Weird Universe Archive

April 2020

April 25, 2020

Undies Are Gossips!

LUX Soap's 1942 ad campaign warned of the danger of talking underwear.

Some analysis by Melissa McEuen in Making War, Making Women: Femininity and Duty on the American Home Front:

Exerting personal control over one's own laundry could be empowering, LUX ads suggested to female audiences. Women would have to wage a tough fight against their underclothes, which seemed to take on lives of their own in [J. Walter Thompson Company's] wartime advertising. Animated lingerie starred in LUX ad copy in the early 1940s. Flying, chattering bras, slips, camisoles, and girdles claimed to harbor their owners' unpleasant secrets. In some promotions the sneaky garments threatened to release this information, while in other ads, they expressed pity for the oblivious young women who wore them. In one group of ads featuring the wily articles, a headline announced, "UNDIES ARE GOSSIPS!"…

The "Undies Are Gossips" campaign radiated a core message familiar to Americans early in the war: the power of talk. U.S. government propaganda connected conversations with death and destruction for U.S. troops: "Somebody blabbed — button your lip!" and "A Careless Word… A Needless Sinking" warned viewers to check their conversations. One resonant quip suggested "Loose Lips Might Sink Ships."

Spokesman Review - Mar 1, 1942

Philadelphia Inquirer - July 19, 1942

Posted By: Alex - Sat Apr 25, 2020 - Comments (3)
Category: Advertising, Underwear, 1940s

Mystery Gadget 83

What's it for? The answer is here.

Or after the jump.

More in extended >>

Posted By: Paul - Sat Apr 25, 2020 - Comments (4)
Category: Technology

April 24, 2020

Canned Sunshine

The idea of using sunlight to kill viruses inside the body has recently been in the news. That made this old invention I posted about last month seem topical.

Edward W. Boersteler, of Watertown, MA, was the inventor of the ‘Curay Light Applicator,’ aka ‘Canned Sunshine.’ Back in the 1920s and 30s, he marketed it as a cure for the common cold. It emitted ultraviolet light, which people were supposed to shine down their throats, killing the germs.

In the selection of text below (taken from an article in the Chilicothe Constitution Tribune - Oct 16, 1925), I didn't correct any of the misspellings. In particular, I wasn't sure whether the phrase "ultra violent light" was a mistake, or intentional.

“Previous cure has ben hampered by the inability to get directly at the germs in these darkened passages, but in the new invention the curative rays are played directly onto the germs, being transmitted through a smal rod of the marvelous substance known as fused quartz.

“Fused quartz transmits ultra violent or invisible light without loss, whereas ordinary window glass shuts out ultra violent light which is the curative agent in sunshine.

“In the Curay Light aplicator,” Boerrsteler continued, “we have produced a source of radient energy closely approximating concentrated sunlight in the upper altitude, with an equivalent ultra violent content. Though it is a potent germ killer, it is harmless to the cels of the body.

image source: Harvard University Collection of Historical Scientific Instruments

Chilicothe Constitution Tribune - Oct 16, 1925

Posted By: Alex - Fri Apr 24, 2020 - Comments (4)
Category: Health, Inventions, 1920s

Email Limited

It's not clear who first used the word 'email' to refer to electronic mail. The entrepreneur Shiva Ayyadurai has taken credit since, in 1978, when he was a 14-year-old high school student in New Jersey, he built an electronic mail software program that he called 'EMAIL'.

Actually, Ayyadurai goes further and claims he not only coined the term but also invented the very concept of email. But there's a lot of skepticism about his claims.

However, what is clear is that the term 'email' was in use for decades before 1978, although not to refer to electronic mail. It was the name of a large Australian company that specialized in making meters for gas, water, and electricity. The name was an acronym that stood for 'Electricity Meter & Allied Industries Ltd.'

The tagline of the company was "Email — a totally Australian enterprise." Wikipedia notes: "At one time there would have been few houses in Australia which did not have an Email meter."

Sydney Morning Herald - July 11, 1977

Posted By: Alex - Fri Apr 24, 2020 - Comments (6)
Category: Odd Names

Shreddies vs. Shredded Wheat

Source of ad.

The Wikipedia entries for Shredded Wheat and Shreddies fail to explain the overlapping existence of two identical cereals from the originator, Nabisco. Much investigation needs to be done. Was one more for the Canadian market?

