Vintage Ad Archive: Memorial Day Cookout!
Memorial Day is upon us once again, that moment to take a break from day-to-day insanity and enjoy a three-day weekend of hammocks, blooming flowers, picnics in the park, and backyard barbecues. It's an all-American opportunity to enjoy the outdoors and take a well-deserved day of leisure – a brief taste of summer in the midst of spring, with all the trimmings and libations that accompany warm weather.
Of course, I'm celebrating in my own unique way, by digging deep into my vaults of old papers and dusty magazines, searching for some visuals that really capture the essence of the springtime celebration. And since Memorial Day is the perfect time for getting some friends together, throwing food on the grill, and having some drinks, I've assembled a special selection of cookout-themed materials!
Cracking open some ice-cold beers is one of the first thing that springs to mind when I think of warm-weather outdoor get-togethers. And as seen here, companies put lots of time and money into solidifying that association in the minds of the public. A number of breweries used cookouts as a theme for their advertisements, prominently placing their brands alongside the frankfurters and potato salad on red-checkered tablecloths.
In an attempt to burnish the industry's image, The United States Brewers Foundation (a trade group) conducted a major campaign promoting beer's place in American life in the '40s and '50s, and number of those ads featured scenes of outdoor soirees, accompanied with stirring text: "...Perhaps no beverages are more "at home" on more occasions than good American beer and ale. For beer is the kind of beverage Americans like. It belongs – to pleasant living, to good fellowship, to sensible moderation."
But it wasn't just breweries that made use of BBQing as a visual hook – distilleries got in on the act too, making it clear that Bourbon and mixed drinks fit just as well into any cookout or clambake.
But no other company came close to Seagram's when it came to promoting the backyard lifestyle. In the mid-'60s, they published their own barbecue guide, which has become one of my favorite mid-century alcohol artifacts. It's full of party tips, drink recipes, and helpful hints for grilling and entertaining – and it's all wrapped up in beautiful color illustrations from the noted commercial artist and children's book illustrator Joe Kaufman.
Isn't that lovely? That's just a small sample of the contents – the full booklet is 36 pages, chock-full of food and beverage ideas. In fact, it's given me all kinds of inspiration for what I'm going to get up to this weekend... (Perhaps kebabs and Singapore Slings? Or maybe Juleps and frankfurters. So many brilliant retro-options!)
And hopefully you've also enjoyed this trip down Memorial memory lane, and are now full of ideas for your own holiday weekend. It's time to set up the deck chairs, pour yourself a cocktail, and get to grilling!