Wednesday, January 21, 2015

Shopping at Mayfair Markets

I'm 57 years old. A century ago I would have been considered an old man. When I was growing up I would have been considered an old man. But I don't feel old. I fully intend to live to be over 100 years old without needing my wife or children to help me.

But I go to the store and I feel ancient. Things are different today. So, in my imagination (and yours), I'm taking you on a trip to the Mayfair Market on South Hill Street in Oceanside, California. Mayfair is gone. And the street is now called Coast Highway. And all the things we are buying today no longer exist. (That isn't the store I have in mind in this picture. It just happens to have a TWA Boeing 747 airplane; that airline is gone, too!)

Arden All-Jersey Homogenized Milk - - 99% of all milk sold in supermarkets today is from Holstein cows. It's very plain. Jersey has a very rich taste. It also has a lot of fat and things the food police (who aren't necessarily looking out for our health) don't want us to have. This picture was so difficult to obrain I couldn't even get a clear one.

Sweetened puffed rice cereal - - This isn't about brands. I'm referring to a specific generic type of cold dry breakfast cereal. And it hasn't been available nationally for more than 20 years. I'm referring to pre-sweetened puffed rice. The last nationally available brand was Nabisco Rice Honeys. Interesting thing about Rice Honeys: It was originally called Ranger Joe Rice Honnies and it had a companion cereal, Ranger Joe Wheat Honnies."Ranger Joe" was a children's radio program that came out of Philadelphia in the early 1940s. Interestingly, the company bought its own cereal factory in one of the Philly suburbs. They began making Honnies cereal so that children wouldn't had so much sugar to their cereal. The idea was so they would be careful about their sugar intake, which is the reverse of what some people are told. Ranger Joe went off the air and the cereal company was sold to Nabisco and the spelling of the name was changed to "Honeys." It was a very popular seller for more than 40 years. When the R.J. Reynolds Tobacco Company bought Nabisco, several cereal lines were taken off the market (including Team Flakes). A few years later, Kraft Foods, which had previously acquired General Foods (which included the Post cereal line), bought the Nabisco cereal line. It was thought that Post would reintroduce some of the cereals which had fallen by the wayside. But unfortunately, they only seemed interested in shredded wheat (Nabisco Shredded Wheat was part of the Post-Tens individual servings assortment in the late 1940s and early 1950s). So there would be no Post version of Rice Honeys, like a rice version of Post Super Golden Crisp. I would love it if someone could prove me wrong and go to their local supermarkets today and find a nationally advertised version of pre-sweetened puff rice cereal. The closest you will come is Quaker Puffed Rice, which is only puffed rice, no sugar or other sweetener. Maybe someone can do a campaign to bring back Kellogg's Puffa Puffa Rice.

Barbara Ann Honey "V" Bread - - I'm not sure that you could find this in Oceanside, since it's in San Diego County. But it was in Mayfair Markets in the Los Angeles area, which included Riverside, San Bernardino, and Colton (where I grew up; I moved there from Oceanside in 1966). Honey V was a multigrain bread that had a crust that was coasted in sesame seeds. Eventually, Barbara Ann (which had bakeries in Los Angeles and San Bernardino) had merged with Langendorf Bakeries. And Barbara Ann would cease to exist in the early 1970s. Langendorf is also gone.

Kraft Miracle Margarine - - Normally, a pound (454 grams) is made up of four sticks, each of which is 1 cup (48 cl). Kraft took their regular Parkay Margarine and whipped it, yielding another two sticks. I guess, if the recipe didn't ask for a specific weight of margarine, you'd be OK. And when Kraft was busy with General Foods and Nabisco, they sold off their margarine lines to ConAgra Foods out of Omaha. 

Nestle's Quik -- Many years ago I worked in the advertising department for a major newspaper. I learned many things about business. One thing that stayed with me: Name changes don't happen for nothing. I grew up drinking my milk with Nestle's Quik. It not only added chocolate flavoring to the milk; it added weight. If I had Quik in my milk during dinner I didn't eat so much (and I ate a lot; still do!) I remember seeing Nesquik when I was stationed in Germany with the US Army. It didn't have the bulk that I had come to love with Quik. I knew that when they changed the name of Nestle's Quik a few years later that the head honchos of Nestle in Switzerland didn't like that America had a different chocolate milk powder than anyone else in the world. So they changed it. Incidentally, the ingredient that is missing from Nesquik is soy lecithin.

Nabisco Cheese Ritz Crackers - - I remember the box as being BLUE with the Ritz trademark YELLOW (a reverse of this). I have always liked cheese crackers. I like both Nabisco Cheese Nips and Sunshine Cheez-Its. But these were simply amazing. They were like the Cheese Nips expanded three times their normal size. This is another product for Mondelez-International to revive for its defunct Nabisco line!