Posted By: Paul - Fri Apr 24, 2020 - Comments (2)
Category: Advertising, Cereal, 1940s, North America

April 23, 2020

Miss Sewer Cleaner

I posted about Gaylia Davis, aka 'Miss Sewer Cleaner,' back in 2016. At the time I wondered what became of her. And did being Miss Sewer Cleaner boost her career? Recently I was contacted by her granddaughter, Rose, who supplied an answer, which is appended below, beneath the original post. Not surprisingly, it doesn't seem as if being Miss Sewer Cleaner had much, if any, impact on her career. But she certainly went on to have an interesting life regardless.

October 1951: Gaylia Davis, 17, was awarded the title "Miss Sewer Cleaner of 1952." She reflected philosophically that, "It may be a soggy title but if it helps my career I don't care."

I can't figure out what became of her after 1951. So it's hard to know if it helped her career or not.

Southern Illinoisan - Oct 15, 1951

Detroit Free Press - Oct 11, 1951

Detroit Free Press - Dec 23, 1951

Detroit Free Press - Dec 23, 1951

Update: Below is the text of the email from Gaylia's granddaughter. And below that are some pictures she also sent along.

Gaylia Davis ended up leaving Detroit and following her mother (who had previously divorced Gaylia’s strict Preacher father- he founded a church in Detroit) to Miami! Gaylia’s mother, Ethel, came to Miami Beach to start a radio show! Anyway, Gaylia met a young Cuban man named Ernesto Gavalda. They were both performers and dancers and did variety shows in both Miami and Cuba. Gaylia also traveled for a bit with the Barnum & Bailey’s Ringling Brother’s Circus. She was one of the Amazonian models that rode regally on the elephants.

She (all American girl) and my (Cuban) grandfather (a la I love Lucy) ended up getting married here in Miami Beach and having 6 kids together. The only daughter (the rest are boys) they had, Debbie, is my mother. She was born and raised in Miami Beach. We are still in Miami to this day.

Gaylia ended up becoming a local fixture on the streets of Miami Beach as she decided to live as a homeless evangelist. She was called “Mother Mary” or “the Bible Lady” by locals.

I remember wanting to visit her as teen and having to ask strangers if they knew where the “bible lady” was. They’d point to some park bench or mumble a street name and I’d find her with a tattled Bible in hand and preaching to any passerby.

Gaylia only recently passed at the end of 2018. Up to her dying day, she was still quick witted, humorous, tough, and of sound mind. She could still talk politics, history, and culture.

She has always been an enigma to me and even more so now as I get older myself.

Anyway, thanks for listening and asking!

"This is her and my grandfather."

"My grandfather is the second guy on the left and she’s the last woman to the right."

"the ticket of a show that they both performed in together"

Posted By: Alex - Thu Apr 23, 2020 - Comments (14)
Category: Awards, Prizes, Competitions and Contests, 1950s

California Vinegar Bitters

As Dave Barry might say, "'California Vinegar Bitters' would make an excellent name for a band."

Posted By: Paul - Thu Apr 23, 2020 - Comments (3)
Category: Patent Medicines, Nostrums and Snake Oil, Nineteenth Century

April 22, 2020

Kream Krunch

The Kream Krunch man definitely deserves a place in our ongoing series of strange corporate mascots.

Kellogg's introduced Kream Krunch cereal in 1965. The gimmick was that the cereal included chunks of freeze-dried ice cream. The chunks were supposed to stay crunchy in milk, but reportedly they quickly dissolved into a gooey mess, which made the cereal a commercial failure that was soon discontinued.

However, the cereal is most widely remembered today for the creepy, anthropomorphized ice cream cone that served as its official mascot. Wikipedia notes: "The character was never officially named, referred to by historians simply as the Kream Krunch Cone, although it has been called Mr. Scoop Head in popular culture."

More info:, History's Dumpster

image source

Posted By: Alex - Wed Apr 22, 2020 - Comments (1)
Category: Corporate Mascots, Icons and Spokesbeings, Cereal, 1960s

Left-Foot Accelerator

Deadly crashes guaranteed, or your money back!


Posted By: Paul - Wed Apr 22, 2020 - Comments (1)
Category: Death, Inventions, 1950s, Cars

April 21, 2020

The Tummy Tutor

It also went by the name "Belly Beeper". The idea was that if you slouched or let your stomach out, it would start beeping. Supposedly this would train you to always keep your stomach muscles tensed and not slouch.

Either that or it would train you to avoid wearing it.

The Miami Herald - Oct 7, 1973

Posted By: Alex - Tue Apr 21, 2020 - Comments (2)
Category: Inventions, 1970s, Dieting and Weight Loss, Stomach

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