Monday, August 3, 2015

The Mysteries of Lashneen

I love old makeup ads, and even though I don't wear much makeup these days I do like having it on hand for special occasions and find all the different types of cosmetics quite fascinating.

I tend to concentrate on mascara and eyebrow pencil these days, because I have dark blonde hair and that means colorless eyelashes and very light brows. This is not a good look, so at the very least I do try to fill in my brows.

The ad on the right is from 1917 and tells us the wonders of something called Lashneen. I did a little research and found it mentioned in newspaper ads from about 1913 to 1921.


Lashneen will turn even someone pale like me into a veritable Theda Bara. It was marketed as a "hair food" rather than as makeup but the picture is pretty misleading because the lady in the top ad is definitely feeding her eyelashes and brows a ton of mascara and eyeliner, not hair food.

The ad to the left is from 1920 and this model's eyes look a little more natural. She was Sylvia Breamer, an Australian silent movie actress who was 23 in 1920 and starring in her first Hollywood movie, Athalie. She is quoted as saying that Lashneen made her eyelashes "so beautiful [that] my friends often remark about it."

The Sylvia Breamer ad  also says that Lashneen is a "secret Japanese formula" and (of course, they always say this) "absolutely harmless."

Yeah, okay. So what was in Lashneen, exactly? I always want to know. This article is quite a good discussion of the eyelash and eyebrow products of this era, which were all made of the same sorts of things They also had similarly clunky names like Lashbrow, Lash-Brow-Ine and Eye-Brow-Ine.* Apparently, Lashbrow consisted of vaseline, beeswax and lampblack. Lashneen was no doubt quite similar. Which I guess was fairly harmless, but still - lampblack doesn't sound like something you ought to put near your eyes, does it?

* Maybelline, which also started up in the 1920s, used the same fashionable "ine" suffix. Maybelline is my favorite brand of mascara, by the way. It is really good and I have always had a tube on hand since I was in college. But not the same tube, of course.




Friday, July 31, 2015

Talking Back to the Hand

So what would you say if a giant hand suddenly appeared over your laundry basket and started telling you your clothes were all still dirty and greasy and gross?

The lady in this 1934 ad is not at all freaked out. She says:

"Nonsense, Junior's rompers sometimes pick up a spot or two from his wagon - but there's no grease in the rest of my clothes."

Oh sure, lady. The hand is not impressed and starts talking about hidden perspiration and how she should use Fels-Naphtha Soap right now. Like drop the basket and go to the store immediately and then jolly well start the wash over again.

I don't think she will. She looks way too confident about things. You can practically see her rolling her eyes.

Fels-Naphtha - which you can still get today - is laundry soap. It was first sold in the early 1890s by Fels & Co. of Philadelphia. Fels of course was the manufacturor's name. And Naphtha? That's the word for "petroleum" in Ancient Greek; a small amount of petroleum distillate is added to the soap and that's what helps get the presumably stubborn grease and dirt out. That is what the talking hand is trying to tell us all.

Fels-Naphtha came in the form of a "golden bar" or "golden chips" which does sound very nice, quite fairy-tale like. And then the talking hand showed me where to find a treasure chest full of magical golden chips! And for the first time, my laundry was not full of grease!

You can also use Fels-Naphtha as a home remedy. I love home remedies and homemade household products (currently I'm using the old water-with-some-white-vinegar-in-a-spray-bottle  thing for cleaning surfaces and windows and stuff in the kitchen, and it is SO great). It's supposed to be really good (Fels Naphtha, that is) for treating poison ivy and red irritated skin.

Maybe I will get some of this in, as we are planning on doing some hiking soon and poison ivy may be lurking around, you never know. One thing I'm not planning on, though, is carrying my laundry (which is clean! really, it is!) around in a little picnic basket.

Tuesday, July 28, 2015

A Basket Full of Coleslaw

I've got a pile of old booklets and  magazines on my desk waiting for me to scan them so I can share them with you here. But I'm in the middle of rearranging all the bookshelves on the main floor of the house (don't ask) and the scanner will have to wait. I used to work in a library and it's all coming back to me. The dust, the books spilling into piles, trying to get the shelves and subjects even, finding books I'd been hunting for for ages (who knew they were behind another row of books on the back porch? not me). Anyway, I'm tired, too tired even to make coleslaw, which is very easy and you don't need to turn on the oven or anything.

So let's look at this ad instead. Did people ever really present their food like this, in real life, in 1964? I don't think they did. Coleslaws in hollowed out cabbages, for heaven's sake.

In The Dictionary of American Food and Drink, John Mariani says that coleslaw gets its name from the Dutch word koolsla, which quite literally means cabbage salad, and that it known in the US as early as the end of the 18th century.

Mrs. Washington in The Unrivalled Cook-book and Housekeeper's Guide (1885) says that to make a good coleslaw, pour hot "Philadelphia sauce" over finely shredded (and salted) cabbage, then let it cool down. Philadelphia sauce is basically sour cream boiled with butter, vinegar, salt and sugar, and a couple of optional egg yolks (in other words, something close to mayonnaise or salad dressing).

Most modern coleslaw recipes call for tossing shredded cabbage with some mayonnaise and a little mustard or vinegar. It's nice to use a mix of red and white cabbage, maybe shredded carrots too, for color. No cabbage baskets or orange peel bows required.