Knott's Berry Farm Boysenberry Syrup - - A few decades after Cordelia and Walter Knott passed away (the wife died first) their children sold the Knott's Berry Farm theme park to CedarFair in Ohio. Knott's Berry Farm Foods, which had moved from its original berry farm site to Placentia many years earlier, was sold to ConAgra Foods. Later it was sold to the J.M. Smucker Company. Smucker's is all about marketing. But they are located in Ohio, where they eat their chili con carne five ways (at once) while we in Southern California eat ours with either tortilla chips or crackers. So they knew about the boysenberry legacy and what it meant to the Knott family. They added boysenberry pancake syrup to their own Smucker's line of syrups, when they saw the only place where the Knott's Berry Farm Boysenberry Syrup was making any progress was Southern California and Las Vegas (lucky us!) But that wasn't good enough. So they took both syrups off the market. You can still get boysenberry syrup at Knott's Berry Farm today. It just doesn't have the Knott's Berry Farm name on it anymore.

Pillsbury Funny Face Drink Mix - - .Freckle Faced Strawberry, Goofy Grape, Loud Mouth Lemon, Chinese Cherry (later Choo Choo Cherry), and Injun Orange (later Jolly Olly Orange), plus a few other flavors that were introduced later, comprised the Funny Face drink mix line. They were the first drink mix to add an artificial sweetener (cyclamates) and market it to the general public, rather than to diabetics and others who must watch their sugar intake. After the Pillsbury marketing people realized these two characters were a mistake, they did fine until the Food and Drug Administration banned cyclamates. Funny Face was then off the market for a few months until they came up with plans to reintroduce it with sugar, which they attempted but the novelty wore off and it was all over.

Laura Scudder's Wampum Corn Chips - - Laura Scudder (1887-1959) founded her snack company in Monterey Park, California (close to downtown Los Angeles), in 1927. Hers was one of the first to use cellophane packaging instead of waxed paper, which kept the snacks fresher. Their slogan was, "...the noisiest chips in the world!" After she died the company did fine for a few years when it was sold first to Pet Milk, which sold out to General Mills. General Mills didn't want Laura Scudder, so without a buyer the company ceased to exist. A few years ago a tortilla chip company in Orange, California, bought the trademark and is thriving, using Mrs. Scudder's original recipes. The name "Wampum" for the corn chips was dropped in the early 1970s. Laura Scudder also had a line of peanut butter which stayed with General Mills. When most of the former Pet Milk properties went to J.M. Smucker, Laura Scudder's peanut butter was a welcome addition to their line.

Hunt's Flavored Catsup - - Introduced in 1965, this was extremely popular but it proved only to be a fad. The popularity didn't last. It was much like Heinz Ketchup in purple and green about a decade ago. Hunt's began calling its "catsup" "ketchup" in the 1990s.

Peter Paul PowerHouse Chocolate Bar - - This was the only Peter Paul candy bar that didn't come in two pieces. It wasn't originally a Peter Paul product; other companies had it. When the Peter Paul folks (a division of Cadbury of the United Kingdom) were bought by Hershey's they only retained Mounds and Almond Joy. Peter Paul claimed this was the healthiest, most nutritional bar in their line.

(Generic) Macaroni and Cheese Loaf - - When I was a kid, this was my favorite lunch meat. It was whatever  mystery meat they used to make their pimiento loaf with cooked pasta and cheese blended in. I'm told this is very popular in Michigan and other parts of that area in the country, but I haven't seen it in big supermarkets in Southern California in many years. (I'm told Save-A-Lot has it.) It was great with Velveeta Cheese and Miracle Whip on whole wheat bread (I was a very unusual kid who avoided white bread if I didn't have to eat it. Roman Meal is still my favorite.)

Hi-C Fruit Drink - - When I get my fortune I'm going to invest in Coca-Cola. Coke bought this about 60 years ago and still does well with it. You have to realize, if fills a need: Normally, you can get your vitamin C from orange juice. This doesn't have orange juice but it has natural orange flavoring and vitamin C. It has the same nutrients (and I learned in cooking school that natural orange juice is higher in sugar than many of the drinks like this). You won't find it today in a tin can. That was how they sold fruity drinks like this until a few years ago. Today, Hi-C Orange Drink is called Hi-C Orange Lavaburst. It tastes just like I remember, even though HCFS (high-fructose corn syrup) replaces the sugar from my childhood, it's a wonderful feeling when I drink it. Some parts of childhood are worth reliving. And they serve it at McDonald's.

Sweet-Heart Soap - - This soap had a delicate perfumed aroma but the best thing about it was that it was highly compressed. One "bath size" bar of Sweet-Heart could last three similar sized Lifebuoy or Dial bars. Originally manufactured by the Manhattan Soap Company, it sold out to Purex in 1957. When Purex sold out to the Dial Corporation, the soap was dropped in addition to the next product on this list.

