12 Outrageous Racist Vintage Ads

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"My skin is dark but my heart is white", the ultimate racist phrase on this ad portraying First Nations -apparently- willing to support Canadian Patriotic Fund. (Source)


Racist ad for Aunt Jemima's Pancakes, the most famous self-rising pancake mix of old times, created in 1889 by Chris L. Rutt. He might have thought: what a better way to present my product than a jolly ex-slave who lived on a Louisiana plantation and made great flapjacks for her masters? (Source)


Wait a minute, is this a cruel joke or what? This ad for N.K. Fairbank Co. soaps portrays a white girl asking a black girl "Why doesn't your mamma wash you with fairy soap?" Mamma mia... really shameful!


Here, a 'This Week in Atlanta' magazine ad from November 19, 1967 where we can see Cotton Watts, a comedian who used to perform in black face in the 1960s. (Source)


This Van Heusen ad is from 1952 and it says "4 out of 5 men want Oxfords...in these new Van Heusen styles." (Source)


In this Sal Hepatica ad we can see a couple of just married love-birds enjoying their honeymoon. If you think the pictures hide some racist message, read the last line of the dialogue: "Lets tip that porter double for telling us about Sal Hepatica". (Source)


This 1924 Maxwell House Coffee ad is another example of racism in publicity. This one features a black servant in coffee-serving duties. (Source)


Looking at this "Bull Durham" tobacco ad, makes me think of those huge tobacco plantations of old times, and the controversial role of black people there. (Source)


Here, another example of how racism was considered even kind of cool in old times. (Source)


Not only racist but freaky! "Colored kids make a costume vastly more attractive" Can somebody explain this to me? Is this supposed to be cheeky or something? And why does the girl look like a 50 year old pervert??!

Notfrom our readers: The ad is using wordplay. In this case that means it is blending two different meanings for certain words: "colored" and "kids". The problem is it doesn't make sense to us today unless we understand the old meaning of the words as they used them back then...

We all know about the old meaning of "colored" meaning blacks (and other non-white races) but it also meant (and still means) dyed a custom and/or non-natural color.

The word "kids" was old slang for kidskin boots. Kind of like today we sometimes say "kicks" meaning shoes.

Knowing this its easy to see that the ad is just selling lady's boots made of soft goatskin that has been dyed. The wordplay then is blending the real meaning (dyed kidskin boots) with the other meaning (little black children) to try and make the ad seem clever.

Finally, in those days the word "costume" did not just mean like Halloween costume but also was often used when talking about a fancy dress ensemble. There is no wordplay here, its just a use of the word that was common then but not now.

So when the ad says "Colored kids make a costume vastly more attractive" you just translate that to mean "Dyed kidskin boots make your fancy outfit look great". (Source)


Cream of Kentucky straight bourbon whiskey ad, portraying two well known stereotypes! (Source)


Here, another racist vintage ad for "Darkey in a Watermelon". (Source)

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