Using Popcorn to Advertise Gas Stoves from Gas Age Record, 1922


A very effective method of advertising the gas heater room was adopted to good advantage by Mitchells, of Philadelphia recently. One of the delights of winter evenings is popcorn. Modern conveniences offer acceptable substitutes for the open fire and in this case the substitute has many advantages of over the original. They started their campaign with an ad:

       The Handy Gas Heater for Winter Evening's Sport 

"Few Modern Homes are equipped with the old fashioned fire-places but by means of a gas heater you can pop corn, toast marshmallows, or roast chestnuts, not only in the kitchen but in any room in the house. 
See our window display and be convinced."

The centre of attraction of this window display was a small gas heater with dancing flames. Standing in front of it was a girl in dress of scarlet and gold, popping corn over the blaze. In the evening a wax model was placed in the window, but during the shopping hours a real girl popped corn, and its delicious aroma floated out on the wintery air each time the door was opened. Of course the firm did not make a practice of competing with the local corn vendors, the sale of popcorn lasting only a week, being put on merely to call attention to gas heaters and the uses to which they could be put. Inside the store other heaters were shown, and quantities of popcorn were offered with each heater during the sale, the amount of corn depending on the price of the heater. Knowing full well that people value things according as they pay for them the firm did not offer the popped corn free, but sold big bags for a nickel. They also sold the ears of corn—suggesting that with the corn and a small heater many a winter evening’s pleasure was assured. During the sale they also sold corn poppers, both double and single, on the same plan that the Peoples Gas Stores, Chicago, sell kitchen cabinets and pyrex ware—to advertise their gas stoves.
But to return to the window display. Down in front were a number of wire corn poppers, some holding shelled corn, and others full of the puffed and creamy flakes. Clumps of ferns were banked in the corners, and on a mound in the center of each clump was a vase holding a cluster of big white chrysanthemums. Beneath the green fronds of the ferns was a large doll in Japanese costume. From the ceiling hung a number of branches of dark red oak leaves, while quantities of red and brown leaves were scattered over the floor. Sacks of popcorn stood at either side, one of them having fallen over, with the yellow ears of corn pouring out upon the floor.
They had printed a little pamphlet telling of the joys of the simple life and occupying a prominent position on the first inside page was a gas stove, captioned “the magnet that keeps the people at home.” They then went on to tell of the almost lost arts of popping corn, roasting chestnuts, baking apples and toasting marshmallows. Following this they quoted prices on corn poppers, wooden and steel skewers, and hand shovels for roasting chestnuts. The booklet was inclosed in an envelope and sent under letter postage to a selected list of farmers, grammar and high school students, and housewives, with a special invitation for them to come down and look over all this merchandise, and to view the gas stoves, heaters, ranges, plates, etc., which make so much for the comfort of the home in winter.