Purex Bleach - -Purex was a Southern California institution for many years. In fact, today people just a little younger than me and older say "Purex" to refer to chlorine bleach. When the Purex Corporation was sold to Dial, the original namesake product was dropped. They still make Purex Detergent.

Brew 102 Beer - - Brewed at the Maier Brewery in downtown Los Angeles, near Chinatown, next to the Los Angeles River (a concrete ditch). It was cheaper than a Coke. I'm not a drinker but I grew up with alcoholics in my family (not immediately). When money was low, this was the beer that they drank.

Shinola Shoe Polish - - There were several brands then, not just Kiwi. Esquire was another popular shoe polish brand.

pHisoHex - - I'm told we are probably the only industrialized country in the world that bans this amazing cleaner from being sold without a prescription. When I was a kid, I always washed my face with this. Maybe that's why I never had acne. It was banned when I was in high school.

Luer All Meat Franks - - In butcher's slang, "all meat" means no by-products or fillers. Luer was a cut rate meat packing house out of Torrance, California. They went out of business in the 1990s, although for their last few years they only processed for in-store house labels. They made the macaroni and cheese loaf I loved as a child.

Koogle - - Koogle was a short-lived product manufactured by Kraft. It was one of the last products that was mailed out anonymously as free sample junk mail. I believe there were other flavors besides chocolate.

Mayfresh Orange Soda - -  Mayfresh was Mayfair's in-house private label. Since stores weren't all about selling in volume back in those days, they were just as happy to sell a single can of soda pop for 12 cents, less than half the price of a Coke.

Mighty White Toothpaste - - From 1963. This was made by Alberto-Culver, the same company that gave us Alberto VO-5. It was just toothpaste but its commercials were clever.

Soaky Fun Bath - - Colgate-Palmolive had a cute idea with this one: This was probably one of the first "body wash" products. But the idea was that you would buy one bottle of Soaky and keep the bottle as a toy. There were literally hundreds of characters available. The problem was that most supermarkets didn't have that much room. Maybe five characters would be all they got. The idea was cute but it ended up losing more money than it could possibly earn.Characters included cartoon characters, comic strip characters, movie stars, folklore heroes, and more.

Postum with Natural Coffee Flavor - - Postum was the first product of the Post Cereal Company (originally the Postum Company) of Battle Creek, Michigan. It actually predates the Kellogg Company. C.W. Post was a patient of Dr. John Kellogg at the Battle Creek Sanitarium. (And, tragically, Mr. Post would commit suicide about 15 years later while on vacation in Santa Barbara, California.) Postum was originally made from the scraps made from cereal production. It was a cheap drink that made Post a wealthy man. He earned enough money to expand his company to include the manufacture of breakfast cereals. Original Postum never was intended to be a coffee substitute. But over the next few decades, the Postum Company evolved into General Foods, which produced Maxwell House Coffee. So by using the scraps to make Sanka Coffee (which is decaffeinated), it was made into a caffeine free coffee substitute. (It may seem strange but the parts taken from decaffeinated coffee to take out the caffeine, also do not have caffeine.) Postum was very popular until the 1990s when the sales took a terrible nosedive. Before the Post cereal line was sold to Ralston Foods, Postum had ceased production. There was talk that Ralston would bring back Postum. Then Ralston turned the new Post Foods Company to face the world alone. That company ended up selling the Postum recipe to a Mormon company that wouldn't handle coffee. So unless another company takes up the production of Postum, there won't ever be any coffee flavored Postum again.

Noxzema Skin Cream - - I know what you are going to say: "That doesn't look much different from the Noxzema I just bought at Walmart last night..." But that's what's in the jar. The jar itself is glass. And I can remember about 35 years ago when all jars were glass. 20 years before that all cans were either steel or tin. Packaging was potentially dangerous a few years ago: Broken glass. Slicing from the metal strips that came off when opening coffee or shortening cans. You could knock your eye out with a pop bottle cap. Are we any safer now?

Well, that was a fun trip to the grocery store. I think if we do this again we're going to one of those lifetime membership department stores. Hey, if my membership was good for a lifetime and I'm not dead yet, shouldn't it still be valid? No? Ah, I see... It's the lifetime of the store... Gotcha...

Please pray for Hana and me. Thanks.


  1. Barbara Ann lasted well into the mid-1980's, but by then they had mostly become a wholesale bakery with the majority of accounts being restaurants, schools, hospitals, with very few retail stores. My Dad used to deliver Langendorf Cakes and I remember seeing the yellowish/cream colored Barbara Ann trucks along with the white Langendorf Cake trucks at the depots. The bakery in Bell Gardens on Gage closed sometime in the early 90's.

  2. Eventually Barbara Ann merged with Four-S, and was eventually absorbed by Bimbo. Langendorf Cakes merged with Dolly Madison, which eventually merged with Hostess…we all know what happened there.