The 1960s trend to discount chains affected drug stores also and companies such as Thrifty Drug and Eckerd, were able to drive down costs by means of volume purchasing. By 1977, the value of the Rexall business had deteriorated and the company was sold to private investors for just $16 million. The new owners closed the company owned stores but let existing franchise retailers keep the Rexall name. The Rexall trademark was sold to Sundown, a maker of sunscreens, in 1985 and went on to produce nutritional supplements and other products under the name Rexall-Sundown, with no relationship to the remaining Rexall drugstores. Even though we cannot shop at Rexall today, we can once again buy products with the brand! Last year, Dollar General stores announced they will carry an exclusive full line of over-the-counter medications and health care products under the Rexall brand. Since many of the towns we will drive through have Dollar General stores, maybe we can pretend they're Rexall stores when we need to buy these items.
Some of these missing products were made along our US-23 route. Homes, ships, and even industrial cranes were produced in Bay City, Michigan. As mentioned in my Day 3 discussion, Aladdin and other kit-built homes were made there. The Industrial Brownhoist cranes, once the standard crane for lifting rail cars, among other industrial chores, were made in Bay City from 1880 to 1983. Their cranes helped build the Panama Canal. After World War II, both of my wife's parents worked for the company for awhile. By 1960, business was waning and the company was acquired by the American Hoist Corporation, allowing it to continue for over 20 more years.
Also along US-23, Dailey Pickles used to be made in Saginaw, Michigan; they eventually became part of the Vlassic Pickle company. Willys automobiles, described in more detail above, were made in Toledo, Ohio. Pream coffee creamer was made by H. C. Moores Company of Columbus, Ohio. Ashland, Kentucky was the home of Ashland gasoline and gas stations. Skinner Dairy was a major dairy operation in the Jacksonville, Florida area that was sold in 1996 to Suzia Foods Corporation, a company that was also part of the Pream story. They are fondly remembered for their Skinner's Milk Houses which were constructed beginning in 1958. You can see a gallery of these buildings at Roadside Architecture.
There are many other brands that have gone away in the 50 years between 1962 and today; probably hundreds more. Names that still come to mind for me are Kodachrome film, which just ended production and sold their last roll in 2010; H. M. Gousha maps and atlases, which used to make some of the most beautiful gas station maps; and Howard Johnson’s restaurants, one of the earliest chains. One reason brands have disappeared is that there used to be many regional brands that never achieved national distribution, and they were either bought out by nationwide companies or driven into the ground by lower prices and big advertising. The number of regional banks, sodas, beers, and potato chips that have disappeared is particularly high. So high that they would make good topics for future articles on their own! Transportation is another area that has gone through massive consolidation since 1962. Railroad lines, airlines, and even trucking companies that have disappeared would make their own article, also. Even some of the biggest names such as TWA and PanAm in airlines, the New York Central Railroad, and Northern Pacific Railroad are gone.
If you have some favorite products and brands that I've missed, please send Roadtrip-'62 ™ the names and a bit of information about them. I'm sure the other readers would love to hear the stories. Now, before I end for the day, I think I'll do a little shopping for a few things that are left from 1962. Maybe I'll fill up my Chevy with some Mobil gas, enjoy a sundae at the Dairy Queen, stop at the Kroger store for some B&M Baked beans and M&M's candies for tomorrow’s picnic, and then buy a new pair of Thom McAnn shoes and an Arrow shirt. Maybe I’ll even stay at a Best Western Motel tonight!
All photos by the author and Copyright © 2012 - Milne Enterprises, Inc., except as noted.
All other content Copyright © 2012 - Milne Enterprises, Inc.