Monday, December 16, 2013

Lew Switzer’s Christmas Message

“If the Hoosier was for men,” read Lew Swtizer’s 1918 Christmas ad, “every modern business…would have [one].” In Kalispell, Montana, and elsewhere across the nation, the Hoosier was a much-desired Christmas gift. Switzer, a Kalispell furniture dealer, bluntly claimed that if this poplar kitchen cabinet could make man’s work easier, no man would be without one. But “men carelessly leave thoughts of efficiency behind when business hours are over.” The ad theorized that most of the nation’s work really took place in the American kitchen where millions of women spent long hours walking needless miles from one corner of the room to the other, and back again.  Organization could prevent all that walking. Switzer’s ad went on the point out that the Hoosier “restores charm to home keeping, prevents waste, and conserves strength.”

Kalispell Daily Inter Lake, December 6, 1918
The Hoosier, often found today in antique and second-hand stores, was the most popular type of kitchen cabinet from the late 1890s into the 1920s. The Hoosier Manufacturing Company adapted a baker’s cabinet to make the first model, on the market in 1899. Hoosiers were either wooden or enameled metal.The usually included drawers, cupboards, shelves, tea and coffee canisters, sugar and flour bins, spice racks with special glass containers, and work space. Until the 1920s, kitchens did not usually have built-in cabinetry, and so the Hoosier and other similar pieces of kitchen furniture were essential to a well-run kitchen. The Hoosier “released the bonds of drudgery” and made a woman’s kitchen practical and serviceable. The 1918 Hoosier had space for storing four hundred items, all at arm’s reach. Switzer encouraged his customers to “make one heart glad” at Christmastime and give the gift of convenience. Playing upon patriotism as the nation celebrated the recent end of World War I, Switzer admonished men declaring, “It is your patriotic duty to buy useful gifts and to buy early. So select your Hoosier at once.”

P.S. Remember these holiday advertisements?