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By Lisa Jacobson

This provocative ebook examines the social, financial, and cultural forces that produced and finally legitimized a particular kid's buyer tradition within the early 20th century.

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Additional resources for Raising Consumers: Children and the American Mass Market in the Early Twentieth Century

Example text

59 Advertisers and the New Middle-Class Family A variety of parallel social transformations—the democratization of middle-class family life, the increasing salience of children’s peer relationships and peer group activities, and the growing independence and assertiveness of children themselves—convinced many in the trade that advertisers and retailers stood poised on the threshold of a new historical moment. “The child of the hour is not so unsophisticated as in the older 29 30 “ b i g s a l e s f ro m l i t t l e f o l k s” days,” a contributor to Printed Salesmanship insisted.

Family experts recommended allowances as both an educational tool and a compensatory economic entitlement that could ease children’s resentment of their prolonged dependency. Only by relaxing patriarchal control of the family purse strings, child experts contended, could modern, democratic families hope to keep spending money disputes at bay. 11 12 introduction Children readily invoked the democratic rhetoric of family experts to argue for a greater share of the family’s spending money, but parents all too happily embraced democratic reforms to serve their own interests.

I Want A Penny now—for wrigley’s spearmint,” as he commands his mother to “Buy It by the Box! ” (fig. 31 Such decidedly unsentimental portraits, intended as satire for adult magazine readers, humorously acknowledged—and even celebrated—the baser passions that animated children’s interest in branded consumer goods. In a 1902 advertisement, a boy furtively devouring a box of Whitman’s Chocolates and Confections was, according the ad’s caption, “a bad boy but a good judge” (fig. 2 Shredded Wheat advertisement, 1910.

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